Hello and welcome back to another monthly report. Last month I complained that I spent too much times playing video games and not enough working. Well I ended up doing almost exactly the same number of hours of work this month – 44% of my target of my target of 165. But this time video gaming weren’t wholly to blame.
In the latest episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast we talked about the pros and cons of focusing on multiple businesses vs just one. One of the advantages of having multiple projects is that when you hit the wall or struggle with motivation you can flick to the another one.
Maybe that is what is going on here? Is there an underlying struggle for motivation? Or maybe it is just other interests taking over…. here is how I spent my time in February:
Despite another half-arsed month of work, I managed to get a lot done.
Pipehouse Gin is my craft gin business and February was a good month. Both our trade and online sales are growing and the strategy changes we made in January are starting to pay off.
The main thing we decided was that we were going to focus more on online sales and marketing, and let the local and wholesale businesses become more self-sustaining.
Ironically that means that we actually spent quite a lot of time in February on the wholesale/trade side of the business. Trying to get it more self sufficient and not reliant as much on us.
Emma has spent quite a bit of the month working with our local distributors. Going on day trips with their sales reps and educating them on how and why they should sell our gin. The plan is that we will slowly shift the job of door-to-door sales onto them.
You may remember that we have really struggled to get in with large wholesalers. Well we are still struggling. But the more we learn about the industry the less we think that they would be a good fit anyway. They will not sell our gin, rather they will deliver orders for our gin. So the pressure would still be very much on us to get those sales.
Instead we are switching our focus to local distributors. Where we can build personal relationships with the sales reps and where we will be one of their only craft gins, not just another on a long list.
The other big focus of February was perfecting our new flavour. We finished the recipe creation before Christmas but have been working on scaling it up so that the recipe I make in the single bottle distillery in my house will work at 200L scale. Harder than it sounds!
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Gin testing at @pipehousegin HQ. We are currently in the process of scaling up our new flavour. That means working out how to keep consistency when making 200L vs 1L. Here we are tasting the scaled up version against the single bottle version, cut in different ways. Straight, with ice, with tonic, with tonic and garnish. Each variant changes the flavour slightly. #craftgin #ginmaking #pipehousegin
But we are finally there and our latest flavour is currently in production. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but we have a lot planned for the launch. Watch this space!
- Starting a Gin Brand Episode 1: Doing The Research
- Starting a Gin Brand Episode 2: Creating The Recipe & Branding
- Starting A Gin Brand Episode 3: Delays & Legal Schmeagols
- Starting A Gin Brand Episode 4: Labels, Packaging & Marketing
- Starting A Gin Brand Episode 5: We Have Finally Launched Pipehouse Gin!
Table Tennis Brands
I run two table tennis brands Palio & Eastfield Co. And to be honest we are struggling a bit, particularly with Palio. One of the factories we work with has been taking on more and more work and are getting slower and slower at completing our orders which is holding up our entire supply chain. We had stock issues all through the later part of 2019 and still have stock issues now. Sales are down, but even if they were up we are pretty much at capacity of what we can produce.
The problems of success! But how are we going to solve it? Well for one it has really revealed that we have a lot of exposure to one single point in the supply chain, which is a lesson worth the cost. Here is how we plan to solve the problems:
1 – We have rented a warehouse to build up a backlog of stock so that we aren’t as reliant on a single delay. We did this in December.
2 – We are looking for other factories that can step up and take on some of the manufacturing load.
Number 2 is much harder than it sounds because we need very specialised factories to make our equipment. And there aren’t actually that many out there. And keeping consistency across multiple manufactures based in a different continents is going to be tough. But also a new learning experience that I am quite looking forward to solving.
The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast
The podcast! My favourite project right now. On each episode I discuss a topic to do with entrepreneurship or the lifestyle around it that I am currently thinking about.
I published 9 episodes in February and a have a few more that are recorded and just need editing.
Listen to The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast now:
One of the changes I made in February was to start bringing on guest hosts to talk about topics I know they are very knowledgeable in. I think it worked out really well and I learnt loads. Check out episode #28 and #30 for some examples.
I also did two bonus episodes that are interviews with people who have interesting businesses. They’re as much for my own interest as the listeners and I got really nosy about the mechanics of how their companies piece together. Both well worth a listen.
In January I said that I would spend February working on marketing the podcast, and I outlined three ways I would do that:
- I am going to pay for transcripts to be done. This should help get Google traffic for the show notes page.
- I am going to try and do a ‘podcast tour’ and appear on other people’s podcasts and get in front of their audiences.
- I am going to start playing around with the iTunes algorithm to see what I can do to increase my exposure.
Well I didn’t do any of those. That is where the lack of time spent working really showed. I focused on the most interesting parts of my businesses – making gin, selling table tennis bats and recording podcast episodes. And not enough on the behind the scenes work. The stuff that will actually get traffic and earn money.
Hopefully March will be better.
February started well and I did quite a bit of marketing. Mainly writing guest posts and getting some outside promotion for the blog. And traffic was good, about the same per-day as in January.
(PS- if you want me to write a guest post for your site then email me at email@example.com)
But after the first week I got distracted and where I did really let myself down was in writing blog posts. I only did two in February:
My goal is three a month. But as I didn’t write any in January it means I have only done 2 out of the target 6. Rubbish!
Profit is down as well and February was the worst month in almost three years. The blog only made £2,559. Which is weird right? Considering it had similar traffic to January which made £4,229.
There is some bad luck there, but also the lack of recent content is damaging things.
- Start A Blog In Under An Hour – A Step-By-Step Guide
- What It Takes To Create A Successful Blog – Including how I market the blog
Investing & Other Income
I have a few other areas of income that don’t take up a lot of time and I don’t normally talk about.
But because I have just done a podcast episode on having multiple streams of income, I thought I would list them all here. In the episode, Emma asked me how many I had and I guessed seven or eight.
We have four listed above:
1 – Pipehouse Gin – Craft Gin Company (but all profits reinvested).
2 – Eastfield Sporting Goods Co – Table Tennis Company.
3 – Palio – Table Tennis Company.
4 – This blog
Plus hopefully The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast at some point.
On top of that I have a few other random income sources:
5 – The only one that makes significant money is my investing. Any extra money I have at the end of the month I put into peer-to-peer lending companies Ratesetter and Assetz Capital (my refer-a-friend links) and fill up my and Emma’s ISAs with stocks and shares.
The rest are pretty small:
6 – One is a self-published book called Expert In A Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge. It is very niche about my attempt to get really good at table tennis is one year and normally makes about £100-£300 a month.
7 – There is also a YouTube video about the same table tennis challenge that gets a few hundred thousand views a month and makes £100 or so a month.
8 – I have a rental property. It doesn’t make much at all. Here’s my post about the maths behind my London property investment.
9 – I do a bare minimum of consultancy work. I charge £150 an hour and normally do 1-2 hours a month. I didn’t do any in February.
So there we have it. Nine sources of income. Hopefully soon to be Ten. All very varied and a bit random. Yes four of them are small, but the four smallest combined make over £1,000 a month which is not to be sniffed at. It’s what I used to earn when working full-time as a caretaker. That’s awesome.
- This Is How Much We Made From Our Viral YouTube Video
- Peer-To-Peer Lending – Why I’m Moving From Funding Circle to Ratesetter
- How I Started A Consultancy Business
- The maths behind my London property
Well, there we go. Next month I will do more work (pinky promise) and hopefully all the metrics will start rising again.
I have also decided to hire an assistant to help with this site and the podcast. March will see the start of my search.
Until next month, Sam.