Welcome back to another monthly report. July was a quiet month with lots of self-reflection. I like to pause every now and again and assess how happy I am with my life and businesses. I sit and jot down pages of notes and ideas. Brand new businesses, new angles for existing business. That sort of thing.

Why was it quiet? Well partly from choice – it was my wedding anniversary, I have been quite ill and it has also been really really hot! Which just dragged the energy from me. But it was also quiet due to factors outside my control – my business partners have been on holiday and I spent quite a long time working on the sale of some of my investments. This particularly impacted Pipehouse Gin where I’ve just been ticking things over and spending time in the lab creating new recipes.

Here are the scores for July:

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Hours Worked

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Productivity

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Profitability

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Optimism

  • Hours Worked: I actually did a lot of ‘work’, but a good part of that was thinking and strategising. Don’t underestimate the importance of taking a step back and giving yourself space to think.
  • Productivity: I am pretty pleased with how much I got done.
  • Profitability: Sales dropped across the board. Partly because I spent less time on things, and partly due to some sabotage on one of my businesses.
  • Optimism: The excitement of the gin launch has dipped and so has my general optimism. Also I spent quite a lot of the month working on the sale of an investment, which sucked a lot of the fun from the month.

Let’s go deeper.

Pipehouse Gin

 

Being flexible and having multiple sources of income is what made Pipehouse Gin possible. I was able to slowly ramp up the amount of time spent on it over the last few months, culminating in June where I worked on it pretty much full time. 

But the downside is that sometimes those other income streams need attention. Which meant that I wasn’t able to devote as much time as I wanted to Pipehouse Gin. Luckily Emma, my wife, was still able to do quite a bit.

We did three days of market stalls. Including our first where we none of the directors were present, running the day with paid staff. That is quite a big step and the plan is to build a dedicated market stall team for next Summer. There are loads of potential markets we could be doing and they are great for publicity.

Here I am at the market stall:

The focus in July was canvassing bars and restaurants giving out samples and introducing them to our gin. Emma my wife spent a lot of the month driving around and following up with contacts. This is a slow process but is slowly paying off and we are now stocked in about 20 different places.

One big problem we ran into was that most places won’t source from us directly but need to go via their chosen distributor. And there are a lot of them. So one of our aims over the coming months is to focus on getting into those distributors.

Our PR push the previous in June also paid off and we got a few new articles written about us. For instance this one in Index magazine. And an interview we did on the podcast Bottle Bitches.

We sold about 200 bottles in July. That’s not bad, but is under half what we did in our launch month. Which is to be expected as there was so much hype that initial month. Your launch month can often be deceptive for new businesses, especially if you have lots of friends and family who want to support you. The challenge now is to grow it month on month. If we can’t grow over the next few months we know we’re doing something wrong.

The goals for August are:

  • Continue working on the next the flavour.
  • Look into international distribution. What’s more English than Earl Grey & Cucumber Gin from Tunbridge Wells? I think it could be a real hit.
  • Get into more local distributors.

Relevant Posts:

Table Tennis Brands

I run two table tennis brands. Palio ETT (aimed at beginner/developing players) and Eastfield (a more high-end/professional brand). July was a pretty tough month with sales dropping about 10%, which on a business this size and age is a big deal.

If you remember from last months report we had an issue that our best selling product was not showing up on Amazon. Well, the problem continued for the first two weeks of July before Amazon finally sorted it out.

We were also the subject of some sabotage on our USA listings which meant they were taken down. That took another two weeks to sort out. 

I am getting increasingly frustrated with Amazon. As they have grown their seller support has got slower and slower. Issues that used to be fixed in 24 hours now take weeks. And it is a siloed business so even if you get through to someone important they can’t always do anything about your problem. I have to continue reminding myself that if Amazon didn’t exist I wouldn’t have the majority of my sales. I have a lot to be thankful for, even if their support is rubbish.

Having said that the plan for August is to work on our off-Amazon sales. I want to be protected in case of more sabotage in the future. Watch for updates on just how we’re going to do that.

Some good news is that our Amazon FBA sales in India are continuing to grow. India is turning into a pretty important market.

Relevant Posts:

Blog

July was actually really good for work done on this blog. I wrote four posts:

I am going to try and do at least three posts a month from now on. One monthly report. One useful post with advice and how-to guides, like the personal branding post. And one opinion piece, like the multiple-income vs single-income post.

In terms of traffic and revenue. Both were pretty similar to June. It made £3,953 (about £50 more than June).

The big earners are still my matched betting guide and Amazon FBA guide, because they get a huge amount of traffic. Even though they are both pretty old.

The big riser in terms of traffic was My Experience Trying To Make Money Trading On Betfair and was my second most popular post in July. It’s over a year old but has only just started getting popular, it’s funny how random posts from the past can suddenly start getting traffic. That post doesn’t make any money. Probably because it isn’t a success story – I outline how I failed and am the plans I have to try and succeed in the future. 

Relevant Posts:

Other Money Stuff – Books, Consulting, Investing

I have a few other areas of income that don’t take up a lot of time. 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. It makes about £100-£300 a month. 

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. 

What does make a lot more money, but is also the most passive is my investing. Any extra money I have at the end of the month I put in to peer-to-peer lending company Ratesetter (my refer-a-friend link) and some stocks and shares. I have this rough goal to build investments totalling 25x my yearly expenses (so about £1.5 million).  With that amount, I should be able to live forever off the returns. I’m still quite a long way off!

Starting a business is pretty risky and although I am currently doing quite well I know it could all fall apart. Having traditional investments is one of my backup plans.

Between 2011 and 2013, I bought some properties in Malta which I am now currently in the process of selling. A lot of July was taken up with that. It should be quite straightforward but dealing with a sale in a foreign country makes everything 10x more difficult.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I am not the biggest fan of property as an investment. You can read my post The Maths Behind My London Property Investment where I go into the numbers behind a flat I part own in London and why they don’t really add up. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am trying to liquidate these investments and move them to something more liquid. Although I am keeping the London flat in case property prices go mental and get 10x more expensive, at least then I’d have somewhere to live.

Relevant Posts:

Summary

On top of all the above, I spent a lot of July thinking. I am introspective at the best of times and for some reason it really ramped up.

I have been getting a bit twitchy and want to start something new. I am my own worse enemy, there is 1,001 things that I should be doing, but I get bored and need new ideas and new things to be excited about.

That might be a new business, a new hobby, breathing life into an old project again. Or it might even be some general self-improvement stuff – a new diet, new fashion style.

I think in August I will spend quite a bit more time working out exactly what that new project is going to be. Look out for a post with my ideas!

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