Welcome back to another monthly report. The highlight of June was easily the launch of Pipehouse Gin, a business I have been working on since September last year. The month was full of events and experiments to try and promote the gin, and it went really well!

On the downside, I have been quite unwell, which has put a downer on just about everything. It is very difficult to motivate yourself when you feel terrible. Made even more difficult as I’m self-employed and really rely on being ‘in the mood’ to work. And so even though June should have been the busiest month I’ve had in years, I didn’t do anywhere near as much as I had hoped.

Here are the scores for June:

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Hours Worked

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Productivity

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Profitability

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Optimism

  • Hours Worked: Due to being quite ill I haven’t done as much work as I would have liked.
  • Productivity: But even so we managed to get quite a lot done. The pressures of deadlines for the gin really helped force me to work efficiently.
  • Profitability: We sold out of gin. But outside of that revenue was pretty stagnant or slightly down.
  • Optimism: I am really excited about the gin. Feedback is great and there is so much opportunity for growth.

Let’s go deeper.

Pipehouse Gin

I have set up a lot of businesses in the past 10 years, so you’d think by now that I would be very confident and comfortable with a new launch. Nope.

I always seem to go through the same rollercoaster of emotions. I start off really excited and optimistic. Then as I work on it I slowly realise just how hard it is going to be and how much of an amateur I am. The same happened with Pipehouse Gin, and I was pretty nervous to see how the launch would go. 

Well, it went great. Much better than I expected. So well in fact that we sold out of most of our first two batches in just two weeks (that’s about 500 bottles). It took us a while to get batch three finished and so we couldn’t sell much for the rest of the month.

Our supply line is now fixed and so July should be an awesome month. Limited only by how well we can get the word out.

You can read all about the launch of the gin in my more detailed post: Starting A Gin Brand Episode 5: We Have Finally Launched Pipehouse Gin!

Here are some pictures from the different markets and events we did in June.

Selling gin has been quite a big change in my normal mode of operation. Instead of focusing on online and doing a lot of work from behind a computer screen I have instead been promoting it in person. A lot of face time, forming relationships, working on a market stall. As an introvert, it has been difficult. Which is good. I am a big believer that you should be trying to get out of your comfort zone.

One question the gin has thrown up is where is the best value for my time. I had to turn down a couple of consulting offers because I was working on our gin market stall. If you look at in on a per-hour basis that is a really terrible deal. I charge $200 an hour for consulting and could hire someone to replace me on the market stall for much much less.

But it is not quite as simple as that (when is it ever). Pipehouse Gin is a new business and anything I could do on it is going to have quite a low hourly rate. This is the same problem a lot of people have when starting a business after they have built a career. They have to face taking a big pay cut with no guarantee it will even work out.

The hidden ingredient is passion. Half the reason I am working on Pipehouse Gin is that it’s fun and a project I am really passionate about. Don’t undervalue how good it is to work on something you really enjoy!

Ps. If you want to support us, the best (and cheapest) place to buy a bottle is on Amazon. I will love you forever! Or if you are outside the UK you can buy it on Masters Of Malt.

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). June was a pretty typical month for both with sales slightly down on Palio and slightly up on Eastfield.

The reason sales are down is because of a really annoying glitch on Amazon that means one of our products isn’t showing up on their site. Our main sales channel is Amazon and we use Amazon FBA for warehousing and fulfiling our orders. Which is great. But also means we are very reliant on them. 

Unfortunately, Amazon has terrible seller support and despite daily chats and emails to them, two weeks later they still haven’t fixed it.

The impact hasn’t been huge because we are spread across eight countries with multiple products. But it has still cost us 100 or so sales. And will continue to do so until they fix it.

I still really recommend Amazon FBA for anyone running a product business. In fact considering how dominant Amazon are you don’t really have much choice. But it does have its quirks and their seller support is pretty bad.

Other good news is that our sales in India are starting to pick up. You may remember that we started using Amazon FBA in India in March. We have struggled to build sales there, mostly because of price. India has very high import duties so we need to sell our bats for slightly more in India than in the UK. While at the same time we are up against some very very cheap bats. 

But I think finally our superior quality is getting recognised and sales are starting to pick up. In June India was our fourth biggest market, after UK, USA and Germany. 

Relevant Posts:

Blog

On this blog, traffic was slightly down and so was revenue. It made £3,908. Which is about average these days since I stopped doing any promotion. I wrote two posts, one about standing out from the crowd, and a detailed on about the launch of the gin. Neither of which could really earn me any money. 

The big earners are still my matched betting guide and Amazon FBA guide. That is not because there is a lot of ways for them to make money, but because they are really popular and get a huge amount of traffic. Even though they are both now a couple of years old.

People are successful blogging for different reasons, most churn out new posts every day and try to get as much traffic as possible through the sheer flood of content. Don’t get me wrong, that works. It’s just not my approach.

Instead, I spend a long time creating a few really good posts that are evergreen. That should build traffic steadily over months if not years. I am hoping my series on starting a gin business will have similar success. And I have a few more ideas lined up. If there is anything you’d think would be particularly useful for me to write about please let me know!

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. 

I also do some consulting. It is very casual and I don’t promote it a lot. I have a profile on Clarity where you can book a paid called with me. I got offered two jobs in June but had to turn them both down because I was working on Pipehouse Gin.

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!

That plan took a bit of a backseat at in May as I put money into Pipehouse Gin. But in June I was able to start investing a little bit again. 

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.

Relevant Posts:

Summary

June was a strange month, our gin did really really well and I am more excited than ever to see where we take it next. But apart from that it was a bit meh… I didn’t do much other work and was quite unwell. On top of that I also hurt my back in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (which I normally do 3-4 times a week), which didn’t help!

July is set to be an even bigger and more exciting month. We have sorted out our stock issues with the gin and now we want to push forward and grow. I am due to go to Malta to complete on the sale of some investments I have out there. Then there are a few blog posts I want to write. And a couple of new ideas and projects I want to look into. Ohh and hopefully I’ll get my health sorted out. The July report should be a good one,

Now I have a question for you. Currently these reports are just about what I have been up to in my businesses. But one reader suggested I should expand them and talk about what else I am up to. So what do you think? Do you like them how they are or would like to hear more of what a self-employed lazy entrepreneur does when he’s not working?

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