Had someone even suggested making money in our jewelry and guitar picks business would be easy 5 years ago when we embarked on this journey, I would have baulked and dismissed such a claim as being absolutely disconnected with the obstacles facing small business. Since 2012, we have seen revenue increases year over year making our dream a reality, so we should be going out tonight to celebrate and crack open a bottle of wine? Not so fast.
Making money is easy, keeping it is the real challenge and 2016 is the year where that challenge has arrived neatly packaged in our mailbox from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Essentially with the 2017 premiums and other related costs, our healthcare costs will be 180% higher than 2014 and 400% higher than 2012. Adding to the fun, Google, Facebook, Etsy Promoted Listings, Pinterest, Wanelo, Reddit, and Twitter just to name a few also have their hands on a slice of our pie. While we are even more embolden to soldier on in 2017 and take those challenges head on, I think many smaller start-ups and Etsy shops will be forced to close, cut back, or rethink the return on investment for a small business vs a 9 to 5 job. As Art is form of human expression and communication, the most talented artists would never consider abandoning their passion for creating and will either accept the title "starving artist" with a sense of indignation or perhaps even pride. On the other hand, consumers may actually benefit from the culling of the herds as "easy money" has fuelled a sort of glue gun and felt revolution, where the next millionaire is just one trip away from filling their cart at Hobby Lobby or Michaels and when the transactions go awry, customer service need not apply.
My sentiments from reading through threads on the Etsy forums, the majority of sellers posting are leaning towards closing their Amazon Handmade Shops, when Amazon institutes their pricey fee structure next year. From our prospective, increased fees are rarely comforting, but less competition could prove to be an excellent opportunity to grow our customer base. The next step forward will be carefully considering the returns on investments in listings, new products, venues, social media, and advertising to identifying the winning vs the loosing strategies. We are now forced to hire and start a payroll in order to have group insurance. With a new hire, comes fresh ideas, creativity, and talent. No one can ever count on making money being easy, but counting on change is a certainty in business and in life.