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Y'know what you should do?


One of the best parts of starting a business is getting to dream up ideas for products to make, considering how products should be branded/packaged, and then finally, imagining the outlet in which you plan to offer your goods to the public (be it a brick & mortar retail shop or online wholesale distributor). There's plenty more to consider as well (& maybe not the most fun part of operating a business): do we (or can we) manufacture our own products or will we be a reseller? Who should we sign with for processing credit/debit card sales? What's our best way to manage inventory/workflow most efficiently? Who's the best accountant/bookkeeper/tax preparator? What types of inspections do we have to undergo and how much does that cost? Do we really need the world's biggest fire extinguisher when we don't have a deep fryer? How many donations can various organizations possibly request from a start-up business? What type of insurance do we need? Will every tradeshow, market, or fair we participate in actually yield “good exposure” for our business? And so on and so on... Basically for all the great aspects of starting a business, there are plenty of unsavory and unpleasant things that have to be dealt with as well.

Someone once told me that you spend the first couple of years deciding what type of business you are NOT. And I believe they said this because they had experienced most of the mistakes a first time business owner takes while trying to get a grip on the reality of dealing with the public.

I bring this up, not so much as a complaint, but to raise some awareness of what your local start-up business person may be experiencing and why they may be wincing after you say, "you know what you need to do with your business and/or products?" Many times, the general public may have very little idea or concept of what it takes to create things out of a meltable product such as chocolate. A cool environment with low-humidity and lack of odor of any kind (as chocolate will absorb smells) is required. Working with chocolate also requires lots of patience, such as monitoring temperature closely and ensuring that specific amounts of ingredients are added in the proper order (we're talking tenths of grams here). As products are made and at their peak in terms of flavor, truffles and other filled chocolates will only last a number of weeks before spoiling. These are aspects you hardly hear about on The Food Network while their big contests/challenges are taking place.

We certainly appreciate people offering up helpful ideas in hopes of increasing sales; but more often than not, we encounter a number of concepts that either wouldn't work with our products or fall outside of our concept for a handmade artisan chocolate company. In keeping with our original business model to maintain a boutique-style/upscale selection of products, we must adhere to a high quality of raw product and close attention to detail in packaging and appearance. In other words, suddenly concocting a product for a specific purpose just to see if it will fly is no easy (or inexpensive) task. As for now, our current largest obstacle we are working to overcome is our location. The building we are in is about to undergo a renovation that will further separate us from potential clients dropping by to place orders for wedding favors or gift baskets. We also are unable to put up signage, so we’ve been operating by paid advertisements and word of mouth. We realize that the building is a maze. But what are the trade-offs for this? Cheaper overhead to ensure quality products for our customers.

The impetus for this post has been a long time coming as we continually hear unconstructive criticism from the general public. We’ve even had one visitor seek us out to make an appearance only to say, “you guys are too hard to find!” before leaving without a purchase. So please bear with us as we continue to develop our business model in hopes of better serving our customers and clients. Before long we hope to have parking, seating, and fewer excuses for people to not drop by to experience what we’ve been working on.

Next common myth/topic to address:
"Owning a business means you are wealthy."

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