Ups and downs of small business life

October 25, 2022

For 9 years, I was an elementary school teacher. I worked so hard to get there, really cared about my students, had a lovely community of colleagues, enjoyed what I did, and never really truly appreciated what a regular, non-fluctuating paycheque meant. I enjoyed excellent benefits for myself and my growing family, and even had a pension for when I retired! And can you believe it, I gave that all up to follow this dream of building a small natural skincare company.

This year was the first year since I gave up teaching in 2014, that I considered going back.

I never intended on starting a business. I wanted to replace the skincare products we were using as a family, with cleaner versions. Slowly, friends, colleagues and neighbours were curious about what I was doing and started asking for certain products. Then they became product testers, then customers, and it very slowly grew from there. My goal for Sola Skincare products were to use no fillers that are in soooo many products out there, no potentially harmful ingredients, no greenwashing.... I was so proud that I was providing products that folks could trust had the best ingredients, was run by a real person (me!) with a deep commitment to my family and community. My goal was to grow this small business slowly but surely. And that plan worked. Since I started Sola full time in 2014, it grew slowly but surely, helped along a lot thanks to our Coconut Deodorant being featured on a segment on The Marilyn Denis Show in 2016

I have a lot of small business friends, and follow and support a lot of small businesses on social media. If you aren't a small business owner, or don't have friends who have small businesses, or don't follow and support small businesses, you may not have noticed or heard what has been happening in the last two years. For many of us myself included, 2020 was my biggest year ever. I know for many brick and mortar stores it was not the same as the closures from the pandemic were brutal for so many small businesses, however for many online businesses, the outpouring of support for supporting small businesses in 2020, was absolutely incredible.

2021 started to show signs of sales slowing down, and 2022 has been even worse. I have seen so many posts, comments or read newsletters from fellow small businesses, talking about the decline. Worried, but assuming things will pick up... Unfortunately, it's getting to the point now, where I'm legitimately concerned about the future of my business.

My costs have gone up, but my prices have not. Shipping has gone up which is a huge deterrent for shoppers, which I get. I used to pay for the shipping charges for my customers for orders over a certain amount, but I can no longer offer that to my customers. There are many contributing factors, and based on what others have mentioned, they include but aren't limited to: inflation, rises in costs for food & gas, less $$ to spend on non-essentials...

I always related to the story "The little engine that could" because I believe that if I try hard enough, and do all the things, I can make this work. But to be honest, I'm trying just as hard, and doing all the things I used to do and more, and it's just not working anymore and I'm worried.

I ruminated on sharing this, it's a very vulnerable feeling to put yourself out there, to the whole internet and anyone's criticisms...

What does being vulnerable do besides making you want to throw up, lol.

This is so hard to write, as I prefer to share about happy things! Products or sales or customer reviews. But I figured it's time for some real talk because I could really use some support from this wonderful community.

If you are getting low on something, or wanted to stock up so that you'll always have some gifts on hand, now would be a great time to shop Sola.

If you are already stocked up or don't have the budget right now (trust me I get it), please consider heading over to Facebook or Instagram, like, comment or share some of our posts to your own feed. You can share your love our our business with family or friends who may love us too. Personal referrals are priceless and anytime we get a new customer, it's such an incredible feeling (yes, we do happy dances, it's not just an internet meme). 

It's so hard to ask for help and feel so vulnerable, even though I see it as brave, it's still hard. I thought about writing this, cried about it and ultimately asked myself, what's the worst that can happen. People will laugh at me? Pretty unlikely unless they are cruel and in that case I can't worry about that. People will want to help, either by purchasing Sola or participating on social media, which would both be excellent outcomes. People will know I'm struggling? Well, I mean... we all struggle, right?

One of the driving forces that's always been behind Sola is being honest and transparent, so this is honest and transparent, right? There still is that part of me that doesn't want to share this, wants to keep on pretending that everything is great and Sola is thriving and all that good stuff.... however, right now, Sola is struggling, and if Sola continues to struggle, I don't know how much longer Sola will be around. Honestly it would be heartbreaking for me as I'm really proud at what I've created with Sola, but I'll be okay.

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