The fifth installment is the increasing inappropriate nomenclature of the one-off newsletter.
Another year, another chance to reflect on what has gone before. Another January, another stress filled few weeks as I try to conjure some new font, new style and new approach to this, what was originally a letter of excuses and apology for late orders, but has now become an annual dissertation and humourgram.
For you it is a bit of fun to read, for me, a labour of love that consumes my mind for weeks, causing distractions in the middle of a rally, waking me at 2am with brilliant literary ideas, and then like a dream, vanishing in the mists of the night's breeze. A languid breeze that languishes just long enough to wrestle the notions from my mind and carry them to an ethereal plain that in my conscious existence I cannot grasp.
That is, my best ideas are when I am asleep and I can't remember a damn thing in the morning. Must stop taking those pills. Ah pills......
2004 was a tough year for many of you and as a result for us. While we exceeded our targets and grew at twice the rate I had planned, retail sales, we were told endlessly by the Bureau of Lies and False Figures, were also growing at a rate high enough to stir the cockles of the Banks reserved gentlemen, interrupting their monthly soirée and luncheon. Of course overall sales have grown. But they never take into account that whilst sales have grown at several percent, the number of shops has risen by a higher percentage and thus the individual take for many is down.
This means lower profits, means less cash flow, means longer time to pay bills, means I go hungry most of winter and our new products do not arrive in time for the trade fair.
And so the cycle goes and goes...
This is the crux of the small business problem, you and I face all the time. Large retailers and wholesalers have reserves, overdrafts, security, release more shares, while we have to juggle funds, or simply delay payments. As a small business, unlike the larger wholesalers, I do not have the overdraft luxury or cash reserves to dip into when my cash flow falls. Especially at a time when growth is high.
In another nutshell, please pay me first as I don't have the capacity to store nuts for the winter hibernation.
Hmm, definitely mixing metaphors and verse. Was much better and more comprehendible in the dream.
To give you an idea of how we changed since the first newsletter 7 years ago, yes I know this is the fifth newsletter, yes 7 years is right because as all of my "foundation" customers will tell you, I did not send out a newsletter in the second January, because the first was a ONE-OFF newsletter. However I capitulated to popular demand and threats and have written something every January since then.
By the way this is the largest of the newsletters and it comes with its own Extended DVD version, with extras and features not available in this format.
No region coding, no pop up ads, (hm better check that) or pay per view sites, just this newsletter in colour, with ads, I mean specials and other stuff that has not been created at the time this section was written.
How fractured flowers has changed over 7 years
In 1998 I had no staff, had a part time job, and worked out of the garage. I paid no rent, no wages, and carried very little stock. In 2004, I have 4 staff plus agents, 2 warehouses, an office, and carry enough stock to fill 15 containers.
In 1998 all accounts were proforma and I weighed 68kgs. In 2004, hmmm, accounts are a struggle to control and I weigh 62kgs. Silver lining on every cloud.
In 1998 I had no plans to import anything. In 2000 I brought in 1/5 of a container. In 2001, our first FCL, and in 2004 10 FCL's.
In 2001 a FCL was approx $2100 door to door. In July 2004 it has risen to around $3300, and at the time of writing this sentence, (better check, it's been 15 minutes since I got the prices), the cost had risen to over $8000 per FCL. That's an increase of over 200% in 6 months, a rise in costs we did not pass on in 2004.
IN 1998 I had 2 healthy cats, was single, lived in an old house with 2 others, and did things on the weekend. In 2004, my cats have gone, (I couldn't even drive myself home from the vets), still single, live in a better place, and I am writing Newsletters on the weekend instead of whatever it was I used to do. Hmm think the pills affect memory too.
In 1998 my entire business was deluxe potpourri and fragrant oils. In 2004, potpourri was only 20% of my sales, but the quality and way we hand blend has not changed. I still suffer from allergies to the potpourri but at least now I'm only sick from 20% of the business and thus my near death experiences are also down by around 80%.
In 1998, it took me just 3 days to write the first Newsletter without any stress.
In 2005 I can only manage a pale imitation of the original, much like National Treasure is to The Da Vinci Code. Unlike those, there is no symbology or iconography here, and no clues for missing treasure or great revelations about .... ( spoiler free zone)
New Contact Details
We finally have telephonic services in our factory, so no more coming home to a messagebank full of calls that mount, drop off the system, or sometimes get inadvertently ignored, I mean, looked into thoroughy and resolve themselves before I complete my investigation.
Our phone and fax are now Zen, they are as one.
So now you can reach me during office hours all the time, and I can rest peacefully at home. Knowing that I won't get (too many) calls late at night, or even on Sunday evenings. ( They won't be getting this newsletter.)
Also the website has been refurbished with new layout and colour scheme.
I suppose I should enlighten readers to that which is coming soon, returning soon, and ending soon. ( Sorry the newsletter still has some way to go.)
Our Potpourri Mists are returning but now they are back in GLASS! So no more floppy bottles and all the spicy and Christmas fragrances can be ordered.
We are releasing many new decorator packs and potpourris, in this seasons decorating colours. That is, last years colours still going strong, like brown, brown, and brown, in light, dark, mid, mocha, coffee, with some almond, mint, black, red, and French blue thrown in to hide the fact that we are still decorating in brown for another year. I again blame The Da Vinci Code, and its author Dan Brown. Ok maybe there is some symbology and segues here to search for.
We also have lots of new sticks, spheres, vases and other larger decorating ideas in all your favourite decorating colours, ie shades of brown.
For all that is new some things must give way. Those items that I have doomed to discontinuation, or simply not available anymore, I don't want to make anymore, or AQIS is proving to be real (blanks) over, can be found on the DVD version of this newsletter, or if not, then on the website in the specials section.
Sydney in February, well you either are already here and reading this whilst eating a Wendy's, or you didn't make the sojourn and we kindler posted you as I don't like being forgotten.
Brisbane in July: we might be back in our little cosy hotel surroundings, doing our pleasant and relaxed showing along with the other lines represented by Sixstar Agencies, if Karen is "well enough" by then, and by Coastal Agencies. Drinks and food as usual, though maybe this year we might get out of the lounges rather than simply using a bamboo pole to point to all the new items. Well maybe Karen will be excused from that.
Melbourne in August: yes despite the weather I will be there, in the main hall. I hope to secure a larger stand, but that is dependent on successfully scaring off my "former" neighbours, bribing the GHA Board, surreptitiously moving the wall panels between my stand and next door, or burning down whomever tried to book next to me.
Sydney in September: not on your life. During the Finals, with the Dragons and Swans both doing so well at this the business end of the season. I am sure I will be elsewhere, like across the road losing my voice cheering my team and jeering the umpires and referees, unless it's Tim Mander.
So much more to say and tell, and so little space left. Oh. Actually I've gone 33 lines over already. Ok this will be a 4 page newsletter. Now to pad it out.
I could rant and rave about so much more, like what movies were worth seeing in 2004, and what's coming. Or I could just make the font bigger and put in larger headings.
Let's see... which will it be.