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To The Fellow Small Business Owner

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Hi Friends!

Raise your hand if you have a small business, want to start a small business, used to own a small business or have been involved in one in some way shape or form.

:raises hand high:

I'd love to chat for a few minutes. I just need to vent and be real for just a smidge.

You guys, this is hard freaking work. There I said it. Don't hate me as you continue to read. I have been blessed to have Buddha Bunz in business for 12 years now.. that just blows my mind. There were, and still are times when I wonder if I should keep going. There were, and still are times when I am just beside myself at how people find my website and I get a few orders in a day. Like you, how amazed am I that you are even reading this right now!

I do this business from our tiny house (no not an official tiny house, but pretty darn close), with 3 of the 5 kiddos that still live at home, in the spare room. I still hand make each and every dryer ball that leaves these doors. I dye each ball. I package each ball. I write each thank you note. I attach each label. I still buy my fiber from the a mill here in the US. Try to answer each e-mail and message (yes I am not the best at this you know). I post each picture on social media. Normally all of this with a baby either in my arms or at my feet.

There are days when the business work just flows out of me and at the end of the day I have completely rocked that day. All e-mail's are answered, all orders are shipped, the office (spare room lol) is clean, no one is upset with me. And there are days.. and weeks.. and sometimes months when its like my brain just can't get it together, the dots aren't connecting. The last thing I want is to go sit at that tiny desk and touch a dryer ball. I can't answer a question, even when I have the answer. I can't put that ball in that bag and log in and ship it.. because.. I have no idea! There are days that I spend hours and hours and hours stabbing bamboo balls, my hands are callused and red, my back hurts from hunching over, I'm covered in fiber and I log in and see how behind I am and I feel... so... defeated. Then there are days when someone says the smallest kindest thing to me and it sparks all of the joy all over again. There are days when I feel like some magic dryer ball work at home Mom fairy and things go so smooth and easy I feel like I'm floating. So I keep going.

This.. this is all completely normal. This is having a business at home.

Over the past 12 years I have dealt with so many other ups and downs of having a small (and by small I mean small small.. like on the scale of small, I'm down at the very bottom, but I'm still there!) business. When I began I was the only person who sold wool dryer balls on a website to the mass public.. THE ONLY ONE. Can you believe that. There were a few tutorials about how to make them out of yarn. There was one Mom on a chat page I was on that made the most amazing needle felted wool dryer balls, they were blow your mind amazing.. I have never made one as awesome.

I taught myself everything, and yall, I had no idea what I was doing.. I still don't.. don't tell anyone, but I am still totally winging this thing. But I dealt with learning about competition, learning about retailers, wholesale, talking to celebrities, taking trips to talk to the biggest cloth diaper manufacturer about doing private label, turning down Shark Tank, magazines, blog posts, reviews, website, html, packaging, wording, customer service... on and on. And honestly, I don't know if anyone can teach you a lot of those things. I'll help the best I can, but it's kinda like your kids, you just have to let them learn it on their own through experience. You have to fail and then get back up again to see what works for YOU and YOUR business. It's not cookie cutter for each business. What works for me may not work for you. And not only with that but with the industry changes, social media changes, algorithms, interests etc you just have to learn to roll with the punches and adapt.

One thing I can't really teach you, but I can maybe prepare you for is being hurt. I have been hurt, I've been hurt bad, I have cried many many tears, I have talked my husband, my sister, my Mom, my Dad, my friends, my kids heads off. And I have picked myself back up, lifted my chin and moved forward. But yall, being hurt sucks. I can only compare it to having a teenager.. you love them.. but you just aren't ready for when they hurt your feelings. Sometimes I will be on a high and feeling so proud and so confident and then something knocks me back down.

It happened the other night, after an amazing talk with my sister I was feeling so good, so confident, so proud of where I am and what I have done. You can buy a wool dryer ball just about anywhere now days.. the dollar store, walmart, amazon.. but somehow my little business is still trucking along. I have something that they don't, I have love, passion, art, I have stuck with my gut and made them by hand myself, never outsourcing to New Zealand wool, never getting them made in Nepal or China, I have a warranty, I have proven that my dryer balls will last you basically forever. I added bamboo dryer balls years ago, 10 I think, but they are so hard to make I gave up on it. I brought them back about 2 years ago.. still no easier to make.. but the vegan and zero waste customers and stores are huge right now so I knew it would be good to be able to offer them something that no one else could.

But being on a high, always seems to come at a price and it came swiftly that evening when I sent a customer to one of my new retailers for some in stock bamboo balls. They checked out their social media and were super excited to see a photo of my dryer balls, but noticed that in their post they didn't mention me, which is totally fine because my product doesn't typically come in packaging. But the part that was hurtful was in the post of my product they mention that they are now going to be making them in house themselves and offering wholesale to their customers. In the listing on their website it says they are made by a Mom in Oregon. Well shoot.

Yall, don't get me wrong.. the point of telling you this wasn't because I can't handle competition. I went through that fire 10-11 years ago and made it through and trust me it got ugly at times in the ole work at home mom dryer ball making world, but for the most part I just sat back and did my own thing. I welcome it in fact, it's healthy, it's normal and without a doubt there is no way I can make enough bamboo dryer balls for as many people that want them and right now from what I can tell I am the only one really offering them in larger quantities than onesies twosies. But the part that does bother me is I work really really hard on those bamboo balls. If you've ever ordered them from me you've probably noticed that it takes even longer to get them than my wool balls.. because they are that hard to make. If you've ever needle felted anything by hand I know you totally get me right now. And not only did I not get any credit but you're going to talk about how you're going to make them.. so you're going to use my product to market your future product. I don't know, it all just messed with my head a bit.

The whole point of me telling you all of this and rambling on is to tell you not to get sucked up into it, not to spend too much time on these kinds of things. If it is big, by all means, address it, speak up and say something and then move forward. But just like I learned with each lesson in business.. take it in, process it, decide what you can learn, how you can grow, what can you change, what should you change, how can you be different, how can you not treat others the way you were hurt, how can you support someone with this knowledge you now have, how can you shine your light. Hear my words, do not grow your business by taking away the hard work of others. Lift each other up. Shine your light and watch how you will light up someone elses life. You can make a difference. And just like so many times this hurt sparked something inside of me. I have something coming that I'll need testers for. I stocked up on a ton of product yesterday that will be here in the next week. I bought my customers little pencils with awesome quotes on them just to make them smile even more when they get their packages. I won't be brought down, I will shine even brighter.

If you ever need a reminder, here are a few ways you can help out a fellow small business, you just never know when your kind word may make the difference in the future of their business.. or maybe even just in putting a smile on a tired worn out ole work at home Mamas face tonight:



Share, like, love and comment on a small businesses posts. Even if they are competition, come on, there is enough hate in the world, love on someone who shares your same passion, I promise you will be rewarded.

Purchase from a small business. Shop small, sure you can get a cute hair bow from Amazon.. but how much would it mean to a Mama on Etsy if you purchased from her?

Give a small business a genuine compliment. Next time you walk into your local bike shop take 30 seconds to tell them how good the shop looks, tell the manager when a sales person goes above and beyond for you. Take an extra few minutes to walk into a local shop and spend some time there. Smile and make small talk.

Leave a review. Small businesses thrive on reviews, and if you could only see our faces when someone leaves a heartfelt review on something that we have worked so hard on.

Tell your friends. Have you purchased something you love from a small business? Share it, post a picture, tell a friend, post a picture on the business social media, tag them.

Share with the business when you receive your product. Get something in the mail? Pick up something locally? Post a picture of it on their social media with a simple thank you.

And in the end Mama.. Dads.. keep your chin up. You can do this. You're already doing this. Keep going. Don't give up because you had one hard day. Don't give up when someone leaves one bad review. Let your bad days fuel your good days and spark a fire in you. And when you do have a bad day.. it's OK to have a bad day. Feel the emotions and move forward. And in the end, know that I've got your back!

Melinda


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