I've sold a few sets of wool dryer balls now, and I've been keeping track of my expenses and income. I don't know if selling wool balls is going to become a proper little business or not, but I'm treating it that way.
So yesterday I updated my tracking spreadsheet with all of my sales to date and related expenses, and discovered a gratifying little bit of profit. I know a business has to generate enough money to cover its expenses at the very least, and preferrably enough more to give something back to whoever's doing the work (besides the satisfaction of work well done. Which is nice and all, but doesn't trade well for goods and services.)
With some actual profit in my pocket, I decided it was time to buy some more yarn, to make more wool balls, to make more sales, to have more money to buy more yarn and make more balls. (See? I'm picking up this business stuff pretty quick, aren't I?) This is one of the really fun parts for me, looking at yarn colors and planning attractive color sets. I tried a different store for my materials-shopping and was pleased to find a greater selection of colors to play with -- score! I spent a good long while pondering options and selecting colors, planning how to split one ball out of a skein to match with this shade and another ball to match something else, and finding the perfect extra skein to make everything work.
Pleased with myself, I finally gathered up my armful of yarn and marched off the cash registers. I dumped everything on the counter to be rung up, and discovered that in my enthusiasm for designing wool-balls-to-be, I had overspent my budget. I had put my tiny, fledgling, pretend business in the hole.
Okay, I didn't actually go over by that much. We're not talking about too-big-to-fail, government-bailout territory here. But I had intended to only use money made by selling wool balls to buy more yarn, and I ended up spending some money I had not made by selling wool balls. I had a plan, and I didn't stick with it. I started out by paying attention to how much money I was prospectively spending, I really did, but then I stopped tracking the money when I got distracted by the fun.
I said earlier this week that if nothing else, selling wool balls would be an opportunity to learn something, and here's an important early lesson. Wiser heads than me can debate how much business debt is reasonable to carry, if any at all. But even beginner-me knows it's better to spend money one has than money one does not have.
Beginnings are important. Habits start forming as soon as we repeat our actions, and so our choices at the beginning of a new venture have a strong affect on the course that venture will take. Absentmindedly spending money I haven't earned to make new products, with only the hope of earning money from those products, is not a habit I want to encourage. So I'm taking note of the lesson. I need to think seriously about how I will prevent doing this in the future. But in the meantime, I have a lovely new pile of yarn waiting for me, and it's time to get to work.