March/April 2013 in Review

“Life is so much more complicated these days what with all the new technology to keep up with,” my mother recently stated.  And truth be known, she doesn’t keep up.  Still, she was voicing what many of us feel from time to time, that learning new technology seems complicated and we wonder if it really saves time, money or effort.

In reading Cindy Noble’s article, Digital Library Essentials, in the March-April 2013 edition of the Saponifier, it’s easy to see that going digital can save time, money and effort.  We have so many more resources at our fingertips now, and even digital books are also less expensive than traditional books, not to mention the fact that they won’t fill bookshelf after bookshelf in our homes!  I remember not all that long ago having to make a point of going to the library to look things up that I wanted to know about.  If I wanted to buy a book, I had to either make a trip to a bookstore or send for a catalog, pick out my books, and send the order form and check back in and then wait for a couple of weeks for the books to arrive.  Yes, we are saving time and money when we use our technology efficiently.  Incidentally, Cindy suggestions for books to help you along in your business are outstanding.  If you haven’t read her article yet, you’ll want to.

Are you contemplating selling out of the country?  Tamara Dourney’sUnderstanding ISO Compliance is a must-read to help you get your business ready for new horizons and markets.  Of course, in order to sell, we also need good product photos.  You could hire a professional, and that isn’t a bad idea, but may be out of your current budget.  Tamara’s, Product Photography Revisited will inspire you to improve your photography.

If you’re selling products, you need to know about POS.  You don’t think you have one?  You do!  Quite simply, POS stands for, “point of sale,” and refers to the way you take funds from a customer, whether a cash box at the farmer’s market or a credit card.  Of course, it’s credit cards that have us scratching our heads, wondering if we can afford  to accept them or afford not to accept them and then which one to choose.  It’s a difficult maze, for sure, but Beth Byrne will make it easier for you if you read, POS and the Chandler.  She attempts to take some of the mystery out of determining which credit card company to use.

Should I Quit My Day Job?  Not only the title of Melinda Coss’ article, but a common question for entrepreneurs, it is puzzling to many of us who seek to make our businesses a full-time venture.  We can never be reminded enough of the importance of good, realistic planning in making a successful business.  Be sure to read Melinda’s article and take her advice to heart.

We are living in a time where natural is the buzz word.  If you offer natural products, your customers will be determining–with varying degrees of discernment, just how truthful your statements about your goods are.  If you purchase natural products or ingredients yourself, you are asking the same thing.  Helping you to do that is Tammy Lane in, Sifting Through the Hype.

If you’re a business owner, then you are likely thinking often about how you can get your margins up and your costs down.  To give you some practical advice on increasing your margins without necessarily increasing your prices, Marla Bosworth gives us, Work Smarter, Not Harder–Are Your Margins High Enough?  

Lest you think this issue is only about business, take a look at the fine articles that  Katherine Forrest, Victoria Donaldson and Elizabeth Sockol provided for our reading pleasure.  Katherine shares tips for making beeswax candles, while Victoria teaches us how to make a basic soap mold in just fifteen minutes.  Elizabeth informs us about the common Safflower.  How much do you know about it?  If you’ve read the article, we think you know quite a bit.

Last but certainly not least, pour over the photos in our Readers Showcase Gallery.  Every issues offers a feast for the eyes and inspiration from our subscribers.  Thanks to Fisika, Nancy Reid of Nature’s Soap and Mountain Farm’s soap.  If you’re looking for soap events, be sure to check out our Events page.

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Forecasting, Futurecasting and Measuring–it’s Your Business

Woot!  It’s here.  Did you check your email?  The May/June edition of the Saponifier is ready for download.

 

With its emphasis on futurecasting, you’ll find this issue very informative as you learn to negotiate business.  Tamara Dourney jumps right in with her article,  An Introduction to Predictive Analytics:  What is Futurecasting?  She describes Predictive Analysis and all of the concepts and terminology involved.  Embrace it and you’ll find yourself able to see where you are now, identify what your customer base wants, and how to provide it at lowest cost and in the least amount of time possible.

 

Marla Bosworth and Jennifer Kirkwood expand on the theme with their article,  How to use Forecasting to Spot Trends and to Develop Products.  Being small means being nimble, or the ability to watch for trends and to jump on products that meet those needs and wants.  This is something that is extremely difficult for large companies to do, but not small ones.  Stay ahead of the pack!

 

How do we find out just how well we’re doing?  Well, besides the obvious measure of money in the bank account, each business should follow the advice that Alexander Sherman doles out in,  Measuring Returns.  Teaching us how to calculate ROE (Return One Equity) and ROA (Return on Investments), Alexander shows us that we can judge how efficiently our businesses are using the capital that we pour into them.

 

If one of the trends you spot is candlemaking, check out Beth Byrne’s, Book review:  Candlemaking for Profit.  This no-nonsense treatise written by famed candlemaker, Robert Aley, is a gem when it comes to starting a candlemaking business.  You’ll want to find out why and how to get your copy.  Actually, if you’re planning to start any handcrafted business,  you’ll find value in this book.

 

Are you a technology maven?  You’ll be sure to enjoy, Web 3.0, by Cindy Noble.  Even if you aren’t among the tech savvy, you’ll enjoy learning about the new version of the internet–yes, there are versions!

 

Until next time, happy reading.

 

Beth Byrne

 

 

What do You Really Know About Fragrance Oils, and Other Goodies for Soapers

I was happy to read Cindy Noble’s, Understanding Fragrance Oils:  From Blending to Safety.  Learning about the building blocks of fragrance oils, terpens, carriers, alcohols, and chemical compounds helped me to understand what a fragrance oil is other than a bunch of chemicals mixed together with a carrier to make them skin safe.  Many of the terms I was familiar with, but not in the defined way Cindy presented them.  Some of it, I admit, was a little shocking, but fascinating, nonetheless.

In the delightful article, My Soap Went Up in Smoke, Larry Strattner regales us with his tale of his soap adventures and his good friend, Deb.  Through them, we learn that some basic rules and tricks of the trade would be useful for us to share with our customers.  This one was how we could help our customers keep their soap longer and proper storage of soap bars.  Your customers would be pleased to learn this information!

H.R. 2359:  heard of it?  How about its title, Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011?  If you haven’t, you need to read, An Update on H.R. 2359:  Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.  In one page, it sums up what the bill is about, its status and popularity, and commentary on why some support it and others oppose it.  It’s something you need to know about!  This bill was not sent to the House for a vote before their session ended in June, but may be brought up again when they reconvene, so any soap/cosmetic maker would do well to become familiar with the bill and track its progress.

Which article was most helpful to you?

Are You Business Savvy?

Have you been reading the new issue of the Saponifier?

I’m sure you’ll agree that our writers have outdone themselves this issue, especially if you own a business.

Niche?  Target audience?  What do these terms mean to you and your business success?  Read Marla Bosworth’s, Identifying Your Niche and Target Audience,” to find out!  If you don’t have one, you need to get one.  Marla warns us that instead of trying to be everything to everyone, we need to find a niche market to concentrate on.  But don’t forget to peruse the article, or you’ll miss out on some very helpful information.

If you want to keep it local, read Cindy Noble’s informative article, Backyard Marketing.  Find out how to put together a business prospectus, how to find the right demographics for your product, and how to get ready to market your business.  Additionally, get ideas on where and how to find good advertising sources so that your market can find you.  Cindy tells us that although the focus these days is on globalization and international markets, we can still find a foundation at home.

Did you attend the HSMG Conference in May?  If you did, read Beth Byrne’s review, Miami Bubbles with Soapmakers, to relive the excitement and energy.  If you didn’t attend, read it anyway to see what you missed!   Read who came to speak, who came to learn, vendor-sponsors who support us, and much more. You might even find yourself in a photo!

Happy reading!