I was working late last night, or early in the morning — take your pick — teaching myself the basics of OpenOffice 4.1 in order to set up a simple database inventory and hook it up to a cash flow spreadsheet when the power suddenly went out.
I restarted my computer, and as Windows was rebooting, the power went down again. This is South Florida. This sort of thing happens here frequently.
Now granted this was the middle of the night, and to most locals, this early summer storm power outage will barely be noticed
At worst, the digital clock on their micros or cable boxes will be flashing mysteriously when they awake.
But for me, it was a potential disaster.
What if — gulp — my desktop was corrupted?
I ended up having to perform a disk repair in order to log in.
Fun is what it was.
Then I tried to connect to Needlepoint Land, and discovered a surge had somehow fried my WiFi.
So I had to disconnect the WiFi (this is still around 4am, mind you), troubleshoot my network connections, and put everything back together again
Finally connected, I tried to use Chrome to connect to WordPress.
Something was wrong.
I have several browsers installed on my desktop, including IE, but WP has basically made IE useless in terms of managing your blog.
And I could not use Mozilla to access WP, as I have all kinds of Ad blocking and spyware killing adons on Firefox, so that too was useless (I use Mozilla, or sometimes the slow, Tor version of Mozilla, when I browse the Internet.)
It was now 5am-ish
I had no choice to but to reinstall Chrome, and hope for the best. So I redownloaded and reinstalled Chrome. Still would not open.
I then rebooted Windows, on the off-chance that this would work.
It did, but it was now 5:30am-ish.
At least my comp was working. so I chalked up the past hour and a half as just another adventure in Needlepoint Land.
It got me thinking though.
To someone running a business, especially a startup business, power outages can be devastating — unless you have a UPS set up, that is to say, an interruptible supply of power in your home or office, which is of course yet another costly expense for the startup owner who is holding the line on expenses.
Also, I will have to have all my financial data backed up to on one of my battery-operated laptops or even a thumb drive, in case a power surge happens one summer day (which it will!), and blows away all my financial records on the desktop. (I happen not to want to have my financial info in the cloud somewhere on, say, Google Sheets.)
This got me to thinking, here I am, the owner of a start-up needlepoint store. Mine is a tiny little company that currently has one (unpaid) employee, me.
And I need a whole raft of skillsets that are completely unrelated to needlepoint stitching in order to make a successful go of this.
For those of you who might be interested in starting up your own store, here is what is a partial listing (in random order) of the skillset I have found necessary to start this venture:
1. technical understanding how to set up a complex blog that effectively supports your business by generating real traffic.
2. basic knowledge of HTML/CSS, YouTube, Vimeo, and video editing software
3. familiarity with various Windows OSs and screen capture software and wireless networking setup and troubleshooting
4. ability to set up a basic database to record inventory (using OpenOffice or other Office suites)
5. technical ability to seamlessly interconnect your database and spreadsheet accounting software
6. working knowledge of Gimp, or some other image manipulation program – this is essential
7. good understanding of accounting principles as these pertain to the retail business
8. familiarity with federal and state tax laws, including those regulating ecommerce
9. ability to make informed decisions regarding liability and property damage insurance
10. having the experience and skill to make attractive store layout decisions
11. sufficient resourcefulness to obtain and install store fixtures – some of which you will have to do yourself
12. enough retail experience not to make poor decisions regarding over allocating shelf space to low margin inventory – this is related to (10) but has more to do with optimizing your inventory
13. deep knowledge of the needlepoint business, including having working relationships with vendors and needlepoint designers, as well as having a very good knowledge of stitching techniques and thread choices
14. ability to perform effective SEO without spending a penny enriching Google
15. ability to make informed e-commerce decisions – including understanding the risks of credit card fraud and basic computer related security issues
16. deep knowledge of your customer base in order to make informed canvas and thread purchase decisions for your store
17. current knowledge of needlepoint trends and designs, at both the retail business level, as well as being on the constant lookout for new designs that will sell to your customers
18. ability to regularly write interesting blog content on a consistent basis. You need to be able to write something more compelling than just announcing your latest trunk show. That is advertising, not blogging, and will typically generate little traffic. As an entrepreneur, spending time blogging, only to end up with, say, 25 views a day, is a complete a waste of your valuable time,
19. photography skills – your merchandise has to look attractive. Know your camera or smartphone so you can do things like take panoramic shots of your store. You also have to have the patience to take thousands of pics, crop and upload them.
20. a positive, customer-facing disposition, as well as an ability to deal with constant uncertainty.
If you are contemplating owning your own needlepoint store, and do not have a partner or unlimited resources (in other words, you don’t have the cash to pay others to do the grunt work for you), please ask yourself whether you are ready, willing and able to wear all these different hats without suffering from a complete meltdown one week into the venture. Answer the question honestly: don’t kid yourself on this one.
Welcome to today’s world of modern needlepoint retailing!
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016