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Things on my mind...

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:51 pm
by Dave
Hi all,

As I dip my toe back into making QL spares again, I am applying the lessons learned from last time round:

1. Use a payment processor that doesn't hold on to payments randomly for 90+ days
2. Don't announce/pre-sell anything. Don't take money for anything that's not ready.
3. Don't spend money from a customer until you've shipped their parts
4. Have a CRM that works, so you know what needs to go where.
5. Don't have partners who bill you just for being involved
6. Communicate!

1. PayPal sucked. They often would just put random holds on international transfers for 30 or 90 days. More than half of them. I had just found Square towards the end of that whole process and they were reliable. They didn't make themselves a character in the transaction, and their fees were reasonable. They also had a really nice CRM system.

2. This hurt me. I often would be part way through testing and, because I tested thoroughly, I'd find some small technical issue that would require rework or similar. I'd then be stuck in a position where I had a dozen paid orders and an item I couldn't ship yet. So now I only announce things when testing is finished. If I need to redesign or make changes, what I have is already assembled and still ship-worthy. The revisions will make version 2. The way it hurt me was my dilemma of either holding up the entire order so I still only pay one shipping fee, or do I split the order and pay double shipping out of pocket? This happened more often than I'd like to admit.

3. Because half the income was tied up for one or three months, I found myself spending the other half of the income just to satisfy orders. No bueno. A customer's money needs to be isolated and not allocated until the items are shipped. I have decided the best way to approach this is to ONLY take money on items that are already packaged and ready to go. Money comes in, goods go out. Nobody waits.

4. The CRM was pushed onto me. It was clunky, and it was not editable. It didn't store basic information like what people ordered, and couldn't be made to do so. It simply had a check box for "completed".... What happened if someone placed a second order? It was pre-completed. Now, with Square, they provide a light stock and order summary. Per order.

5. Yeah, no. I'll just be me this time. I won't be paying myself, just rolling the money back into paying component/materials invoices and funding the next thing. She Who Must Be Obeyed has ruled that this hobby needs to be self-supporting and mustn't impact the household. So this isn't going to be a business. I'm just a hobbyist.

6. If things went wrong, I'd communicate badly or not at all. I guess I hoped to get it sorted more quickly. That was dumb. Instead,just avoid the need to communicate at all by just getting it right first time. Only sell what I have, only ship right away. Keep it simple. Don't over-think it.

So, I am waiting on slightly revised PCBs for two projects. I won't be making my Feb 14 planned date, so I'm pushing back to March 1st just so I have breathing room to test the new PCBs, assemble several, and make sure I have good stocks for launch.

I'm also reworking the Q68 dongle. It'll work on the QL and on any PC or any device with a standard PC serial port. Again, March 1st, maybe. I'm adding handshaking to it.

So, for simplicity, I'm pushing *everything* back to March 1st, even though much of it (Minerva, Q-Power 2, etc.) are ready now.

Re: Things on my mind...

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:57 pm
by NormanDunbar
Sounds like you have it all worked out Dave. Should be fine with those "rules".

Good luck.


Re: Things on my mind...

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:03 pm
by Dave
One of the things that distresses me from the last go around is that my former partner deleted the CRM system with two outstanding orders. So I have two orders that were not fulfilled, I don't know who they were or what they ordered. I do though have a more recent order where it's on a "when it's ready" basis, and that guy's going to score like a bandit with some free cool stuff in their order!