leveraging assets

Brent is making me watch and I are riveted by these entrepreneurial videos that we’re watching. (There is a long history of Brent trying to show me educational/doctrinal DVDs… and me falling asleep almost immediately. I have tried caffeine, chocolate, folding laundry, etc. It seems I have narcolepsy.)

Anyway, what I watched before I fell asleep was very informative. (Does this already sound like a boring school book report?) Dude was talking about starting businesses and the qualities that make a good entrepreneur. Aside from the fact that he seems to think only men can be entrepreneurs, he listed Assets as a good leveraging tool for a successful business.

I may or may not have mentioned, but when I started making soap, Cheeky Maiden Soap Co was not anywhere near even a twinkle in my eye. Everything has happened somewhat by accident. I’m living proof that success is 90% Diligence. I have not read books on starting, owning, or operating businesses. I occassionally check out websites for mompreneurs, WAHMS, or whatever else you want to call them. But I quickly get bored. My husband on the other hand… he loves reading about that stuff. But always insisted that making soap was for girls.

Before Evie (our fourth child) was born, I was praying for a business partner. I knew we were headed in a big direction. Bigger than I could imagine, since I’ve never actually penned a “business plan” or had any goal other than keeping up with Cheeky Maiden’s growth.

Then, she made her grand entrance, and life as I knew it fell to pieces. Recovery took longer than ever, and Brent somehow found himself managing the website and packing all the orders. I’m fuzzy on the details, but I think it had something to do with me being confined to our upstairs bedroom for 7 days. I recall waving a flag out the window when I got hungry, begging passersby to stop and feed me.

And quite accidentally, we discovered that he was the best business partner for me and I couldn’t be happier.

My greatest asset? My husband. Hands down. I’m not quite sure how Cheeky Maiden got as far as it did without him. Up until October 2009, I did all the web design, the label design, any other marketing, order shipping, labeling, making, selling… whatever. It turns out that what he’s not good at, I am, and what I’m not good at, he is.

We still have the balance of working together and being husband/wife. The struggle that comes with this being “my” business and the idea that he works “for” me. (In reality I view it as “ours” and we work “together”, but I understand how he feels. I did it for four years on my own, and it is called “Cheeky Maiden”. Not exactly the manliest sounding joint to work for, huh.) He discovered that making soap is hard work, too. You get sweaty and dirty, have to lift lots of heavy stuff, and sometimes you get lye burns.

My man is currently in the process of redesigning all of our packaging.

Ahem. Anyone that has ever been over to “help” in the soap room will bemoan the tedious task of labeling the soap. Each bar had a front and a back label, which were printed on full sheet avery label paper. (Usually around 15 labels per sheet). Then, we had to cut the labels out. By hand. Brent’s first purchase was a paper cutter. It revolutionized the process. I could cut labels three times as fast. But it still took a lot of time. And afterwards we still had to peel the backing off of each little label (front and back for each soap, remember) and then stick it on the soap.

It’s also good to remember that I work in 15 minute increments, usually with a baby either on my back or at my heels, and children asking me a dozen questions a minute. In other words, I’m distracted and in a hurry. Labels get cut short or crooked, and then slapped on the soap by a 5 or 6 year old. And… it looks like it usually.

Enter Brent. He redesigned the labels so that all the information fit on just one label per soap. Then we found a nifty company that made label paper with the labels already cut out,like a sheet of stickers. So, all he had to do was line our newly designed labels up on their template and print. Then it’s just peel and stick. JUST PEEL AND STICK!

Not only do we not have to peel that stupid backing off with our fingernails, but we don’t have to cut anything out. And the paper is half the price of the full sheets we were buying before. HALF THE PRICE!

Half the stickers, half the price, half the work.

Tada! New packaging:

(This is officially the worst product photo you will ever see. Camera is long overdue for a trip to the shop. My apologies)

Here’s a side by side. My old label is on the left and his is on the right. (Remember the old version also required a label on the back of the soap, not pictured for obvious reasons.)

This is just one of the areas that Brent has made more efficient in our work.

Not only is he handy, but…

he’s cute…

…and he’s good with kids…

So, Mammas. Who do you have sitting in your very own home with untapped abilities?

If you are thinking of starting your own family business, have you considered the skills that your husband and children have that could be assets?