Monday, October 17, 2016

Show me the Orders

September has come to an end and hopefully the order drought has too. It's be one of the quietest months in a very, very long time. Not only have I not broken even but I'm pretty sure I spent more than I made - not a good thing. I've pulled in the purse strings as much as I can. I've tried to be more regular with blogging. I'm forever tweaking the Rainbow Designs website. I'm Facebooking semi regularly which seems to be losing likers instead of gaining more or at the very least entertaining and informing our current likers.

It's a slow decline but I am truly hoping that it'll hit bottom and start it's climb back up again very soon. I'm missing the busyness of my daily work life. It really messes with you confidence when your business, that you've been running for 14 years, is starting to fail in a big way. What went wrong? I'm happy to plod along and get a consistent amount of orders daily. Pay my bills and save a bit but I'm not even doing that. Paying my bills, just, no savings.

The last couple of weeks have been an absolute nightmare in terms of delivery. Both companies I use, Fastway Couriers and Australia Post have let me down big time. This does not make my business look good and costs me money. Money which I don't have.

I really need to start focusing on Christmas.We do have our Christmas Hampers on the website and I've got the Christmas labels already to go as well. We've got the Christmas wrap and tissue paper at the ready now it's just promoting and reminding people we're still here.

I have found a lot of people, even businesses, leave their Christmas gift ordering to the very last minute no matter how many times we remind the via Facebook, emails etc at least with Christmas falling on the weekend it does give us a few extra days with delivery plus Australia Post and often Fastways will be delivering on the Saturday before Christmas too - always a huge help. The often deliver on Saturdays all through December just because of the volume of parcels and letters they have.

Fingers crossed to a happy and busy festive season :-)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Coffee to Tea

I've always been a coffee drinker right from when I started work oh so long ago! Never got into tea even though my mum and nan were big tea drinkers. Not sure why really, I love the smell of brewing coffee. Tea just doesn't have that same aroma does it?

About 18 months ago I had health issues and had to have surgery and, do you know what? I went off coffee. Weird. I just didn't like the taste of it any more and it didn't seem to like my body any more either. So what's a girl to do but try tea. I love a hot bevvie in the morning and couldn't give it up just because I didn't like coffee any more. I started with green tea. I like green tea but it's just doesn't have that same aaahhhhh feeling as a yummy coffee did. So I tried a 'normal' tea - black tea with milk and surprisingly I liked it! I like it strong but milky, if that makes sense! I bit like my coffee actually.

Off and on I've been drinking coffee but mostly if I'm out and can get a yummy barista made latte. I don't like instant coffee at all. I tried some recently, when I was away, from a coffee machine, eewwwwww. Not nice at all so I stuck with tea.

Funnily enough, this coffee machines coffee wasn't too bad.
Camomile tea is now my thing for the evening as I have trouble sleeping well and thought this might help. Not sure if it is or not but I've got into my little ritual of having a camomile tea just before heading to bed to read - I'm a real nanna now ;-)

Green tea is meant to help with digestion, thought I'd test that theory!

I had thought that drinking much less coffee and more tea it might help with my sleeping but it doesn't appear to have made any difference, obviously caffeine wasn't the cause of my bad sleeping. Although, I would never have a late night cup of coffee as that DID have an adverse affect of sleep. Makes sense though.

Occasionally when I'm out and about I'll shout myself a barista made coffee never a tea, I don't mind paying for a coffee but not for a tea. It's a tea bag and they still charge the same as a yummy coffee, why is that? Mum found out that on the train (xpt) you can bring your own tea bag and just buy a cup of hot water for $1 instead of $3.50 plus if you bring your own mug (with lid) you get the hot water free! I guess you could also do that with coffee and just bring a coffee bag.

So even though I don't drink as much coffee as I use to I still like to start my day with a hot drink, not sure if I'd get much work done otherwise!

Are you a tea or coffee drinker? Maybe neither?

ps: Happy birthday mum. xx

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Glamorous Life of a Small Business Owner

Ha ha, glamorous, now that is funny! The most glamorous thing about running my business is wearing a necklace while I unpack tissue paper.

Friday I generally schedule in 'clean and tidy' in amongst 'dirtying and messying'. I do try and keep relatively tidy during the week and put things back in their place but things still get a tad untidy come the end of the week. I also work from home so it's basically just my weekly housey clean with the work room and office area included.

Today I've started with vacuuming as it is my most detested job of all. Hate vacuuming with a passion only surpassed by my hate of ummm nope nothing comes close to vacuuming hatred :-)

Next up is desk tidying, although I have to say I am pretty good at keeping my desk clean. I just stuff everything in a drawer or two ;-)

Final clean is the workroom. Time to track down all those rogue lollies that flung themselves off the bench and rolled away like a ninja turtle.

It's a good little workout (not sure if good is quite the right word) but a workout none the less. I do a full on 'spring' clean once every 6 weeks or so and by that I mean I move my furniture! The work room is the only one I do this a lot more regularly - gotta keep that place spick and span. It isn't quite so bad or important currently as I am not actually packing the lollies in there but I may again in the future so want to ensure its clean and tidy when I start back again.

My place is pretty small so it doesn't really take me long at all to get it clean, thank goodness, and I don't have any stairs. These are a nightmare to vacuum (hey dad!).

After everything is all shiny and new again I'll plonk myself down in front of my laptop with a cuppa and a choccie bikkie or some M&M's and blog about it ;-)

Glamorous life indeed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Inspirational Paralympics

Who watched the Paralympics? I had the TV on most mornings. LOVED IT. They are amazing and certainly kept me in check the last few weeks. It made me DO things I would make excuses as to why I can't do them. I saw swimmers with no arms, a table tennis player with no arms and they were DOING IT. There were blind runners and bike riders. The word got used a lot during the paralympics but they are INSPIRING.

I hope I can keep this feeling of 'I CAN' long after the games have ended. It was nice having them on in the background. I used them as my own little cheer squad. I think I cried every day I watched them. They were all just so honest and had so much self belief, I wished I could absorb some of it!

Our paralympians did Australia and themselves PROUD. I only hope I can be half as strong and humble and caring and amazing as they are.

I'm glad that it was shown on television in a much larger way than it even has been. Ch7, Jo Griggs and the whole team did an outstanding job. They are the sort of people you dream about working with. Hard working, caring with a sense of being lucky and priviledged to be able to work on the Paralympics. 

Coooweeeeee to you all. I'm going to miss watching you and cannot wait until Tokyo! 

I've been having a horrible time with my business and have been really struggling with making it work. It's really getting close to not being a business any more and I worry constantly how I am going to pay my bills BUT after watching the Paralympics I know there IS a way. I just need to find it and believe in myself that I can do it. It's going to be hard, very hard and to be honest I am not sure if I am strong enough but I will keep reminding  myself of the athletes I watched and dig deep like they all did. They didn't give up, they pushed themselves and their bodies to do things most people would say, 'you can't do that'. I know everyone is different and not everyone could cope when faced with such loss and hard work and change BUT a lot of people can! 

Onwards and upwards, stronger, better, happier.

Friday, September 16, 2016

One Step Forward Two Steps Back

It's been one of those weeks, again. Every morning I get up and make myself think of good, happy cheery things. Think of what needs to be done and what things I should be focusing on to get Rainbow Designs making money again.

It starts well, with a coffee while my computer fires up and writing down any ideas I had overnight but then...............blah. The emails come in and in the 'orders' folder there's zero or one and in the 'customer enquiry' there's one. What will that 'one' be? Maybe them thanking me, for once, or maybe it's another one chasing up their parcel.

Why is it that couriers find it so hard to do their job properly?? Why why why?? To be honest, over the last few weeks I have had very few orders but I have had to still chase up parcels. It is so frustrating and disheartening. It makes me and my business look bad when I have done everything I can do. Process and send the order as soon as humanly possibly and then I get let down, again and again, by the couriers. My customer doesn't care who is to blame as they order with me, with Rainbow Designs. So in their mind 'we' have let them down and it's true, we have.

Couriers take no responsibility with late deliveries, with damaged deliveries, with no deliveries, with incorrect deliveries. It is an absolute nightmare chasing things up with them and even if they do finally get back to you it's almost always too late and not good enough. No refund is ever offered. I think maybe once or possibly twice I have received an refund, well partial refund, over the last 12 years and I can tell you I have unfortunately had far more then two wrong deliveries made!

Delivery prices have gone up A LOT over the last few years and I have always absorbed these cost, now to the near detriment of my business. I honestly believe if I have any more orders that get stuffed up by courier companies and my customer requests a refund I will be out of business.

So pull your fingers out Fastway Couriers and Australia Post and do your friggen job. I am tired of having to deal with problems caused by you. I am tired of dealing with your so called customer service staff and their indifference. I am tired of having to wait WEEKS for anyway to even bother to look into an incorrect delivery! Do you think MY customer is happy waiting this long?? NO THEY ARE NOT. My deliveries are GIFTS which generally mean they are time sensitive so LATE or WRONG deliveries mean that the gift is no longer needed or wanted.

I am currently trying, unsuccessfully so far, to chase up an express parcel that was scanned by Australia Post as delivered but was never received. Why is this such a hard thing to do. It's not like they are new to the business of delivering parcels - surely they should have a better system in place for chasing up parcels. What's the point in tracking? What's the point in paying extra for express if it never gets there anyway?

So I am ending this week with a big fat loss, thank you Australia Post and thank you Fastways. Not only am I losing money I am most definitely losing customers. You don't think that my customers will ever order with me again when they have had so much trouble with their last order? It doesn't matter now what I do, they're not coming back and more than likely they'll tell many people, possibly even online, not to use Rainbow Designs.

Jacqui ~ disheartened Rainbow Designs owner

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Chocolate a Day

I started Rainbow Designs way back in 2004 with an idea of filling noodle boxes with lollies and/or chocolates and maybe eating some myself. Things have changed over the last 12 years but lollies and chocolates and me eating them still remain the same!

Currently I don't physically pack the gifts, giving my body a break from all the standing and bending, but I still eat chocolate and do everything else that comes with running Rainbow Designs. Processing orders, updating orders, tracking parcels, following up couriers, paying (many, many) bills, emailing, texting, online marketing, blogging etc. I'm currently focusing on Christmas. For the most part the gifts will be the same but will be updated with Christmassy loveliness.

Christmas Bubbles

Sometimes I do miss the day to day of filling boxes and packing orders but then my body gives me a little warning sign when I've pushed myself a bit too much and I am thankfully that I have some wonderful people doing all of that work for me :-) The noodle boxes may have gone but the theme and first idea of lolly and chocolate gifts is still there. I've tried to keep Rainbow Designs as close to how I pictured it way back when as I can. Times do change of course and gifts need to be tweaked here and there to keep up with peoples likes and expectations - I think I've been able to do that.

Little Sweetie

I still love to have some chocolate daily and for the most part you will always find some type of chocolate either on my desk or stashed at the back of the fridge. Don't want the 'kit kat' incident to happen again! Currently my stash consists of m&m's (of course, always a favourite), a mix of choc buds and the occasional block of cadbury.

Rainbow Designs may never have become a million dollar business or a household name but I do hope that it will continue to run and thrive and enable me to pay my bills and occasionally have some r&r, into the future. I don't know how I would cope if I didn't have Rainbow Designs in my life. Something I do know though is that I really need to focus on marketing, promotion and advertising. Even with basically no budget for this it NEEDS to be done. Online business really relies on being found and being found fast and easily. If you don't show up on page 1 or 2 in google you may as well not be in the search pages at all. Unfortunately Rainbow Designs isn't doing too well on that front and it is something I HAVE to work on if I want to stay in business (and pay my bills!).

It's all about the chocolate (and lollies!)

I have a lovely life but know it won't take much for it to change for the bad and end up with nothing or worse minus nothing so WORK WORK WORK is what I must do. I'm sure that sounds familiar to most of us! ;-)

Enough talking (writing) time for another coffee (or maybe tea, I've just started drinking tea and finding I quite like it. Not as heavy on the belly as coffee and doesn't give you coffee breath).

Wishing you a day, week, month of things going as you want, need and hope for! Here's to us :-)

Jacqui ~ chocoholic owner of Rainbow Designs

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Smooth Chocolate Festival

I have been looking forward to this weekend since last year! CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL, what's not to love?? I went in 2015 and as soon as it was announced it was on again in this year we booked our plane and hotel and counted down the weeks! It's a great event to use as 'research' while getting to enjoy the beautiful Sydney Harbour and chocolate in so many forms.

Lindt Chocolate

We arrived in Sydney on Friday morning to gorgeous blue skies, lucky as we had to walk from the station to our hotel. The Chocolate Festival starts on Saturday so we had Friday afternoon to get our bearings, make our plan, go to the TOP of Sydney Tower and get cream puffs!

Sydney Tower Skywalk

In April I was in Sydney with my gorgeous niece and we stumbled across a little hole in the wall in Chinatown selling these amazing cream puffs, needless to say we went back numerous times and planned to go back again next time we were in Sydney! They were as yummy as we remembered.

I surprised the kids, I say kids but they both tower over me, with a Sydney Tower Skywalk. It was amazing!! We all really enjoyed and got some fabulous photos. If you're in Sydney I recommend the Skywalk.

After our Skywalk we headed over to Chinatown with a pit stop at City Markets, a factory outlet place above Paddy's Markets. Chinatown was busy, busy, busy. I think that's while I like it, so full of energy and food! We went to the food court downstairs and it was BUSY. The food was delicious.

Chinatown Food Court

Next morning we woke with a plan EAT CHOCOLATE. Another gorgeous day greeted us, we were SO lucky with the weather as a few weeks earlier it was rainy and freezing in Sydney town. We caught a train from Museum Station, what a cool little station. Loved all the old posters on the walls.

The Chocolate Festival is held at The Rocks near Circular Quay and it was shaping up to be busy. We got there at about 10am, right when it opened and went in search of something to eat. Our first choice was chocolate dipped fruit, strawberries and watermelon. So good (and healthy!?). We did a walk around the whole festival to see what was on offer and made notes of where we wanted to head back to. The number one stop was the Lindt Tent where you could get your very own personalised chocolate bar, yes please!

I think my business, Rainbow Designs, sells one of the most POPULAR products ever, CHOCOLATE. Going by the crowds there are a LOT of chocoholics around, makes my heart sing and my mouth water. Where to head to next?? Maybe a donut or an icecream?? Icecream sounds like a plan - Gelato Messina and the 'Robert Browney Junior', chocolate, fudge, more chocolate, mmmmmmmmm. A glazed donut from The Donut Shop and lots of samples. Lindt balls, coconut and dark chocolate and Darrel Lea chocolates. To see how popular both of these areas were made me think I might need to add these brands to my hampers???

The very popular Lindt Lounge

For the rest of the day we did some touristy things and headed over to the Opera House to look for seals, didn't see any. After that we caught a ferry over to Luna Park. I hadn't been to Luna Park in a VERY long time but I don't think it's changed much at all, very 'back in the day' cool. I didn't venture onto any of the rides but the other two went on a 'vomit inducing' ride and the funky roller coaster. They loved it!! (and didn't throw up, bonus).

Luna Park

More chocolate was on our minds so we ferried it back over to Circular Quay and over to the festival to check out the stands again. What to have? So many choices! There was a very groovy container truck turned into pizza shop called 'Happy as Larry' that we just had to try. Margeritta pizza, so good that mr 14 went back and got another one for dinner! Miss 16 and I had some yummy satay chicken skewers. We were going to get another donut but they had sold out, like many of the stands. I think they underestimate how many they'll need. There will be some very late nights tonight making up more for Sunday! Zumbo's stand had sold out of two of their products - we didn't end up trying any but they looked amazing!

We trained it back to Museum Station and back to our hotel, after picking something up for dinner, and relaxed. It was a long but super fun day. Miss 15 was leaving early on Sunday back home while Mr 14 and I weren't leaving until Sunday afternoon so we had another day at the festival plus I had organised a jetboat ride for us!!

After getting up at the crack of dawn to walk miss 16 to the station, mr 14 and I watch a bit of the paralympics and slowly got ready for the day. After checking out of the hotel and leaving our bags for collection later in the day we headed to the train and circular quay. Chocolate Festival here we come. We made a pitstop at Starbucks for a coffee/ice chocolate and a bit of sustainance for the day ahead. While sitting enjoying our breakfast we realise we didn't check the fridge in our room before we left. Shock horror, mr 14 has left his chocolate in it! Luckily, after ringing the hotel, they were able to grab it for us so we could pick it up when we got our bags. Brekky down and first stop was the instagram photo machine to print out some fabulous photos, go and get our personliased Lindt chocolates and then over to the Jetboat wharf.

The Jetboat was FUN! We got drenched, luckily we were wearing a fetching purple poncho. What an amazing way to see Sydney Harbour - highly recommend!

Our weekend in Sydney was coming to a close so we did one last lap of the Smooth Chocolate Festival before making our way back to the hotel to collect our bags and then onto the station for our flight home. I had such a fun weekend. The weather was near on perfect and the company was pretty great too!

I highly suggest visiting the Choc Fest next year and in the mean time check out our chocolate filled hampers to help tied you over until then ;-)

nb: Unfortunately my camera card failed so most of my photo's didn't work. :-(