Now that the trade fairs for 2018 are behind us, it’s time to plan the 2019 ones. I wanted to give you a look into the workings and realities of going to trade fairs for small businesses like ours. Especially when you are working full time at the same time! The great things are that we have met some lovely people and finally got to chat with some Instagram friends, which has been genuinely wonderful. But it’s hard work, it’s really hard work. We work a full week 9-5 and then the 5-9 starts as soon as we get home; at weekends and even during lunch breaks. We have to take days off at times to attend the shows which mean less annual leave for actual holidays. Not that we are complaining, we are the ones that wanted to start the business in the first place so we must put the hard work in, we just want to show it from both sides and be honest.
A typical show so far has taken a lot planning, organisation and logistics, from making sure we have stock; we have all the things we need to dress the stand from the small tool kit to the big marquee; we need a packed-lunch for everyday and flasks of tea and our re-usable water bottles. Painkillers because we know standing all day is going to mean achy backs and being busy means less time to drink water and headaches. We need a babysitter for Jasper (the Pooch) and then a ‘quick’ dinner when we get home after a full day’s trading so we can get up early and start it all over again. Then it’s back to the full time work on Monday if the show has been over a weekend. This is just the few local events we have been to, but next year we want to tackle some bigger shows further away from home, which will require a lot more planning and organisation!
I read a similar blog where a fellow small business owner wanted to be really open about the costs involved in trading at shows. She was only in the first year of her business, just like us, but she had been to two Country Living shows (at £1,000 for each show) and had nowhere near made her money back. She states “It is a little soul destroying and like the @justacard campaign states, if every person who ‘hoped I did really well this weekend’ or ‘absolutely loved my work’ could have bought something, even for £1.50 (where my prices start) then maybe I would be in a different position.” We all know it’s not all about breaking even, and getting your brand out there and getting exposure is a huge part of what you pay for, but it’s still putting your whole selves up for the public and the time and effort you put in.
She went on to state that she’s so incredibly grateful for all the people who did make lovely comments and who did buy some of her products and paintings, and we couldn’t agree more, it honestly does mean the world and that happy dance really does happen when someone makes a purchase, we all just want to share with you the real behind the scenes of our small business world’s..
Thank you Edie Rose Ashley for inspiring me to write this blog and hang on in there..