These days I’m not as prone to spouting bygone aphorisms from philosophers and the minds of past millenia. Whilst there is something to be said for learning about the great thinkers, they’re not always the most knowledgeable about the subjects most pressing to the entrepreneurial soap salesman (ever hear Socrates, Dr Johnson or even Nietzsche waxing lyrical about Search Engine Optimisation or Ebay listing fees?) That said, Machiavelli does suggest that ‘whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times’. What a clever clogs!
So, when I say that a substantial proportion of craft fairs I’ve sold at have been, by and large, a waste of time; devoid of customers and, in some cases failing to recoup costs. How should I deal with this? Whilst Machiavelli might console the organizers of such events after all ‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.’ Personally, I no longer have the inclination to reassure.
One recent notorious example where the close of play revealed a net profit of -£28 (not including an hourly wage) still saw the organizer approach me with an admirable level of optimism to encourage my booking onto their next event. Now, no matter what your level of education, it is patently obvious that -£28 is an unsustainable business model for even the smallest financial concern. So, in light of the single figure attendance to his event I was forced to politely though emphatically decline. I tried to spare a thought for his feelings but, in the cut-throat world of Soapmaking, as good ol’ Nicollo Machiavelli says ‘It is better to be feared than to be loved, if you cannot be both’
As financial concerns become more prevalent (our current speculate to accumulate business model seems so heavily weighted towards speculate I’d equate the monthly outgoing on soap supplies as on a par with a reasonably severe marijuana dependency) I’m looking for more assured Markets that are guaranteed a heavy footfall. To that end, I’ve had to concede that although the official Manchester Markets might have an inflated booking charge, I’ve a much greater chance at recouping losses when there is some chance of a customer walking by as, in spite of the cost, ‘Never was anything great achieved without danger’. To this end, as I peruse a thoroughly depressing financial statement (my bank has even started sending me abusive text messages) I echo Niccolo’s sentiment ‘I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.’
I’m guessing this is a common problem for the majority of sellers just starting out. Certainly I’ve bemoaned a lack of sales with fellow stall holders; we swap success stories and failures and eventually come to the understanding that the more expensive, established stalls are, in fact, less a gamble more a necessity. When it comes to spending money though, it’s an obvious lesson that is the hardest learnt I suppose ‘The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.’