Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Gifts for someone who has everything?

I have noticed over the last few weeks quite a few people who found Rainbow Designs by using the search term 'gift ideas for someone/couple/friend who has everything'. Lucky them! I guess it is hard to buy a gift for someone who appears to not actually need anything - I think our gift boxes are just the thing. Everyone likes lollies and chocolates, well almost everyone!

It's A Wrap - $60 includes delivery!

This was part of the reason why I started my online gift business around the theme of sweet tooth. It's a gift that can be given to almost everyone for almost all occasions and they're not expensive plus it's so easy to order online - win, win, win!

I love that people love being able to buy something a little different but still mean something to the recipient. I get emails saying how excited the recipient was when they opened their gift and found LOLLIES! Also so many people have said how they love they can send something other than flowers and cheaper than flowers (and yummier!). It is a great feeling knowing that my little business has been used and enjoyed by so many people around Australia and the world - I've had orders from NZ, UK, Japan, Canada, Singapore, USA.... exciting. I love picturing them sitting half way around the world looking at my business online, drooling at all of the yummy gifts and relieved that they haven't missed 'little Johnny's' birthday! Yay for the internet!

So, if you need a gift for someone who has everything - we can help and quite often do! Love it!

Sweet Celebration Hamper - $99 including delivery

Friday, 17 May 2013

Chocolate Gift Hamper

Another NEW gift hamper has been added to our yummy collection and it has Chocolate Coated Lollies!! Includes chocolate coated raspberries, pineapples, strawberry & creams, chicos, raspberry bullets plus milk chocolate freckles and chocolate caramel popcorn. All made in Australia using delicious Belgium chocolate. I am hoping it is going to be a winner as I want to be able to keep ordering these delicious lolly chocolates (so I can taste test them ensuring the quality is just right!).

Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate - $65 delivered

I love being able to order from small producers and suppliers within Australia who try and use Aussie ingredients not everything is Australian made but everything is of wonderful quality and taste. If something isn't up to standard we will look for another item to takes it's place. In general I've been pretty lucky with my suppliers I think the main thing I've had problems with has been with the boxes. Noodle boxes, in particular the large noodle boxes, are becoming harder and harder to find. The design was changed a couple of years ago and not as many companies stock them. I have also found that sometimes the quality isn't quite right - the sides of the boxes aren't stuck very well so when I receive a carton I invariably have to get rid of 10-15. What a waste of money! I'm now having issues with the supplier of my patterned boxes (eg cravings, spotty box etc). They are the only ones in Australia who carry these boxes and they carry VERY little quantities and at the moment a lot of the designs I carry they don't have ANY of! Very disappointing and frustrating as they are not going to place an order for them until later in the year - not too helpful to me now though! I have been lokking around for another supplier plus have also contacted the USA company that make them, will wait and see what they have to say!

Mother's Day is over for another year, which I have to say is flying by, and going by the first few months of 2013 it wasn't too bad. Not great but not bad. The next main occasion coming up is Father's Day and then, scarey as it is to think about, it's Christmas!

Until next time,

eat some M&M's!


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Affordable Gifts was why I started Rainbow Designs

One of the main reasons for starting my business was to try and provide an online store that offered something a bit different to the traditional gift hampers and bunches of flowers BUT for less and in the theme of YUM. I wanted somewhere that was easy to navigate, easy to read, easy to order from and easy on the wallet. I wanted to have my prices cheap, well affordable, and to include everything - the gift, the gift tag, the packaging and the delivery. So when people came onto my site they could see WHAT the gift was, HOW much the gift was and WHEN it would be delivered. The hardest part is the DELIVERY. This is by far the hardest thing to control. Delivery is always (well almost always as I do deliver some myself when it is local) done by a third party, a business that is NOT part of Rainbow Designs. I basically hire them to deliver MY gifts, sometimes easier said than done! I'm currently using Toll Express and have been for about a year now and they have been much easier to regulate the delivery times with. Basically they deliver within 1-2 business days of the parcel being sent. The majority are next business day - great news for me and my customers! Of course there are the inevitable delays which generally come from incorrect/insufficient address details or sometimes the courier is just swamped and has had to hold back some items until the following day BUT in general I can rely on Toll to deliver efficiently.

Now having this type of delivery means the delivery charge I pay to Toll is, in the whole scheme of my gifts and business, quite expensive BUT I do think the reliability and speed far outways the cost. The prices I charge for my gifts include everything and this means the gift box/bag, contents, gift tag, delivery and customer service. It's a tough balancing act - offering affordable quality gifts with fast delivery and making some sort of profit.

I think I am managing to still have great priced gifts and with the use of Toll much better control of delivery times and also great quality lollies and chocolates and even fancier gift boxes! Something that doesn't help is when the BIG supermarkets sell their confectionery and gift items so cheap - I can't compete with them on pricing, never will be able to, their buying power is MASSIVE compared to mine! What I can compete with is quality and customer service - I think I can beat them quite easily most of the time!

Not everything should come down to price but it does form a pretty significant part of any business and also customers, as we all have to be mindful of where, when and how much we spend - money doesn't grow on trees!

$22 - no more to pay! Under $30 - we can do that!

Until next time,

eat some jellybeans!


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

It's not about the money, money, money

Running your own small business is definitely not about the money, I can certainly vouch for that!! It's more about doing what you enjoy, love even, and maybe even working when you want. Having said that, it doesn't mean you can decide to only work Mondays but more being able to fit personal life into your business life better. You are the boss afterall but this also means, the buck stops with you! You ARE the business so sometimes it might seem that all you do is WORK WORK WORK but hopefully it is something you're enjoying so it's not quite so bad!

I've been running my business for about 9 years now, it started off as part-time while also working (at the ATO of all places!) and then once things picked up a bit I was able to leave the ATO and focus solely on Rainbow Designs. The main problem I am facing at the moment is Rainbow Designs burn out. I have only even worked in the same company for as long as running Rainbow Designs once and that was my very first job, a LONG LONG time ago!! I'm trying to way up my options. Should I sell, close down, work part time somewhere else, hire staff....?? I've actually set myself a deadline and if things haven't changed (in a good way) things WILL change, good or bad! I think you can get stuck in the same old same old and even though you're not 'really' enjoying it, it just seems like too much hard work to do something different - this is where I think things can really go down hill. Just in the last few months I have seen over 5 small businesses, who have been running for about as long as mine, close up doors. Why I wonder?

I think times are tough at the moment in the retail sector (particularly small online businesses) but not tough enough that you can't make a living from it - I think you just need to work smarter and give yourself permission to have some time out. Maybe working part time somewhere else could help, even if it is just to feel like you can contribute to another business other than your own. It may even help with getting a fresh look on your own business. Volunteering is also another way to go - it need only be a few hours a week but something that can not only help others but help yourself feel 'worth it' - which is something running your own business can drag down. If you hit a rough patch it can make you feel like YOUR not good enough - it is your business afterall so it does feel very personal when things aren't all rosey.

One thing I do know, if I wanted to be assured that all the bills were going to get paid each month I wouldn't run my own small business - being employed is the way to go if you're just in it for the money I'm afraid!

When all things are said and done and business is getting me down, there's always chocolate:
Until next time,

eat some chocolate!!


Monday, 6 May 2013

It's not all Lollies and Chocolates here!

January 2013 - another busy Christmas period was over, Christmas pressies and turkey were a distant memory and the start of another year was at hand and so was an almighty thump! January always brings with it a big old sigh and a bit of a 'fall in a heap' feeling - every year! So this year I decided I'd had enough and need to 'get away' from work, full stop.

A week after making this decisions someone smiled down upon me because I came across the bargain of all bargains and booked myself a cruise, leaving in 5 days time! I could not wait and thankfully I didn't have to wait too long, all hands on deck and away we went.

10 nights, which actually turned into 11 nights, at sea with NOTHING to worry about except for 'buffet' or 'dining room'? It was just what I needed to really relax and not think about my business AT ALL.

Pacific Jewel - Vila

January is typically very quiet so I didn't mind shutting up shop for a few weeks, orders still came in but they were all processed when I returned (and the customers were aware of this delay). The only thing I did wrong was not allowing myself a day back on land to aclimatise to 'work' again - lesson learnt!

2013 is proving to be one of my most difficult years in business and I have been finding days when I just don't want to go to work - my love for it just isn't here at the moment. I am sure (fingers crossed) that it will pass and my enthusiasm will return but at the moment I spend more time dreaming of another cruise than I do working on Rainbow Designs! This is one reason why I have started getting into blogging again. Last year I had a few issues with my blog so, frustratingly, had to remove it. I did manage to keep some of my older posts and put them onto this blog but most were gone. I am hoping I can get back into the swing of blogging more regularly, things like behind the scenes, generally small business issues, products, reviews (maybe of other small business and maybe even from customers??), feedback, ideas, babbling etc anything really that forms part of my life, business and personal, that I feel like sharing.

I've been using Facebook as a promotional tool for Rainbow Designs but it's just not working - I haven't find the right way to use it yet. Will keep trying or will just delete the dam thing!

Anyway, almost time to head down to the couriers - I generally walk or drive each day and only get the courier to pickup when I have a lot of parcels, as they charge $8, this is generally in the busy time like Easter and Christmas. I've got one parcel that I need to drop at the Post Office as it's for a PO Box so need to leave a bit earlier. I don't mind doing this as it's a great way to get out of the office, get some fresh air and enjoy some 'away from the compuer' time.

Till next time,

eat some lollies!


Friday, 3 May 2013

Lolly Hampers

It's a Lolly kind of day today it seems! So many of the searches included the word 'Lolly' and it is something we have a LOT of here at Rainbow Designs! I think I might be missing something though? There are so many of these types of searches that don't end in an order, why? Maybe they are after more 'traditional' style Hampers? Maybe we don't have the types of lollies they want? Maybe they need it faster than we can delivery? (even though we do have Next Day delivery) I'm starting to think I need to include some different types of Lolly Gifts but what? I've tried Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Peppermint, Licorice, Freddo Frogs, Kids styles BUT none of them did very well. What am I doing wrong?

I'm going to try another style of Lolly Gift soon, still using the gift box that a lot of my Lolly and Chocolate gifts come in but in a different style/colour. These new lollies are chocolate coated lollies and are made in Australia. They will be individually packed in 150g bags/boxes making it just over the kilo - pricing will be about $65 and this will include the delivery charge, as all my gifts do. I am hoping this style of gift will be more suited to the people who search for 'Lolly Hamper' and end up at Rainbow Designs. I guess I'll find out in a few weeks! (fingers crossed)

I've also been deciding on whether to have a Cadbury Gift box?? Made up of a variety of different Cadbury Bars and Blocks - "Cadbury Cravings" maybe??

A couple of weeks ago I added an option to many of my Lolly/Chocolate Boxes to add a Bear to their gift - I don't know why I didn't do this sooner! It has proven quite popular and I have realised that the Pink bear is a big favourite! I sold out too quickly - I feel sorry for the other colours. Luckily the company I get my bears from are pretty speedy with their deliveries so generally bears aren't out of stock for long. One of the hardest things is updating the website to reflect this - it is very fiddly and time consuming and more often than not an order will come in before I have had a chance to put something out of stock! Typical!

A few months ago I added a gift called 'Cravings' where you can select exactly what you want to go inside the box - popular! I've just added a larger Cravings gift called 'Cravings Overdrive' for the BIG sweet tooth.

I try and use lollies and chocolates that are known ie Allens, Mars, Nestles, Trolli etc so people know what the quality is like and can be happy ordering something for a far away friend or relative. The new gift I plan on adding soon is from a small business called Freckleberry so is a sort of unknown to most people but I hope over time my customers will realise that the quality is great and is just something a little bit different but still yummy and priced well.

If I can get small quantities of some new products I might look at trialling the special diets gifts again and include sugar, dairy, nut free products - it all depends on what I can find and the prices as I still want these gifts to be affordable and value for money, like all my other gifts.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Pinch and a Punch

Happy 1st of May! It's been a busy morning this morning, hip hooray! We've had a run on Buddy Boxes - this is one of my favourite gifts, I love freckles and choc buds!! I've had a bit of a tidy up in the warehouse and am also in the process of organising a new gift, which I hope to have available in the next few weeks. It will be in a new gift box and will contain an assortment of chocolate coated lollies - Australian made too. Cannot wait to show you!

I've just had to complete my first quarter BAS - well, I say I had to but all I had to do was send off all my statements and my fabulous bookkeeper does the rest. Love it. My 2012 tax was also finalised a couple of weeks ago and happily I received a small refund. Love it. It didn't go far and has already been spent but I'll take a refund any day!

Leading up to Christmas last year I had HUGE dramas with Fastway Couriers and a corporate order that they were meant to deliver. They are couriers afterall. Anyway, things did not go to plan so I had to put in a claim. May 2013 and I am still waiting for it to be approved. Very bad customer service Fastways and unfortunately my lovely franchise in Port Macquarie are the ones to lose out as I do not plan on using Fastways again. In one of the emails from Fastways regarding my claim they said 'We are unable to process the full amount blah blah blah' which I found quite amusing and told them. I said 'you're not unable you are just unwilling' - I am over it, which is probably what they want. Make it too difficult and they'll go away. Go away I will, no more business from Rainbow Designs.

Onto happy things, Mother's Day is just around the corner as is my Nan's 91st birthday! Unfortunately I won't be able to make it to her party but I did get to see her a few weeks ago, which was lovely. Have you ordered a gift for your mum yet? If you are ordering something online don't forget to take into account delivery time. We can deliver next day to most areas in Australia but it is always better to order a bit earlier to ensure it arrives in time. Deliveries will be made the week commencing Monday 6 May - and remember we do not have weekend deliveries.

Something new:

Afternoon Tea Hamper - $115 delivered