Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections on 2010 and Survival Tips for 2011

On the eve of this 2010 New Year, there are a few things I want to share. The end of a year is always a great time to evaluate where you started, where you ended, and where you want to be down the road. With the economic times we now face, there is much uncertainty about future plans. So many are closing up shop and the bigger guys just keep gobbling up the little guys. Certainly, nothing new. However, it seems to be happening more and more. The small home-based businesses can't survive and import items seem to offer the better bargains though not necessarily the better product.

Sad, but true, customers are looking for the best price. If they see it on another site for less, they assume you are overpriced. The truth is, many small online businesses are selling at discount prices and are happy to make just a marginal profit. That's great...except for those of us who operate small businesses and pay commercial rent, warehouse space, IT people, web site developers, employees, and purchase manufacturing equipment and inventory product at all times.

As I look ahead to the future of small businesses, I see many changes. Not because we want those changes, but because the government, economy, customer interest, competitors and trends will ultimately dictate how well a business survives. So how do you survive? Here are a few tips to help jump start your New Year Business Resolutions:

  • If you haven't already, start a blog and then make sure you post every few days. As a business owner, I know it's sometimes hard to post need to post on a regular basis.

  • Remember, you don't need to market to the masses to make a living. Market what you know and make sure you do it better than the other guy. Figure out what you need to make per month and then focus your marketing strategy based on that figure. Determine the steps needed to make each sale to enable you to reach your goal.

  • If you need help, consider hiring a virtual assistant. I know, it sounds crazy, but it's the wave of the future. If you need help with marketing, problem solving, or answering emails or setting up monthly newsletters but can't afford to hire multiple people to fulfill those tasks, then a virtual assistant may be your ticket to survival.

  • Find an untapped niche. Yes, there are still plenty of new ideas out there. It's not so much about "what" you do as it is about "how" you do it. You need to have a detailed business plan on how you will execute your product to the marketplace. You could even make "customer service" your niche. Out service the other guy!

  • Change your behavior and attitude to meet the needs of your customers, not the needs of your company. This is a tough one but will ultimately yield a big return. You may have the skills to do your job, but does your behavior and attitude lend themselves to generating new business?

  • Make use of social media marketing... like Face Book. With so many hand-held search devices, you can't afford to not diversify your search marketing options. For small companies, this can become all consuming. This is where you might want to earmark some funds to hire someone to help you set up a social media network.

  • There is nothing wrong with NOT expanding your business. Sometimes it's easy to look around at what everyone else is doing and believe you should be doing more. It's OK to reach a point in your business where you have no desire to expand. Hey, I'm in my mid-fifties and quite honestly, I want to retire at some point and expanding the business will no longer be a priority.

  • Join a network of people that can help you grow your business. Brainstorm with these individuals. Bounce your marketing ideas into their arena for shared input. Find out what business growth strategies have worked for them and learn from their experiences. is a starting place for networking with others.

I am getting ready to sign off the computer for today as I prepare to entertain a few friends for a New Year's Eve dinner party. I hope that each of you have a safe New Year's Eve and a joyful and prosperous 2011. All of us at GoPlanet will be back to work on Monday. We look forward to servicing your soaping needs in the next year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life Happens at the Most Unexpected Moments

This weekend my husband and I hosted our annual family Christmas gathering for his side of the family. Apart from my brother-in-law (a Colonel and Doctor in the army), and one nephew and his family from Seattle, the entire family was present. There were 53 of us gathered at my home on Saturday.

Sadly, in the midst of our Christmas Celebration we received news that my husband's Mother passed away at the age of 92. It was quite unexpected, and was a sad note to our family celebration, yet, there was comfort in having our entire family together at a time of loss. We shared a prayer and thoughts about the life of someone that we loved.

Not only are we preparing for the holiday closure, but I also am preparing to bury someone very dear to my heart. I will do my best to make sure your orders are processed before our closure, but at this point, I can't promise. Please understand that this is a difficult time for my family and sometimes life happens at the most unexpected moments.

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Those Darn Magic Elves! Always Into Something

Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, the Magic Elves have arrived. Yes, by parachutes no less. You know those dog-gone elves are terrible sleigh drivers. The sleigh crashed, and thankfully, Santa made sure they each had a parachute... just in case. The grand kids rescued all of the elves and brought them inside to decorate their Elf Mailboxes.

I honestly thought that my 7 1/2 year old grandson would not be as excited this year. WRONG to the nth degree!! He is more involved with his Elf than ever. He loves the mailbox because he can send messages to Santa or his Elf. The day after the Elves arrived, the grand kids stayed overnight. Those darn Elves got into the pantry and found everything they needed to make s'mores. The next morning we found them in front of the fireplace. They had roasted marshmallows and even brought Baby Jesus in from the cold. Marshmallows were everywhere as were chocolate candy wrappers and graham crackers. It was a mess!

My grandson, Carson, printed out a note to his Elf. It is shown below (via interpretation by his Mommy).

Can you talk to me You thre elfs pleys And santu can you Bring me a wolit with A chane on it and A blak jakit with Scine jens


Can you talk to me (meaning can his Elf talk to him). Your three elves play. And, Santa, can you bring me a wallet with a chain on it, and a black jacket with skinny jeans?

Called me crazed, but this is what I am going to do.... Carson so wants his Elf to communicate with him. As adults, we know that isn't possible, but I think I've figured out a way to make it happen. Remember that talking toilet paper roll that I blogged about back in 2007? That's the ticket! Freckles will leave a message on the toilet paper roll and then Carson can record a reply. Below is the message Elf Freckles has left...

Elf Freckles Message to Carson

Carson will be here on Wednesday for Awana's. While he is at class, I will flip the on switch for the pre-recorded message. Won't he be surprised the next time he uses the bathroom?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Order processing might be a little slow tomorrow as we could be wading through up to 8 inches of snowfall through the evening hours. Fortunately, we aren't getting nearly as much as some of the surrounding Midwest States. Minnesota has had upwards of 20 inches of snow falling since Friday.

I know everyone is in a time crunch to receive their holiday shipments. However, it is VERY important to realize that inclement weather conditions could slow down the expected arrival date of your package. Some things, such as bad weather, are simply out of our control. Sometimes life (and weather) just happen!


Experimenting with Soap Colors: Missy's Test

It's been so hectic at GoPlanet fulfilling holiday orders that we're finding little time to play with some of our newest Mold Market soap molds. Hopefully, between the Christmas and New Year break, we'll have more time to experiment. That's the part I like the most about this business, but the part I rarely have time for anymore ;(

One of my workers, Missy, did some experimenting with a few of the molds just to get a feel for different colors that we might possibly use when doing the final soap pours. She used the Plum Leaf mold, the Pebble Rock Bar, and Oblong Leaf. The plum leafs are very elegant and if using the "injector tool", very easy to fill in the high ridges with a contrasting color. This was Missy's first time using the injector tool and it took her some time to get the hang of it. The secret is having the soap base at a high enough temp to fill the tool and then quickly use the syringe mechanism to fill in the areas you want to color.

I immediately fell in love with the Pebble Rock Bar. The creative possibilities are endless and I'm excited to see what natural stone combinations we can come up with. Although, the red cabbage and antique silver combination shown above looks pretty neat. Below this same soap was poured in jade and antique gold stones and filled with a yellow oxide colored base.

I have some unique color combos in mind for the Oblong Leaf mold. I want to do something that's out of the ordinary....not the colors you would normally expect to see in a leaf. Stay posted. As time permits, I will be working with some of our newest molds, including the Tic Tac Toe mold.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Baby Jesus Arrives!

Baby Jesus Arrives!! This morning I showed my grand daughter, Miss O, the Baby Jesus doll for the manger I will be displaying outside my front door this year. I kid you not, she cradled him, cuddled him, and asked me if we could put the manger (which her Daddy is making) in front of the sofa so everyone could see him. When I mentioned the manager would be outside, she was aghast... "How can you leave Baby Jesus out in the cold?"

Yes, I realize that many of you may be of different faiths and beliefs, but it doesn't change the fact that I believe in Jesus AND this is my blog.... so yadda, yadda, I get to post about things that suit my fancy just like you can do on your blog.

Miss O and her Mommy.

After viewing the video from Becky Kelley called "Where's the Line to Jesus", I was touched to make a new family tradition to help my grand kids remember the true meaning of Christmas within our family. This year we will have Baby Jesus outside the front door of our home. He will be in a manager (built by my son-in-law) along with a sign that reads, "Here's the line to see Jesus".

The grand kids, as well as adult family members, will be leaving a "Gift for Jesus" at the base of the manger. It will contain a box of affirmations. Affirmations and commitments for what we can do to show love to others. Examples would be helping a needy family, working at a soup kitchen for a weekend, donating food/clothes, raking leaves for an elderly person.... the list goes on. But, these are all ways we can help to make our world a better place.

STRUT YOUR STUFF: SherrisScentsandSoys

What an amazing Candy Cane soap. And, it's scented with none other than, YEP, you guessed it, candy cane fragrance! I will be ordering a few bars today from Sherri's Etsy shop for stocking stuffers. There's still time... so check out some of the other cool soaps Sherri offers.

This is an Oatmeal soap made with one of our Mold Market molds. It's scented with oatmeal, milk and honey fragrance and also contains goat's milk.

Lump of Coal Soap: A must have for that naughty boy or girl on your Christmas list. These Lumps of Coal soaps contain genuine activated charcoal. The activated charcoal helps to lightly buff and detoxify the skin. How fun to give and not to mention very useful.

Monday, December 06, 2010

STRUT YOUR STUFF: Brigabauble Esty Shop

OK. If you follow my blog, you know that my honey-man is in the wine biz. One of GoPlanet's FB friends is making this wine cork necklace. It caught me eye because I never know what to do with wine corks (and we have a kazillion of them!). Brig from Brigabauble Etsy Shop has this item for sale. What a unique holiday gift for that wine geek in your family or, for that matter, anyone on your shopping list!

Brig originally opened BrigaBauble on Etsy in hopes of selling her handmade jewelry to feed her bead-buying obsession. Since then, she has expanded her crafting and wares to include cuff links, bath & body goodies, magnets, bottle-cap jewelry, rosaries and more. Every time she gets a sale, she does a little dance of joy. Let's help Brig do that dance of joy this holiday season.

Creating Your Own Bath & Body Labels

Last week, a customer emailed the following:

I would like to know how to find labels that are round, different shapes, etc...where do i find the paper for those? Could you toss me a few tips on how to make nicer labels? I would appreciate that!

Although GoPlanet no longer makes ready-made bath and body products, we have certainly had plenty of experience through the years. In years past, there wasn't nearly the label selection that is offered today. I have pictured a few of the labels that we have done for our annual "Girls Night Out" soaping event. The labels on the jars were created using MS Publisher. The labels were ordered through They have labels for just about everything and offer a comprehensive selection of labels that include waterproof, fun shapes and assorted colors. They also offer templates and software that you can download to create some pretty awesome labels (with little effort!).

If you are getting serious about your soaping business, I suggest that you invest in a Color Laser Printer as the ink doesn't smear and labels are resistant to light and water (to a certain degree). Here are some tips from my point of view, and I welcome any input from others:
  • Keep the label design simple and to 2-3 colors

  • Be sure to include ingredients for the product being sold

  • If you are reselling the product, you will want to have your company name and contact information on the label. I am not going to get into the details of FDA regulations for retail products in this post, but I do suggest a book that provides easy guidance about the technicalities of bath & body labeling:

  • Use a design theme that works with your company logo and design concept. Select a font type that fits your company image. If your company is fun and whimsical, then select a font type that depicts that image. Are you wanting to create a more up-scale image, then lean toward a font type that has a more classic appeal.

  • Be careful with images. I, personally, like to use fun shapes as opposed to detailed photos. That's a personal choice. As you will note with the above labels, basic shapes were my option.

  • Do your homework. Take a look at some of the bath & body labels you find online. What jumps out at you, what do you not like? Take notes and then design your label based on those assessments. It's always good to get a few opinions. Create a couple of different label designs and then ask family and friends what they like best. Afterall, these people are going to be some of your best consumers and advocates for your product.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

STRUT YOUR STUFF: Eastwind Soaps

Kate is one of GoPlanetEarth's FB friends. I recently visited her EastwindSoaps Etsy store and found the following soaps. I loved this personalized bar. Very classy looking, and can be personalized with anything you wish.

How about this ice cream soap? Great job Kate. I love how you have the soap coming over the edge of the cone. Very nice.

And then the soap crayons. What teacher OR student wouldn't get a kick out of this?! Pay a visit to Kate's Esty shop and see what you might be able to pick up for gift giving.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Strut Your Soap Stuff is part of GoPlanetEarth's Christmas countdown (and yes, I will use the word "Christmas" instead of "Holiday" because I really have grown tired of all this politically correct rhetoric).

I recently posted on my FB page that I would showcase some of my customer's favorite holiday soaps, lotion, gels, or anything that appropriately fell into the handmade gifts category. I know that many of you are out there in cyberspace shopping for unique gifts. I will be doing random posts on what I believe to be ideal holiday gifts at affordable prices. If you are a customer of GoPlanetEarth and want a business shout out, now is the time!

Vegan Kitty shared some of her favorite handmade holiday soap slices. You can purchase these soaps at Nikole's Etsy store. The soaps showcased are scented in peppermint which is ideal for both men and women. Each bar weighs in at a generous 5 ounces.

Best yet, each bar is handmade with nothing less than 100% vegan-y goodness containing a generous amount of moisturizing Shea Butter soap along with natural, pure and moisturizing Veggie Glycerin, including added Aloe Vera and Vitamin E!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lessons Learned from my Grand Kids... And, I Love My Daughter

When I look at pictures of my daughter at this age, I see so much of myself. She loves to wear hats, and when I was her age (with longer hair), so did I. It was my trademark. I love watching my daughter blossom into a beautiful, successful woman. She is no longer my "little girl", but has evolved into a woman, mom, and wife. Both her and my son-in-law are a handsome couple (in my opinion). The fact that they have given me 3 beautiful grand kids definitely scores points.

Having said that, I must share this morning's events about my youngest grandchild (he is 2 1/2 years old). He stayed with me last night. This morning "Poppy" was tossing him toward the ceiling and helping him do a back flip. After a few times, Poppy was done. My little guy turned to me and said, "NeeNee's turn,". I showed him my meager Popeye muscles and told him I was not strong enough. In a split second, he was running down the hall to the grand kids bedroom. He opened a drawer and took out a small jar with a lid. I kid you not, this is what he said, "I have muscles in here NeeNee." He proceeded to take the cap off the jar and tipped it toward my bicep muscles. "OK, now you are strong, NeeNee. You have muscles."

When his mommy picked him up later for pre-school, he wanted NeeNee to carry him piggy-back to the car (he was still in footed PJ's and couldn't put on his shoes). I hedged a bit and said I wasn't strong enough. He immediately replied, "Yes, NeeNee, I gave you strong muscles!"

It is my grand kids comments that keep me smiling amidst some of the "ugly" holiday attitudes experienced this time of year. Sadly, this year I'm seeing more of this ugly: hate the world, hate your company, hate your shipping, hate your service, hate my life...., than ever before. I try not to take it personal. Like my grand kids, I try to see life through the eyes of a child. Here are 5 things I have learned from my grand kids:

1) There is good in everyone if you care to look.

2) Life isn't perfect, kids never expect it. Why is it we adults do?

3) Make the best of a bad situation. Sometimes there is really no one to blame.

4) When life is ugly, watch a movie that makes you laugh.

5) We don't always get our way. This is a tough one! We so love to put the blame on someone else (or a company) even when the results are directly related to our actions or choices.

Bottom line: assume that most everyone wants the best for you. That's how my grand kids see it, and that's how I am going to move forward this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Countdown: STRUT YOUR STUFF!

STRUT YOUR STUFF! Here is a chance to showcase your handmade soap or toiletry goods. Email your best holiday wares. It can be lotions, gels, body butters, soaps, sprays.... we will be showcasing them on my blog. A great opportunity for a business shout out. I will be showcasing the best of the best and posting every day until Christmas. What are you waiting for? Strut your stuff! This is part of our Christmas countdown.