The stats for February 2018 are in, and it was the best February we have had so far, with total sales of $4,639, with a whopping $4,257 coming from repeat customers. We even had some guests at the Bed and Breakfast that stayed for more than a week. So all was looking good until I read rumours about the latest changes being planned by the powers that be at E-bay.
Then it hit me...
That moment, when I finally realized that continuing to be dependent on E-bay was eventually going to destroy my business and I was going to have to get the hell out of Dodge, and do it quickly - much more quickly that I had originally thought I might have to.
What has and will ensue is the entrepreneurial equivalent of the Dunkirk evacuation by allied troops in 1940. I recently watched the movie by the same title and thought it did a fantastic job of portraying that pivotal event in WW2 very realistically. That evacuation has always fascinated me as a student of history, because the Allies came so close to suffering losses so heavy that they may never have recovered. There were almost 400,000 soldiers trapped on the beaches of France and the Germans decided not to mount a full attack, reasoning that since they were trapped anyway and surrounded, there was no need to rush the attack. What they didn't count on was the resolve of the British and the willingness of every single boat owner in the UK to allow the use of their vessels to rescue the soldiers from those beaches. As a result 85% of the stranded troops were rescued within the 3 days during which the Germans halted their advance, and the Allies had a another chance to turn things around, which they did, in spectacular fashion, as we all know.
What does this have to do with my post?
Well I finally realized that E-bay has complete control over my business and is now the single largest threat to its survival. It's not the state of the hobby, the state of the economy, or even my competitors, but E-bay. For the first time, I am really scared that I may fail, despite all the successes I have experienced so far. If I am going to survive, I must get out from under E-bay's control, and I must do it quickly - before they make another policy change that wipes my business out overnight.
This post started over two weeks ago, and originally it was going to be a long post about my reasons for reaching this realization, and how I intend to defend my business. But I think that at the present time, given my dependence on being able to sell there, that it would be unwise for me to post all of those details now. I do think this is an important topic to come back and re-visit when all the dust has settled, and I am successfully selling from my own website. So once I am in that place, I will for sure complete and publish that post in its entirety.
Basically at the moment I am somewhat trapped. I cannot just take all my effort off E-bay and focus on developing my website, because I would lose the sales on E-bay that are sustaining the business, and at the same time, I would lose all my customers. So I have to figure out a smart way of finding time during the week to develop my website and actually get it finished and operational, so that I can start developing customer relationships on the new site.
This is why I compare my situation to the Dunkirk evacuation: I am trapped, but I am not being attacked - at least not yet. But I can clearly see the direction that E-bay is headed in. What I see tells me that many, many livelihoods are going to be destroyed as a result. So I have to get out. This realization and my ability to execute a plan to deal with it, rationally, calmly and professionally will make or break my business.
So the lesson of this post is this: just because your business is doing well today, does not mean that you can stop being vigilant for threats to its survival. By all means, it is important to celebrate the successes, but it is also vital that you develop the ability to recognize critical threats long before they actually threaten the survival of your business, and you develop the ability to respond to those threats calmly, and without letting emotion rule you.