Somebody asked… about help
Thought this might be worth a blog post, since it’s come up a lot recently.
I don’t give out my supplier information. Just as a general rule. I’m sorry.
It’s not to be mean. It’s not – as has been suggested – because I’m afraid of competition. It’s not because I want new businesses to fail.
It’s for the same reason that, when teaching dance lessons, I don’t give students written notes on what we’ve learned. It’s for the same reason that I don’t let Wally use a calculator when doing math.
Would it be easier, shorter? Yes. Would it save our dance students work, avoid “re-inventing the wheel,” to give them my notes? Sure. Would it save time to let Wally use a calculator? Absolutely.
But, as was said in a book I recently read, the benefit is in the seeking. (The Chronicles of Prydain.)
First of all, most people who’ve owned their CD operations for as long as I have had to work pretty hard to find their suppliers. Not only locating potential suppliers, but then also contacting suppliers, purchasing samples, testing the samples, making preliminary orders, finding through trial and error who is and who isn’t reliable, etc. It’s expensive and it’s time-consuming.
So, yeah, I’m not eager to just hand my hard work over to newcomers to the industry, simply because it was a lot of work. I’m not alone in this sentiment.
Second, I’m not going to say that digging up supplier information is a rite of passage or anything. But it is part of the new business experience. And I think there is a benefit to be gained in the seeking of your own suppliers. Not only just for the experience… but because, who knows, you might unearth some really awesome supplier that nobody currently uses. How boring if we all got our fabric from the same source? (And in a few cases, most CD makers do get all of one supply or another from the same source, and those sources inevitably have poor customer service because there’s virtually no competition.)
Third, though this might sound snotty, if you can’t use Google, you need to really re-think whether you should own a business. And I’m not just being snarky, I’m being honest. If you really can’t figure out who my supplier for Prorap covers is, as was seriously recently asked of me, then are you going to be able to navigate child-product laws or HTML? (In case you don’t understand why that is funny… the supplier for Prorap covers is, um, Prorap.) If you can’t figure out how to get ahold of Touchtape, are you going to be similarly stumped when you need to get a sales tax permit?
There are good resources out there. Use them!
It’s not that I’m unwilling to help. To the contrary, I’ve helped out countless new business owners over the years, either through advice, answering of questions, helping with marketing, product testing, or whatever was asked of me. Not only cloth diaper or babywearing businesses, but other baby products businesses, and a few completely unrelated WAHM businesses. I’m more than willing to help. But I’m not going to do your work for you.