Most people know the Billie Goat story. I started making soap in the kitchen for my son Liam to help soothe his eczema. Over time, and after making many many terrible bars of soap – I finally developed a recipe that seemed to help Liam, and Billie Goat was born. I would spend my spare time in my kitchen making soap, and I would enlist the help of my family to get it ready for sale. My husband would help with the raw ingredients needed (especially milking goats!), my father would spend hours cutting out printed ingredient lists and stickers for paper bags, and my mum would sit at our kitchen table to complete my product packaging.
Once a month I would take my soap to Wyong Town Centre Markets. John would drive me there, help me set up my table and I’d stand there all day talking to people about my soap and my goats. I loved it. I had a pencil case that held my cash, and at the end of the day after my costs were accounted for I would spend my tiny profit on a pizza for the family. It was a very simple sales process and it was very satisfying.
When the decision was made to focus my business efforts just on Billie Goat, once again I was out talking to people about soap and goats. I love selling. I feel like a leopard out chasing their next meal – each soap sold meant my business could grow. All the time though my sense of satisfaction came from talking to people – even the retailers who said no. It was all incredibly rewarding.
Over the years though, as the business has grown, something very old-fashioned was lost. It was my chance to really talk to people. We stopped doing markets because the sales model no longer fits the business size, I stopped packing soap into the boot of my car and door knocking on retailers because we had other more time efficient ways of reaching retailers all over the country.Conversations with people happenned over the phone, via email, sending a fax or via proxy through someone else. I had moved into the techno world and didn’t realise the price I had paid to be there. I have been conned into thinking that talking online, tweeting, running webinars or emailing is enough. It isn’t.
Australia is experiencing a shift in the way we do business. People are looking for connection. There’s a rationalisation going on in the retail sector because we don’t feel invested in the shopping experience any more. Recently, my saving grace has been our facebook site. I feel like I am back talking to people again. I’m having conversations and all that is missing is a big kettle and lots of chats over a real hot coffee! It’s a start. But I miss the faces. I miss the non-verbal communication. I miss the laughs in real time! I’ll be at the Sydney Baby & Toddler Expo next week. Unfortunately I am moving house the same weekend, so I can only get there on Sunday, however, I can’t wait to spend my time just talking and connecting. If you are there, drop by and say hi.