Yesterday and several days next week will be soapmaking days. Why, you might ask, so many soap days when we normally just make soap on Sundays? Well, because this week we received our largest order to date. By magnitudes. Big order. Very exciting!
So now we need to replenish stock. The timing is great: it’s summer vacation for my soap-partner husband, so we can make multiple batches in short order. However, the making is just one part of the process: after slicing and beveling, the River Bars cure for four weeks minimum before we package and label them for sale. In other words, the soap we made yesterday won’t be ready for about a month. Trying to anticipate what might be needed next month, or the next, or for the holiday season, is challenging for a small but growing business, isn’t it?
Another challenge for us has been a management system. Not really an issue at the beginning, when you have 20 or 30 bars of soap and a gallon of this or that oil. Now, though, as production has increased, we want to have a clearer idea of supplies on hand, cost on various recipes, and when we last ordered Lemongrass essential oil!
As of this week, we can check that challenge off the list, as we just purchased some software called (fittingly!) Soapmaker 3. This is going to be a great tool to manage inventory, supplies, recipes, batches and customer orders. I spent some time yesterday entering part of our inventory of oils, fragrances and supplies, as well as our customers and suppliers. I still have some work to do, but when I have compiled a snapshot of where we are now, it will be so much easier to manage all these pieces going forward. Feeling good about that!
What kinds of challenges do you face/have you faced in growing your business? What have you learned along the way?