Yesterday, I posted on Twitter from my personal account mentioning that it seemed to be another thing that people don’t talk about just how expensive it is to exhibit at your first big trade fair. I wasn’t looking for advice or a solution, just stating that no one talks about how much money it takes to get you ready for it.
And it’s true, no one talks about it and no one tells you how much capital is required. I described it as “cripplingly expensive” and I’d say from the private messages and emails I got yesterday that I’m again not the only one who feels this way but the only one who’ll admit publlcily that they can sometimes struggle with making big expensive decisions like doing a trade show alone.
Booking the stand at a trade show is merely where the flow of money out of your bank account starts. Pulse’s organisers have been great in letting me and countless other small businesses starting out on the circuit pay for their stand in installments, something which is a great help with cash flow and makes the process seem slightly less daunting.
On top of the stand, I’ve paid for shelving to be fitted to it to display my samplers, as well as a listing with photograph in the show guide and an advert with the Giftware Review in the lead up to the show – both the latter two are extras but in for a penny, in for a pound, as they fittingly say. I want to make the most of my appearance there, after all, and gain maximum exposure.
Then there’s physically getting me there – train tickets and accommodation are costing more than a foreign holiday. Then there will be daily living expenses on top of that, of course. Oh, and I’ve had to buy some more businesslike clothing for my 3 days on show to the public(albeit from eBay).
What else? Well, launching a new range of products for the show means I’ve had to rush the printing on those, along with signage, postcards, brochures and price lists and new business cards. That’s another huge slice of money gone in a flash.
I need a lie down. But there’s more to come – I still have to track down and purchase myriad small things like the requisite double-sided Velcro for fixing things to the walls and when I get to London, I need to locate a small shelving unit/console table/cupboard for displaying my small bits and pieces.
Phew! That’s a lot of stuff right there that’s not only going to cost a lot but to take a lot of time up to organise and think about. BUT – it’s all necessary to make for a successful show and I am quite confident that it will be worth it otherwise, clearly, I’d never have embarked on this endeavour.
But – sometimes, running a business that you’re trying to grow by yourself is scary. There’s no one to ask for help, or to delegate decision making to, or even to bounce ideas off. You are ultimately the only person who can take decisions which sometimes is fun but sometimes is scary.What if the decision made is the wrong one? Or if it costs you an arm and a leg on a gamble? You kinda just want someone to agree with you and say go for it, sometimes.
So it is nice to be able to write about things such as this here and on Twitter where I hang out with so many people in the same boat who I know understand and many of whom are going through the same thing. Thank you for sticking with me through this hectic time!
Speculating to accumulate is the name of the game. It takes A LOT of money and organisation and worrying that you’re doing the right thing but in the end it will come together, I am sure of it.