Women Entrepreneur, recently published an article about Entrepreneur: Caroline Weaver, owner of CW Pencil Enterprise in New York City, who runs a profitable business selling of all things…Pencils.
Pencils bring back so many warm memories for me. I was an early reader and writer and one of my favourite memories of infant school is the day I was told by my teacher that yes, I was ready to put my pencils back in the pot and be allowed to write with a pen , I was very proud, but there are other special memories associated with pencils . I remember the huge pencil sharpener that sat on ‘Sir’s desk and how so often I got the responsible job of sharpening the pencils on Friday, ready for Monday morning. I was not at all happy when I pulled back the clamps to get the pencil out and so often got my finger stuck, but I did like the responsibility of the job…I also loved emptying the pot of shavings and the smell as I did so
I remember high school, and my very first maths lesson there at Mayfield, when Miss Webb gave us a list of the equipment we needed to bring to the next and every maths lesson. I cannot now remember what they were, but I had no idea at all until that day, that even in maths, the right pencil was so important to the task. I remember being told I need HB pencils for one thing, writing I believe and another sort for drawing diagrams, shading and colouring e.g., when producing graphs .
Among writers there is quite a debate, are pens or pencils better to write with? Of course, I guess many writers do not have this decision to make and type directly to their computer, but especially for creative writing I often prefer to sit with pen and paper and write and cross out, before committing it to Microsoft Word. Except that I like to use a pencil, maybe it is a strange familiar sense of comfort from a pencil, you can be pretty sure that a pencil will do what it is supposed to do, while certainly for cheap pens from the £1 shop they have a tendency to not write and to ruin sheets of equally cheap paper with scratch marks. On the other hand, buy an expensive pen and the refills are either impossible to get or cost as much as the pen…..though one can if prepared to risk the mess , use a fountain pen and bottle of ink, or somewhat easier , a cartridge . However, I like a pencil, it is reliable and doesn’t run out half way through a sentence and just needs sharpening now and then…on my desk are to be found several boxes of very pretty pencils. Pencils rub out easily , pencil erasers work and unlike those supposed to erase ink pen, do not leave a hole in the paper where you mistook there for their or weather for whether
This subject of pens versus pencils and discovering that at least one person has made a business out of selling pencils, got me thinking about other cheap things for a small business, with not too big an outlay . Bookmarks are cheap to buy and still very popular and come in beautiful designs, everything from maps of the world to cats and flowers. I never ever thought that I would be the convert that I have become to reading on my tablet, but even though I love the huge range of books I can download and read on my tablet, there is still and always will be something about a book and a bookmark, especially when a gift from a friend, and a friend who writes a book cannot autograph a copy on a tablet and write a dedication to you in it.
Little gift bags can be turned into a profitable business when packed with goodies that can be selected from your own website. Get yourself some good business cards and create a business making gift bags stocked with items such as toiletries, stationary items, and candy, supply small gift bags as wedding favours…or why not go bigger and sell gift baskets ? Use word of mouth and tell friends and other contacts that you will select and pack the perfect gift bag or basket, they just need to tell you what they would like in it. Work out your costing as you go, and you have a perfect business that certainly can be started from home and done even in your spare time, then built up.
Maybe you don’t feel up to packing things up and mailing them off yourself, this can be hard if you have disabilities or indeed home responsibilities taking up time. Do not be put off, you can still create a business , just set up a website , which can even be done for free and join affiliate schemes that can be advertised on your site e.g., as a writer I would add links on my blog to stationary and office supplies affiliate schemes . Set yourself up with a website or blog about a hobby or interest, add relevant affiliate links and promote your site…it doesn’t happen overnight, but you can indeed make a business. The Amazon affiliate scheme is one of the easiest to start with, all you need to do is have a website or blog, join and be accepted for the scheme and link to the products that you wish to sell, with Amazon affiliate products the coding with your affiliate link is all done for you, you only have to write an interesting article and link to what you want to sell that is relevant to your website or blog.
Here are some more ideas for starting a small business, many of which can be started with no or little financial outlay …