Thursday, 15 May 2014

09:54 – Yesterday, I finished making up all the subcomponents for 30 chemistry kits, including 30 shipping boxes. Today, I’ll get those 30 kits boxed up and ready to ship.

When we started this business, I expected to sell science kits almost exclusively to homeschool families, with perhaps a few being purchased by DIY science hobbyists, private high schools, homeschool co-op groups, and so on. It turns out that our potential market is a lot broader than I expected. We’ve sold kits to many public high schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities, as well as local, state, and federal organizations. It appears that our potential market is easily ten times the size I expected, and could very well be 100 times or more. Rather than selling hundreds of kits per year, we could be selling thousands. Assuming that we want to do what it takes to do that.

We made three decisions starting out: we didn’t want to borrow money, rent space, or hire employees. I still don’t want to do any of those, but I realize that those decisions limit us to shipping perhaps 1,500 kits per year, and that’s working flat out on building and shipping kits, leaving no time to do anything else.

I still don’t intend to borrow money, ever. I don’t want to be beholden to a bank, and we can easily fund reasonable growth from cash flow. Space and labor are another issue. Eventually, if we want to continue growing, we’re going to have to rent or buy space and hire employees. Right now, space is the main constraint. And that’s easily solved for now. I can simply park my Trooper at the end of the drive and use the space that frees up to install industrial shelving for storing raw materials, component inventory, and finished-goods inventory. As to labor, we can make do for now. If necessary, we can subcontract out some of the time-consuming stuff, like labeling bottles. Eventually, when Barbara retires, she’ll be able to put in more time on kit stuff. But I don’t doubt that the day will come when we’ll have business premises and hired employees. I’m really not looking forward to all of the hassles involved in doing that.

Meanwhile, we’re going to do some stuff aimed at increasing sales to public schools, universities, and so on. The first thing is accepting purchase orders, which we’ve already started doing. The second thing is designing and building classroom kits. A course-based classroom kit doesn’t differ much from our current individual kits. It’s simply designed to support four workgroups rather than just one for a lab course that covers an entire semester or year. Topic-based classroom kits, which we’ll also eventually create, are different. Rather than cover, say, a year-long first-year chemistry lab course, a topic-based kit covers only a particular topic, such as chemical equilibrium, forensic blood analysis, or photosynthesis and respiration in plants. Topic-based kits make it easy for a teacher to pick and choose the topics to be covered.