Pricing and Profits: The Tale of Two Greeting Card Businesses

When growing a card business, I learned early on to purchase items that are only necessary, and avoid the enticement of pseudo business expenses, like tax deductable perks.
For example, imagine these two humorous scenarios. Which card business would you rather have?

Business #1:
You are sitting in your rented sunlit art studio with your new computer, loaded with the latest software, and you have just returned from the art supply store to see what fun things you could buy. Earlier in the day, you stopped by the Chamber of Commerce to buy a ticket to a networking dinner at a country club.

When you sit down to add up your monthly bills, you are surprised to find you are spending $2,000 a month, but all the receipts have nothing to do with making a greeting card. Rather, they are for rent, business lunches, a new drafting table, art books and business cards.

The next day, when you share this information with your husband (partner, kid, wife, mother, fill in the blank), they say, “This hobby of yours is too expensive. I think you need to give it up. We could have used that $2,000 to pay for the rent (braces, gas, insurance, food, fill in the blank).”

Business #2:
You just had coffee with a few neighbors who work at home. You learn that one neighbor needs invitations made for her daughter’s graduation and another neighbor tells you about freecycle http://www.freecycle.org/ , an online group where you can get free stuff like art supplies and furniture.

When you come home and add up your monthly bills, you learn you have profited $2,000. You share this information with your family and they are happy for you. Your husband (partner, kid, wife, mother, fill in the blank) suggests moving the exercise bike to the garage, and turning the workout room into your office.

Because your business is profitable, you decide to make a commitment towards growth and purchase larger quantities of supplies for bulk discounts. You have an inner sense of accomplishment from putting your art out into the world.


When I first started my card business, I had many difficulties when it came to sales. When downturns came, I was tempted to think my business was just something I dabbled in while working a full time job. Then I would stick it out, get more advice, make adjustments, and soon found there were more ups than there were downs.

If you feel like you are on a roller coaster, that is to be expected. Any good business generally starts that way, and things change as you go along. My biggest piece of advice for dealing with this is: If you start feeling disappointed, take action. Ask for advice; make adjustments and work on new ideas.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

Good point. Thanks for great post.