Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We're Growing...

Greetings. Welcome to international business for the little guy.

Right now I am waiting for 2am my time, to call over a retailer in the UK to cancel an overdue order of French miniatures I had made for a client in Singapore. Meanwhile, I am shopping for paints from a store in Australia because its toolate for my US partner to get them in the next scheduled shipment. To tide themselves over, my painters are using the high end Vallejo Game Colors from Spain till the new GW lot comes in. It is at this moment that I realize I need to do my taxes. Uncle Sam's state and federal kind.

We're Growing
Business keeps on growing. I hired two new full time painters this month. The first one, Indika, just painted the nicest genestealer I've ever seen. We did it for $2, but the real satisfaction is in knowing how much more it's worth back to the UK. Indika plays Middenheimers in our shop Mordheim League, and sent my cousin's Possessed warband packing last week. The other new lad starts tomorrow.

It's very busy these days. Clients are placing repeat orders almost immediately. Sample orders are coming in now daily. At the end of each day we sit around like generals, planning the targets for the next day's painting, studying quality control numbers, tracking deadlines. We talk about what painting methods are being taught next, and what our feedback from clients has been.

The Value of Being a Professional Outfit
Things are definitely more complicated than they used to be. Each night, we plan out who we can put on what job - optimizing on skills and time. I've got the lads doing 4-sigma quality control, which is fantastically effective once they know what I'm looking for with a product. Everyone has a different set of responsibilities. Upul tracks brushes. Gayan tracks paint levels. Indika fixes all the rubbish from China we're saddled with (he tells me he does not get why we use the world's best modelling supplies, but the world's cheapest lights. I tell him its because when a lamp out here costs a dollar, once we have to throw away ten lamps to find one that works, I'll buy something made in Japan instead. So far, I'm winning -- but not by much).

The Value of Having Fun
We all work pretty hard, but we have a lot of fun too. Wednesday night is Mordheim night, and my Marienburger archers consistently get their asses handed to them. On one level its all fun and games, but on another its vital training: my painters understand their clients and care more about the work they do because they themselves have become wargamers One is making an 'Eavy Metal grade unit of Khorne Berserker conversions. Another is busy turning his Defiler's base into a diorama.

The Future
Will I get anywhere with this? Statistics says a resounding no. 9 out of 10 startups goes on to fail quit miserably, and this is my first business. So far though -- we've ridden out all kinds of mishaps and have 100% happy customers. If we can keep that up, well, that's all that really matters now, doesn't it?

Looking forward to a strong 2006,

Da Boss, Paintedfigs.com