What's it been like not running Candy Japan for a while?
Candy Japan ships Japanese candies to subscribers around the world. Or at least it would, except recently I had to pause the service because COVID prevented international shipping by Japan Post. I had been running the site continuously for almost 10 years already, and at the time of pausing it it was my only revenue-generating project as well, so what has it been like suddenly NOT running it?
Your first thought might be that would have been financially tough for me.
Net income from the site has always been very low, lately usually around $2000 / month, which after tax is just about enough to pay for necessities when you live outside of major cities in Japan without having expensive hobbies. But I've learned from the past that living from your own projects means alternating times of feast and famine, and had planned accordingly.
Luckily now it looks like I might not even have to dip into savings after all, because the Japanese government is providing some great support. They gave every sole proprietor a one-time aid of up to $10000 (if you knew to apply for it), depending on how much they were affected by the measures taken to fight the virus. Since I was fully affected I was able to get the full amount.
Between the aid and having planned for times like these, I didn't need to stress too much.
Candy Japan wasn't super time consuming to run. As shipments are sent twice a month, there are certain tasks that need to be done on the same schedule. These are: finding and buying the next candy to send, confirming they get sent to the correct people (taking into account refunds, changing addresses etc.), dispatching the shipment, taking product photos, writing the newsletter, customer support, bookkeeping/tax stuff, and finally marketing.
All of them can be done in less than 2 hours per day if I'm focused, because I've done them a hundred times before and have systems in place to help do them faster. For instance part of my bookkeeping is done by scripts, shipping labels are generated by a script as well.
But projects don't just take clock time, but a chunk of your mental resources as well. You might be running a business that takes a fourth of your time, but it can still take half of your mind. There is always the desire to find "the next stage" for the service. Trying to find something to make it more fun so customers would subscribe for longer, some way to cut costs, some way to reach more customers. You can think about this stuff nonstop.
It's been pretty great having about 2 hours of extra time each day, but half of my mind back.
Thanks for reading
For a more personal update, I also wrote a post about what I've been doing lately instead of running Candy Japan.