Being a small business owner is a wild endeavour. Whether you’re opening a shoe shop or building a technology that will change the world, there are hundreds - nay thousands - of details, tasks, and headaches you will encounter in your daily life that you could have never imagined until you’re in the thick of it.
My name is Adam Elliot, and I started Dick At Your Door, an e-commerce shop for people who like to gift pranks, gags, and funny novelties to their friends and family.
If you’re like me, the thick of it just so happens to be making fat chocolate dicks and sending them to people in the mail as a prank.
What started as a funny prank to pull on my friends has turned into a bonafide small business that has taught me the meaning of Owner.
Thanks to Pat and Starter Story for asking me to give you all a glimpse into my daily routine.
I’ll tell you one thing: It’s MUCH different than being in a cubicle...
Wake up. Push Snooze twice. Always twice. Anything more and my wife gets angry because the dog gets annoyed.
Feed the dog while checking emails. If there are any fires that will need to be put out, that moves to the top of mind for the day.
Construct my to-do on the home office whiteboard and on a notecard if I have to work at the chocolate shop during the day.
Shower, shit, shave, dress and out the door with the dog.
Starbucks. Venti cold brew. Black.
Dog park for thirty minutes to get the old boy some cardio. During this time I am usually checking sales from the previous day and making sure marketing is set for the afternoon. Any paid press that will be going out is checked on at this time as well.
This means I am making sure things are on time and planned by people I have hired. Content, advertising, interviews, etc are all scheduled to have the most impact on reach and brand growth. I am incredibly particular with when I want any content related to our brands to go live. Many times people we work with are unreliable (just the way it goes), so I am always triple checking to make sure we are still on schedule for everything planned the day/week/month/etc beforehand.
If not, I add it to top of mind to dive into first thing once I get to the office.
Load up the doggo once he’s pinched a loaf, played some fetch and sniffed some other dog butts.
Come home and check in on wife and any plans coming down the pipeline outside of work over coffee. This is crucial, as I forget 90% of things going on outside the companies I am running. This isn’t a good thing and has gotten me in trouble more times than I can count. The good news is I have a great second half who understands I can be very one track-minded. The routine has saved many arguments and probably a relationship.
Wifey leaves for work. Time to get to work.
If there are any fires or hiccups in the scheduling for the day, this is when I take care of those things.
This can be a legal matter, shipping problems, order issues, site issues, employee problems, contractor issues, chocolate problems, inventory issues, personal stuff, production problems, customer issues, etc etc etc to infinity. There is always something new that comes up. Every week there is something new and exciting to get all stressed about.
Most times it can easily be handled by customer service, but I like to check in to make sure there isn’t anything completely crazy happening. After that, it’s on to the bulk of my day
9:00 - 12:00 AM
Mornings are for marketing. First and foremost, I make sure all posts are scheduled on Instagram for the day. If we are working with influencers, I check in with them to make sure we have content ready to go. After posts are confirmed, I always take a peek at what kind of conversions we saw the previous day from this platform.
Next, I do the same for Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter. We don’t pay for advertising on these platforms, so it’s about creating meaningful and consistent content (relative to our audience). This has always been one of the most important pieces for me. Consistency is key when you are a brand. If someone shows up to your website or social page and there hasn’t been a post for two weeks, that person will most likely move on without dedicating time or money to you or your brand. If I can’t spend the right amount of time on the platform, I bail on it. No point.
Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are next. This is where I look at analytics and see how my campaigns are doing. Assuming this is an action day, this is when I decide on launching new campaigns and/or suspending old ones. Pay to play is all about finding the right balance between letting something play out and knowing you have a successful or unsuccessful campaign. You have to let things go long enough to get good data, but not so long that you are just throwing money away (if the campaign isn’t producing results). As a small business, we are always cognizant of budgets and how much we can spend. Things can get granular because of that, which is good for me. It’s what I enjoy.
Tweaking keywords, copy, content, images, landing pages. Split testing landing pages and launching new landing pages. Looking through analytics to see what’s going on. I’m always checking on bounce Rate, conversion rate, and our current costs/big amounts here.
Gym and Lunch
I am lucky to be in Southern California where there is some of the best access to fitness in the world. I go to a gym that is built around circuit training. High intensity workouts built into an hour of work.
I keep to a strict diet, so I have a meal prepped for the week. It’s easy and keeps my day moving forward efficiently. Lunch is usually a protein, greens (think salad or broccoli), and water. It’s boring, but I am terrified of becoming a fat sack business owner who is over-stressed, under-slept, and miserable. This is now my life.
Time to head to the chocolate shop.
I usually have an employee start the melters in the mornings, so I can dive right into making chocolate when I get there after lunch.
Tempering chocolate is the tedious process for making smooth, glossy, evenly colored chocolate for our molds. Tempering prevents the dull grayish color and waxy texture that happens when the cocoa fat separates out. Tempered chocolate produces a crisp, satisfying snap when you bite into it.
To achieve evenly tempered chocolate, we need to slowly raise the temperature of our chocolate to 108 degrees. At that point, we turn off our heat and add already tempered chocolate or "seed" chocolate. This allows the melted, untempered, chocolate to pass through a temperature curve, a process which aligns the chocolate's crystals to make it smooth, silky, and glossy.
Once we have tempered the chocolate, it is time to hand pour each chocolate into a 250 custom polycarbonate molds we have. We then have to wait for the chocolate to set up and cool before removing from the molds and repeating the process.
We have two large machines designed to temper 65 pounds of chocolate at a time. That translates to 250 solid chocolates per 65 pounds. Each round of chocolate takes a couple hours to temper down. I try to get 500 chocolates made per day in order to stay ahead of orders and wholesalers.
During the tempering process, there is a lot of downtime. That means, I am doing one of two or three things while I wait for the steps to complete themselves. I am either constructing chocolate boxes, doing outreach, or listening to marketing/business podcasts and taking notes. Each one of these things keeps me moving in the right direction and helps me stay on task.
Cleanup. The worst part of making chocolate. Chocolate gets everywhere and on everything. It’s a pain in the ass to clean all the tiny parts in the chocolate dispenser, the molds, the floor. Everything is always dirty.
Most of the time I am home by 7:30 - 8:00 PM. That’s that. Enough time to eat and sleep. Do it all over again tomorrow.
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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