Hi Michael. I applaud your effort. I have been following your story on various boards, kind of a soap opera. I read teton every day, and people on there can be downright vicious. I know you probably wont listen to what I say, but I hope you do.
1) NOBODY HATES YOU!! They are just consumers commenting on a business, it has nothing or little to do with you.
2) Running a business is EXTREMELY tough. Over %50 of small businesses fail in a year.
3) Dealing with customers is TOUGH. Not everyone is right for it. You seem to have the drive and heart, so I hope you take these into consideration
a) you shouldn't be making content on your web site. Your mood seems to swing too much. Alot of people seem to want to help you. Maybe you can find someone who is good at marketting to take care of that? Or maybe Kristen?
You did not go to "collage" (sic). Is that how you want your company to be looked at? 333 skis are supposed to be top notch custom made, expertly crafted skis. Your web site needs to have expert grammar, expert spelling, and only about what the consumer wants to know, about the skis! If I am trying to decide what ski to buy how is what you are putting on your website applicable? You can succede, you just have to realize your strengths and weaknesses, and let others handle what you are weak at.
b) about your mood swings... this is not perjorative. I take anti depressants. I am not crazy, and millions of people take anti deppresants. I am ABSOLUTELY NOT BASHING YOU. I am not saying you should take them, but you should honestly reflect on this and talk to your doctor
c) Your "are you right for 333 skis" philosophy... You make a product, ANYONE WHO WANTS YOUR PRODUCT is right for 333. Almost everyone. Sometimes you have to politely tell the person "maybe 333 is not the right product for you?". YOU SHOULD NOT BE TELLING THE PEOPLE THIS THO, I dont mean to hurt you, but customer service is not your thing, and for a small business it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!!! If you want to succede you need the right people doing this, and I am afraid you are not the person. I dont see any way you will succede otherwise.
d) quality: the quality of your product is synonymous with 333 skis. Your skis have to be impeccable. Your web site has to be impeccable. Your web site is symonymous with 333 skis. If you have a rambling letter where you go on about your mother being a samuri, misspelling college, is that what you want 333 skis to be known for? Every ski you send out, you need to have someone who CARES about 333 to look at the ski and say to themself "this ski represents 333, is it perfect?"
I would suggest slowing down, making some skis and demo'ing them at Mammoth, wait until you are making EVERY SKI PERFECT, waiting till you have a friend that can help you with the business side, have someone else take care of the customer service. QUALIFIED people may due this as a intern, just to learn from you how to make skis. You have had some really good ideas, but your customer service model and your business model are going to doom you. You have such a following you can probably get competent people (people with business degrees, people who excel at customer service) to work as interns for free just for the knowledge of how to build skis and maybe some free skis. The business and customer service will doom you, but it doesnt have to!
Work on making the customers who have already ordered %100 happy. Not just "well the skis are skiable" but %100 happy. I think you can absolutely get there, but I dont think you are there yet. You need to slow down, work on quality, and get qualified people to handle the customer and your web site.
When your skis are %100 perfect, you have others helping you with the business part, you have others doing the customer service, I think you can succede.