Let’s belabor the obvious. Of course, you raise a certain number of butterflies with a certain number of sales in mind. You know what your operation will produce. If you want to sell and ship more butterflies, well you have to either RAISE more or else BUY them from someone else and be satisfied with making the “mark-up.”
Now, try this. Instead of figuring out how many you are able to sell and ship (by raising them and also by buying some wholesale livestock), do this. Figure out how much you would like to sell and ship. There is a vast difference between the two. Do not limit your sales by limiting your thinking. Instead, raise your sales (and income) by expanding your thinking. Of course, this must be within reason, but you get the concept.
Fix an amount of sales to achieve. Fill the inventory required for those sales by a combination of what you raise yourself from egg to adult and with wholesale larvae and pupae; and by having some orders drop shipped for you, by farms that do that. This will result in a substantial increase over just killing yourself raising as much as you can and basing your sales on that amount of livestock!
Of the total livestock to be shipped out (depending on what species you select), some will be butterflies you raise yourself completely, from egg to adult. Some of the butterflies can be livestock you bring in as third-instar caterpillars to raise to adults. Some can be wholesale pupae that you bring in to emerge and be shipped as adults from your facility. AND you can also enter into arrangements with other breeders for them to ship butterflies directly to your customers from their raising facilities. Most farms will keep your “farm labels” in a file to use on boxes for your butterfly shipments.
Always have more livestock on hand than you plan to sell. This “opens up” the door to more sales for you. You can’t sell what you don’t have. During my first year of breeding butterflies I always kept several hundred “extra” Painted Lady larvae coming in each week, no matter what orders I had scheduled. If you are diligent with your sales work, there will ALWAYS be a last-minute funeral, party, wedding, or breeder crisis where you can ship off the butterflies. And, they do last, so you can use them the week after. By checking The Stockyard of The Butterfly Website, and watching the mailing lists, you can always find homes for these “extra” butterflies! Keep track of how many “extra” orders you ship out this way each month and you will be amazed at the “extra” income! I don’t remember ever having to let butterflies go, because they didn’t get sold or they got too old to ship. You can always put a message out to the lists that you have wholesale butterflies (or pupae) for sale and they will get snatched up. There are some weeks during the breeding season where there is a “glut” (supply exceeds demand) but this fluctuates.
An interesting thing to ponder is which choice of the following two options will bring you more money. ONE: Increase your sales by increasing your inventory. Raise more butterflies to sell. This means more labor, more hours, more diet or plant food, raising more plants, making more nectar, washing more containers, cleaning more cages, etc. etc. The extra hours on every day really add up. Or, there’s the TWO option: Raise a certain amount of livestock and attend to it, but then instead of laboring to raise more livestock, spend those extra hours making sales calls, talking to wedding coordinators, issuing press releases, talking to a gardening club, checking The Stockyard, watching the mailing lists, sending out cards and brochures, tuning up your website connections, doing an interview with the newspaper, radio or TV stations, etc. and filling those additional orders using wholesale livestock. Even if you made the same amount of extra money from the additional sales either way, wouldn’t you prefer to be out having butterfly fun with others than to spend your time scrubbing containers? Hmmm….
Besides, if you are diligent with your sales efforts and business development, you will make more money on the additional orders by using wholesale livestock than if you try and raise it yourself. The time is much better spent on sales! This develops your business, also, as you connect more with others and your name is “out there” with a greater number of people. So, by using extra livestock purchased from other farms or having them drop ship your orders to your customers for you, AND by raising some extra livestock above and beyond your scheduled sales, your income will increase greatly. Work smarter, not harder. And have some fun!!