Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lessons Learned From My 1st Year as a Small Business Owner

I've been thinking a lot about my first year as a small business owner and as an artist. I don't know how many times I thought about giving up or even not re opening. I tried to take some time to reflect on the things that I learned or had way too many thoughts about. Everyone's journey is different and maybe you can learn a bit from my random thoughts if you're struggling or just starting out. I know I still have so much to learn and my business will continue to evolve as I grow.

1. Forget Perfect

I am far from a perfectionist, practically the exact opposite. I like that real, messy, gritty, this was made because I was so passionate at the time feel to things. Even so, sometimes (and especially recently) I get the 'this isn't good enough' blues. This practically halts all motivation to work and I wind up emo in the corner growing mushrooms (anime reference). I'm not sure about you, but I like to picture myself kicking my own ass and that helps me fight all the doubts. Nothing will ever be perfect, and if you keep waiting you'll never get anywhere. So share that rough sketch, crazy thought, or funny face. The feedback you get will fuel your desire to keep creating and get your mojo back.

2. Choose Your Own Adventure

Recently I had this crazy epiphany....I choose how to spend my day. It's that simple. I felt like I had to have a mile long to do list, stay up all night working, and practically breathe social media in order to be "successful". My life was revolving around this business that was supposed to make me happy and fulfilled, but instead it was doing the exact opposite. When my husband finally said something, that's when I knew it was serious, because even though he supports me he could tell how unhappy I was. So make a work schedule and stick to it, schedule in time for yourself, and get some sleep! Choose how you spend your days, not how you think this crazy industry dictates you should.

3. You Can't Sit With Us

Not all online communities are created equal, and I'm sure if you've been around the crafty communities you've realized this. I'm not saying all online communities are bad, I've actually found some great ones, but this is something you will have to discover for yourself. I sunk a huge chunk of my time into several different communities this year. Some were very uplifting, others made me feel like I was transported back to high school with all the cattiness and whining. Many are clique-y, others were extremely time consuming, and several were too expensive. My take away is this, you shouldn't have to pay for friends and it should be a positive environment where everyone can be heard and treated as an equal.

4. Measuring Success

The more I fell down the rabbit hole of handmade business life, the more I saw behind the scenes. I learned that many of the artists/crafters I thought were successful were just like me, lots of work, not a lot of profits, but big on drive and passion. I had a few people tell me I was successful for various reasons, but how do you measure success? One reason I started doing what I do was to help pay the bills since I became a stay at home mom. Do I think I accomplished that in my first year? No, but I think I learned a lot more about the business side of things that I will be better prepared this coming year.

I've been reading lots of different books to prepare myself for 2015. I eventually plan to review a few of them here and hopefully they will help you too. I'm also working on my own 2015 Business Planner, mostly because I'm awful at doing one for a whole year, and I'm the only one who knows my business inside and out, so someone else's business planner may not have everything I need.

Here's to a SUPER DUPER 2015!

What have you learned this past year?

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