When I was 16, I starting working at a local television station, and I worked there for 9 years until right after I got married and moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. After that, I became a small business owner and have been for over 4 years now. Did you know that?
In March 2012, shortly after Jacob and I married, I started an invitation business on Etsy named Notable Affairs. It took an entire month before I made my first sale, which was actually a custom order. That was SO stressful! I really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, but I really enjoyed designing invitations and thought it would be a nice little extra income for the month. Little did I know at the time that it would change my whole life and would be my permanent full-time job!
Running your own business is amazing, but it is also very hard. You have to be extremely dedicated and love what you do in order to do it every day. Some days are really great, and you deal with incredibly kind and grateful customers, and other days, it’s the complete opposite. There are some really rude people in this world, and there’s always a select few that are always looking to get stuff for free. It’s really unfortunate, but that’s how it is, and I like to keep it real! 😉
The past 4 years have been absolutely wonderful. Sure, there’s definitely been ups and downs, but luckily way more ups than downs. Growing up, I never imagined myself being a business owner. I had my mind set on many occupations throughout my childhood: doctor, dentist, rad tech, pharmacist, teacher, etc, but a stationery business was never on the list at all. Not even a little bit.
It all just kind of happened. Fast. I came up with a business name and opened a store on Etsy, which was fairly simple. Then I made my first sale in April, and then I made another sale and another and another… I really didn’t know if it would continue or if it was just a short term thing, but I was enjoying it.
I’ll never forget my first wedding order. I was so incredibly excited, and then I realized I had to do all of the work cutting each invitation one by one. Talk about a lot of work! But I did it, and I was super excited to finish and ship the order to the bride. I don’t remember the bride’s name anymore, but I do remember the design of her invitations.
Over the years, I have learned so much about growing a business from the ground up, and I have also learned so much about myself in the process. A few things worth noting that I think would be helpful to anyone running their own business either on their own or with a small group of people:
- Being a solo business owner is amazing, but it is a ton of work. I love being able to see all of the work I put into my business, but I’m not going to lie about this one… I work about 362 days a year. Seriously. It’s rare that I get a day off unless it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or another holiday I might can try to stay away from the computer. Sure, I work every day, but some might say, “Yeah, but you’re at home.” That’s true, but I’m working from home every day on a computer. It’s still work. Whether you go into an office to do it or if you’re lucky enough to work from home, it’s still work, and it’s still a job. There’s no way around that. I love my business or I would not still be doing it, but it’s exhausting. There were some days early on when I worked 16 hours a day on a computer, and that’s no joke. I’ve become a lot faster now, but you still spend hours and hours behind the computer just like others do… I’m just lucky enough to be able to do it from my own home. My last real vacation: Italy in March 2015. Since then, I’ve only had a day off here and there. I’m okay with that for now… although I would LOVE a vacation soon. 😉
- People will judge you and your business… even your own best friends and family members. Trust me on this one. When I tell people I sell invitations online or run a stationery store, I can see it on their faces. They think, “Oh really? She probably doesn’t make much money. What does her husband do again?” This actually happened to me recently, and I knew exactly what he was thinking the minute I told him because I could see it on his face, and then of course, he followed up with the question about what my husband does for a living. It’s really unfortunate, but even your family members and some close friends will have the same reaction. They want to show their support, but deep down some of them really do question your business and wonder how you’re making it work to pay bills. I’ve learned that this just comes with it. If your business wasn’t successful, you wouldn’t still be doing it, so don’t let other’s opinions or remarks (or looks on their faces) make you question your life. It’s not really their business anyway, is it?! 😉
- No matter how hard you work, you’ll never ever ever please everyone. Unfortunately, that’s true, but at least I know it and am sharing it with you. Not everyone has the same expectations that you do, and sometimes there are others that are just looking for a handout. Sad, but totally true. I’ve struggled with this one a lot because I always try to do my very best at my job. I want to please everyone, but it doesn’t always happened and that flat out stinks. I get so crushed when I get an email from an upset customer, but I know that for all of the other 11,000+ sales, people were happy, so I try to just keep the big picture in mind.
- Your sales may fluctuate. This year has been a bit rough compared to some others. Between year 2 and 3, my business grew 40%. 40% is a lot for any business! So naturally, I thought the next year would continue to grow and things would keep moving forward, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, it’s been on a decline recently. So in order to stay afloat, you have to start changing things up. For me, that means using social media to push more business and gain new customers. It’s a lot more work, but in order for my business to stay successful, things have to change, and I’m currently working on this now.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Feel like you’re running on empty or need a little extra help somewhere? Ask for it! I am hoping that if things turn around and pick up where they were a couple of years ago, I’ll be able to afford to hire someone to help run my social media platforms. I believe social media, especially Pinterest, is such a huge contributor to my business, so that’s something I’ve been trying to focus more on lately. Never be afraid to ask for help, and if you can pay someone, that’s even better because they’ll be earning their paycheck. 😉
I hope those tips help anyone that’s just starting out or someone that’s been running their own business but feeling a bit worn out. I won’t write much about my business here because I want to use this blog to share my love of other passions: decorating, home decor, photography and a little bit of fashion that I’m really starting to get into, but I wanted to share these five points because I think they’re really important to any business… even bloggers!