Happy 1st Birthday This Story! What I've learnt in my first year of business...
A couple of months ago I had a tarot reading and she told me that I needed to start writing more. I realised I’d been a bit slack with my blog. You see, I’ve never been a confident writer and to be honest I’ve been chasing my tail with lots of other things. Mainly trying to run a business and deal with the emotions that come with it.
It nearly slipped my mind that today marks an entire year that I started my business! It’s a weird bitter-sweet feeling. I’m a dreamer, and I’m always chasing the next thing that I rarely stop to think about what I’ve achieved. It feels bitter-sweet because I had a vision in my head of where I’d be a year after starting my business, and I’m not quite there yet. But that’s okay, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot of lessons along the way, and I’m creating something to be proud of. I’ve grown a business from love (and a few breakdowns) but I’ve started to create the dream that I’ve had in my head for so long, even if I’m not at the point I wanted to be. Here are the four biggest lessons I have learnt whilst building my brand…
- Success is not always determined by monetary value or how busy you are. Success is not what others expect from you, it is what makes YOU happy! All year, when people ask me how my business is going my response has always been “it’s going well, but it’s still not very consistent with sales” The other day I finally caught myself saying it and realised how ridiculous I sounded. I expected to be full-time with it within the first year and that was a lot of pressure to put on myself. Then I remembered the main reason why I started this business and it wasn’t to be rich. I started it to create freedom and autonomy in my own life, and to do something that I really, really LOVED doing. And nothing makes me happier than creating jewellery. For me success is freedom and I’m on the road to it.
- Building a community around you is KEY! Honestly, I would say it is the most important thing when owning a small business. Networking can be scary but it’s so rewarding. I have met the most amazing people on my journey. I have wonderful creative friends who totally understand what I’m going through and we support each other daily. Building a community has opened incredible opportunities for me. I have worked with such talented, kind women and I honestly have more friends now than I’ve ever had. It has been the single best thing about running a business and it’s crucial when you are self-employed to stop the dreaded loneliness creeping up on you.
- Get ready to learn and do EVERTHING! Unless you are lucky enough to have a bit of investment money behind you, you will most likely be doing all the jobs so learn how to be organised (still working on the organisation bit). All of my money goes into product and tools, so I don’t have much left over for things like marketing, professional photography or branding. I taught myself how to take photos of my jewellery, which I have so much more to learn about. I learnt how to put my website together. I created most of the branding myself. I have to be in charge of all the finances and make sure I am running my business correctly. I also taught myself how to make jewellery (with the help of some day classes) I have had to do a lot on my own and although I love learning skills I does take its toll. However, like I said building a community is key because I have also had so many amazing collaborations with beautiful souls that have helped to elevate my business.
- Self-motivation is HARD. The last thing I thought would get in the way of my business would be me! When you’re not always making money it’s easy to do nothing about it, and wallow in self-pity on the sofa, whilst telling yourself you need ‘me time’ to watch hours of Netflix. Sometimes that’s true and you totally need time to do nothing, but when you’re in control of how much you earn you have to work harder than you’ve ever had to before. I am still learning self-control and self-motivation. It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. But there is always something to do when running your own business. I also have a part-time job and when I get home from it it’s really easy to sit down and do nothing for hours. Now I give myself an hour to have lunch and do nothing, and even if I have no jewellery to make I ensure I still invest at least three hours of my day doing something beneficial for This Story. Whether that’s boring admin, cleaning and organising my workspace, learning new skills, planning ahead, taking photos or designing. It’s all moving my business into the right direction.
So there you have it. The four biggest lessons I’ve learnt so far! I’ve also learnt a lot of personal things about myself too, like saying no and being careful with money. The other day I wrote a list of all the things I’ve achieved that I’m proud of and it made me feel good. I think most people with a small businesses are always looking for the next big thing, that once you’ve achieved a goal, it’s a quick case of a tick it it off the list and move onto the next thing. It’s important to stop and breathe and appreciate how far you’ve come. I’m lucky to have some very supportive people in my life. This journey has been hard but it’s also been the best. I can’t wait to see where I am next year!