So here I am. It’s Monday night at 5:35pm and I’ve just poured myself a glass of Cab. I’m sitting in my office, which also doubles as my warehouse, marketing department, photoshoot location, ETC - and per usual, I start to think about things other than the tasks I should be doing. I’m literally mid-uploading new inventory to the site, and here I am writing a blog post. But, the thoughts are here so I wanted to get them out.
I’m sharing some important things I’ve learned about starting my own business, in hopes that if any of you are looking to as well, these learnings will help. Even if you’re not starting your own business yet, or you don’t intend to, some of these things can be applied to everyday work, no matter what you do.
I’m not talking about the things that go into starting a business - like skills and responsibilities - I’m talking about the things I’ve learned that have helped me be successful, but haven’t necessarily come easily. There’s probably more that I’ve come across to date, but at the moment, these are the top 5 that stick out to me. Let’s dive in.
BEING ORGANIZED WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
OK, so here’s an example of something that applies even if you don’t own your own business, but when it comes to being an entrepreneur and a business owner, man is this important. It’s actually a make or break to me. And honestly, I’m not the best at it. Some things I do great - make lists, work hard to get shit done, hold myself accountable on things that need to happen, anything to do with payments/billing/accounting (surprisingly), etc. But some things I actually suck at are: making a marketing calendar and sticking to it, uploading items to my site consistently, sending out emails consistently, etc. etc. I’m not saying I don’t do those things, I’m just saying I can be a lot better at them. And let me tell you - if I was more organized - I would see improvements all around. BUT, the point here is that in order to successfully run your own business, you need to be organized and there needs to be some accountability around getting shit done. IMO, the more organized you are, the easier your day to day will be, and in return, the clearer your head will be.
GET READY TO HEAR (AND BE OK WITH) THE WORD ‘NO’
I think this is something I’d heard A LOT from other entrepreneurs - but it didn’t really sink in until I found myself feeling like shit because I had been told no. For a sensitive person, this sucks - mostly because when I reach out to people or meet people, I am so fucking cheerful it’s almost scary. But NEWS FLASH: not everyone shares your cheer-like attitude and the likelihood of them not giving a rat's ass is pretty high. I’m not saying people aren’t warm and welcoming - I’ve actually met some of the most AMAZING people through my business and am so grateful for those relationships - but people are doing their thing and living their life and that’s OK. What I will tell you is that most of the time those “No's” happen for a reason - and maybe you can’t see it, but it was meant to be a big fat no. And the latter half of this, BE OK WITH IT - you gotta have some tough skin. I’m talking, get told no to your face and then have to go on about your day and not let it bother you, tough skin. The good news about all of this: the more no's you get, the easier it gets to hear that word. Now when I hear a no, I move on. It takes time, but it really is so exhilarating when you learn to not let the ‘no's’ stop you from the ‘nexts’.
DON’T BE CHEAP
This one’s tough, because as someone who is super conscious about money and spending, the last thing I want you to think is I’m telling you to spend all your money, and to do so stupidly. But, to make money, you gotta spend money. Hopefully you have a business plan and at least have mapped out what you need to invest in order to make a return, etc. etc - but I’m talking those day to day decisions that actually affect your brand. I’ll give you an example: influencers. Nothing busts my penny-saving ass more than sending out free product to an influencer and then they don’t post about it. Talk about the pits. But, you can’t let that stop you. Don’t let that one influencer who said NO (ahem, see above), stop you from not sending out product to other influencers who could ultimately help your business tenfold. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don't. As always, make sure you map out what that your spend is and how/can you quantify the return? If it’s not revenue, is it a new partnership? Is it a referral? Is it site traffic? All of this can help you ‘justify’ spend, as long as it makes sense for your business. When I say don't be cheap, I mean, don't let something that costs you money prevent you from activating against something that might help your brand a little bit further out.
NO DAYS OFF
I REPEAT, NO DAYS OFF. When you own your own business, you work every damn day. And OK, that sounds a little dramatic, but really, you are responsible for what gets done and what doesn’t get done, and if you want to get shit done, you gotta work. I’m not talking business owners like ol Zuckerberg, I’m talking small business owners who have limited or no employees. My last bullet below will expand on this, but when you start your own business, you have to be prepared to tackle everything that comes your way. Create an email marketing schedule and execute? Yeah, sure. File my taxes completely differently? Welp, I’ll give it a shot. Be a photographer and a photo editor? My Instagram filter days are finally paying off. Putting together wholesale plans for potential partners? LFG. What I mean is, every day will be different, and that’s one of the beauties of being a business owner. You can also decide, nah I don’t want to do that today, but just know, no one else is going to sit there and read your 400 unread emails, so you better crack open that bottle of rose and get to reading. (I could do a whole other post about procrastinating.. but I'll put that off for now ;)
YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN
I left this last because it is so so important and I wanted to close with it. This idea spans across small day to day responsibilities to big life decisions and goals for your company. At the end of the day, what you put into your business affects what you get out of it. Have a shitty attitude? It'll come across in your emails, phone conversations, etc. Work your tail off at a pop up and meet your customers/potential customers, with a smile on your face? You’ve just put a face to your brand, and it’s a good one. Similar to the above, you have to work hard (and smart), to reach your goals. It sounds cliche, but I’ve been noticing this more and more lately. The more I produce inventory wise, the more my customers seem interested in new arrivals. The more I network, the more connections I make that help me in one way or another. This is proven in so many scenarios, and it’s also so very fulfilling. To know you've done something at 150% and the outcome is just what you wanted (or more), is truly motivational. There’s also something so gratifying about knowing something was your idea, your pitch, your execution, and your results - owning things full circle can be humbling but absolutely rewarding. You have to make the effort - and it's a constant grind - but once you see the pay off of that effort, your motivation will continue to increase and you'll find yourself in a good rhythm.
I hope the above is helpful and if anything, sheds light onto a few things you may have already heard and has validated them - but in a positive way. In addition, i’m not saying the above is the key to being successful or owning your own business, these are just a few things i’ve learned along that way that i’d want the younger, less experienced me to learn before starting out.
And lastly, I'll leave you with this. If it’s your passion, follow it - and you’ll never regret it.