I absolutely love being a business owner and feel lucky and blessed to be living my dreams and doing what I love but what I learned from this year is that being a retailer this time of year means getting no rest or vacation starting from November and I suspect all the way through January. We started our business only about a year and a half ago so last year we were too new to feel the rush of the holiday shopping madness but this year, OH MY. What a difference a year makes. This is not me complaining at all, there is nothing more thrilling to be as busy as we are, it's just that this busy-ness truly smacked me in the face as I didn't expect it to come this quick at all! I get a lot of emails from readers about what it's like to start a business and how I've managed it all and how I made the decision to leave my corporate job to start a business. I can tell you that it's been rough and it hasn't been easy but every single thing has been worth the risk. Just seeing what my sister and I (with the help of my parents and brother) have done in this short amount of time, makes me immensely proud and happy. To see our jewelry on customers and to get wonderful emails from people that enjoy our line is a joy that I never experienced in my corporate life. In my year and a half of doing this, I've never thought "ugh, 4 more hours left" or "only 3 more days until the weekend." I used to have those thoughts constantly when I was working in the corporate world. Every day I'm exhausted but happy and thrilled to be doing what I'm doing and I'm so thankful to everyone in my life who has supported me and helped me live out this dream.
I don't feel like I'm any kind of expert but with my experience I can tell you that these are a few things that I've realized what has helped me along the way.
super long and wordy post, click through to read more....
1. Be financially ready - When we started the jewelry line, I was still working as a consultant and was doing both jobs. I knew I wasn't going to do both forever, so I set a goal date of when I wanted to be full time dedicated to my jewelry line and I saved and saved until I knew that I had enough to not have to work X amount of months. Having a goal date helped put in perspective that this was going to be "real" and that I may have to live without an income for a certain amount of months. But putting together this plan helped ease my mind and my fears and helped my husband and I know what to expect.
3. If you have a business partner - Communication, communication, communication - My sister and I have always had a good relationship and we've definitely become closer with the start of the business but with that said, we've definitely ran into a few bumps a long the road. Nothing major of course but all that could be (and is) solved with better communication. Us living in two different cities and time zones probably doesn't help but even if we lived in the same city and worked in the same office, communication is always important no matter what. Just being sure that your business partner is on the same page at all times is essential. To us this means, not just understanding and being on the same page about long term goals, but short term and daily/weekly goals as well. If you are running the business on your own or even with a small staff, make sure you have set your goals and your staff understands your goals! It's so much easier when everyone is working towards the same thing.
4. Network like you've never networked before - Not only has networking helped us grow like crazy but networking has also helped me meet so many other amazing female entrepreneurs that I can get together with and bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other. When you network, your community doesn't just grow a little, it grows a lot! You never know who knows who and who could end up helping you in which way. I've been connected through friends of friends or co-workers of someone that I met through networking, or even just acquaintances of a networking friend that happened to be able to help out. Networking through my blog has been amazingly helpful as well! I've even done some "cold call" networking where I've found out that somebody works at a certain place and I just wrote them an email or called them to introduce myself. It's crazy just how knowing a few people and asking the right questions can lead you to so many more opportunities your way.
Believe in yourself. Create your own opportunities. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
And really lastly I couldn't have done any of this without my support system. My husband has been amazing through all of this. I worked through the entire Thanksgiving week and in the past month, I've probably only spent a few full days with him as I left for China and came back but now spend most of my nights and weekends working with our shipping team and don't get home until after he's asleep. He doesn't like being away from me this much but he also understands that it's what I need to do right now. Through everything the business has been through, he's supported me 100% and although the decisions are mine, having him behind me has been amazing. The same with my family. Along with my sister, who has been amazing to work with and partner with, my parents and brother have been a huge part of this business from the start and to have the support of our family I think just motivates us all to go bigger and do better each and every day. I've been through some rough days but talking with my family on those rough days help me find a different perspective and understand why we all are doing this.