Growing up, I had a love-hate relationship with my ‘only child’ status. One of the things I learnt and looking back, loved about being ‘on my own’ though, was that forced ingenuity.
There’s something about being the only child that kinda pushes you into creating your own fun moments, and being your own entertainment. We can credit that ‘self-starter’ gene in me that encouraged me to start ‘clubs’ with my cousins at ten (I was the leader, of course), write books at twelve (okay, short stories…that no one but myself and about two friends laid eyes on, by the way). The self-starter gene (encouraged also by my dad, I must admit) also pushed me to starting my retail stationery store in my home country (I’m all about forming roots where you’re rooted!)- Posh Much Papeterie.
Today I thought it’d be fun to share with you a few lessons I’ve learnt and observations I’ve made in the first nine months of officially running my store:
Don’t be timid about tooting your own horn
At the onset I felt that I wasn’t at that ‘level’ with my business to share it with everyone I knew and met. What level I was waiting to get at is beyond me. Girl, I was only fooling myself. When people met me and asked “So Talisa, what do you do?” or “So what are you doing right now?”, I easily spilled the beans about my corporate gigs which I felt were more high-profile, more exciting and more “ooh nice!” than a ‘little thing’ I’d tried my hand at for a few months. Also, not wanting to come across as cocky, full of myself or ‘salesy’ was at the root of me keeping quiet.
As the months rolled on a couple things dawned on me though:
- The people in business that I admired most (friends and famous ‘friends in my head’) are the ones who shout from the mountain-tops about their product or service. Okay, maybe not exactly shouting, but everyone who knows them knows that who they are and what they do.
- Being shy about serving a market is counterintuitive to…providing a service! How would people know that I’ve got something they want unless I spoke up about it?
And so I take every opportunity I can to share the Papeterie with people. I sneak it into conversations too. My dad even pitched in and contributed to the ‘self-promotion’ drive! I give you Exhibit A, my first branded polo t-shirt:
Never take the timid route about promoting your business. Imagine where your faves would be if they did! Click To Tweet
Your Business Will Become Your Baby…
…and your customers will essentially be like best friends to you. Not in a literal way, but in the sense that much of what you do, see, think about, and feel inspired by will be with your business and your customer/client/target market in mind.
To say that I’m obsessed with what I do would be an understatement. Carrying around a small notebook with me is second nature now (not just because I’m in the paper business!) because ideas pop up at the most unlikely times and inspiration is everywhere. There is, also, a certain selflessness that comes with starting and running a business. Whereas before I would look at something cute and think “I’ve got have this!”, my customers are the first on my mind when I spot new prints, patterns and product-inspiration.
Did I mention that that selflessness will also extend to the financial side of business? Over the years I’ve read about so many start-ups and businesses whose owners say they didn’t get ‘paid’ for years when they started. Unless you’re in business for a ‘quick buck’, be prepared to a) not make the big bucks too quick and b) re-invest what you do make back into the business.
Planning ahead and remaining consistent takes work
…all work that you’ll be proud of, though!
I have found consistency and forward planning especially difficult during those weeks when there is a lot going on at the good old 9-to-5. On days when my office duties are on overdrive (meetings and deadlines galore), all I typically want to do when I get home is shower and curl up with some hot chocolate and Netflix.
Those days are long gone, though. If, like me, you want to start a business but you’ve also got a full-time job going, fear not! And by ‘fear not’ I mean forget about sleeping. Kidding, totally kidding. Though the sleepless nights will come, what you’ve got to prepare yourself for more than anything else is planning and sticking to a plan.
What does planning ahead look like? A few things essentially any business should plan in advance for can be:
- national and/or international holidays (holiday sales, holiday specials, holiday-themed launches)
- upcoming seasons,
- upcoming global events if applicable.
On a smaller scale, honey, imagine the sweet sigh of relief if you plan your daily and weekly tasks in advance! Wanna do a ‘Flashbacks’ series on Fridays? Plan it. Remain consistent with it too. Remember, your customer or client is looking at you, and with consistency, they’ll soon be looking forward to what you’ve got to give!
It has been an exciting first year so far (nine months if we’re being literal)! Starting a business of my own is one of the greatest decisions I’ve made, and thinking about my ‘baby”s future makes me giddy with excitement every day! I have learnt other things as well in my journey so far, some less than positive lessons mind you. If you’d like a part two of my business ‘chronicles’, let me know!
Have you started a business of your own recently? Thinking about it? Let me know below!