A Mother Brand
As I am approaching a year in business, I thought I'd share this blog I wrote for the amazing @amotherbrand website.
They say that economic down turns and times of uncertainty (enter Brexit, stage left) are terrible times to start new businesses. Many people are unwilling to invest in or make unplanned purchases. They say that you should not start a business when in a state of uncertainty, yourself. If fact, I was told by a friend that before doing this, I should work on myself first, speak to someone and then pursue it. Sadly, I am a bit tenacious and headstrong (and not in a good way) so I ignored all the “good” advice and just did it anyway.
Here are the 5 lessons I have learned in the 6 months since I launched Seven Shades and the many, many errors (life lessons) I have learned along the way.
1. Making it happen – I defy anyone to challenge my belief that when you have created your own website; from registering the URL, putting that shit together with pages and products and links, then seeing the mother go live, particularly as a small business and “doing it all yourself” is not the best achievement ever. You deserve your own bank holiday and a magnum of champagne poured all over yourself. Indeed, if you are creating a product, the anxiety and thrill of the arrival via DPD is beyond belief. However, the immediate rush of love is forsaken with the following below…
2. Manage your expectations– So you pulled together a website and managed to get some stuff put on it. So what? Only your mates will be buying it, so make sure you are not so British as to sing from the rooftops about what you are up to. Shout it out loud to everyone – “I have a side-hustle, a new venture, please, dear god, support me!” To start with, they will be holding your hand all the way through the moments of self-doubt. Hopefully you’ll have a supportive partner who won’t ask daily how many orders you’ve had. Those comments will burn.
3. Make sure you have honest friends – as a new business owner I was desperate for people to be honest with me. I am lucky enough to have some amazing friends who would tell me my stuff was not for them. And you know what, that is ok. You cannot please everybody. Find your core values and stick with them. You wouldn’t buy everything in a shop, so you can’t expect others to. Meet the public, if you have a product, sell at local fairs, speak to other small businesses, listen to the advice of others (you don’t have to follow it).
4. Find your tribe – I took an online social media course early on as I was new to Instagram. A lot of the content didn’t make much sense when I first started, I kept going back to it. The most important and invaluable aspect of investing in this, was access to other women as a Facebook and subsequently a WhatsApp group, all at different stages of business, learning and supporting each other. This is our tribe. We exist only to build each other up.
5. Never give up – as an entrepreneur you will have the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Keep positive. Find it within yourself daily to keep it up. You may benefit from days off. I did. While working on the second range, I felt I was fighting a creative enemy. Everything I produced looked shit. I did not want to sell shit. I left my sketchbook alone, and while out with my kids I had a spark. This is what the notes facility on your phone is for. I wrote down all that was flowing to pick up and refine when I was ready to nurture it.
Moving forward to the next 6 months and my 1 year anniversary – I know that I will always need to keep up the momentum and flow. If McDonalds and Coca Cola are forever changing and moving as business, then by all that is sanity, so will I. I will continue to make mistakes, I will have days when I question it all, but if I retain this tenacity and bloody-mindedness to make this work, I am going to give it everything.