Ok so I may be new to this whole online store malarkey – only 4 weeks old actually, but behind the scenes I’ve been working on my business for a solid 2.5 years and along the way there have been so many hurdles that often have made me feel like banging my head against a brick wall (so far I have resisted!).
DELEGATION IS YOUR FRIEND
I didn’t learnt this one until way down the road when so much time and energy had been poured into jobs that really needed expert input from the get-go. I’m no computer whizz and getting down to the nitty-gritty of HTML & CSS is a real ball-ache when you don’t really know what you’re doing. Money of course was the biggest factor why myself and my partner decided to give things a go ourselves – for some stuff this was fine and we managed to make small amendments without the world ending (or at least our world!). But you know what? We could have saved ourselves SO many tears, tantrums –frustration – and time by investing some cash and hiring a professional. We’ve learnt that with some stuff, it’s just best to part with your fine english pounds in exchange for expert support that saves your sanity and frees up your precious time to let you get on with what you’re good at. In my case, this is designing! Who wants to spend hours pulling your hair out over some coding when you could be designing happy bear prints and stuff? Trust me, delegate where you can and you’ll save yourself A LOT of grief.
RESEARCH & TAKE YOUR TIME
So many times we have been so excited by something and dived head first into buying it without really researching further afield. Most of the time things have worked out absolutely fine, but there are a few instances whereby opinions have changed and more money has been parted with. Back in 2014 we spent about 80 quid on a website theme which we loved… then we spent a further £400 on custom changes by a professional website developer. BUT because we took so long to launch the store, by the time we got around to it there was something new and shiny available and yep you guessed it, we spent another 80 of our fine English pounds *cover eyes*. In hindsight, it definitely was the right move for us to invest in a more contemporary theme but had we of waited and shopped around a bit more than we’d of saved lots of our precious pennies.
DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE PUT YOU OFF
Some people love to stomp over the aspirations of others and unfortunately I’ve had my fair share of these people. A tutor at my old university scoffed at me with a smirk on her face asking if I really believed I’d earn enough to be full-time self-employed. Somebody else said something along the lines of “oh that’s a really hard industry to break into…REALLY HARD” – he might as well have been telling me not to bother. A close family member also said really I should just get a job when I leave university and focus on setting up a pension scheme…WOAH, REALLY? Is that all I’ve got to look forward to – my retirement in 50 odd years time?! As you can imagine, these reactions were difficult to take and sometimes I admit it did make me question my decision to lauch my own business. But I’ve come to realise that you have to take it on the chin and remember it’s probably something more to do with their own life decisions than your business idea. Now, such negativity just washes over me and I don’t give it a second thought. We get one life and we all have to live it as we see fit. Starting a business is risky, it’s scary and it really is a giant leap of faith – but if we lose faith in ourselves then we really are doomed. Resilience is key, learn to dust yourself off and carry on as you were!
PEOPLE WILL LET YOU DOWN
Are you seeing a theme emerging here? People can be a pain…yup, I’ve met quite a few people who have spiked excitement only to disappoint further down the line. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve had people say “I was thinking of buying this…”, “I’m definitely going to buy something”, “Can you do a custom piece for me?” and “Can you email me some designs that I can choose from?” (way back before we launched our online store) – only for said persons to vanish into thin air and never respond/emerge again, arrgh! It’s frustrating (and precious time-wasting!) there is no denying that. Unlike the big boys at your local shopping centre, the sales advisor that customers speak to with small businesses are also likely to be the person that is directly affected by the number of sales…the sales that bring food to the table and keep a roof over their head. Unless you are absolutely going to make that purchase sometime really soon, then please don’t say anything other than “I love your work, it’s great”. In the short space of time that we have been open for business, the number one rule i’ve learnt is to take things with a pinch of salt. No expectations = no disappointment…but it is awesome hearing how much our work is loved! Yes people can be a pain in the ass, but most of they time, I find them to be inspiring, a breath of fresh air and downright fricking awesome and it’s these lovelies that make it all so worth it!
ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS
The run up to the launch was nothing short of manic and we were slaving away for up to 14 hours a day trying to hit our deadline. There wasn’t time to stop and think, let alone acknowledge any of our emotions. It was a case of “job done, what next?” When we clicked the ‘LIVE’ button on our website, I really was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions that would soon hit like wrecking ball. I felt nervous – what if people didn’t like our stuff? What if we didn’t make sales? Worse – what if we make a sale and the customer is not happy with the end result? Even though the to-do list was still ongoing, that first week I didn’t know what to do with myself – I felt lost. Having spent 2.5 years behind the scenes working on creating and getting everything ready to launch, after clicking that launch button I felt everything shift. Suddenly we were out in the open – open for business, we were out there for people to judge and we had to hope to the stars that they loved our stuff as much as we did. I realised during this time that we must be kind to ourselves, to take a break and try not to worry too much and over-analyse things. I knew that whatever we were feeling was normal – after all we were stepping into the unknown – and we should take each day as it comes to ease ourselves into this new way of working. If you’re like us and about to launch your own business-ey stuffs, then know whatever your feeling is totally normal, it’s scary stuff and we are only human after all! Already launched? Already an established business? How did you feel during those first few weeks? Let us know in the comments below.
Starting your own business is one giant learning curve but it’s also SO exciting and hugely rewarding. If you’re thinking about it, i’d recommend grasping that with both hands and giving it all you’ve got. All we can ever do is try!