What I've Learned from 1 Year of Running My Own Business

6:00:00 PM

For those of you that have been following me for a while now, I decided to open an online shop in July of 2015. I had been crafting a lot since moving to Alabama and I just figured: why not go ahead and make some money off of it?

In the first couple of months, I was off to a really great start! I had signed up for a craft show, sold some jewelry online, and even had some custom orders.

I enjoyed it immensely, but I quickly learned that starting (and running) an online business is way harder than one might realize. I was struggling to keep up with orders when I was busy, and struggling to bring in money when I was slow.

In the end, I decided to close my shop. It was a hard decision, but ultimately it was the right one. I wasn't creating because I wanted to, I was creating because I wanted to make money. That just didn't feel right to me.

Since closing my shop, I've begun following my passions again. I'm blogging now, I'm working on my novels, I'm reading more, and I'm even finding time for my art. In the last year, I have learned a lot about myself and my business. That's why I've decided to create a list of just a few of the lessons that I've learned!

1. Working from home isn't all it's cracked up to be. 
Originally, I started working from home because I was bored, then it was because I just didn't have the energy to work a "real" job anymore.

In the beginning, it was perfect. I could work in my pjs and do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now, it's completely different. Since I first started, we've added three new additions to our family and they like to have my attention at all times. So now, working from home isn't as easy as it used to be.

2. Taking time off is harder than you'd think.
When I worked for someone else, I used to be able to request time off and go on vacation. During that time, I didn't have to think about work. I could focus solely on what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with.

Unfortunately, when you run your own business, everything is different! Since I handle every aspect of my business (website, social media, etc.), I am constantly thinking about it. I'm always afraid to take time off because I know there's something more that I could be doing. Then when I finally do take time off, I'm thinking about what pictures I should take and notes that I should jot down in case I want to turn my vacation into a blog post.

3. Selling physical products isn't ideal.
While I loved creating physical products, I absolutely hated selling them. They have to be made, photographed, listed on the website, packaged, and more. To be honest, it was just too much for me and I couldn't exactly afford to hire someone to take over the business side of things.

So when it came time for my right heart catheterization, I held a big 60% off sale and closed my shop. I then began creating digital products and working on my other passions. Now I take my physical art and incorporate it into my digital work. I also recently decided to create surprise jewelry packs using my previous shop's inventory and they're being sold here.

4. Providing great customer service is key.
After working multiple jobs in the customer service industry, I had an idea of how to work with customers, but it's more than that when you run your own business.

It's not only about your product, but the way you treat your customers too! Many of the sales that I've made have come from returning customers and I know that it's because of my customer service. I try to respond in a timely manner and go above and beyond for each customer!

5. Making comparisons can break you.
Anytime that someone asks me for business advice, I say this: don't compare you or your business to anyone or anything. There are no two people that have walked the same path, so how can you expect to get the same results that they have? The only person you should compare yourself too is your previous self. You will see how much you've grown and others will envy you because of it.

Honestly, I still struggle with this myself, but I'm beginning to get better about it. I've recently started keeping track of my stats on my advertising page and I'm working on a monthly stats & income report too. So now, I'll be able to continue to track my progress and look back at it from time to time.

6. Connecting with others is imperative.
I used to think that it's a bad idea to link up with other creators, because in a way they were my competitors. However, after stumbling upon SimplyWrappedShop's Instagram account and sending her a quick message, I soon realized that I was dead wrong! Of course, there are a couple bad apples out there, but ultimately handmade creators and small business owners want to help others. They know how hard running a business is and they want to see others succeed.

I can't even imagine what my life would be like had I not found Marina from SimplyWrappedShop. She's such a kind sole and she's done so much for me. She's supported my business endeavors, taught me her signature wire wrap technique, lifted my spirits when I'm down, and more! She's not the only one either, I've met so many other shop owners and bloggers that have become my friends over the last year. So if you take one thing from todays blog post, let it be this: CONNECT, CONNECT, CONNECT!

7. Having a routine makes things easier.
When I first started out, I was just doing things as needed. I didn't have a set schedule and that made things incredibly difficult. I would make 15-20 pieces and then set them aside, and doing so pushed everything else backwards too. I would go weeks without taking photographs, which meant those items didn't get listed in my shop until months after they were made. It was a total mess!

Now, I've begun working on a more usual schedule. I try to schedule myself time to work on all aspects of my life: my blog, my reading, my writing, my art, and my family. I haven't quite perfected it yet, but I'm getting there!

8. Asking for help doesn't make you weak.
For the longest time, I was doing everything on my own. I didn't want to ask for help because I thought others would think less of me. Honestly though, it just made things worse.

Eventually, I realized that I need the help. Whether it's asking my husband to package an order for me or drop something off at the post office, it helps a lot. Knowing that I can rely on others to help me every once in a while definitely helps put me at ease. Otherwise, I'd be running around like a chicken with it's head cut off!

9. Remembering to celebrate your success is important. 
Too often, I find myself worrying about the slow growth of my stats or the fact that I'm not making enough; but what I should really be doing is celebrating the fact that I'm growing and making money! Many bloggers and businesses, don't see any sort of income within the first few months; and I'm not saying I've made a lot, but I've definitely got something worth depositing into my bank account! That, plus the occasional repin on pinterest, is more than enough to cause celebration!

As I mentioned earlier, these are just a few of the lessons that I've learned over the last year of running my own business. I've already begun year two and I can't wait to see how it goes!

Are you running your own small business? What have you learned since becoming self-employed? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. You made so many good points in this post! I love the part about not comparing to others as we have all walked a different path! Great post!

    1. Thank you! I've learned a lot over the last year, but comparison is probably the most important lesson thus far. I've always been one to compare myself to others and it's the worst!