There are so many parts that come together to launch a business. If you’re building a small business on your own, you’re taking care of them all! Before I was able to expand my team, I was taking care of everything on my own. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
Have a support system When I first began creating art with pressed flowers, my friends and family really enjoyed my work and even asked me to make pieces for them to gift. Seeing this support from my loved ones was super encouraging for me and it was a great way to begin my art journey. However, when I expressed interest in taking my new hobby full-time so sudden, I was met with a few doubts and concerns.
While it may be hard to hear that your loved ones aren’t completely on board with all of your decisions, don’t be quick to take their response in a negative way. When you put yourself in your loved one’s shoes, you’ll notice that they’re likely only trying to watch out for you. No one wants to see someone they care about fail and get hurt.
At the same time, either be prepared to become your own support system or create your own! There are plenty of other entrepreneurs out there that are up against the same struggles you are facing. Reach out to others, network, or join a group.
Find a mentor A mentor doesn’t have to be someone who is super experienced or even in the same industry as you. Simply having someone you can talk to who understands where you’re coming from and where you want to be is invaluable!
A mentor will help you see things from a different perspective. They will push you to try new things and keep you accountable for the goals you set.
I’m blessed to have my boyfriend, Justin, as my mentor. His experience and perspectives help me make better and more strategic business decisions. He has pushed me to try things that I’ve wanted to pursue but have been afraid of. Having his support has truly helped dbandrea flourish.
Don’t be afraid to fail
This one is so much easier said than done. I let the fear of failure keep me from doing my first market for months! I was creating art because I loved it and I was so attached to my work that I became afraid of how my art would be received. It’s hard to tell whether your product is going to sink or swim but if you never put it out there, you’ll never know.
My first workshop didn’t happen until about a year after I decided that I wanted to do one and it may have never happened had Justin not kept pushing me to pursue it. I held back and waited to get the ball rolling because I let fear creep in. If you’re interested in doing something, DO IT. Don’t wait for the right time. There will never be a perfect time to pursue your passion so don’t allow the fear of failure to paralyze you.
Use your background to your advantage
When I first began pressing flowers, I knew absolutely nothing about the process. Honestly, I hardly knew a thing about flowers! I did, however, have a solid background in digital marketing and I knew how to create websites. I built my own online store and grew my social media following to over 22k followers. This helped spread awareness about my business and services and has played a key role in dbandrea’s growth. There are so many different aspects to running a business and while you may not excel in all of them, don’t let this discourage you. Focus on your strengths and what you’ve learned in both your personal and professional life. Chances are, there is something you’re absolutely great at. Use it to your advantage!
Be unique and personable
What is it about you or your business that makes you unique? Take a moment to think about what makes you stand out. It’s okay to look to others for inspiration but try to be different because the different ways you stand out will be why people are attracted to you. With dbandrea, I’ve tried to keep a consistent style so that when people see my work out in a coffee shop for example, they’ll know that it’s mine. The warm way our team connects with and serves our customers is unique. Our website is different than our competitors and our social media stands out and is easily recognizable. We’ve managed to personify our brand and I feel that all of these factors together have made an impact in our growth.
Perfect your Craft
Always be on the lookout for ways that you can improve your product as well as your business process.
Most of my processes have changed and so have some of my products. There was a time when I offered pressed flower coasters. They were adorable and I was so excited to offer them! The problem was that they were also very fragile and took several hours to make. They broke during transit on multiple occasions and ended up costing me money.
I could either keep offering coasters or shift my focus to another product that would be easier for me to ship to customers. I had to start thinking about my time. I ultimately decided to focus on original art and bridal bouquets because it was a better way to spend my time and offered a higher ROI. Perfecting your craft shouldn’t just apply to your product. Think of other areas in which you can improve. Is there a better way to ship your products? Can the method you use to track orders improve? Is there a more efficient way to respond to emails and track inventory?
Create multiple income streams
Something I would recommend to every entrepreneur is to create multiple streams of income for their business. When I first began selling my art, I created and sold the original piece and that was the end of my income stream. After introducing prints, I was able to sell the original piece and still make money off of the original design I created. I now offer greeting cards and stickers too.
Not only did these create an additional form of income for my business, it also allows me to offer different products at different price points to make my art accessible to everyone. The variety in my products has allowed me to sell my art through wholesale avenues as well.
Ask for help As an entrepreneur, your time is the most valuable thing you’ve got. Although it’s important to wear all of the hats in the beginning, you’ll eventually need help if you want to grow without exhausting yourself.
It’s tough to let go and let someone else take care of a part of your business. Hiring someone allowed my business to participate in two markets at once. Now, it allows me to serve more brides in Dallas and across the country. Is there something you could use help with? Is your time better spent focusing on writing rather than designing a website? Ask a friend for help, turn to a professional for help or hire your first employee.
Be open to changes Before I quit my full-time job, I saw how great markets were going for me and I thought, “This is it!” I truly believed that I could leave my job and be fine on pop-up markets alone. Unfortunately, this was not the case. After experiencing a slow market season, I knew that I had to change my game plan otherwise, my business could suffer.
At that time, I had worked on a handful of bridal bouquets and to be honest, they absolutely terrified me! If I had been so closed off to that idea, I likely would have had to find a full-time job. Shifting my focus towards preserving bridal bouquets not only helped my business survive, it has allowed dbandrea to thrive!
Don’t be intimidated by the obstacles that come your way. Pivot when you need to and don't give up!
P.S. What are some of the things you’ve learned as a business owner? Share your tips below!