Ten Things I've Learnt Since Starting my Small Business
I've just (well I had when I first drafted this blog post 🙈..) passed my two year business anniversary! I started Bamber Prints during lockdown no.1 in May 2020 and initially hadn't planned for it to become anything other than a little side hustle. I was looking for a distraction from lockdown and an escape from the fruitless job searching. But when the job hunt kept failing and we seemed to be staying in lockdown, I put more and more time into it and somewhere along the way I realised I didn't want to do anything else. I've learnt so much, about business and being self employed - mainly from making lots of mistakes 😅. I'm sure I've got so much more to learn, but I thought I'd write out a few things that I've learnt so far.
1. Done is better than perfect.
This is a really good one for when you're first starting out. Perfecting can take a long time, especially when it's your own work and you want it to be just right. But taking that time can mean you may never launch anything and you'll be holding yourself back. A lot of stuff is hard to perfect without the feedback from your customers so just get it out there!
2. It will be a rollercoaster and can get lonely.
3. Only buy the stock you need.
Whyy oh why did I buy an 1000 pack of A4 card after selling a couple of prints or a massive 10kg box of packing shred?? I know the thought process was that I will use it one day and it's so tempting seeing the bulk discount, but realistically it's not great for cash flow or storage!
4. Taking a break is so important.
When you work in most jobs you get a set amount of holiday days. I used to take every single one of mine and plan them out over the year. Since starting my own business I haven't taken nearly as many, and when I do, I haven't been able to switch off in the same way. But it is so important to make time, even for just a day off from social media. I've found planning ahead is key and setting yourself boundaries. It helps avoid burnout, but I'm still figuring this one out two years on!
5. Don't avoid dealing with expenses.
Maybe this one is more of a reminder to myself 👀 I try to make time each month to write up my expenses from the month before to keep on top of it. It really helps at the end of the year and takes a weight off my shoulders knowing it's organised.
6. Talking to your camera on instagram is scary and cringey at first but really works.
I was dying inside the first few times but it really, really helped my account grow and I feel like my community on Instagram is so much better for it. You get so used to it and I even quite enjoy doing them now.
7. Don't pay for magazine ads.
I learnt this the hard way 🙈 I was so so flattered to get an email from a big magazine company that I jumped at the chance, and even though I managed to get the price down, it was a lot for a very small feature. It was lost amongst other ads and in the back of the magazine which I'm sure no-one reads 🥴. The sales never came flying in and I learnt a big lesson. I went on to try organic press features which worked really well and is something I'm now focussing more time on.
8. Comparison really is the thief of joy.
Don't compare your first (or second..) year in business to someone else's tenth year. I did this a lot when I first started - I had followed lots of successful small businesses for years before starting my own and found myself wondering why I wasn't where they were. But everyone has to start somewhere and slow growth isn't a bad thing. A good tip is that you are allowed to unfollow or mute people on your socials who aren't making you feel great.
9. You're constantly learning.
This is something I found daunting at first as I don't have a business background, I just like to create. I've had to learn so much and am constantly learning more. I'm no expert, but I've enjoyed learning from free resources, podcasts, courses and blogs - there's so much out there! I've also found that paid courses can really help with accountability and feeling part of a 'team' again.
10. Work on your mindset and have fun!
'Always assume the best' - I was told this by the very wise Elizabeth @elizabethstilesuk and I love thinking of it when I'm launching a new product or am afraid people are bored of my content. It's so easy to have negative thoughts when sales are slow or a product doesn't do as well as you'd hoped but it isn't helpful to you. Working on your mindset is so important but it can take time to find what works for you!
And that's my 10! There are loads more that I thought of when writing this and some that I realised I've been letting slip, so this has been useful for me too.
Hope you've enjoyed this blog - let me know if there's any other topics you'd like to read from me and be sure to check out my other posts.