We recently hit 20K followers on Instagram - thank you so so much! It's so nice to know that our efforts in creating interesting and engaging content don't go to waste! To celebrate this mini social related milestone I thought I would write a real and honest post about setting up and running a small business. I want to share these things with you because sometimes it's easy to give practical advise but I think it's important to talk about the emotions behind running a business in the hope we can help others...
I decided in my second year of university that I wanted to set up something of my own, I had no idea at that time the emotional rollercoaster this journey would take me on.
When you start a business alone to have to be incredibly passionate about what you're doing, otherwise it really isn't going to work. It works best if hours spent feel like a hobby rather than 'work' - this is when you know what you're doing is the right path for you.
There's an element of playing pretend at first. It's good to look like you know what you're doing even if deep down you have no idea! Don't be afraid to ask people what they think of you work and remember to take the criticism with the praise - although it's good to remember you can never please everyone.
Listen to new business podcasts ('The Etsy Success' and 'Asos: My Big Idea' are two of my favourites). Don't get stuck in your ways, trying something new can be really refreshing but remember to always stay true to your long term goals.
It's not going to be easy, let me tell you that now. In the beginning there will be days when you just want to give up, weeks where you don't take a penny, but these will be balanced out with good days and busy weeks. If you keep going and keep working insanely hard I promise you will see the benefits in the end.
Owning a small business is a funny thing - it's incredibly freeing and equally limiting at the same time. I choose my own hours - I'm never told 'no' by someone if I really want a holiday away, but these things always come with a huge helping of guilt and often those holidays and free times don't happen because the obsessive in me would rather work.
The thing is - there's no off button. My mind never stops thinking about the business no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I always feel a little on edge, checking my emails constantly. It never, ever goes away - which over a short period of time is manageable but 7 years down the line I can honestly tell you I'm exhausted!
There's ways to deal with the above, and it's so important to give yourself care and rest. There's no way you can put 100% into your business if you are burnt out. This is something I am still learning how to deal with - Lola Hoad of 'One Girl Band' has some amazing Podcasts which delve into the world of the small business owner and I find these incredibly inspiring and thought provoking. It's so important to master that work life balance. Lola has taught me you don't have to work 14 hour days to be a success, you don't have to give up everything to be worthy of running your business. Self care isn't selfish, it will actually make you a better business owner!
One of the most wonderful things about owning a small business is that the scope to be creative and learn new things is totally infinite. I can be as creative as I like and there's no one to stop me! I absolutely love creating content and organising photoshoots - Little Deer gives me the freedom to explore with all kinds of avenues. Working with other passionate and creative people is one of my favourite things about what I do.
My main piece of advise to new business owners is to work incredibly hard but to never ever put your business before your close friends, your family - or yourself. Your business is so important but the people who love you should always come first.
Your business is something you do, a wonderful creation you have made but it does not define you - it's taken me 7 long years to realise that!
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