Things That I Have Learnt Starting A Small Business
Ten months ago I decided to try to focus my attention and passion for play into starting my small business Rainbow Sensory Gifts. I am a reflective person both naturally in personality and in terms of how you are encouraged to be working in education... how can you be better? what are the next steps? can you make any other changes to improve? ... etc. So this blog post may just be a waffle of me trying to process thoughts or may well be something other small businesses out there can relate to.
1. No-one, absolutely no body cares about your business as much as you.
If you do not live and breathe your business- you're not passionate enough. I can bore my friends and family to tears about my business, my plans and things that I have read or seen relating to it! I can be out and about and I am picking things up, feeling their play potential, reading labels on toys to find the supplier, taking photographs...my camera roll is a very strange place! I can spend hours reading blogs and articles on benefits of play or certain toys, on brain and child development and I wont even tell you how long I spend searching for suppliers!
So because you are so passionate about your business - you will realise no body else is - they will not feel the upset and hurt you do when things go wrong or you are down about something related to it, they will not feel the happiness of every order coming through, they do not understand that it isn't a hobby - you cannot ever switch off. If your business is your baby- how can you ever not want the absolute best for and from it
2. The Balance - does it ever work itself out?
There is no denying finding the balance between work and home is hard with any job. When I taught full time it was near on impossible to get as much time as I wanted with my baby/toddler. When running a small business- particularly this first year (i hope) you cannot say 'I will only work XYand Z hours in the evening around the kids' ... because social media posting, emailing, sourcing and dealing with suppliers, phone calls, replying to people in a responsive time cannot be limited to the evening. I cannot physically do all of those things, pack orders, organise admin and stock, make wands etc in an evening block... so this is where the balance tips. Many a time the last 10months my children will have suffered from not having my full attention. I can be in soft play on a playdate and emailing. I can be on the school run replying to messages or looking up something that flew into my head! The kids come traipsing with me to the post office with Daisy carrying boxes because I have to go every day to keep up and on top of orders. Once the children are in bed- there is no sitting down watching TV with the husband- I am in the office (often listening to Six the Musical soundtrack) working and packing up. BUT that IS MY CHOICE, that is my job. This is my dream- I have to work hard to make a success. So even on the days I beat myself up for not getting the balance right, for putting my kids almost 2nd in my attention on playdates etc....I hope it works out for the best for them in the long run. It also shows my daughter what is involved with a business and working for yourself. She very much looks up to me and wants to have her own shop since I started.... that and be a vet....and a kennel girl....and rescue dogs.... but you get the sentiment!
3. You get hungrier - both literally and in terms of business hunger!
When I started this, I wanted to sell 10 bags a week. I wanted something to challenge my brain, channel my passion and offer a little income for paying for baby groups and all the Costa dates (LOL)I was racking up. I was never a competitive person, I am always of the mind- I just want a easy, peaceful life - but since starting this; my desire to do more, achieve more, widen and develop has grown. Where I started with and where I want to end up are parallel worlds now.
4. You make some lovely friends along the way!
Point one was a little doom and gloom-but the best advantage of this journey is by far all the lovely people I have 'met' along the way. All the customers, returning customers, followers, absolute strangers who support you more than some friends or family and just genuine NICE people who love what you do! The girls from uni who offer support, fellow teacher mums- all of those people are the fuel to keep making people happy. Some people genuinely want to help you with nothing in return. I feel lucky to have some of those people in my business life and on social media.
5. You Can't Do It On Your Own
You cannot. I rely on my husband more than I like to admit- I can often text him to do a post office drop, fix the laptop, pick me up something or order stock while I'm doing dinner etc. Some of my friends have absolutely saved my bacon- from helping me process ideas, help me pack up orders when I am overwhelmed or have had issues with supplys, come with me to events, organise my office for me because I have been too busy to even roll up ribbons or empty the bin! I mean- fun fact- I HATE talking on the phone to people- gives me serious social anxiety so I have even had phone calls made for me - all these things that help ME to run the business the way I do and best I can. ..... so don't call me ;)
6. Dry Shampoo becomes your best friend
Now, as a mum - this was always the case- but now...now we are closer than ever me and my dry shampoo can! Those 2am stay ups do not end with a shower to wash the hair!
7. You reach new limits
I love sleep and naps- I am terrible for it! But since starting a business that is certainly the one thing that has had to be reduced! Late night work means gone are the 10pm- 7am bedtimes (whispers: i miss you!). I survive on less sleep, more tea, less make up, more dry shampoo, I even forget to take my daily medication some days due to being busy as a mum and then a business owner. My patience is tested more than ever. I speak to the delivery drivers, post man and postal ladies every day.. probably more than I do my actual husband. I have realised that- actually I hate social media in ways that I didn't know before having a business - I never knew how fake it could be. I certainly love it to interact with customers, but I do not enjoy the mindless scrolling I end up doing, people just wanting excessive likes for the sake of it, daily messages from people asking for free items or how much time I end up on my phone a day.
8. You really do not know what you are doing... you just learn and hope you grow.
And that's really it! I am sure a more serious business woman would end that with a more accurate point- but all I know is- I love what I do, I love the feedback, I love the customer photos, I love the learning and growing, I love the passion and fire it has bought to my life, I love the challenge, I love the people I have met along the way and I love that I can say that ... hey! I love saying that I run a business!!
What will 2020 bring?!