Can we start by patting ourselves on the back?
Hooray! Half of the year flew by and the passion is still burning strong!
Coming into the second half of 2018 has me so inspired! I woke up and immediately reflected on all the little things I was able to accomplish within the first 6 months of starting my small business. I am so excited to share these things with all of you in hopes of inspiring you as well and maybe answer some questions around “how the heck do I even begin?”
Let’s jump into it!
Disclaimer: This post is a reflection of what I did to start my own business and my individual experiences as a creative entrepreneur. I am not a business expert and, like you, still learning 🙂 This post may also include affiliate links and cookies.
1. Keep it simple!
As some of you may already know and read in my post “How It All Began” I have definitely had my share of failures. Full disclosure, I did not discover any magical full proof plan. I am still learning step by step and sure I will encounter even more failures! However these failures taught me so many things and the importance of setting realistic goals for myself that I am certain I can achieve.
Realistic goals are made to be SIMPLE! Now you may ask yourself, what actually defines simple? Guys, if you are asking yourself this questions I will tell you right now that YOU ARE THINKING TOO MUCH! Relax. Find comfort in knowing that you do not need to figure every little detail of your business out right away. Simplicity is usually very very very obvious. That’s the secret! Whatever seems the most obvious to you that you need to do is where you need to start.
For me I pinpointed to areas in which I needed to work on which was community and stock. Community was to get myself out there, meet other makers, find purpose and relationships to help keep me motivated. Stock was more on the business part, no body wants to look at a store that does not have anything right? For the first three months I worked on my first goal: build a community before I even seriously started to work on stock. These were my two goals for the first half year of starting my business.
2. Quality and consistency
To work on my first goal I looked at my past failures and saw that one big thing that caused me to fail was being inconsistent. I was not showing up enough for people to even be interested in me in the first place. I experimented on posting every single day in which I saw some growth in my following and totally motivated me. I was creating things to put out there just to connect, at this point I was not even touching my second goal. In the process of finding my community I started to comment, like, and watch stories on Instagram which led me to discovery Facebook groups. I joined Facebook groups and immediately found my community. I loved how threads focused on fibre and focused on helping one another. It was so refreshing since I kind of hated Facebook at the time because my regular feed was always filled with things I could care less about.
Finding my community got me more motivated, but posting every day was difficult for me to keep up with. I started to post every other day. I began experimenting with increasing quality since I could not be as consistent. I worked on – and still am – finding my “color palette” and discovery what my style was by creating a visually pleasing feed. I also worked on producing better captions for my photos. In this I found out that people respond better to more personal captions that reflect real life issues and experiences.
3. Discover your niche
I like to use the word discover because it shows a need to explore different options in order to narrow them down and figure out what exactly your focus in your business is going to be.
I started 2018 with a very broad image of what I wanted to do, which is OKAY. The best things in life are never really planned, they just happen. I thought I wanted to focus on amigurumi, after all that is what I knew I was good at. But it was not really working for me. Which is okay too! When pay too much attention on what we think we are good at, we are pass opportunities for us to discover what we are exceptional at!
So I started new things. Location was a very big contributing factor for me in my discovery process. I figured maybe try more functional home items since people in Hawaii cannot really where beanies or scarves right? So I started making blankets and pillow covers which were interesting, I did have a lot of fun on those too. However, again, location…I live in a small cottage which does not really have much space for me to stock lots of blankets and things I can’t really use all the time.
Then I dabbled into garment making. I never really thought of making garments before, but due to my dilemma with functional house items and space I figured well making my own clothes will be cool because then I can still have something to share, I will have something new to wear instead of buying, and summer is coming up all over the globe. I designed my first garment and discovered I am pretty good at math. haha I also unlocked a hidden talent for design, score!! In this I finally found my niche.
4. Branch out. But always remember to stick to your goal.
At this point my engagement in the community felt like a second home as I began to collaborate with other pattern testers and research on measurements and size conversion. I listed my first pattern The Catalan Beach Tank which immediately began to sell. This motivated me to continue designing patterns which reflect my style and needs – after all, they are designed to be functional and not just sit around right. By getting out there are just trying new yarn, making new designs, and still focusing on my number one goal (build a community) I received an offer from Lion Brand Yarn and their interest with one of my patterns. This was the most happiest days I can recall since starting the my small business. I began to collaborate with Lion Brand Yarn and set up knit and crochet kits (see them here!) I am, to this day so grateful for this opportunity since Lion Brand Yarn is absolutely my favorite fibre company! However, despite the excitement, I continued to stay focused on my main goal and continue designing which then led me to start focusing on my second goal – stock.
5. Cover the legal steps
Having listed my first design which earned me a few bucks here and there and then the offer with Lion Brand Yarn, I then reevaluated my status. I was no longer a hobby just seeking community, my second goal – create more listing/ stock up – was already in the works. I was now a business and I needed to make it official. I followed the necessary steps in get a business license and a trade name. I also began to separate my personal and business expenses – I admit I fail at quite often out of habit and need to practice making the split a habit. I consulted with my aunt’s best friend who is a CPA – she is soooooo amazing may I add! – to make sure I was doing things correctly. When my license came in I was so happy and at the same time in awe – I was officially a small business.
6. Work out Branding
I made my own logo, ordered stickers and business cards from VistaPrint, and set up this blog. I am still working on branding and seeing what I really have a feel for. However one point that I can share is giving your brand a personal touch is gold. On my home page you are welcomed by a banner of crocheted sunflower coasters. This is the image I use consistently across all media and is my own creation. I love sunflowers – it is my and Pat’s favorite flower, and also the logo of the first children’s center I ever worked at – and seeing it reminds me of all the reasons why I do what I do.
And there you have it! My first six month’s as a small business.
600 more followers, three Facebook groups, business license, website, and 7 original garment designs into my small business. It does not seem like a lot, but, it’s a start. 🙂
Til next time!