4 Truths About Being a Small Business Owner and Tips for Success
I’ve been working on Acacia for the past year and a half and it has been a pretty steep learning curve! Whenever I tell someone that I run my own business they always say “that must be so much fun!” and it definitely is. I really love what I do, but for the most part running your own business is incredibly difficult. I thought I would use this as an opportunity to share what I’ve learnt so far.
1) Your Time is Your Own
This is true, you can decide exactly how you want to spend your day. You could meet a friend for afternoon coffee and do your food shop on a Tuesday morning. The novelty of this freedom will wear off pretty quickly once you realise your productivity has dropped off a cliff and you need some structure in your life. It is also hard to escape work when you’re the only person responsible. Weekends and evenings are no longer your own, as you find yourself thinking about how to fix a problem with a supplier or planning your next social media post.
Tip for success:
Be realistic about what you can achieve with your day and set yourself a time frame. I don’t always start the day at 9 am but I will be strict with myself about getting things done. Once I’ve done what I set out to achieve I can have a break. It is also important to try and switch off from work. Get a social media scheduler, so you can plan these in advance and not cut into your down time.
2) Working From Home
For anyone who doesn’t work at home this probably sounds ideal. You can have a lie in because you don’t have to commute. You don’t have to worry about getting ready and you can enjoy all your home comforts. The truth is that actually being at home can be incredibly distracting. You can easily kid yourself you’re being productive because you’ve put the washing on and tidied the kitchen. Or maybe you’ll just have a “quick” break to watch one or three episodes of something on Netflix. It can take a long time and a lot of discipline to get the balance right.
Tip for success:
Get yourself ready to start the day. Staying in your pyjamas can be tempting but it won’t help to get you in the right mind-set. It also makes a big difference if you have a dedicated work space at home. For the first 6 months of working on Acacia I was sat at the kitchen table, which was far from ideal. Now I have a desk in the spare room which I’ve set up as a cosy work-station. It is so much easier when you have all your stuff set up and ready to go, and I’m away from all the major distractions.
3) Meeting New and Interesting People
This is something I always look forward to. I am a real people person and moving from a job where I had constant interaction with people, to all of a sudden being alone all day came as a real shock. I hadn’t really considered that at the beginning I would be spending most of my time interacting with people via email or over the phone. This has probably been my greatest struggle.
Tip for success:
You don’t have to do everything online. I had a breakthrough one day when I decided to go out to a shop and ask if they had the chain I needed for my jewellery (instead of browsing endlessly online). I soon realised that they were way more helpful and insightful than anything I’d read on the internet. It can also be a great experience to go out an interact with your customers. I was really nervous about doing my pop ups, I’d been so focused on my business just being online and I wasn't sure how it was going to work. I realised how much I’d missed dealing with customers face-to-face and I’ve gained invaluable feedback which I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Doing my first pop up
4) Being Your Own Boss is Great
I would say for the most part this is true. I really love being able to say that I run my own business, it's something that fills me with pride. I enjoy being the one in control of making big decisions and seeing the process through from start to finish. There are also days when this can feel incredibly overwhelming. You are ultimately responsible for everything! You have to be able to keep your motivation up and it can be hard to find people to fall back on for advice.
Tip for success:
You are going to have bad days, when you realise you’ve made mistakes. Don't be too hard on yourself, every failed attempt is a opportunity to learn something new. Take time to review things and plan your attack. You will be amazed at how resilient you can become.
I also think it’s important to try any meet other entrepreneurs. Friends and family can be an incredible support to you, but it is also helpful to talk to people who have experience in what you’re going through.
I hope sharing some of the things I have learnt as a small business owner, might be helpful to others, looking to start their own business. Please let me know if you also run your own business. I’d be interested to hear if you relate to any of the above and what lessons you have learned along the way :)