I have a love/hate relationship with my ambition. When I get an idea in my head, I run with it, and I do not stop until I accomplish what I want. I have been successful in almost every one of these endeavours…except dieting, but we won’t go there. The problem with this sort of zealot ambition is the need to persevere at any cost, and most of the time, that cost is my own sanity.
You have to work hard to win big, right? You have to do it yourself to make sure it’s done correctly. You have to be in control of every little detail. No. Let me repeat, NO. This sort of mindset has kept me up at night, has given me undue stress, has given me an anxiety issue. The moment I found peace is when I learned how to ask for help.
The thing with “help” in business is that it usually comes at a price. My original website was functional, but hideous. My original pictures were photos I took on my phone and terrible cut-out jobs from free online photo editing programs. It all worked, but it didn’t work well. I needed help, but I was on a severe budget.
That’s when I turned to networking. You get by with a little help from your friends, right? When I just started asking – and I did that by posting on Facebook – people I haven’t spoken to in years chimed in, and not only did they chime in, they wanted to help. Knowing I was a small business, they gave me a ton of breaks and great deals. Dean Pagliaro of eCommerceDean was in the same boat: He just left his high-profile position as a web designer to open his own business, and he asked me if I would be his first client. One of the best decisions I ever made. Bryan Maes of Inspiration Studios had been running his photography studio as a side gig for years, I called and asked him for help, and now I actually have attractive photos. You need to network.
You need to decide when something is right for your business, and when it’s not. When we first got started, I accepted every single vendor opening I could. From basements, to houses, to churches, to huge expos, everything. Sometimes it resulted in a new customer base, sometimes it was awesome sales for that day, sometimes it was getting drenched in the pouring rain, covered in mud, with melted products, and an unwanted wet t-shirt contest. I know when to say no, now. You have to think about your goals and decide what will help you achieve them, and what will be a waste of your time.
I wish I had mastered my business plan. I was way too quick to turn my crafting into a business. I knew how to make my products and I rushed to turn them into a business without thinking about my long-term goals, or considering how I would want to change in the future. The truth is, I needed someone to talk to that was much more experienced. I joined Facebook groups and networks, but sometimes their experience was intimidating and they were often frustrated by my newbie questions. I needed a life coach and a business coach to show me my potential, to help me narrow my niche. We can’t all afford the luxury of a big-time coach, but it is an investment in your future self. I now know where I want to go, but it would have been a lot easier to know that from the beginning.
I’m going to give you a gift that I wish I had when I started, and I call it The Creative Cheat Sheet. It’s a comprehensive list of all the people I wish I knew before I got started; I hope it will prove useful for you!