things learnt so far in my business start-up
After multiple challenges in the past few weeks, I got advice that I should write them all down. After feeling quite defeated I thought maybe this was a good idea as hopefully someone else will be able to learn from my mistakes or simply feel better while in the same stage of starting a new business.
TRUST YOUR GUT
The whole process of creating this range has been a mixture of pure excitement to heart sinking panic. It's a complete mix all of the time! The most challenging thing has been that I'm trying to create something new that's not on the market, and trying to communicate that has been quite tricky. The very first steps of creating the samples was tough as I had very specific ideas and requests that weren't always asked. I got told things like; 'don't worry, we put that ingredient in lots of things' and 'I wouldn't recommend that', however my end thought was always, 'I don't want to put in what everyone else has' or 'even though you don't recommend it, I'd still like to try.'
I second guess pretty much everything, however I'm realising there is always that feeling deep in your gut that you should always listen to because more often that not, that feeling is what you should do. I'm learning to trust that more and more now.
WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!
This seems like a no brainer, but lately, this has been my downfall. I have saved pretty much every document, screenshot things, put them in folders, saved receipts you name it. But it's always that one time you didn't write something down, something will happen.
In my case, a simple phone call to a shipping company to clear my packaging through customs got the better of me. This was not even a five minute phone call, very simple and I thought 'too easy!'. All I had to do was send a form and the lady on the phone would lodge an enquiry for me and it would all be fixed. It then got refused at customs without my knowledge and sent back to it's original destination. After several phone calls to the shipping company it turns out that lady never lodged my enquiry so the paper work didn't go through. I then got asked 'who did you speak to?' and 'what was your enquiry number?' I didn't have either of those. That cost me so much un-budgeted money that I'm now taking extra shifts at work to get back on track!
DON'T BE AFRAID TO BE PICKY
This is one I've had a lot of trouble with as I never wanted to be hard to deal with in business. However, when you're creating something that is truly your own, you want it to be just right. And not to mention if you're spending your life savings on it, you want it to be exactly what you wanted! So although asking 1000 questions and making minor changes may have you feeling bad, you have to stay true to yourself and your vision. I think my manufacturers probably want to punch me in the face right about now. But I have a vision in mind and I need it to be right. I initially asked so many questions about the process and still bombard them with questions now. I remember writing an email and finished it with 'I apologise for all of the questions' and then backspaced it because I thought I shouldn't apologise for that.
TALK ABOUT IT
I kept this a secret for a pretty long time, I didn't even tell my partner what I was thinking of doing. I would be on my laptop for ages and he would say 'what are you doing??' and I would shut the lid quickly and talk about something else. It wasn't because I wanted it to be a secret, I just wasn't confident enough to voice my idea yet. Then I remember having lunch with one of my best friends and let her know what I was thinking and she was so excited! And then I was excited that she was excited! Haha! It sort of made it real in a way. Then I found that the more I talked about it and shared it with people, I was then living it, rather than just dreaming it. I was also surprised how many connections you could make just by talking about it in passing - somebody always knows of someone related to what you're doing. So even though it can be scary, let people in and be apart of the journey.
DON'T BUY THINGS UNTIL YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES ARE PAID
I think this one is one everyone can get carried away with, and rightly so! It's one of the funnest parts! Graphic design, labelling, business cards, tissue paper, twines, thank you cards and all of those amazing things. However these are the things that really add up and you can always step it up after a couple of months of launching anyway. I originally thought I would have money spare for cool things like that so I researched into them quite early. I just think now, thank goodness I didn't jump the gun and just buy them before the production or packaging! Because things will always come up, and you'll probably have to spend more than you thought you would. So it's always better to buy the crucial elements first and then you will be able to really see how much money you have left to spend on the pretty things.
KNOW WHEN TO COMPROMISE
Although it is important to be picky and sticking to your vision, it is also important to know what you can let go of or what things you could alter. I had to compromise on a few things that were apart of my vision, however had to readjust and weigh up what was more important. For example, when I first started out, I wanted my products to be 97%+ organic. I also wanted them to be Palm Oil Free. The chemist told me it would be impossible for my products to be 97%+ organic without the use of palm oil. I was more passionate about being Palm Oil Free so I chose to lower my organic percentage. I knew that when I told my customers this they would understand. I also originally wanted all the products to be unscented, however the chemist told me that it is necessary for the products to have a scent for multiple reasons so I had to compromise and add subtle aromas to the formulas. So even though these were not in my original vision, I had to be a bit flexible and work with the changes.
TAKE A STEP BACK
Just recently, I got a whole heap of forms to read about how to label products correctly and I told my partner how much there was to think about. He then said 'that sounds exciting!' I was panicked at the time and then I thought, oh yeah.. this is exciting haha! I think the constant feeling of 'what if this doesn't work' and the amount of things to do can sometimes play on your mind to the point where you forget what you're doing. Whenever I get overwhelmed now, I try and take a step back and realise how exciting this is, to be creating something from nothing and to call it mine. I think it's important to really appreciate every step, no matter how challenging.
SOMETIMES YOU NEED SOME EXTRA MOTIVATION
Sometimes when I need a bit of extra motivation, I do little things just to make me either see the bigger picture or to just keep me going. I like to create vision boards, look at other amazing brands and get excited to think that one day I'll be at that level, listen to podcasts of other inspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, watch youtube clips of the same things and of course, listen to some motivating tunes!
I hope this has helped and let me know about your journey as well!
Image via @sundaylane