Happy Anniversary Thea-Bel!!!!!!
Wow what a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I had a website domain, the rough start of a website (that would undergo a complete makeover in April) and an idea. I had no items to sell and no vendors. Now a year later their are hundreds of items for sale on the site and 16 active vendors. It has been an amazing year full of lots of learning opportunities.
In this post I am reflecting on what I have learned this year. A lot has happened so I can't list everything, there is just too much. Instead I will list the overall themes.
Reflections After a Year in Business
It has been one year; a roller coaster of highs and lows that have brought me to our first anniversary. So many lessons learned. Here are the top things I have learned this year.
A piece of advice that I got early on was to be consistent. I attended a class on using social media to promote your business and for me this was the major take away. One of the biggest hurdles you will face with a new business is getting customers. A lot of this comes from being the new kid on the playground. No one knows how amazing you are yet and it takes time before people see this. Since money is involved, their is a lack of trust. One of the ways to build this trust is to do exactly what you say you will do. Take a look at your schedule and figure out what you can commit to and then do it! Whether this is saying you will ship orders out in two days or committing to posting a new blog every week, figure it out and then be consistent!
With a new business there is lots to do. Having routines built into your schedule is key to getting things done, especially if your business is a side job. After working the day, cooking dinner and getting the little one to bed I am not always motivated to tackle Thea-Bel work. But I have an evening routine and built into that routine is me sitting down at my computer and tackling some tasks.
While it is important to stay on top of your business, it is also important to have time away from it. Often I have found the answers to problems when I am not thinking about work at all. Part of your routine needs to be making time to spend outside of work. My husband and I have date nights on Wednesday and for me that means after I get home from my day job, I am done for the day. The rest of the week I can spend my evenings working on Thea-Bel tasks but not Wednesdays. Family dinners are also not to be missed.
With any new business there is more to do than there is time to do it. Since there isn't much time, make sure you are doing what will give you the biggest bang for your buck. It took me awhile but I eventually wrote down a list of priorities. What is the most important part of your business? If it is your customers then make sure that is what you are doing first. I have my list of priorities on a sticky note next to my calendar. Now when I sit down to work I write out what I hope to accomplish and order it based on the areas I feel are the most important. I may not finish everything I planned for that day but hopefully I can at least get the important items done.
Jump Right In, Be Fearless
It can be pretty scary being your own boss. You really have to put yourself out there and be in situations outside of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid, just do it! I was petrified to take on hobbyists that I didn't know personally but if I hadn't put myself out there I wouldn't have met all these great people!
It takes lots of time to grow a business. As much as I wanted to have things take off overnight, they didn't (in hindsight this is probably a good thing as I make less mistakes with steady growth). It has taken a lot of hours to get things to the way they are now and it will take a long time to get things to where I want them to go. Things will pay off though, they just take a lot longer than you want. And when they do happen, it will be out of the blue. You will do something you think will generate results and it does, just not for three months. Be patient and keep doing what you doing.
Work Smarter Not Harder
This is a lesson that is really important but if you are like me, easy to forget. Make sure you are doing things that are smart. It is not enough to just work hard, you have to make smart choices and make sure the limited time you have is going towards things that will help you. Don't get so stuck in your ways that you forget to look around and see if there is a better way to do things. For example, I can schedule my posts on Facebook so that I can plan my week/month out and do it once. Being organized means that the rest of the week I don't have to worry about it and can work on other things.
Focus on What Makes You Special
Don't forget what sets you apart from your competition. If you do something better or differently make sure that is what people see when they go on your website or talk to you. Don't assume that people are smart enough to figure it out themselves, make sure it is overly obvious. Why should people purchase from you? This is of course something that I will continually be working on. My About Us page has gone through numerous revisions as I get closer and closer to getting the words just right.
Say Thank You
Behind every small business owner is a large amount of people who have helped get them to where they are. Thea-Bel would not exist without the help of so many people; from my parents who put up with my sales antics as a child to my wonderful husband whose dinner table talk often revolves around Thea-Bel to my wonderful friends who put up with my sales pitches, I couldn't do it without you. I also wouldn't have this company without my wonderful group of vendors. You guys rock! You are some of the most talented people I know and it just makes me feel so proud that you have put your faith in me. And of course I couldn't be more grateful to my customers. I appreciate you guys so much! Without you I wouldn't have a company! Thank you , thank you, thank you!!!!!
Since it is our anniversary I would like to give you a gift, a free bath bomb. On your next order select the bath bomb you would like to order and then enter "Anniversary" in the discount line at checkout and your bath bomb will be free. Make sure you place your order by March 31, 2017 to get your free bath bomb.