Five Things I've Learned Since Starting My Own Business | Part 1 March 19, 2017 11:48 8 Comments

Five Things I've Learned Since Starting My Own Business Blog Post

Currently sitting in bed on St. Paddy's day. It's in the hour of 7am, one girl still asleep and the other beside me playing 'slither. io' on my phone. I'm moving into my 38th week of pregnancy so i think it's safe to say the next few weeks are gonna bring some changes around here. 

In these last few weeks of pregnancy, as I'm tying up loose ends in the business, I've pushed myself to write a post on what I've learned since starting my online business two years ago. I just love getting emails from other mums or females with something inside them that they just can't switch off, a bubbling creativity or a desire to give something to the world. Sometimes we all just need a bit of encouragement or inspiration in some way. So it is my hope that i can bring you something to chew on, in a few 'scheduled' installments over the next few weeks.  In the spirit of celebrating women, especially Mother's Day this month, i intend on bringing a diverse range of inspiration on how to start your own business and feed you some insights from other women/ mum/ entrepreneur/ online business/ creative types I've had the pleasure of connecting with. I hope this might spark something in you that perhaps encourages you to start your own business or be brave in a new venture. 

Sharing the excitement of pregnancy with my girls

For those of you who don't know I have 'a nearly' 10 year old, Emelia. (She reminds me constantly that she's still 9, but because she turns 10 same month of baby, i can't help but see her as representing 'the decade of life' we will have experienced together pre-the newbie we are about to meet... poor gal) and i have another daughter, Esmee who is a 7 and a half. They are truly in love with eachother. The friendship that's developed between them is beautiful and actually really handy in terms of child care as they love spending time together. 

 My gals, sisters and true besties.

Believe me, my husband and I had carved ourselves a cozy lil' 2 girls x 2 business operation from this home and there has been a lot of re-carving that has taken place, weekend at a time, leading up til now. But here goes, it's been a great journey til now and lately, I've enjoyed pondering the things I've learned as a working mum since starting my own business. Here's my five:

 

1. Timing is Everything

First up- Timing. It's everything. Of course there is never going to be a 'perfect time' to start a business or pursue a new career direction. Whether it's because we have young kids and are feeling the effects of exhaustion physically, emotionally, creatively. The issue of 'when's the best time to start pursing new ideas?' is biggie for many of us. When i had my first born, (10 years ago now) if you'd have asked me to be "productive" in any way other than being the best mum i could be, i would have had zero interest. But in hindsight, there is evidence that i was 'priming the pump' a bit for what would manifest as my online business.  I finished off some post-grad work during Emelia's nap times in the first year, which was looking at "communication through the arts" and i did sell some homemade headwear pieces and create my own mini series of printed greeting cards using a pen drawings and patterns scanned into photoshop. I then used a local printer to print them in volume. They were kinda cool, but didn't sell. I had no idea how to tap into customer need for luxury greeting cards and I didn't know what platform to use to sell.  I tried selling some on etsy.com for a while and even did a few local fairs at Christmas time. By the time second daughter came around, i was on a complete break from any entrepreneurial- creative activity. I don't think i had burned myself out at all, but just saw that it was hard work to get sales and really didn't have the motivation anymore. In a nostalgic/ reminiscing moment i found this lil' collage from 2009 of some of the hand-knitted pieces i sold back then. 

My first online creative business selling handknit pieces

There is really never enough time for the things i wanna do. I've been thinking about this so much recently as i'm still working quite a few hours a week in this late third trimester stage of pregnancy. This is not ideal.  I do feel a bit sad about it. I loved the feeling of getting off work on maternity leave a few weeks before my eldest was born. What a fresh, exciting start! Having her and the two years after was the most surprisingly happiest time of my life. I don't regret my slow-lived, buggy walking, oxytocin/ breast feeding, hazy filled days where the idea of ever 'making a penny' off my creativity or entrepreneurial vision was just that, an idea!
Sometimes it's about making hay while the sun shines; sometimes it's about being smart and not pursuing something 'good' at the wrong time. I know i will need to take a step back once baba arrives (even if i feel well enough and able to work) cos my body will be going through so many changes hormonally and i need to be smart about any sneaky baby blues or residue of being over-worked for a few months down the line.
Basically, if you have dreams or business ideas as a stay-at-home mum or not, I say go for it but use you'll know if the timing is right. Prime the pump or practice your craft in a way you are able to. Just like i did with my mini etsy ventures, you'll know if you have the headspace or physical bandwidth to pursue things further once you get started. Then you can modify accordingly. But equally, please know it's totally okay not too. Luckily, 'who we are' is not defined by our current working status or productivity levels. Our self-worth has very little to do with it. My joy is not intrinsically linked to how many ELSKA sales I got today! Woohoo!

 

2. Productivity and Creativity is a Choice. Just because it doesn't always come easy, doesn't mean it's not "inspired." When I first realised this, i thought it was so profound, and when i said the phrase to Jon, my husband, he said he was underwhelmed:) Ha, but, for me, to know that inspiration is probably not gonna just show up and hit me in the face is a game changer. It brings me so much relief to know that it's not just me that finds it hard to take a good photo, or find the time to write blog posts.  We can choose to be inspired. Huh? I have to work on myself, learn from others, work hard to put myself in the best possible environment for creativity. In most cases, hardwork cannot be hacked and often we think that if it's not got a true authentic spark, it's not gonna be hard. That's not my experience. 

Our well of inspiration is not gonna run dry using up all our 'good ideas' at once. When we practice, or collaborate with other people, we are expanding and emptying ourselves ready to be filled up again. 

 

3. It's good to Get Help. 

This may seem like something that is far off, but recruiting just a little bit of help to push you to a new place can have wildly positive impact. Whether it's getting childcare sorted for an extra half hour at the end of your usual schedule just to sit in your car with your journal to let your mind meander or whether it's to take the plunge and invest in some books or courses that you know will help you form business ideas or my goodness, podcasts are FREE!! I'm obsessed! These are great ways to build up the foundation for somethin' around the corner.

Last Spring i realised that although i could've kept going and was enjoying my input level into Lines & Current, if i could get some help in the business, even though i'd be giving over some control and paying someone, the business might possibly grow exponentially more than the cost of getting the help. Trust your gut on this one! Nearly a year of having someone process all the online customer orders, wholesale orders and now managing customer service has meant i can work on so many other aspects of the business, expand our reach but it meant me sacrificing probably the important interface point which was my favourite personal contact with the customer. 

One of the rare days when i process the orders from home

the new skinny jewellery gift boxes by lines & Current

4. Use 'Certainty Anchors' 

In times of transition or uncertainty, we can give ourselves 'certainty anchors' that ground us in our turmoil or feeling like we're spinning. They are like mini rituals and routines and are actually pretty effective tools in countering anxiety. Crazy eh? For me, most days when the girls are at school and I'm working from home, i will exercise at some point. Gosh, I usually don't want to, will ALWAYS feel like i don't have time but will usually still do it. It keeps me sane, keeps the grumps a bit further away, helps me flow and not feel like a someone who chose a life of self-employment to sit on my backside with a laptop all day. For you, it might be a morning coffee before the baby wakes, a routinely run or downloading & practicing the Headspace App. One other thing I've done recently, is schedule in a theme for each of my weekdays e.g. Monday- Content Creation, Tues- Online Networking, Wed-Operations etc.. I've found that doing something regularly and consistently during a time of uncertainty is a great way to anchor me and carry me a long into another space when the time is right. Give it a try and let me know how ya' go! 

 

5. Develop a Mindset of Inevitability

Make it in your mind that it is 'inevitable' that you will thrive, be happy or become your version of "successful."  Know why you are doing what you are doing. Listen to your instincts and adjust course when you need to. Develop a mindset of abundance. You'll know how to do this for you. Write down your wildest dreams on paper, no matter how crazy they may be and read it a million times a day. Give yourself the luxury of living without comparison of others. Saturate yourself in good things; practice discarding the physical and mental crap, no matter how many times a day you have to and get going:)

Develop a mindset of Inevidability and know why you are doing what you are doing! 

Some Resources that have shaped this post are:

** jonathanfields.com- The Good Life Project Podcast- Jonathan Fields

** jencarrington.com- The Make it Happen Podcast- Jen Carrington 

** richroll.com- The Rich Roll Podcast- Rich Roll

** Headspace App. -Sign up for a free 10 day trial.