When I started law school, I was expecting to find a clear career path. But after five years and one recession later, I found myself unemployed. Through that process, though, At that point, I realized how important it feeling both productive and inspired at my job – if I couldn’t get from my day job, then entrepreneurship would be the way to go for me.
I kicked off my Etsy shop, “earthquake state // designs,” in November with hopes of sharing my love of knitting beyond just friends and family. I definitely haven’t gotten world-famous since then, but I have managed to pick up a thing or two:
Detailed organization is how I survived my first month as a business owner. I utilized spreadsheets to keep track of my resources, time, and money. If it wasn’t for this strict method of documenting every sale and pattern (with the help of Evernote) I wouldn’t have been able to make or save any money that the first month—or ever! As a new entrepreneur, you must be willing to put in the extra effort when it comes to your company’s documentation OR ELSE face consequences like legal trouble or bankruptcy.
Prioritizing my production was essential once I started receiving orders. Since I also had another job, I needed to be strategic about when I worked on each project. By taking into account the order in which I received requests and how long each piece took to make, I could better manage my time and ensure that all commitments were met – both personal and professional.
Keep it creative
I only continue to run my shop because it’s enjoyable; if it became a burden, I would quit. My goal was to feel excited about this project–not drained. That’s why taking time out of my day to brainstorm new products and find inspiration is non-negotiable; it’s how I’ve grown my business up until this point. And if I don’t love my own work, no one else will either.
When starting out as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to compare yourself to other businesses. Evaluating what does or doesn’t work for other small businesses can inspire marketing, products, and pricing, but you may feel as if you don’t measure up. Congratulating yourself for what you have accomplished is a way to ensure you’ll be motivated to push forward and have more success.
The urge to find the most prosperous companies in our field and do what they’re doing is tempting, but resist it! In a handmade business, being authentic is all you’ve got. If customers see you drifting from your brand’s aesthetic, they’ll wonder why and may not come back. Instead, stay true to your brand’s style–customers who appreciate your work will follow!
Give it time
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your business. It takes time for any company to develop a solid foundation and consumer base. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately—they’ll come as long as you continue putting in the work. Even superstars like Katy Perry had humble beginnings and had to persevere through many years of rejection before becoming successful.
Who knows where my Etsy shop will take me in the future, but for now, I have a job that makes me feel excited and ready to explore new things—and when I say job, yes, I am still talking about knitting!
Levo Mentor Maggy Frances Schultz knows a lot about launching your own creative business- if that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, ask her how she started her own clothing line.