Wednesday, May 08, 2013

5 tips for running a small business


Day 8 in the Blog Every Day in May challenge is a piece of advice for others.

I often get asked by friends and blog readers who either want to start a small business or who are in the beginning stages, for my advice.  

Every single time I am asked, I feel so flattered.  I mean, everything I know I learned on the internet!  Well, and experience. The internet knows a lot about everything but there is something invaluable about just doing it.

When I started my business I knew nothing.  NOTHING.  I made a lot of dumb mistakes but I learned from them and am constantly striving to be a better business owner.

If you are one of those who is dreaming up a business and call on me for advice - this is what I would tell you.....


1. Don't half ass it.  If you are going to make a go it it, go all out.  Let's say you love to make your own soap and you might want to sell that soap.   My advice is this - if you are going to only put in half of your efforts, then just keep that soap making as a hobby. 

It seems like everyone is trying to do any little thing to make money these days.  I know we all need to make a living and I don't knock anyone's hustle, but I hate to see talented individuals half-ass a business.  It makes the product {which is often fabulous} and the handmade market look "cheap."  If you have the idea and the time, then go all out.  


2. It is hard and often disappointing.  Starting and maintaing a business is a lot of work and you likely will not be an overnight success.  Yes, we all know that neighbor's sister's friend who made a million dollars the first year just from a little bitty idea but.....that's rare.  That is the exception.  That is not the rule.  

If you work hard and do good things, your business will grow.  It might grow fast or it might not.  My business has seen steady growth but it has not skyrocketed like I once dreamt it would.  Dreaming is so fun, but it won't get you anywhere.  

Keep dreaming but realize that in order to make those dreams come true you are going to have to work really freaking hard and there will be disappointments along the way.  I just suffered a pretty big disappointment this week and felt like a huge failure for about a day.  This will happen.  Give yourself a day to dwell, then get over it and do it better the next time.


3. Price accordingly.  Your creations, designs, and work are literally your blood, sweat, and tears {trust me, I have shed all three} so don't cheapen them by thinking lower is better.  I have talked about pricing here and here.  It is so, so, so important.

4. Stand out from the crowd.  It is really hard to create something that no one has ever seen before.  The way the world is nowadays it seems like everything has kind of been done.   But that doesn't mean you can't put your own spin on something.  Be creative and unique, don't copy ideas.  Copying might make you a quick buck {or several thousand} but it will not make a lasting business.


5. Never stop learning.   Just because I have been running {Acute Designs} for three years does not mean I know everything.  I might know a little bit more than the person starting today, but I still have so much to learn.  

There will always be someone "above" you that has been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.  Learn from them. There are so many books and blogs with endless amounts of advice.  Take the advice to heart and keep getting better.


I know I said five.... but my last most important tip is to make friends with other designers and small business owners.  They can teach you things {#5} and be your sounding board when you need advice or just want to bitch!    

No matter what happens with your business - whether it gets really big or stays small, you will never get anywhere if you step on people to get ahead.

And finally, the best part about having friends in the biz is that you can collaborate.  You look out for one another and promote one another.  I have made several friends through blogs and social media.  At one point in life, if you would have told me I would have a friend that I met on the internet I would have responded "no and I also don't keep people in my basement...."

Well, the world has changed.  It is ok {and fun!} to connect with someone through a blog or Instagram and become real life friends.

Do you run a small business?  What is something you have learned along the way?



27 comments:

  1. Great advice. I once read a blog post about small business owning and the author wrote "If you build it, they won't come." This is where you really have to market yourself effectively.

    Thanks, Gina. Great post!

    Much love!
    NewlyMynted

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    1. i have written a post with that same premise before...you can't just build it! you have to market it and so much more :).

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  2. Great advice! I've been thinking of opening a small shop to sell various crochet/sewn things I make since I get lots of requests for them. I think it would be easier to manage in that setting than having them send me money and all that. I'm definitely glad I read this before I started!

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    1. thanks heather - glad i could be of help to you!

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  3. "Be creative and unique, don't copy ideas. Copying might make you a quick buck {or several thousand} but it will not make a lasting business."

    amen, Gina! So much of what you say is RIGHT on the money. especially about pricing. i'm tired of people not pouring their heart into things and just jumping from making different items and trying to undercut others to make a quick buck. This is a business, not someone just selling their craft/hobby.

    You are amazing and a WEALTH of information AND talent. Don't you forget it, ok? <3

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  4. Don't be so humbled. We all value what you have to say and appreciate any tips you may have to share. <3

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  5. This is a great reminder. These tips are easy to forget. When you work from home you don't really have any morale boosters or a system in place to keep you motivated. But these tips ensure success and success is the best morale booster and motivator!

    xo Michelle
    misanthropycreation.com

    P.S. Please join my very first blog hop:
    http://www.misanthropycreation.com/2013/04/my-first-blog-hop.html

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  6. Thank you thank you thank you! This was inspiring and motivating and just what I needed to read.

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    1. thanks kaitlyn - glad you enjoyed it!

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  7. very well-said, my friend! your shop certainly reflects this. you are so inspiring! :)

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  8. HA! the basement thing.. :)

    And this is so helpful!!

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  9. Fantastic advice! I have the most trouble with #3...I was contacted by a lady a couple weeks ago asking for a hand-bound/hand-illustrated children's book/guest book for her wedding. I got all excited and started brainstorming and gave her my price... and haven't heard from her since. I know this is because my price was kind of steep and as much as it hurts being rejected for a commission I know I would regret even more the lowering my prices and ultimately the value of my work and time.

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    1. i have had the same thing happen! you want the business so you are tempted to lower the price...but in the end you will end up hating the project because you are working for nothing. it is hard to get paid what your work is worth....in the age of everything-is-so-cheap-everywhere a lot of people don't put value on handmade goods or goods produced by small companies :).

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  10. Thanks so much for the advice. I have taken some time off from my business and all this is very inspiring and gives me lots to think about as I considering slowly getting back into it.

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    1. thank you! so glad this could inspired you :).

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  11. Now days IP PBX come packed with a lot of features. You can basically customize your PBX to fit your business needs. When you see the features, you will know how your current phone system is not good enough. I have been using IP PBX from Telcan. With this IP PBX, I can customize the welcome greeting, route calls to multiple numbers, even program what phone number to call at what time, have a professional voicemail, get my voicemail emailed and the list goes on. It is very easy to set up using wizard. Check out IP PBX

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  12. Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

    http://chelseypatti.blogspot.com

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  13. There is a lot of great new technology out there that will help make running your small business even easier and more effective. A good lead management program, like those at http://www.clickpointsoftware.com , will also help keep your small business on the right track.

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  14. Thanks for sharing this. I especially love this part:

    "Yes, we all know that neighbor's sister's friend who made a million dollars the first year just from a little bitty idea but.....that's rare. That is the exception. That is not the rule."

    Sometimes I am so hard on myself and impatient but like you said, it takes time and a whole lot of hard work to be a success ;)

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  16. This is a great article. I personally think some of these tips can be used for many other things other then running a small business. I have recently been researching information about starting a tax business and the different steps that go into the process, and I have been surprised at what I have been finding. I have a lot of experience in taxation and I know my background can help me be successful in the tax preparation business. But it is the little things about starting a company that I need some help on. Since I am going to be doing a lot of online work, I need a website that will attract customers and bring traffic to my site. Two tips from this article that I think will help with this is work hard and don't half ass it. I think these two mind sets can help anyone succeed, especially when you have the pressure of starting a new business.

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  17. Good domain name It is very important that you choose the domain name for your small business web design

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thank you so much for your comment! i read and enjoy each and every one :).

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