March 03, 2015
February 2015 was a big month for me. It was my birthday, but more importantly, it marked 5 years since I started Eve Organics. I’ve grown and learnt a huge amount since 2010, both personally and professionally – and I only have to look back on my first months and years as a business owner to see how far I’ve come! It’s a constant learning process and I hope to still be learning new things years into the future. But for now – I’d like to share some of the things I’ve picked up so far!
Here are three things I’ve learnt after 5 years of running my own business:
1. It’s all about you.
I’m quite a private person, and when I first started Eve Organics, I was hesitant to ‘put myself out there’. I gawked at the idea of networking, and I refused to put my face on anything to do with the business (after all – it wasn’t about me; it was about the products!). How wrong I was. After much coaxing from the people around me, I eventually began to consider myself an integral part of the Eve Organics brand – in fact, the most important part. The response I’ve had since I learnt to finally drop my guard and allow my customers and colleagues to see the real ‘me’ through the business has been incredible. Everything works better. My business relationships are better, customer experience is better, and the business is just more ‘me’, and more natural.
And it’s the same for every business. All that passion you have when you start your own business is worth its weight in gold – literally. Don’t hide it away; let people see it. Customers need to be able to connect with you, so inject some of yourself into your branding – I promise you it will work wonders!
2. It’s lonely at the top.
Most people don’t run their own business – and it is not – I repeat, not – an easy road. You’ll have times when people just cannot for the life of them understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. You’ll feel isolated, and you will most definitely have moments where you question what you’re doing.
As much as we all complain about it, having a place to go every day where you work for someone else, finish at 5, and get paid the same each week, is beautifully simple. When you run a business, your success as well as your weekly paychecks, are all on you. If you don’t do the work, it won’t happen. There’s no sick pay and no annual leave. Yes, it’s more flexible – and that’s one of the best things about it – but it’s also one of the hardest. It requires a great deal of self discipline to work for 8 hours a day when nobody’s looking over your shoulder.
I’m extremely lucky to have an amazing group of young women who I meet with once a fortnight to share our trials and tribulations, support each other and offer advice. We go for coffee and cake and take turns to talk about what’s going on in our businesses (and sometimes our personal lives too!); and it’s a fortnightly breath of fresh air for me. We started as a small group of friends and expanded – all business owners, all female, all under 40.
I would encourage other business owners out there to do the same. Nobody understands your trials and your triumphs better than other entrepreneurs – and the perspective of other business owners is invaluable when you’ve got a sticky problem. When you meet another business owner you ‘click’ with, organise to meet for coffee. Support each other!
3. Immediate success is not normal.
Since I started my own business, I’ve had quite a few friends approach me for advice on doing the same. They’ll have a brilliant idea, and all these plans about how everything will work. I hear things like, ‘If I start in six months, I’m hoping that in 12 months, I can quit my day job’. The one thing I always say to anyone who’s thinking of starting something is, ‘Start now.’ It takes such a long time to build up a business; particularly if it’s an online business. The 'incubation period' necessary to create an established, successful brand is something entrepreneurs (including myself) so often underestimate. Whatever you can do to start marketing, start it now. Get the word out – and give yourself plenty of time. If, after 2 years, you’re not making a profit – keep going. Try harder. It really can take years to get something off the ground, and it’s not a sign that it isn’t working, or that it won’t be a success. Like the saying says – be positive, patient, and persistent…
And most importantly, be kind. Always be courteous. You never know who you might need to ask for help at some point – so make a point of doing the right thing by people; customers as well as colleagues and suppliers. If you make a mistake, own it. If a customer isn’t satisfied, make it up to them. The extra $10 or $20 it costs you is worth the positive word of mouth you’ll get afterwards. Not to mention the good karma. ☺
Do you have any of your own tips or experiences to share? I'd love to hear them!