Small Business Advice No One Ever Tells You!
All of these things are important to my small business story. They are things I had to struggle through and figure out on my own for the last 8 ½ years. I hope that it can be a help to aspiring small businesses or even businesses that have been knee deep in the water for some time….
-Think LONG & Hard About Your Business Name: Do you want this name forever? Does it age well? What’s the why behind it? If you just like it… maybe think a bit longer about why it represents your business.
-You Might Not Sell For Months Or Longer: Everyone is so quick to talk up their sales or encourage you to start your own business. But what no one ever talks about is how long it takes to get even one sale. Places to sell online like Etsy, Shopify, Amazon Handmade, (etc…) seem pretty easy to use. Sadly the internet favors other sellers with many years of experience and SEO. So when you post a listing just know it takes a lot of time to be seen and a WHOLE ton of patience. DO NO GIVE UP! Marinate. Keep posting!
-Giveaways & Shout Outs Can Be Great OR Too Good To Be True: Giveaways and shout outs can be a wonderful way to be discovered. I have had my fair share of good and bad experiences. Just because someone has 100K followers on Instagram doesn’t mean much. I have hand painted paintings for hours for influencers in hopes for them to help me grow my account. But afterwards only receiving 5 new followers for a very short and sad shout out.
My advice to you when someone approaches you with a collaboration, make sure to…
-Find out ALL the details. (why are they doing it? Have they done it before? What exactly are they going to share or do?) Do your homework. See what their interaction of past posts are like.
-DO NOT be blinded by someone’s following number. It doesn’t mean ANYTHING.
-Get it in writing if you have to. (What are each parties responsibilities in the giveaway?)
Be thoughtful in what you giveaway. The things you give to others, make sure don’t cost or take hours of your time. For example: I only offer prints made from my originals. The cost doesn’t hurt if things don’t work out.
-Don’t Attend A Brand New Event: As a vendor I have attended a handful of first time events. The hosts are learning quite a bit, and people don’t normally know about it, because of brand new or poor marketing. It’s an awkward combo. I am not saying every event has this outcome. But I have witnessed many frustrating situations.
My first one I ever did, I sold absolutely NOTHING. Not because I didn’t have a good product but because only a handful of people attended. Not to mention the others I participated in and made less than the cost that it was to sign up. I LOST money.
So… do your homework, and don’t say yes to every event. Many times I have said no and waited to see if it was worthwhile for other vendors then reapplied the following year, or avoided it like the plague!
-Don’t Be Discouraged If Someone Doesn’t Like Your Stuff Or Style: It can hurt sometimes. It’s hard when people give you advice that is contrary to what you are creating. Or when people walk by and make a face or comment that shows their dislike. I have one thought for you on this…. THEY AREN’T YOUR PEOPLE. Remember that often! If the world liked all the same stuff, what a boring world it would be. Don’t take it to heart. Move on, and focus on the people that do show up for you.
-Set Boundaries: You don’t have to say yes to every single client. For about 6 years I did. It was so hard and exhausting. When people hear that you do art, they think you do all the art. I said yes to the most challenging ideas and random mediums. It was very tricky. Sometimes the money isn’t worth it. Evaluate where you are at. Say no kindly, offer other ideas, or recommend other businesses that can help them with their idea. No can be so powerful.
-You Can Take Breaks: You are the boss! If your everyday life is taking priority you can put your business on hold. You have the control. If a product you are offering doesn’t bring you joy or doesn’t make sense any more don’t offer it. Simple as that.
-Be Confident With Money: It’s uncomfortable discussing money especially with family and friends. How you word your conversations can help. For example: “Does $20 sound okay?” OR “It’s $20. Let me know what form of payment works best.” The later is short and confident. Don’t be unsure because then your products value will diminish with how you are speaking. Don’t undervalue yourself. Be confident.
-You Can Never Be 100% All Into Your Side Hustle: because you have a life! Once you understand this, you will take control of you anxieties and stresses. And power through those doubtful moments.
-Get Support: You can pay for influencer courses, or support groups… but those tend to be extremely pricey. Follow free social media influencers that tell you the ins and outs. Ask other small businesses their advice. Ask friends or family to help you with events, or have them be your sounding board for ideas. Get a babysitter so that you can dedicate some time for your business. You don’t have to do it by yourself. Because ANYONE successful never did things on their own.
-People Like You More Than Your Product: Most days I just want to post my paintings and product and that’s that. Nope. People like and comment most on things about me and my life. It’s flattering, but very eye opening to see. People like to buy things from someone they trust and admire.
Don’t hide behind posts. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and real and people will fall in love with that.
These are a lot of ideas thrown at you like an unsuspecting snowball fight. But I promise if you catch one of these at a time and work on one, little by little you will help yourself and your business thrive. It took me YEARS to see most of these. Now I feel I am finally in charge and free! YOU GOT THIS!
If anyone needs business advice I AM YOUR GIRL!! Please! Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org!