I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Whether it was owning a dance studio, a boutique, or selling an invention online, I liked the idea of having a vision and actually creating it to share with others. I have experience over the years in several industries and have always been recognized quickly for my hard work, so when I launched the blingsling® a year ago, I knew I had a lot to learn, but I was confident that I’d make sh*t happen like I always do. And fast! Because, that’s what I do. By November of 2017, I’d talked with plenty of other business owners, listened to all sorts of podcasts, and watched enough episodes of Shark Tank to think, hey, the hardest part is now behind me and all I have to do is launch, right?! Not quite. What I didn’t know was most of those cases, especially the ones getting airtime, are the extremes, not the norm.
Of course, I know there are plenty of these immediate success stories. I know enough of them personally to know that it definitely can happen. But I’m pointing this out for anyone who is at the launch stage now, counting on all the positive feedback, Instagram likes, and everyone you’ve ever met to instantly turn into sales. For some, and of course not everyone, it just doesn’t happen like that. So here are a few things I learned over the past year. And by no means do these make you successful. Heck, I’m still trying to figure this out myself, so I won’t go preaching about tips for success. But here are a few things my first year in business has taught me…
Start now. Take your idea and run with it. I had the idea for the blingsling® almost 10 years ago and kept telling myself I would get around to it. But then I found myself looking back thinking I was so young then, I would be so much further now. This is wildly unproductive, but it’s also true. Which is why you should just. start. now. You will never be as young as you are right now, ever again. You can learn so much along the way, but the best way to do that is by doing.
Really listen to your research. As a marketing major in college, I did a decent amount of research before launching. What I struggled with though was actually listening to what it was telling me. I was so obsessed with hitting a certain launch date that I made sacrifices in other areas that ultimately have made things much much harder on myself. Take the time to listen to your gut and the intuition of your market.
Don’t let perfectionism hold you back. I constantly struggle with this one, but it’s important to remember you can always make changes. Sometimes, it’s best to just get whatever it is out there into the world and adapt as you go.
Start collecting emails for marketing as soon as possible. I was embarrassed of the simple, stock photo password page that housed my email sign up before I launched, so I didn’t promote it. Big mistake. I should have used this to build a solid group of people interested in my product that I could market to as soon as I launched.
You’re the only person who will care as much as you. I don’t know how many times I cried and complained (and still cry and complain) to friends and family hoping for some miraculous fix or deep empathy for whatever it was I was going through. But ultimately, I should remind myself of Oprah’s quote, “Only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward.”
It can be incredibly isolating. Find a group or co-working space to be a part of. This is especially for any of the solopreneurs out there. I get it. We have to start by ourselves before we grow. I’m just saying, if you can find a volunteer group, co-working space, or participate in some meet-up chats, it will do wonders for your psyche. AND, you might even make some great connections or learn a few things! (Thank you Biz Babez, Kasey Dreier, and Step Up Women's Network!)
If you can do it on the side of your full-time job at first, do it. This is coming from someone who didn’t do that and who stands by my choice, because I know I wouldn’t have ever gotten to it. But if you’re one of those 24/7 hustle-all-day types or can squeeze things in on the weekend or have a job that allows for some downtime at work; take advantage of it! Once you leave that job, it adds so much extra pressure!
Take care of yourself. Another one I’m always working on. It’s so so easy to compare and beat yourself up when things don’t go as planned or seemingly as good as others. But remember your story is yours. It’s okay to take some time off, clear your head, and get creativity flowing again. It’s also extremely important to find something to do regularly that keeps you sane like meditating, journaling, setting intentions, or exercising. There’s only one you, clever girl.
So there ya have it! A few things I picked up from starting Clever Designs LA. If you’re on this crazy business owner journey, leave me comment below! Or if you’re into supporting female-led, conscious companies, check out our ethically made, tangle-free jewelry bags at https://cleverdesignsla.com/collections/blingsling.
Let’s do this, clever girls!
Love. Inspire. Grow. Enjoy.