Although I didn't actually launch this business until May 2022, the behind-the-scenes work it took to actually get to that point was the hardest, + often times...the most confusing. I spent the first few months preparing, researching, studying taxes, designing products, learning, investing financially (that one hurt a little), investing time, + of course, painting!
Naturally, as your experience grows, you're going to learn some things along the way.
I most definitely do not claim to be an expert (like hello...I've only owned a business for a year!) - I just figure it out as I go - but some of these tips + things I've learned may help inspire you, give you knowledge, or just simply help you relate.
It's a long read, but I hope you find value here.
One. Only you can define your success.
Starting off strong with this one.
Success looks different for everyone - what you consider successful, someone else may not.
Most, or many, people define success as making 6+ figures or millions a year. A big house. A boat. Nice car. Whatever materialistic thing it may be. I get it - I made an offer on my absolute dream beach house, but I was full of stress while doing it.
For me, success is about how you feel.
You can be making the most money you've ever made, but have the most anxiety you've ever experienced. I can say that because that was me.
It wasn't worth it.
So, I took a pay cut to start my business. I traded money + anxiety for fulfillment + peace of mind. And while I have financially built this business up quicker than I expected to, it was never about the money.
I wanted to be able to look back on my life + see a life full of fulfillment, creativity, + purpose. That is was I consider successful - regardless of how others see it.
Now, I'm not telling you to quit your job as you're reading this.
I'm just telling you that whether you're making tons of money or doing what you love (or even both!), think about how it makes you feel + base your "success" on that.
Two. Stop worrying about what others think.
Especially the people in your hometown or people you know. I know you know what I mean.
I've never really been one to worry about what others think of me, but we all have or have had those insecure moments.
Will they make fun of me?
Will they think the name of my business is dumb?
Will they support me?
The truth is: Someone somewhere, whether it's in your hometown or on the other side of the world, is not going to like what you're doing. They might not like the idea of you doing more than them or something different than them. They might not like your style of artwork. They might not believe in it like you do.
Remember: What they think of you is none of your business.
Three. Take it one day at a time.
Preaching to the choir with this one. The choir being me.
I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when I start thinking about all of the things I want to do with Purpose Under Palms. Like I don't have enough time + wish I would've started sooner. I've had to start a brain dump notebook just to get it all out of my head.
I have to remind myself that everything happens as it is meant to. The time will come.
There is a time + a place for everything.
This reminder isn't just about your business - it's also just about life. It's hard. It's confusing. Remember to breathe through the why me moments.
You'll get over it. You'll get through it. You'll get there one day at a time.
Four. You're not wasting your time.
You're not wasting your time. You're resting.
I've seen or heard stories of business owners feeling like they're wasting time if they aren't constantly working on something, especially if they work from home - like if you have time to rest, you have time to be productive.
Or even worse, you brain tricks you after you actually did rest + says "You should've used that time to get something done."
I've fallen victim to this a few times within this first year of business.
Just because you enjoy what you do, doesn't make it any less work.
You need off days, too. Burn out is real.
Prioritize rest. Dedicate a specific day or days every week as off days. Stop answering emails after a certain time. Enjoy time off.
Rest is productive. A well rested mind will benefit your creativity + your business.
Five. Stand up for your business.
"How's your little business going?"
Just because your business is legally called a Small Business, doesn't mean it's not capable of great things. Small minded people can't see the bigger picture, what your plans are, or where it can take you.
Your "little" business is bigger than their imagination. :)
"I'm only willing to pay X amount."
Oof. This one. There's nothing wrong with having a smaller budget. Often times, business owners are willing to work with you to help get as close to your budget as possible - whether that's dropping their prices or choosing a package that's best suited for you. We're just honored you chose us.
But with this statement, I'm talking about the ones that simple do not see the value in what you offer. RUN. jk...but really. If they already don't see the value right off the bat, they're not going to be satisfied with what you do for them, even if it's the best work you've ever done. Trust your gut - which is also my next tip.
"You need to do this instead!"
Listen... I'm fully open-minded + all ears when it comes to new ideas. I don't claim to know it all + I'm happy you're brainstorming for me.
But suggesting that we, as an artist, creative, or business owner, try something else because they either a) don't see the value in what we're doing, b) don't think it's going anywhere, or c) think their idea is better, when we didn't ask for input... is the equivalent of an insult.
Now, maybe that wasn't their intention + that's totally okay. Either way, it's a great opportunity to market yourself + your business, explaining why you believe in what you're doing + how you believe it'll work. Help them see what you see!
Six. Trust your gut.
Honestly, this is just a life hack. I have always believed in this, even before I became a business owner. You can avoid a lot of headache when you learn to listen to it.
Have you ever heard "the gut is the second brain"?
Well, it's true. Not to get all science-y on you, but your ENS (enteric nervous system) uses the same chemicals as your brain + directly communicates with your brain, skipping all your other organs. Crazy right?!
It's a built-in God-given tool. For me, it's one of the most important tools.
Not every client, customer, or other business is going to be a breeze. If you're in the beginning stages of working with a client/customer or collaborating with a business, + you start to get a weird feeling even though nothing bad has actually happened... that's your gut! Trust it like your life depends on it.
Sure, you may miss out on some income or exposure, but just think about what that red-flag intuition might have just avoided! Unintentional bad exposure, bad reviews, or even worse...a lawsuit!
Trust yourself. Trust your intuition. Trust your second brain.
Seven. Do it the right way.
I'm not talking about how to make cinnamon rolls - there's a million ways to do that. I'm talking about the legal stuff.
This is another one of those things that I have always believed in + lived by.
Do it the right way the first time so you don't have to fix it a second time.
Ask the questions, even when you feel like you're being annoying. s/o to my accountant for answering my 700 questions.
I read a story a couple years ago about a business owner that didn't charge their customers taxes because they were still a fairly small business so they didn't think it mattered... + then they got hit with a tax bill. Yikes.
The thing is... that could've been avoided. Doing it the right way can not only avoid headaches in the future, but it could also avoid major legal trouble.
In other words: If you're accountant or whoever tells you not to worry about something because your business isn't big enough yet... find a new accountant. :)
Eight. Say yes as much as possible.
Don't make your plate so full that you burn out, but say yes to opportunity even when it's scary.
I will forever be a believer in leaving your comfort zone + this is one of those ways.
When you say yes to opportunity, doors will open that you didn't even know existed.
I was scared to even start this business. I literally survived on faith, not knowing where it would be today. But I said yes. A year later, I'm living a dream of painting live in my favorite city next week, Charleston, SC.
All because I said yes when the opportunity first presented itself.
Remember: Not all opportunities last forever. Say yes while you still can.
Nine. Not every new idea will be a hit.
It's true when they say "The things you think will sell, won't + the things you think won't sell, will."
Some of my designs that I thought *for sure* would sell the best, haven't sold much at all, + the designs that weren't personally my favorite, sold the best.
This is one of those trial + error parts of business. Your first year in business, I think, is where you can test the waters. You get to learn your audience + get to know each other.
Don't be discouraged when something doesn't take off like you thought it would.
Not every idea is going to be a great one.
The universe has to humble us somehow. ;)
Ten. Practice makes progress.
You're never going to know everything. Even 10 years down the road + you're considered an expert in your field. There's always room for improvement + always something to be learned.
Every day that you practice + learn, you grow your knowledge to make you better than you were the day before.
This applies to art, sports, technology, anything.
So no, there's no such thing as practice makes perfect.
But practice does make progress.
If you made is this far, you're a real one for sticking around!
While I could go on + on about lessons learned, I hope you found some value or inspiration from this list. Keep creating. Keep going.