The 8 Biggest Lessons I've Learned in My First Year of Business
It's so hard to believe I started this venture a little over a year ago! The past year has had so many ups and downs, especially the past six months. Six months is such a short time to learn to become a full time business owner. I've spent my time finding my niche, streamlining client processes, building a brand, and brainstorming new products & content. Today, I'm sharing the 8 most important lessons I've learned from my first year running Aceti Design Co.
1 | Passion Isn't enough
While it's great if your driving force is passion, passion doesn't pay the bills. Your business does. You can't just be good at something, put it out there, and wait for the money to come rolling in. Building a profitable business around your passion takes time and effort. It requires countless emails, blog posts, product updates, brand maintenance, and so much more. Be prepared to do the work that comes with working at your passion.
2 | Charge what you're worth
While your customers are fantastic, some of them may try to intimidate you into lowering your prices. If your product costs $20 to make, you should be charging at least $40. How else are you going to make a living off your business?! When pricing, you should take into account the cost of materials, your labor costs, and shipping & packaging costs. If a customer comes back to you with, "Why does ____ cost ___? I've seen it at ___ for ____." Be firm with your pricing. If your products are high quality and are priced properly, the sales will come. Don't sell yourself short to make a quick buck!
I did this so many times! Here's an example:
For stationery purchases, I offer 3 revisions (color changes, the customer's typos, adjustments, etc.) and for any revisions after that there's a fee of $5. SO MANY TIMES, I waived that fee in fear of offending my customers. I only recently started staying true to my policy, and I have yet to offend a single customer. Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth!
3 | don't take on too much
If a customer asks you to do something you don't want to do/can't do/is outside of your niche, don't take them on! Don't be afraid of saying no and pointing customers to other businesses. As a business owner, you'll have a million things to do and you don't need the added stress of spreading yourself too thin and straying away from your area of expertise to satisfy a customer.
4 | Use fantastic graphics to market your products
I recently invested in a set of minimalist styled stock images from Twigyposts. I have a firm belief that my increase in sales is because of these styled images. Having a set of styled images is the ultimate way of maintaining a brand across all platforms, including Instagram posts, Facebook posts, blog posts, website graphics, product listings, and more. Best of all, I supported another small business to improve my business! #communityovercompetition
Whatever graphics you're using to market your business, whether they're infographics, icons, graphics, videos or photos, make sure they are high quality and are consistent to your brand.
5 | look at what Isn't selling & change it!
Take the time to go over your stats and review products that aren't selling well. Maybe the product needs a facelift with better graphics, maybe you need to review your keywords & tags to make it easier to find. Whatever the issue may be, there is always a fix. Try updating your website, graphics, tags, SEO, etc. Change is a good thing and keeping all of these things current & updated makes a huge difference!
6 | Claim all of your expenses & put money aside for the tax man
As a small business owner, you are taxed the same way a non-self-employed person is taxed. At the end of the year, you may owe quite a bit of money. The smartest ways to combat this is to log all of your expenses monthly and put money aside for tax season. This way, you'll be able to take off a hefty chunk of your taxes with expenses, and you'll be prepared to pay the rest.
7 | don't address the haters
There will be people, family members, friends and acquaintances, that will doubt you and your business venture. There are still members of my family who think I lay on the couch and watch Netflix all day, despite the fact that I match my husband's salary.
Don't let them get to you.
Often, the people who don't support you are the people who don't understand how you can make money online. They don't understand what you're doing. Instead of allowing yourself to get upset, try to educate them. Try to explain what it is you do. Some will understand and change their opinion, and some will continue doubting you. Either way, it doesn't matter. As long as you're following your vision and are truly invested in your business, it shouldn't matter what anyone else says. It's your life - it's your day.
I struggled to find peace with unsupportive family & friends for many months. I had close family members and friends who asked, "so, you just sit at home all day?" "Shouldn't you go back to school or get a real job?" For the longest time, this hurt me. It made me question what I was doing and contemplated if it would ever be enough. My husband noticed my disappointment and sat me down. I'll never forget what he said.
"You love what you're doing, right? You're comfortable with your current salary, right? It can only go up from here. Remember, you're just starting out. Imagine where you'll be in a year from now."
Imagine where you'll be in a year from now. As an creative entrepreneur, you own your day and your time. Just think of what you can transform your business into in a year. If your persevere, the opportunities are truly endless.
8 | give it time
In the first month of running Aceti Design Co, I made 4 sales. A year later, I'm making a minimum of 4 sales per day. This just goes to show how your efforts can (and will!) pay off. Very few businesses opened and hit the ground running. Rome wasn't built in a day! Continue working, growing, and learning, and your business will transform before your eyes. Hard work, passion, and perseverance are what will take your business from stagnant to successful!
What are some things your learned in your first year of business?