5 Things I Learned as a 2-Year Small Biz Boss
Say “yes” and figure it out.
“Can you do T-shirts?” “Can you do a table runner?” “Can you make my logo?” These are all questions I faced in Year 2 of running my business. The real answer to all of them at the time? “Nope, I don’t have a clue how to do that.” But I’m a yes-girl, so that’s not what I told these hopeful clients. I put on a confident smile, said “yes, of course,” and figured out how to make their dreams come true.
I quickly learned that this has limits. Yes, I could learn how to build wooden frames or panels, but that doesn’t necessarily fit within my brand or business. In some cases my time was better spent finding someone else to help me make a client’s dreams come true. I didn’t have to spend 20 hours learning how to use saw, and I got to send some business towards more people. Which, brings us to…
Know when to outsource. You can’t do it all and do it all well.
Shipping, contract drafting, payroll tax accounting, bookkeeping, copywriting…the list goes on and on. None of those things get at the heart of what I want my business to do, but the fact remains that my business cannot exist without them. When a new task cropped up this year that was going to require more of my time—time that I could be spending on creating products for my sweet customers—I stopped to ask, “Can I pay someone else who exists for this purpose?” 90% of the time, the answer is yes. I hired an accountant, I asked my assistant (a former English major and an author—PRAISE) to write copy for new products, and I started using Gusto for payroll taxes. It freed up so much of my time to be able to do the parts of this business I love while still sustaining its necessities through outsourcing. It takes a village, people!
Be unapologetically you.
I spent most of my first year of business trying to imitate other calligraphers and creatives on social media. The best piece of advice I ever heard was from my calligrapher crush, Maghon Taylor of All She Wrote Notes. She said, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” Meaning, stop looking at what everyone else is doing. You aren’t them, and we don’t need another them because we already have them. Do your thing and do your thing the way you know how.
Now, hear me on this: I am not saying that learning more about what you don’t know is bad. But imitation is different than education. Don’t base your pricing on that same girl who has the pretty things that look kinda similar to yours. Let her do her thing, and you do your thing. Don’t break your back to fit the 12 candles and your planner into the ideal blush-and-white Instagram feed that you’ve seen “everyone” in your industry curate if that’s not your style. Blush and white look beautiful, but if you’re a navy and gold girl, own it. Your brand doesn’t have to be “her” brand, it just has to effectively reach your ideal clients.
Know who you want to work with.
I’ll be honest: I’m still working on this one. I’m going through a complete overhaul of my brand (surprise!) this fall, and I am most excited to dig into the question, “Who is your ideal client?” I think acknowledging this question is key to narrowing down why you do what you do and who you want to do it for. I’ve dealt with more than one custom order that had me questioning why on earth I agreed to it in the first place, and ain’t nobody got time for that. You built this business to reach a specific customer, and absolutely everything you do should focus on that truth.
My dreams are big. God’s dreams for me are bigger.
I’ve told people lately that this business is allowing me to live a dream I didn’t know I had. If you’d told me three years ago I’d own my own business and people would pay me to use my handwriting to make their homes and parties pretty, I wouldn’t have even known what to say. This dream is so much bigger than me, and it has grown in ways I never could have foreseen on Day 1.
In this particular season, I’m struggling with contentment. If I’m being honest, I’m ready for the next thing. I’m tired of being the one who stays. What about my big, huge dreams, God?
“Be patient,” He says. “I have plans to give you a future containing far more than anything you could ask or imagine,” He reminds me.
If I’m getting to live this enormously impossible dream right now, how much more does He have planned for me in the years ahead? Sometimes my plans seem crazy and absurd, and then I remember that His are always bigger and better. I can’t wait to see them come to life! But today and every day I choose obedience, and pray with big expectations—not doubts.
This year I’m choosing a “theme song” for this little lettering biz: “Open Hands” by Urban Rescue (you can listen to my Spotify playlist here). My favorite line says, “You’re dreaming bigger dreams. You have a plan for me, and though I cannot see, here I am with open hands…” YES. AND. AMEN.
Friends, will you join me in committing to a prayer for open hands? I made this print for my inspiration board as a reminder, and I want to share it with you to serve as the same. You can download it for free to print off and put on your desk, your planner, your Bible…wherever the Lord is asking you to release.
I’m blowing out the candles on Year 2, and carrying all of these lessons into Year 3 with me. I can’t wait to see what comes next for this sweet little lettering biz the Lord has allowed me to steward, and my heart is the deepest kind of grateful for each of you that make it possible. Cheers to YOU, my friends!