It seems like everyone is at it-- launching some sort of internet-based entrepreneurial venture, with seemingly no qualms about the process. As with anything people share of themselves on social media, we should begin by assuming that everyone is putting their best faces forward. Not everyone is willing to share their setbacks, self doubt, or those days where absolutely everything seems to be going wrong. Because of this, it's very easy to compare oneself to others and wonder why seemingly everyone but yourself has their lives together, and are happy and successful 24/7. Deep down, we all know that this is in no way the reality, but lack of confidence can do funny things to our perception of others!
In this post, I'm going to share a few lessons I've learned in the time I've been running Sugar Trampoline-- not with the aim of discouraging people from starting their own business (truly, there is something so wonderful about doing something on your own terms) but with the aim of putting across that things aren't always plain sailing! Let's start!
You're going to have to advertise what you do, and you're going to hate doing it.
Nobody likes having ads shoved in their faces constantly, and when you find yourself sharing your site links and telling friends about what you do, you're going to feel self conscious, and afraid of coming across like you're an annoying sales person. The thing is, nobody can buy from you if they have never heard of your brand in the first place. The best thing you can do is strike a balance. Don't be that person who posts in facebook groups every single day and gets their friends to do the same on your behalf. It looks spammy, unprofessional, and worst of all, desperate. Try rotating sales posts in different groups. Always link to your website in your social media profile. Wear the items you make! Keep at it.
You will learn so much about yourself.
Prior to starting Sugar Trampoline, I didn't know that I could be so self-motivated, create my own schedule, file tax returns, confidently handle sales at large scale events, and so much more. One thing I will say, though, is that the process of getting a business up and running may give you a newfound perspective on other areas of your life, for better, or for worse. I'd say for better, in the long run. For myself, I realised the ways in which I prefer to work, and the kind of environment that gets the best out of me. I realised I'm happiest when I'm able to be creative and effect visible change, which is knowledge I can take with me beyond this business, and to other aspects of my working life.
You're going to spend a lot of time wondering if it's worth it.
Unless you get a lucky break, for example, an influential person promoting your business to a large audience, or you have a large follower count on your social media, chances are that the growth of your business will be slow. Agonisingly so. You're going to question whether you missed the prime time for launching a business like yours. You're going to feel priced out of conventions and events as a newcomer lacking the capital. You're going to wonder if you've been wasting time on your venture when you could have been doing something else. Well, maybe you could have been. But this is the path you took, and there's absolutely no point being angry at yourself for making decisions when you didn't have your current hindsight to aid you with! Your comfort will be knowing you took a chance, instead of sitting around wondering "what if?" It's those missed opportunities we regret the most, not those risks that didn't quite pay off.
The excitement when you receive order notifications never goes away.
Every single person who enjoys what it is you do enough to want to buy their own piece of the action will bring you so much joy. Packaging their orders is exciting, as is watching their parcel carried off to be processed at the post office. There is a huge sense of fulfillment that comes from seeing your product go off into the world, and that's when you know you're passionate about what you do, and couldn't give it up even with all the set backs you encounter. This brings me to perhaps the most important point...
Unless you're passionate about what you do, your brand will not last.
I can think of so many independent fashion labels, within the Japanese street fashion scene in particular, which have closed down within a couple of years of opening. Perhaps they became disillusioned by the lack of significant profit, or perhaps they realised the return for their hard work would never live up to what they set out to achieve. From day one I knew not to put all my eggs in one basket, and that unless I saw dramatic growth, this brand could only ever be a "side hustle", and that's perfectly ok! My brand is most definitely a labour of love, and it's something I keep doing because it brings me joy to do so. If you do not have this inherent sense of enthusiasm for your product, and cannot love the process regardless of whether or not you will make significant amounts of money from it, it's unlikely you will have the motivation to keep it going for very long.
I hope you enjoyed this reflective post of my experiences running Sugar Trampoline so far! I'd love to hear any words of wisdom other business owners might have, and hope we can learn from one another and get a discussion going. Thanks for reading!