The end of the year is a time of reflection and like many of you, I find myself reminiscing of all that I've learned this past year— the successes, the hurdles, things I could've done better. Personally, 2015 was a life-changing year, one that is filled with lots of mixed experiences. This was the year I took the biggest leap of my career: I quit my day jobs and launched Chasing Linen full-time. To provide a little background story, I started my stationery line in the summer of 2013 and have been running it on the side along with being a full-time student working 2 part-time jobs. After two years of juggling Chasing Linen, school, and other day jobs, it came to a point where I had to make a decision— shut it down or go all in. Knowing that I'd regret not giving my all, I decided to take it to the next level and go full-time. It's only been about 4 months and I've already learned so much about business and even myself as an individual. There were moments where I felt like I was flying high but there were also times of intense fear with all of my insecurities exposed. Running a small business requires you to put yourself out there in so many areas, which means you have to take risks and be okay with whatever the outcome might be. It's by far the scariest thing I've ever done but I can honestly say that I've loved every moment of it. Here are 3 things I've learned about running a business so far. I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about starting something new or plunging full-time into a field you're passionate about!
1. Know your vision
Someone once told me running a business is like running a marathon. You can sprint as fast as you can but without having a vision or knowing the finish line, you'll get tired and wander off to explore other roads. This is why it's so important to know your vision and remind yourself everyday of your goals. I've always been a dreamer and had this big vision for my life. The problem was that I often got distracted or worse, forgetful. About 3 months in of full-time work, I found myself hitting a wall that seemed impossible to climb over. After meditating, I realized I wasn't allowing myself to do what I do best: dream. Your goals can change but don't lose sight of your vision. Keep your eyes on the prize and run towards the finish line.
2. Comparison is the thief of joy
This is probably a quote you've seen everywhere on Pinterest and Instagram. As overplayed as it might seem, there is so much truth in it. I've never been one to compare myself with others but in the field of business, I found myself doing exactly that. I would have thoughts like, "How come this person is so much more successful than I am? Should I change my branding to be more like theirs? Why can't my shop be more like that brand?" This unhealthy habit of comparison is an endless, pointless game and I have to constantly choose not to succumb to it. I found the best way to counteract comparison is to celebrate individuality and the things that make you (and your brand) uniquely you. I don't think anyone should try to be different just for the sake of being different but just being true to yourself will set you apart.
3. The importance of community
Working on projects for clients often require long hours of painting and designing, which means I have a lot of studio time to myself. At first I loved being in my "art cave" but after about 2 weeks, I realized how much I missed having co-workers. This was especially difficult for me since I'm a natural extrovert and love being around lots of people. After seeking advice from a couple of my friends in the freelance/business world, they all encouraged me to be active in my community and make a point to be involved. The creative community is surprisingly a lot smaller than you think and once you meet a handful of people, you'll soon see how tight knit it is. Whenever I see a gathering event or local meet up, I'm intentional about getting plugged in, being engaged and scheduling coffee dates on a weekly basis. Meeting new people and local creatives has definitely been one of my favorite aspects of this field and I realized how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many talented people! Not only do I get to hang out with wonderful, like-minded people, I've also made valuable friendships along the way :)
Each year adds to the collection of treasured memories and expands our wealth of experience. 2015 was one with lots of internal struggles, emotional battles and new challenges but I've also experienced incredible satisfaction, joy and peace from the Lord. Whether you're in the beginning stages of starting something new or you're well seasoned into your career, I hope this has been somewhat helpful or encouraging to you. I would also LOVE to hear what you've experienced in your current stage and learn from you as well! I wish you a happy new year and I'll see you all in 2016! —xo