Inquiring minds often ask me how difficult it was to start my own business. More often than not, they're trying to decide whether or not they think they could be succesful. They are trying to determine if the risks and difficulties are worth the potential rewards. Some ask very specific questions, and others ask generalized questions. Now that a full year has passed since I started Cloudy Collaborations, LLC, I feel that I can now respond some of these questions. However, instead of just doing a Q&A, I decided I would do a "top five" list of what to keep in mind when starting your own business.
5) You know nothing, Jon Snow.
...I'm sorry, but I had to quote Game of Thrones (many of you know that I am an avid GoT fan). This statement has held incredibly true this past year. The more time I spend as a business owner, the more I realize that I know extremely little when it comes to running and maintaining a business. With every day comes a new challenge. The most important thing you can do is persevere. Never give up.
4) Haters gonna hate.
There are always going to be haters. There are always going to be people who try to bring you and your company down. There are always going to be people who say and do whatever they can to try and disrupt your success. What did I learn? Let them. Don't let them get to you. If people are taking time out of their day to try and mess with your head, then you're doing something right. Remember, there's no such thing as bad publicity. If people are hating on you, then you've got their attention. Let them advertise for you.
3) Shit happens
Seriously. Things are going to go wrong. The bank is going to wire money to the incorrect person. Inventory is going to be so incorrect you're going to wonder if someone broke into your warehouse whilst you were asleep. You're going to get so far behind, you're going to question whether or not you'll be able to sleep for the next week and a half. Look, things are going to go wrong. There is nothing you can do to prevent these things from happening altogether. Sure, you can prepare yourself and implement programs to try and prevent them, but eventually, something is going to go wrong. My one piece of advice to you when this happens is to take a deep breath, eat a Slim Jim, vape a bit, and then tackle the problem. If it's something completely out of your control, don't worry about it. You'll have forgotten about it in two weeks anyway. No sense in pulling out all of your hair. You'll figure it out. I promise.
2) Quality is key.
If you're in the business of selling goods, you need to figure out what makes you different than everyone else. You don't need to lower your price to stand out. As a new business owner, you should be focusing on quality products and consistency. You'll find that in order to maintain repeat customers, you need to have consistent products. If consumers use the word "quality" to describe your goods, you're in a good place. It's easy to sell a reputable product. It's hard to sell crap (especially since anyone can make crap).
1) Have fun!
I was told by experienced owners that there was a VERY good chance that this business would not be as successful as I wanted it to be. They told me that I should take everything that happens, whether good or bad, and use it as a learning experience for the future. But what I felt was an even more important piece of advice was that I was told to have fun. They told me that there is no point owning your own business if you were going to be miserable. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I firmly believe that one of the reasons CC is as successful as it has been is due to the fact that we love having fun (Don't believe me? Come visit us at a convention. You won't find a more entertaining booth). So, don't sweat the small stuff. Have a good time. Remember, if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.