This start up enterpreneurial spirit is a wonderful thing, however sometimes it defies the logic of my business education. In my masters work everything was so neatly planned, scheduled, organized….. budgets, planning, and all the day to day business operations were ordered easily. Business, such as hospital management, is for the most part a set, routine, predictable experience. But a small art enterprise treads the uncharted waters of business…. discovering the legalities, reading contracts, organizing business plans, marketing plans… research and development, packaging prototyping, developing a base of sales, a customer market. All of these steps to building the business can be like walking without knowing the next step.
Years ago someone offered an interesting piece of advice. “Set your mind, make some decisions ahead of having to make decisions, and stick to them.” Huh? My first thought about that advise was “what are they really talking about?” The more i thought this through the more it is clear this was wonderful wisdom. Just like having a legal document (such as a will or power of attorney), when you make some advanced decisions, and etch them in stone it becomes difficult to dissuade you or thwart you from your course. That would be like a person wishing to diet making a decision they will not look at any candy or cake. As the opportunity for sweets come up they return to their decision, refusing to change their mind. Business must have pre-made decisions that guide us forward.
Here are 5 of the decisions we have made to press forward:
1. Believe in ourselves, and our product – We have spent a lot of time researching and developing the best products we can possibly make. Our effort has begun to reap a benefit of a following of repeat customers…. now is our time to not stop. Continue to believe in ourselves, and believe that our products are far better than store bought chemical soup choices. Never stop believing.
2. Business is a lot like a fly wheel. Fly wheels have been used to generate power, creating a continuous circular movement, when harnessed will create forward movement. But flywheels can be manual, requiring start up pressure, power, force, that will keep the movement going. Small businesses are like flywheels – they take initially a lot of effort, and then continuous involvement to keep going. The effort is worth the long term outcome!!! We read the writings and research of Jim Collins, and his publication “Good to Great” in which he speaks of how some business understand, and adapt to changes, and others don;t , and die. He talks about the flywheel – check out this video.
3. We will continue to find our market: There is a group of people who love handcrafted soap. There is a group of people who love hand dyed silk…. and there is a place in the marketplace of ideas for our business. When we position ourselves in places that appear to not be successful it is not our products – but rather it is the position… we have not found the market of people that like our products. We will continue to adjust, correct and find our market.
4. Setbacks are learning opportunities – Every person, and every business goes through setbacks, times of disappointment, or even discouragement. But it is not the primary focus of my life to dwell on the “d”s, but instead ask the hard questions – What can i do with this information? What can i learn that would prevent the disappointment again? How can i rise above the setback? How has this strengthened my knowledge or allowed for correction of my business practices? I just adore the quote that “Life is 5% what happens and 95% what you do with it.” We have resolved to always build on, not allowing the setbacks to slow us down.
5. We must have a Balance – No, by no means do i have the idea of balance in my life under control. It feels often like my energy and time is spent in a hundred directions trying to get ahead of the business (writing, contracts, consignment orders, wrapping product, producing product, developing the marketing, and actually setting up at events) that other areas of my life suffer. Yes, i find myself doing what i call “mercenary loads of laundry” at odd hours of the day. I personally have determined i must develop more structure and discipline to keep all of my life in a solid balance… clean house, clean laundry, happy hubby, plenty of product, and all the details well done.
AS we grow, and develop Images in Bloom, Steve and I find ourselves growing too… becoming more aware of the market, the economy, the responsibility and the joy of business of our own.