In the six months I’ve been open (seven if you count the month I was closed), I’ve done some things right, made some mistakes, and learned some things. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, these are the lessons I would share in no particular order other than the one they occurred to me in.
1- Look up delivery times before you make any promises. Scratch that. Promise when you will mail your package, but you cannot guarantee when it will be delivered. That is not in your control.
2- Don’t run out of supplies because then everyone will order at once and you will be reduced to a huddle on the floor begging your supply company to rush some over and telling them you don’t care that they don’t have any either.
3- Things that were once so hard you thought you would never figure it out become easier with time. They will become so natural and second nature to you that you will forget they were ever that hard in the first place.
4- Triple check to make sure you don’t send a box that’s for Abby to someone named Gia. Because weddings and fortieth birthday parties usually need different decorations. Totally hypothetical situation.
5- Kill ’em with kindness. Sometimes people will be upset. Sometimes it will be your fault. Respond with kindness.
6- Make friends in the business. Their support and advice will become invaluable. And on that subject…
7- You know your business and brand better than anyone else, so if someone’s suggestion doesn’t sit well with you, don’t take it. This is, after all, your business.
8- Care. Care about every single package that goes out. Care about what that package looks like. Care about how it will feel to open that package. Care about it all and your customer will feel it.
9- Don’t forget to make time for life. Having your own business is hard and time consuming in a from-the-second-I-wake-up-to-the-second-I-close-my-eyes-and-even-then-I-dream-about-it kind of way. It’s hard to not work on something when it needs to be done, but you and your business will be better if you take a break and live your life a little! Or so I’ve heard.
10- Never stop learning or improving. These lessons are pretty all encompassing so you likely don’t need to read or learn anything else about business (B school? Pshaw, Gilit’s got a post on this!) but you should anyway. Read, research, talk to people, get a mentor, try things. Whatever you do, always keep your eyes and ears open, but as my mom says, not too open that your brain falls out.
Those are some of the lessons I’ve learned this year. My store hasn’t been open that long, but it’s been open longer than a store that’s been open for not as long so maybe one of these lessons will be helpful. Some of these lessons come naturally to me, some of them I had to learn through experience, and one especially, was a lesson someone told me before I started and I could not be more grateful.
Do you have any invaluable lessons? A mistake you’ve made? Something you’ve done really right? I’d love to hear in the comments!