What I learned during my first year in business...
When I took the plunge to trade in my corporate career for design school I had always known that I one day wanted to have my own interior design business, but the how and the when were big question marks in that equation. I used to torment myself devising scenarios of how I would know I would be ready to take such a big leap, sure that I would one day feel with certainty when the “timing was right” or there would be some blatantly obvious sign that would give me the confidence to know it was time; but as I’m continually learning, that’s not the way life always works. Fast forward 5 years to last winter when my daughter (who was a little over a year at the time) was almost through her first full winter in daycare and my husband I were at our pediatrician so frequently that we were on a first name basis with the full staff. I knew more about our doctor’s personal life than I ever thought I’d know a year into our relationship! Thankfully our visits were mainly the routine ear infection or common cold, but they were a weekly occurrence, sometimes happening twice a week, and I was quickly burning both ends of the candle trying to be a mom and managing working a full time job with a lengthy commute. Our situation simply wasn’t working, that I knew, and one day in late February I turned to my husband, Matt, and said “I think it’s time.” To be honest, I didn’t necessarily know that the timing was the absolute right thing, but I knew I had to make a change, and it just didn’t seem logical to get another job working for someone else when I knew I wanted have my own business, while also being in a season of life that requires a whole lot of flexibility. The situation unraveled in a way that looked nothing like one of my “scenarios" but, why not now? Once we made the decision that it was in fact “time,” we definitely had our fair share of panic, but I knew in my heart this was it.
The past year has brought on challenges in an entirely different light, but they are good challenges, challenges that are helping me grow as a business owner, mom, and wife. Granted I am still so young in my entrepreneurial journey, but these are the main things I've learned this past year, the big things I’d say are probably safe to assume when embarking on any big life change, whether that be starting a business, moving cross country, changing careers (you get the gist!):
1. Trust your gut.
This may sound like a predictable thing say, but it really is true. That inner voice we all have knows how to speak up when something is really right or really wrong. The times I've listened to the "really wrong" have been some of the hardest moments of this past year, but every time I've trusted this instinct and forced myself to have a difficult conversation, or walk away from a situation that felt off, something positive happened afterwards. I think listening to these voices is a skill that develops as we grow, and I think it's an invaluable one that deserves much of our attention.
2. The importance of having a tribe.
I don't know how I would've gotten through this past year without the support of my family and friends (and especially without the support of Matt, my rock!). Scenarios popped up where I really needed help on the home front and people stepped in to be there in a moment's notice. I also really leaned on folks who I knew could help when it came to the parts of the business outside of design - mainly things like finance and marketing. I was guilty of asking plenty of favors where I’d frantically send an email at 9:30 at night asking "hey would you mind reviewing this for me?" and people graciously paused to provide feedback quickly so that I could keep things moving. I learned that these people in your network are invested in your success and are happy to help when and where they can. It really does take a village, so be sure you know who your village is for when those moments arise (and an eternal thanks to my village).
3. Starting a business is mentally hard…harder than I realized.
To say starting a business is overwhelming would be an understatement; I don't think there's a way around that. It's not something meant to happen easily, quickly, or be stress-free. I was prepared for the hustle, but I completely underestimated how mentally tough some days would be. You have your own business - congratulations! You're now lead designer, head of marketing, and oh, you need to learn accounting too because you're also the CFO. There were days I'd sit down at my computer and feel paralyzed by the length of my to-do list, or times where I'd have a lead come in for a dream project and for one reason or another it wouldn't work out, and I'd feel so let down and beat myself up. Oh and then there's the whole social media world, which I'm thankful to say has been an overall positive experience for me. I've developed relationships with some incredibly talented and amazing folks, but it's nearly impossible to not get caught up in the comparison game in the beginning (and probably even way after the beginning), and that comparison game can be a slippery slope! However, I will say that for as many hard days as there were, there were just as many really awesome days. Days I was able to see the direct impact my work had on my clients' happiness, days where I've felt complete inner-peace and gratitude that I've arrived at a place where I can confidently say this is what I'm meant to be doing with my life. I think the best thing anyone can do is keep their head down, stay focused, and know that the hard days are simply a part of the process.
I can't promise that it will be weekly, but I'm going to be blogging occasionally here to share news, events, project reveals and topics I think could be relevant to you guys - my readers! But for now, THANK YOU. Thank you for following along this past year, thank you to those of you who trusted me with designing your home, and simply thank you for your love and support.