One year ago today, I wrote this blog post that announced the opening of my very own Etsy shop. It almost seems impossible that I’m a year in already, but you know what they say: time flies when you’re covered in glue dots and glitter. Seriously, I’ve spent the better part of the last year covered in glitter and tiny bits of paper and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As I’ve gone through my first year as a small business owner, I’ve learned so much!
Lesson #1: Success isn’t just measured in dollars. When I first hit “publish” on my Etsy shop, I had no idea if I’d be successful or if I’d fail completely. But looking back on the year, I can definitely say I succeeded. But I’m not sure that everyone would consider my first year terribly successful. I didn’t turn a huge profit (or really technically a profit at all) and Forbes won’t be writing any articles about my business prowess anytime soon.
But happy repeat customers and making quarterly donations to non-profits that support military families are both markers of success to me. Yes, it’s nice when there is a little extra money in my bank account each month, but sometimes getting feedback like this is what drives me to keep going.
Lesson #2: Running your own business is exhausting!
There is ALWAYS something to be done when you run your own small business: social media, product development, marketing, newsletters and blog posts to write, ordering supplies, post office runs, emails to answer and oh yes, orders to fill! When you try to fit that around a personal life or another job, there never seems to be enough hours in the day before you fall into bed each evening. Sometimes you have to let things slide, but overall you actually get really good at squeezing the most out of your time.
Lesson#3: Learn from others who’ve been in your shoes.
Even though I’m a year in and writing a post with lessons learned, I have so much left to learn when it comes to running my own business! Lucky for me there are so many fantastic entrepreneurs who are willing to share their hard-earned knowledge. I’ve joined quite a few Facebook networking groups and have picked up so many tips from just reading posts and conversations. Whether it’s how to make the most out of your time, new revenue streams or ideas on how to better market my product, I’m going to learn from as many experts as I can.
Lesson #4: You should be passionate about your business.
When I tell people that my business is making care packages, I’m not sure everyone gets why I would want to do that even sort of professionally. The why goes beyond enjoying gluing paper to other paper. It has to do with being part of other people’s deployment journeys. Each time I ship out a care package, I know that a deployment or TDY or training is being made a little easier for both the service member and his/her loved one at home. That is HUGE, y’all! Yes, I enjoy crafting, but the part I’m really passionate about is the people and their relationships to each other and to me.
Lesson #5: The best is yet to come.
If there’s one thing starting your own business guarantees, it’s that it will make you want to GROW your business. As I look back on the past year, it makes me so excited for all the potential that the next year holds for Countdowns and Cupcakes. I’m ready to expand my product offering, share more high quality posts here on the blog and find new ways to serve military families, both during deployment and when everyone is home.
Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of the first year for Countdowns and Cupcakes! I can’t wait to share the second year with you!