When I started Lovely Little Paper Co. (the original name) I will be honest, other then having education in graphic design, marketing and communications I had little to no business experience. Sounds a bit crazy...right!? Well, I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I had to figure it out - like I know most of you are currently doing
Daily, I see blogs and webinars on “how I turned a hobby into a $100,000 a year business.”
I cannot connect with that and I expect most people don’t. So how did I turn lovely little design co. into a full time job? Well, I worked really hard and still do (finishing an hour or two of work before most people finish their coffee)
It began with a lot of research. I knew I needed a business name (I used to be Lovely Little Paper Co.) so the first thing I did was look up the name on the the government of Canada website (this is a good place to start: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2729/)
Once I found that no one had the same name as me, I registered my name and then made sure there was a website domain available.
Next, look on social media and websites that you admire to see what has been done and how you can do it differently or in a unique way. This brings me to my next point.
I knew from working in marketing and PR that branding was all encompassing, it is your visuals as well as the way you speak. I am a brutally honest person and decided that I would be upfront and honest about my life and my work from the very beginning. Obviously you need to have appealing images and a consistent logo but branding is so much more! Your branding is the voice you use across social media, your blog and website as well as consistent imagery, typefaces and colours.
As humans we are constantly re-inventing ourselves and in our business. As much as we need to be recognizable, we need to grow our branding and image with the “times.”
This is one of the reasons my business name changed to Lovely Little Design Co.
(if you can avoid it, don't change your name! It is A LOT of work!)
Don’t take anything personally
This is really hard. To me, my business is my baby. (baby number four- and it’s a girl!) I nurture it and take care of it, but sometimes it can be really mean. You can’t please everyone. Not every potential client you approach is going to like your style or your brand. Don’t take it personally - I have had to check myself many times! What I have learned is that if someone doesn't want to work with you, it is probably a blessing. You want to be able to be creative and work with like minded individuals and not always worry about if they think you're doing a good job (you do worry about that, but you know they like your general aesthetic, so criticism is necessary to grow). The best feeling in the world is finding a client that loves your brand and the work you send them is received well and with changes to make it better (to make you better)- it is like butter on toast (or wine and cheese, whichever you prefer)- just perfect!
Even if this is a hobby for you and you dream of it being your full time gig…If you are not persistent and don't see big things for yourself, and your business, it will never grow! Keep bettering your business and keep working. For the 10 no’s you get, there may be one really wonderful yes! There is opportunity around every corner. You just need to make the right turn (and eventually you will). When you do get those clients, and you are working, remember that working for your business/clients is just as important as working on your business (take care of you baby).
It’s hard being your own boss
Sure, there are days when I work from 5am-5pm without getting out of my sweat pants but it is SO IMPORTANT to get dressed and put on makeup and have a few coffees to feel like you are working! Honestly, the days that I get myself ready before the kids wake up and I look like a professional, I always do better work and work harder- I feel like it’s because I look like a professional -I feel like a professional…Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t give it all away
It’s like a first date, ever single time I meet or speak to a new client! I get nervous I prepare words in my head/write down notes, before we speak - but don’t show all your cards! I’ve learned that when you seem to eager you look like you are trying to sell more than you have. Stay professional. But also, be honest- if that makes any sense. I tell potential clients regularly about my 3 kids and make jokes but I am aware that this is a professional relationship that I am building and clients really don't want to hear about your night out on the town. They want you to be warm and forthcoming but not overtly open.
I’m sure this post will eventually grow as I realize more (and there is so much more to tell) but I would like to give you the bare bones today about what it takes to start and keep going when you own your own business! Every day is a new adventure…I’m so excited that if you’re reading this, you may be ready to start yours!