This week marks my 1 Year Business Birthday would you believe and WOW, it's been a hell of a year! Although mistakes may have been made, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this week has given me the opportunity to sit down and reflect at how far my little biz has come, to consider where I want to be in another years time, and inevitably the mistakes I've made so far along the way (hopefully never to be made again!) It also gave me chance to think about the things I wish I'd known a year ago before I launched Lauren Aston Designs and I thought I would share those with you, in case you're curious or maybe you're about to launch "Your Name Designs". I hope this is either helpful or entertaining!
So here goes, 24 things I wish i'd known -
1. Obviously the product needs to be perfection but website/marketing/photography...It doesn't have to be perfect. You'll never reach absolute perfection, and if you do, you'll look back and disagree. So just strive for 90% and save some time.
2. Tea helps. Tea always helps.
3. Cut yourself some slack! you're new at this and people are much more understanding than you think.
4. Printers are w**kers. They just are. Accept it and move on.
5. The loft ladder is a nightmare to climb up, it will get in your way constantly and Alex will never learn to walk under it without clocking his shoulder or head so just get used to the sound of him bashing into it every time he goes past. (that one might be more specific to me and not so helpful to others)
6. 99.9% of customers are wonderful human beings. Enjoy them. Don't worry about the other 0.1%
7. The question "How Much?!" will crop up on a regular basis, particularly at shows...Grin, bear it, and explain why you're products are WORTH that price tag.
8. Macro-Packaging is a good place to buy cardboard boxes.
9. There are no days off unless you decide. So make sure you do!
10. Some of your friends will always think that you don't have a real job. But it totally is.
11. Don't worry about it. Tomorrow is a new day.
12. A blog is VERY cathartic, and necessary for every small business (for google and techy reasons.)
13. The highs will be high and the lows will be low.
14. Give yourself time to appreciate and acknowledge your achievements and share them with others. Pat yourself on the back when you do a good job (because you'll definitely be beating yourself up when you make a mistake!)
15. Orders are King and you need a good dance and someone to squeal with for the first 10 at least.
16. Know you're customer. Gender, location, lifestyle, family, expendable income. This comes with time and a customer database but is invaluable to getting to know them and designing and marketing to them. You are probably not your own customer and that's important to remember.
17. With 16. in mind - Get stats on shows before you commit. Is this a show your customer would go to? Whats the average spend? Do you have products in that price range?
18. Cake helps. Cake always helps.
19. Make friends! The people you meet online and offline by networking are a font of knowledge and wisdom. They can be hilarious and wonderful and helpful and kind, even if you only ever talk to them on twitter.
20. Don't be afraid to ask!! People do not mind helping you. It's flattering to be asked advice, it means you're doing something right! - Obviously be nice about it, don't be all 'do you sell the wool?' try using 'Hello' and 'Thank you' (I know I don't need to tell you this! You have lovely manners, but some people honestly do that and it bugs me!)
21. Be kind. This isn't mean girls, we are all in this together and the sooner you learn it's not a competition the better.
22. Get a 'paypal here' or an 'iZettle' card reader. You can get free ones with some offers, then even if you never use it, at least you have it just in case, for random card payments or shows.
23. Do an online/in person photography course. This honest to god changed my life. I only did a 2 hour one and I can now take photos without crying from stress and wanting to throw things.
24. The customer isn't always right!! (I went there!) This is your business. You're a grown up. You don't have to do what they say if you disagree. However, you DO always need to be the bigger person and ideally be polite. (You're a brand not just 'lauren' anymore - be strong not sassy)
25. Follow your gut and believe in yourself. (that's a freebie!)
It's been an incredible year and I'm so pleased to have learned everything I have. Some of it may seem obvious but it's so easy to forget when you're swept up in it all. If I could turn back the clock I wouldn't do a thing differently.
Thank you so much to each and every one of you who bothers to read my blog, to comment on facebook and to order my knitted things. I'm so grateful to you, I really am.
Until next week! L x