3 Things I Learned in My First Year of Business

Three things I learned in my first year of business blog post

This week marks the one year anniversary of the official launch of Ivy + Linen Design Co. and what a year it has been. I started out the year thinking I would mostly be a shop owner who does some custom work on the side and you know maybe eventually will get into weddings once I feel like I know what I'm doing. Oh how so much can change so quickly!
I have had the joy of working on so many wedding invitation suites, birth announcements, event invitations, and other custom work throughout the year. I have been a part of several styled shoots that have helped me learn so much about the wedding industry and met so many amazing ladies through the Creative at Heart Conference, my monthly Mastermind, and the Merrimon-Wynne Bridal Showcase. I was a part of several pop-up markets at Sola Coffee and had a booth at Girl Tribe in Charlotte which was a blast of a weekend with my best friends. If you had told me last year all of the opportunities I would have had I would not have believed it. But even through all of the fun opportunities and the work of developing my style, I've learned so much about myself as a small business owner (entrepreneurship does that to you)!
The title of this post is a little misleading because I have learned WAY more than three things in my first year of business, but these three are big takeaways that have made a huge impact on me and will continue to impact me going forward as I continue on this entrepreneurship journey!

Done is Better Than Perfect

Wait, what?! That sentence is a bit difficult to take in as a recovering perfectionist. I mean in fifth grade I got the Mary Poppins superlative award because I was "practically perfect in every way". So basically the perfectionist tendencies started young, and I've probably been slightly scarred for life with the expectations that award set up (love you anyway Ms. Boyle!).
When first deciding to launch the business I didn't want to launch until everything was perfect, which is pretty laughable considering it was far from perfect (and still is, and always will be). But I tried to do everything I could to be ready to take on this new adventure. What I didn't realize is that trying to make it all perfect would lead to analysis paralysis and I wouldn't want to do any of it if it couldn't be perfect.

Fast forward a few months when I decided to launch the semi-custom collection. I had so much decision fatigue because I was so afraid it wouldn't be everything I wanted it to be (ahem, perfect). But during this time I was talking with the ladies in my mastermind group about the launch and they said "you can always change that". Wow. Sounds so simple, but I felt like the whole world would come crashing down if I decided to change something in just a couple of months (and I am going to be changing some things coming up soon!). But I do make the decisions around here and there is nothing wrong with deciding I want to do things a bit differently!

Just getting my work out there and sharing this business with all of you is more important than having it all perfect from the beginning. So much has evolved in just one year so I know it's going to keep on changing. As long as I am still moving forward and serving my clients well with their designs and the resources I provide them, everything can continue to evolve and improve. Just because I put out a certain design doesn't mean its there forever and ever, amen. I can decide I don't like it anymore and change it - ahhh such a freeing realization!
This principle is applicable in so many areas of life, not just business! Exercise, play time with the kids, hosting friends and family in your home - if we wait for everything to be perfect we will never do the things that can bring us so much joy.

Share and Create the Work You Want to Do

I had heard this from several creatives and just kind of brushed it off for a while because I didn't think I had my portfolio built up enough or the right experience. But earlier this year I made a commitment to start sharing more of my work, specifically wedding work, and guess what? I started getting more wedding inquiries. And then when I would share birth announcements and moving announcements I would get inquiries for those as well.

I realized that not everyone is looking at my website and just browsing through it on their downtime (what are you people doing with your time?!) so they don't always know everything I offer. So when I share on social media I am bringing it to the forefront of their attention - really makes a lot of sense when you put it that way.
Also, I decided I wanted to focus on custom work rather than the product shop. The products are great, but I really enjoy working with clients so much more and custom work allows me to do just that! So if I want more custom work I have to show more custom work. Potential clients don't know what they don’t know, which means I have to provide that information and share the work that could potentially be exactly what they were looking for. It can be hard to share work on the internet for all people to see, especially if it is something you are new at, but the only way people are going to come to you for those things is if they see you doing it!

Community is Key

This may be the most important of all of the things I have learned in my first year of business, which is fitting since I chose my word of 2019 to be community. Working from home is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you just want to talk to people! Also, being a creative entrepreneur is not extremely relatable among friend circles, so it can be hard to talk through struggles, ideas, and general thoughts with friends who are in the corporate world. This is where my mastermind group has been so incredible for me. All of us in the group are female entrepreneurs and these ladies just get it. They understand questions I have, share in my excitement, and brainstorm with me on ways to keep improving. I talk about this group a good bit on Instagram, but it's because they have been such a blessing to me.
I also went to the Creative at Heart Conference in June and those were my people. All creative entrepreneurs coming together to talk through successes and frustrations and to learn from one another. The creative community is so tight knit and helpful to one another. Lots of cheering one another on happening in the creative world and I'm all about it.
Entrepreneurship has the tendency to be pretty lonely, but making real life and Instagram friends that share my path has been invaluable to me as I grow as a business owner and as a person. I am so thankful for the friendships and community that have been a part of my first year in business!
This past year has been so much different than I expected, but in so many incredible ways. I am grateful every single day that I am on this journey and I can't wait to see what lies ahead for year 2! Let's do this!

If you're just getting started on your business journey, visit the Resources page and download my Top 20 Tips for Starting a Creative Business to help you along the way!

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