Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my shop! So much has happened this past year, yet it still feels as though I opened my doors just yesterday. 2011 was such a learning experience for me as a new business owner, and many times I've caught myself saying "I could write a book about this!" So...I thought I'd make a Top Ten List...
Lessons of My First Year
1. Look For Inspiration Everywhere
Keeping up with inventory and displays takes a lot of work. I have my degree in Interior Design and I think that has a big influence on my shop. I devour shelter mags and design books daily for inspiration, as well as blogs and online resources. I think it's very important to know what's already out there. And I'm never far from my sketchbook ~ jotting down ideas helps bring them to life.
2. Support Other Small Business Owners
One of the things I'm most thankful for is the great circle of people I've met over the last year. It's good to have somebody in the same boat as you. I'm so lucky to be in the heart of Crown Point and to be surrounded by so many other businesses. Sometimes you just want to bounce an idea off somebody or even borrow a roll of register tape, & getting lunch or coffee delivered on a hectic sales day is always a life-saver too. Most of all, it's nice knowing somebody has been through what you're going through... and that they survived.
3. Be Patient
By nature, I'm not a patient person. But as I get older, and especially now that I run a store, I find myself calming down a bit. If something doesn't work out the first time, just try again. Most importantly, don't give up.
4. The Shop Never Closes
I've said it before, but it deserves repeating: I think about my shop constantly. Either I'm placing an order for product, or calling a customer, or writing a check. The list goes on and on. But I can't imagine it any other way. I truly believe this is what I'll be doing for the rest of my life.
5. Stay True To Yourself
Sometimes I'll get a crazy idea for a display or something, but then I start to question whether my customer base will be ready for it. And then I remind myself they come to The Blue Pear because it's so different than the other shops.
6. Be Organized
I used to be the biggest procrastinator and always left things to the last minute. But as a business owner I've learned that time wasted really does translate into wasted money.
7. Get To Know Your Customers
I always say I have the best customers in the world ~ and I do! Whenever I have an Open House or a special event, I get worried that nobody's going to show up. But they do! I'm so grateful for the support they've given me this past year. I've also begun to know many of them personally, & I've been to their homes and helped them with design ideas. It really is the best part of my job.
8. More is More
One of the biggest things I've learned is to have enough inventory and supplies on hand. There have been occasions when I feel as though my shop is well-stocked, but then I'll have a super busy Saturday or an unexpected rush on a random day, and suddenly I find myself scrambling to order more merchandise. Also, having a backstock of bags and tissue is a lesson I'm still learning!
9. Hire a Bookkeeper
Admittedly, I'm not a numbers person. The first couple months I tried to wing it and prayed that my records would be sufficient come tax time. But I know myself better than that and I knew the only way I'd have peace of mind would be if I hired somebody to do the dirty work. If you live in NWI and you need somebody to handle your accounting, look up Kristen Walter. She's the best!
10. Slow Down Long Enough To Enjoy It
Sometimes I find myself whining about the frustrations that come with running a small business (and believe me, there are indeed frustrations). But then I remind myself that I actually have my own shop! There's nothing better than that!