I have just celebrated 5 years in business.
Even as I type that I find it hard to believe. It's been such an interesting ride that the time has just flown by. Time flies when you're having fun right!?
I look back at where I started and I had no idea how this adventure was going to turn out.
Now that I am an old hand at this stuff (totally said tongue in cheek) a few people have asked me how I have made it to 5 years when so many other businesses have fallen away.
Every business story is different, so I do not really want to tell you 5 things to DO to keep going, apart from turning up every day and doing your best. Learn and try, make mistakes and keep going.
While I have been pondering this list I have been wondering why did I even start a business? Why choose this life when I had a perfectly good one already. Someone asked me recently - are you willing to give up a good life for a GREAT life. And I think that's what I was after. I wasn't running away from something I hated - I wanted to create something better.
I have grown so much as a person as a business owner, I have realised things about myself that I would not have known if I had stayed in my comfort zone.
I didn't think I had these 5 attributes when I started...but I do! And now I know I do.
5 Things you need to stay in business 5 years.
1 - Patience
Don't stress if you're not ruling the world in your first year!
We live in a world where we hear about businesses that have 'made it' overnight. Dig a little deeper and these businesses have been out there for a while, or they are flash in the pan and last as long as Fidget Spinners.
There seems to be a belief sweeping through our culture that fast is best. It's not. Of course I'm not advocating that you sit back and wait for things, but sometimes all the hard work takes some time to give returns.
2 - Tenacity.
Sometimes called GRIT! Every business owner that I know - and I now know a lot - has days where things just don't work. You have a great idea and it doesn't convert to customers, you feel like you're always giving and it's never enough. You have a cold and have to work even though you wish you could call in sick. Whatever it is, and sometimes it last a day or a week, we all have days where we wonder - am I crazy?
When these days hit me I remember the worst thing about my last corporate job. I loved my corporate job, but if I was still there I would be dropping Lucas to before school care every morning and wouldn't be able to have 2 afternoons with him.
It also helps to remember why - why I do this, why I love it. Remind yourself - The best thing about my business and my life now is.... for me it's being creative and helping Mums to find the right toy for their kids.
From the start, choosing to start a business, you have to back yourself and you take risks and to me that means being brave. Maybe you think of it as a confidence thing, maybe it's both.
Quitting your job. Walking into a store asking them to stock your product. Asking an Influencer to share your products. Public speaking! All acts of bravery.
We moved into a warehouse before I was ready, because I backed myself and knew I needed the space to become a bigger business. More room for products, more room for work and now I can't imagine it any other way.
There are so many times when you have to put your shoulders back, your head high and go for it. You got this.
4 - Flexibiliy
You know how life is what happens when you're busy making other plans!? Well business is part of life. Being small and flexible allows you to adjust when things go wrong, or when you get a fabulous opportunity, but it has to happen now.
Make a business plan, set deadlines, work to a schedule. It's good to have processes and routines to keep the day to day humming. Create and generate, then assess and change. We don't need to set out our marketing strategy 12 months in advance, well we can, but it's not locked in stone!
Just when you get used to Facebook, along comes Instagram. Just when you think you have a great plan for Instagram, they change it all.
5 - Friends.
You gotta have FRIEEEENNDDSSS! Everyone sing it!
I'm not talking friends with benefits, like connections or skills, though they are fabulous! Wink wink
When things are hard you need friends who understand the world you are in. They don't have to be in the same business, but a small business is such a different world to working for a wage. Not just the hours, but the amount of different things you need to know. So good business friends teach each other things, help each other out and listen.
you know when you're in a room of friends who work at the same firm and they end up talking work. That's the same for small business owners. We talk about the pressures, the new technologies, because we often do it all. We do social media, we do staff, finances and marketing...vacuuming too!
Friends help you to find your Patience, Tenacity, Bravery and Flexibility.
Oh and don't forget to HAVE FUN! Otherwise why do it at all?
Helle is the owner and head toy lover at Lucas loves cars. She has been playing with toys for over 5 years, and still hasn't got it quite right, so will continue to play for a while yet.