How has it only been three months since we hit ‘live’?! It feels like IzzyBee has been going for much longer, yet time has also flown by so quickly. I can’t believe it’s properly Spring and moving swiftly towards summertime. Just this evening I went for a stroll around the lanes near home to clear my head - and at almost 9pm it was still light!
The purpose of this blog post was to get down a few thoughts that have been buzzing around my head. The advice I would have given myself over a year ago when all this was still on paper. And maybe it will give someone just starting out on their own new-business-journey a little help.
* Believe in your products. You’ve done the research, you’ve checked out multiple suppliers. Feel proud and shout out how great the ones you’ve chosen to represent you and your company are. Although equally:
* Don’t be afraid to change, renew and refresh products. What worked at the beginning – for a huge range of reasons – might not work right now. Maybe you’ll go back to them at some point, but don’t be worried about changing things up if it feels right.
* Admit when you’ve got something wrong. Don’t be too proud to learn from errors or admit that – yes you’re human, and sometimes things don’t go exactly as you would have liked. The whole process is a learning curve. I (mistakenly) assured a customer on something without thoroughly researching the fact first. Uh Errrrrrr (that was the red buzzer error noise btw) I learnt from it, and will try not to make that mistake again!
* Go back again and again on something to get it right. In my case a photo session that took a LOT of time and energy. It wasn’t right. It HUGELY annoyed me that a whole day had been wasted, and needed reshooting. But in fact it wasn’t wasted. I learnt from it. I’ll knew next time to plan better. And the reshoot nailed it. It would have been the far easier option to go with the original. But it didn’t feel right.
* Give yourself a break! It’s easy to let a business take over your life. But especially when you have a family – you have to take a break. For their sake and your sanity. For me it can be as easy as putting on some music and going for a long walk. Or the whole family going to the beach.
* Feedback, feedback, feedback. Listen to what other people have to say and take it on board (even if you don’t like their opinion!)
* Feel the fear – then do it anyway. Things that might not come naturally – public speaking, sales pitches, whatever it might be for you. Do it with jelly legs and a swishy tum. You might think afterwards ‘Why on EARTH did I say that?!’ But it’s all character building and paving the way for your confidence to naturally build.
* Reach out to people! Customers, suppliers, friends, people that you might not think would contribute much to the company and your own personal growth might just surprise you. I went along to a networking event that I really was in two minds about. I’m quite a solitary person, happy to make my own decisions and didn’t think it would help very much. I was dreading it to be honest…. But I was surprised – really surprised at how much it helped, seeing people’s feedback that I wouldn’t have normally asked for, meeting useful contacts that have really boosted the business. And it was good to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
* When you have a wobbly day (you will) remind yourself how far you’ve come. I had a totally unexpectedly amazing beginning to the business. How they found IzzyBee before I’d even started marketing the business I really don’t know! Then suddenly school holidays hit and it went SO quiet for a few days. I panicked. In hindsight I should have relished the idea of a quiet few days after such a busy period, enjoyed it and taken some time off. But I span in circles, panicking and wasting my energy. Then it picked up again. No rhyme, no reason – and from speaking to others, that happens sometimes. Next time I’ll use the time to rest, breathe, refocus. So when it gets busy again I’m ready to take it on.
* Look ahead, not to the side or around at what others are doing. Focus on what makes your business unique, different, standout. I try to make a point of not looking at competitors social media. I’m not here to compare myself to others. Comparison is a sure fire way to feel inadequate fast. I like to think of a horse with blinkers on – don’t be distracted by what’s going on around you or to the side of you. That will just slow you down and clog up your mind. Look forward – keep focusing on what’s ahead.
* On a practical level I’ve learnt how to deal better with stock levels. To start with – juggling stock, office space, finances… it was tricky! But I’ve found, through trial and error, the right systems for me to keep track of what’s going on, a quick daily tally to feel like I’m constantly on top of things. That makes me feel confident and in control. A selected few lists, constantly being updated is what works for me. (I freaking LOVE a good list)
*Have an action plan. I always have several ideas ahead of me. So as soon as one aspect is completed, I know where I’m going with the next idea.
*Keep control of finances. It’s essential. Don’t get carried away if your finances won’t allow you to. It’s frustrating to feel limited sometimes, but you’ll get there when the time is right.
There’s more – but these were the key things I’ve learnt (even if they seem obvious to you dear reader!) Maybe I’ll do a little update a bit further down the line. In fact I’ve already thought of several more I've missed out now I'm getting it down - but I’ll save those for another day.
Right, where’s my list…..