A whole year has passed since I first let the world know that Greenhouse Creative was up and running. A whole year of learning, succeeding, failing, trying again, getting it better, getting it great. About 40 clients, about 80 projects. 52 weeks of long days, long nights, early mornings. Some money in the bank (more than I expected for year one.) Dozens of new connections through clients and people in related industries. A solid collection of "thank yous" and "you've made this all so easy for us"... be still my heart. Most of all - sheer content and a grateful soul. Best prizes of all.
I've learned a lot this year. Here are a few thoughts for anyone considering making the leap into their own business.
1. Name your price and shut up.
I heard this early on from a speaker - I hope I can remember who and credit them properly - and I've clung to it. For me, as a provider of a specialized skill, I had a really hard time nailing down rates. I came up with a number, asked for input from some business owner friends, and was told I was charging too little. I revamped, trying to find the sweet spot where I could be accessible to my target market and still have a viable business model. I think I found it. No one complained about my prices. Not once. And now, in year two, I feel comfortable bumping up my rates just a bit. Plus, I'm working faster, so it's probably all the same to my clients.
Know your value. Own it. This is not a hobby.
2. You don't know what you don't know.
Prepare to be humbled about things you've never considered. You will encounter them. And then you will doubt yourself, sweat over it, cry or curse in frustration over it. But then you'll figure it out, and you'll move on, and you'll be smarter. Be ready for a surprise or two. Have good people & resources that you can reach out to for help.
You can not be 100% prepared for your venture. You have to start wading into the water first.
3. Find out where you're making money and get those hours in first.
I put in a lot of hours that I can't charge anyone for - admin, business development, etc. So, I keep two to-do lists, a "billable" one and a "non-billable" one. I try reaaaalllyy hard to get in a certain number of billable hours each day, before I move onto that other list. It doesn't always work out that way, but when it does I feel like I've got my paycheck covered for the day.
This is not a hobby. Make billable/profit giving hours a priority.
4. Know you can't get to all of it all of the time.
(I've purposely neglected this blog for months, just to give you an example.)
There are 1000 facets to a business, and they are ever changing/growing/requiring attention. You are not a complete failure if you are not on top of every detail all the time. You are human. Cut yourself a tiny bit of slack. Prioritize and do your best. Get help where you can.
5. Have good people in your corner.
Our community is chock full of entrepreneurs who want to encourage and support one another. Find people in and outside of your industry who you can grab a coffee with, refer business, share ideas, kick things around with. Other small business owners get where you're coming from. Connect with them in a mutually supportive way.
Thank you to those who took a risk on a new venture. Thank you for trusting me with your baby. Thank you for your openness, your vulnerability and your enthusiasm. I am here because of you.
Thank you to all my friends who ask me how business is going, who tell their friends about me, who comment on my work. Thank you for being in my corner.
This has been one of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life. I am so THRILLED with how year one went that I can't wait for year two!
Thank you for celebrating with me!
Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too.