I started like all creatives, trying to do all the things for all the people. When you love doing a variety of things, it's hard to narrow down and find a focus. But over the last 5 years, I’ve narrowed my focus more and honed in on my specialty and my passion. My business looks completely different today than it did when I started, and I honestly never imagined that it would look like it does today when I first started either. I have learned so much about owning a business since I became an entrepreneur and I wanted to share my story with you as encouragement for your own journey.
Following a passion
I’ve always been a creative person. I love art and design and this business just came as a natural progression in my life. Shortly after college I started working for a local graphic and web design agency where I worked on mostly corporate accounts and became a self-taught website designer/developer. I was responsible for designing the sites and then coding them from scratch, and with no actual coding experience, I had to learn fast. Thankfully I picked up on it pretty easy and was able to expand my knowledge greatly with this job. But a couple of years into the gig and I was feeling like something need to change. My husband and I both worked for the same company and when things started to turn sour, we were looking towards the next step for both of us.
That next step for me was starting my own business. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I ever saw myself owning my own business I would have said no. It isn’t something that I knew I always wanted to do, and it was actually something that I didn’t put much thought into before starting. But I knew what I was passionate about and felt led in this direction. I’m usually the kind of person who will over analyze things, but in this case, it just felt right. I knew that I wanted to do something that I love while giving myself the flexibility to stay home with our future kids (we didn’t have any when I started the business) while they were young and starting my own business was just that.
When I first started, the business was called Printed Ink and I sold both premade and custom invitations and stationery items. My business was retail focused and I thought I wanted to grow in that direction. For 3 years, I pursued that path but in 2015 I felt a shift coming - and it was big. I missed designing for brands and businesses, and I slowly started to take on new clients for this service along with everything else. And slowly, I had a new found love for working with other creative businesses to help them grow and develop their brand. It was another natural progression, and in the Fall of 2015, I made the decision to close the retail side of my business to focus on this new mission.
All in all, I’ve learned to trust in God’s plan for the business. My business looks completely different than what I planned for it, but it is something so far beyond what I could have imagined myself. I’ve put my entire faith and trust in God and know that this is His business more than my own. In fact, I look at it more as my ministry than my business. I look at it as a way for me to use the gifts God has given me to help others.
Lessons learned along the way
Along the way, I've learned so many things about business and life. I've learned to dream big and small at the same time. I've learned that finding a niche and being specific is one of the best things you can do for a small business. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that every brand and business will evolve over time. My business has grown as I have grown and changed. I used to think that I had to chose one path, one idea, one thing and stick with it. Don't be afraid to change. When I finally made the shift in business that it needed, things changed so much and I’ve never looked back.
I have learned that things will never be perfect and that you shouldn’t want them to be. Sometimes you just have to go for it even before you’ve reached “perfection” because perfect doesn’t really exist in the way we think it does. There have been so many times that I have waited to launch something or held off on pursuing an idea because things weren’t perfect yet. Even if it feels like it’s not quite right, you can still do it. Learning to focus on the progress over perfection was one of the biggest leaps I’ve made over the years.
Almost daily, I get a lesson in balance. The whole balance thing hasn’t always been easy, but it is one thing that I realized early on in my entrepreneurship that I would have to pay close attention to. I am passionate about what I do and I truly love my work. My mind is always brewing new ideas and things to do and I get excited about serving others this way. But if I am not careful, my business can easily take over my life. I often have to stop and remind myself that part of the reason I started a business was because I wanted the flexibility of being my own boss. Even though I could work 60 hours a week, I don’t want to. I want to be able to spend the majority of my time with my kids while they are little and create a business that can serve my life well, not the other way around. As I have worked my way through finding balance between work and life over the last few years, it naturally became another extension of my brand and business. Because I know how important it is and how hard it can be to find, I wanted to help others realize the balance in their lives too.
I’ve also learned that I will never stop learning. So many lessons have come from this business in the past 5 years, but I know I still have a long way to go. I’ve learned things about managing a business, improving my design skills, and how to work with others, but I’ve only scratched the surface. I know that I will never be done learning and I’m excited to see what else God has to teach me through this business.
Being a business owner has been one of the biggest blessings in my life and if you’re thinking about starting something of your own, I encourage you to jump in with both feet. Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from following your passion and answering your calling. You may not know everything you need to know. You may not know how your business will look in 5 years. You may not even know what your business will even be about yet. But if it is something you are feeling pulled towards, follow that pull and discover where it can take you.
Owning a business has grown my entrepreneurial spirit and given me so many opportunities in the last 5 years that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. It has allowed me to be home with my two babies, help support my family, fuel my creative passion, and make connections with so many amazing people. A lot has happened in the first 5 years of business, but this is just the beginning.