I started working on launching JPD almost immediately after I returned from my honeymoon.
I'd been playing around with the idea of launching a self-named design studio for a year or two. So, the second I was a Prindle, I jumped in head first.
Now, roughly one year later, I'm sharing with you everything I learned. Some of it came with time, some of it came from big mistakes and some of it I learned from others. Running a business is hard and no matter what anyone tells you, there is no handbook or right way to do it. But, there are some tips and tricks that can make the ride a little less bumpy.
Today, I’m sharing mine.
1 | Passion only gets you started
When I first got started, I believed that passion was all I needed. I loved graphic design and working with small businesses. I honestly believed, that if I built it they would come.
Well, that didn’t quite work out.
Now, I know passion only gets you started. Passion helps you decide what to do. It doesn’t help you navigate how to do it and still pay your bills. That’s where strategy comes in.
Today, every decision I make is backed by strategy and intent.
2 | Community is everything
If you’ve been on Instagram, you’ve probably seen the popular #communityovercompeition.
When I first started my business, I thought it was a beautiful sentiment, but I didn’t think most people meant it. It seemed bizarre to me that people would genuinely want to help me grow my business, especially fellow designers.
But, I’ve learned that absolutely isn’t the case. I’m involved in a Slack channel that has proved the exact opposite. We share feedback, ask questions and offer encouragement. I’ve learned more from these women than any blog post or hashtag I’ve ever seen.
I want to do the same with my community. So, if you ever have a question, big or small, email me or send me a DM. I’m always happy to answer questions!
3 | Content is king
When I first launched JPD, I was adamantly against starting a blog.
I believed every designer had a blog and I had nothing new to say. But, after a little over a month, I caved and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My blog has allowed me to share my knowledge, position myself as an expert in my field and genuinely connect with my audience.
Now, blogging is a non-negotiable for my business. I hope it’s a non-negotiable for yours, too.
4 | But, Distribution is Queen
There is a popular quote "Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants." Jonathan Perelman
Although, I believe blogging is the best thing I’ve done for my business, it wouldn’t serve me or my readers if I didn’t share it. One of the hardest rules I learned this year was about distribution.
According to Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, you should be spending 80% of your time promoting content and only 20% of your time creating it.
It may sound crazy, especially for businesses with small followings, but think of it this way. It’s easier to find 100 people to read one blog post than it is to create 100 blog posts and only one person reads it.
5 | Understand Your Faults
As with all small business owners, I have my own personal faults that get in the way of my business. One of them, is patience.
I’m not a patient person.
I built my website is five days and pressed launch without a plan. I re-designed my website twice after that, again pressing launch on a whim. I respond to emails the second I receive them and I watch my inbox waiting for a response. This is something I’ve had to learn to work around.
When you start a business, you’ll realize what your “faults” are and how they effect your business. You could be lazy, a perfectionist or shy. None of this is bad, it makes you who you are, you just need to be aware enough of your “faults” to work around them effectively.
6 | Always over-deliver
One of the best ways to grow your business, is to serve your clients well. Whether you’re serving a non-ideal client or your dream client, always over-deliver.
This looks different for every small business owner, but finding a way to wow your clients, means they are more likely to promote your business for you. When someone is genuinely impressed, they tell their friends and your referrals will grow with little to no pushing from you. It’s a win-win.
7 | Ask questions
When I first started JPD, I felt like a fraud. Not because I didn’t have design experience, but because I didn’t have a strong portfolio of raving fans.
It was a point in my business that made me feel insecure. I felt unprofessional and inexperienced and that caused me to hold back.. I didn’t ask questions of industry leaders, colleagues or clients.
I thought asking questions would show weakness. Which, when I type it out, sounds ridiculous. Now, with more experience and after asking questions, I’ve realized how silly I was. Even those who have been in business for 30 years have questions and the best way to answer them is to ask people who understand your business and your goals.
So, don’t be like me. Ask a lot of questions of people with more and less experience than you.
8 | It’s okay to stay small
As I see businesses grow around me, I’ve had to accept that it’s okay that my business is small.
After one year of side-hustling, I’m still at my full-time job. This has been a sore point for me, as I’ve seen many freelancer launch and quite their jobs with ease. But, when I think about it and hear their stories, I realize we aren’t that different.
I have different goals and different must-haves before I pursue JPD full-time. Others, don’t have that. So, I’m content with figuring out my own path and not comparing my journey to others.
9 | Eventually, you will fail
I wish I could sit here and tell you everything I’ve tried has been a booming success, but that’s just not the case.
I’ve actually tried quite a few things that didn’t work out. But, failing is an inevitable part of business. You’re going to try things, test the waters and sometimes you’ll get nothing in return.
I know it’s a cliche, but failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Giving up after a failure is. You’re going to fail, but you have to get up, examine what went wrong and then try again.
What have you learned from running a small business? I’d love to hear your experiences and advice!