My First 2 Months of Owning a Design Business
I cannot believe it's been two months since I officially quit my full-time job to take my brand design business full-time. It's definitely been a whirlwind, filled with struggles, victories, and a lot more adjustments than I was anticipating. Much like my two week check-in, I want to take this time to pause for a bit and look back at my first two months of owning a creative business.
My Two Month Takeaways
So what's new since my last check-in? Where have I struggled? What's been going well? What have I learned? Read on and I'll tell you all about it, darlin.
1. If I don't need to leave the house, I won't.
Being a more introverted person (INFJ right here), I figured the solo-work-from-home life would be a perfect fit for me. I do absolutely love it and my collection of patterned leggings has grown dramatically, but let me share a word of caution if you're considering the jump.
The first couple weeks at home were refreshing and cozy, and then I realized I was only leaving the house a couple times the whole week. I was way too excited when my husband got home each day, and my weeks were starting to feel like one long day. Trust me, it's essential to get out of the house. Get the mail. Work out. Seriously, just get out and see some other humans.
2. Get out & move yourself.
Now that my commute has gone from 1.5 hours each day to a couple steps, I thought I'd be moving around so much more. So long, back problems! False. That first month, I barely moved aside from walking upstairs and downstairs. I was starting to get some seriously unpleasant back pain from sitting all the time. I told myself I would do workout videos in the living room, but that wasn't happening either.
Since then, I've been trying out hot yoga at local studios and I'm LOVING IT. The seriously intentional stretching and meditation make yoga a perfect outlet for me. I get out of the house, move my body a bit, take some time for mindfulness, and break up the workday. Win win win win.
3. My calendar is sacred.
I've started to schedule everything—workouts, lunch dates, phone calls, deadlines, everything. It's great since I can see everything in one place, and it holds me accountable to taking time for myself in the midst of everything else that's going on. If it's on the calendar, it's happening.
4. Consistency is key.
Being a brand designer I'm a huge fan of things being unified and cohesive, but the power of consistency extends way beyond the visuals. In just the last few months, consistently blogging every week and curating my social media posts (quality design content only—no personal stuff) have made an insane difference in my business. More on this soon.
It's truly amazing how a business can grow by harnessing the magic of the internet.
5. Digital contracts are pure, brilliant sorcery.
I started out doing contracts the traditional way. I email the pdf. The client reviews it, prints and signs said contract, then mails it back to me with the deposit courtesy of USPS. All-in this process usually took at least a week, if not more.
It's only been about a week since implementing digital contracts (via HelloSign), and the difference it's made is nothing short of magic. Clients now sign on in a matter of minutes, which saves time and makes for one less thing I need to keep track of. As a biz owner wearing all of the hats, this is a big deal.
6. Systems are a godsend.
Of course to create a successful creative business, you'll need to put in the time and effort to make your work and your customer experience truly phenomenal. But that's not to say you have to do it all yourself.
I've tested and implemented several systems in my own business, which save me loads of time and sanity each and every week. Sure, it takes some time to learn a new technology, but the time I save in the long run makes it well worth that initial investment. Not to mention, these amazing apps make the less-than-exciting aspects of running a business—ehem accounting ahem ahem—easier and a lot more fun.
7. This is an amazing time to own a business.
Between my blog and Instagram alone, it's incredible to me the people I've been able to connect with since starting my business. Social media is an insanely powerful (and free!) way to spread the word about your business.
It's truly amazing how a business can grow by harnessing the magic of the internet. Even a decade ago, a lot of this wasn't possible. That's crazy. It's so cool to me that I get to be part of the generation of business owners that's pioneering this new digital and social frontier. Small biz owners unite!
8. Even if you're out on your own, you don't have to do it alone.
Creative collaborations are truly awesome. In yet another effort to not cut myself off from the world, I've been having skype dates with creatives from all over the internet. It's so cool connecting with new people this way, and meeting other creatives I probably never would have met otherwise.
I'm also going to Creative South in April for my first creative conference. I've heard amazing things about this one and I couldn't be more excited about it, so I'll be sure to report back.
9. I only have one regret.
Two months into starting my business, I seriously only have one regret, and that's not doing this sooner. Sure, it's a lot of work and the uncertainty of it can be a bit scary at times. But this is an amazing adventure, and I'm so unbelievably happy that this is my life now. I can't believe how blessed I am to do what I love every day, and to help amazingly talented folks in the process.
There will always be some kind of leap for anything extraordinary, but the chances are that it's not as scary as you're making it out to be. You just need to have faith, show up, and do the work. When things need to be figured out, you'll figure them out. When it's time to put your head down and hustle, you'll do it. This freedom is absolutely priceless.