Looking Back: 7 Things We Learned as New Business Owners

It’s been three years since Elizabeth and I purchased Encore Editions. Despite the fact that we each worked for the company for many years prior to the purchase, we definitely had plenty to learn. Running a business is tough! There are many unforeseen tasks and goals that require expertise that, unless you went to business school, you may not have any idea about. We’ve learned a lot the hard way and have had many successes that required us to work extra hard, but you know what? I’m very proud of where we’ve taken Encore Editions and I know that we have a bright future ahead of us.

So let’s get to the nitty gritty. What have we learned? 

Marketing, marketing, marketing!

Wow…a small word for such a HUGE part of anyone’s business, but especially integral to the survival of a small business. Social media, email campaigns, online ads, blogging (hey!)…it all adds up to a strategy of building the brand and reaching the customers. We are still learning here but with the help of some experts lots of You-tubing and late night researching- OH and making LOTS of mistakes, we are slowly getting there. When you’re small and it’s not in the cards to hire out for marketing help, don’t despair- try to learn one bit of it at a time and eventually, you’ll get there.

Taxes stink.

But hey, you already knew that. Business taxes though? Ugh! Hire someone reputable to help you out here. Unless of course you’re already a CPA or a super-smarty pants…then have fun with all those numbers! We’ll just be over here working on that right brain stuff…

Objectivity & Perseverance for the long haul.

Just because we work super hard at something and expect it work, it may not work and when it doesn’t, we need to work at adapting the strategy and persevering to actually…you guessed it…make it WORK. The ability to back up and honestly evaluate your goals and how you plan to get there is HUGE. And it means letting go of the good ole EGO and learning how to ask questions or for help.

Being your own boss isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, but it certainly has it’s perks.

We rely on ourselves and only ourselves. We answer customer emails at 11:30 at night on a Sunday (and are so appreciative of your interest!). We pause at a family picnic to listen to a voicemail, just in case it’s an urgent request. Work never ends and we never let it rest. If we fall asleep at the wheel, we risk crashing. The flip side of the coin is that we can directly see the fruits of our labor, and that doesn’t necessarily equate to the monetary, but moreso when we receive positive feedback or make a customer happy. We know that our efforts, blood, sweat and tears got us to where we are and built our loyal customer base and that’s just the sweetest benefit ever. Being our own bosses also frees us up so if we need flexibility, we can have it. We control the work/life balance. Doctors appointments, backed-out babysitters or just the afternoon off for some mental-health-gallivanting through the woods (Elizabeth) – it can all be scheduled without the stamp of approval from the “higher ups.” And let me tell ya, as a lady with kids, I can’t ask for anything more than the flexibility of being there when they need me.

Take your time with the important things.

Don’t be impulsive. Be calculated. Research the question at hand, ask others in the same position what questions you should be asking, get as many of those questions answered as you can and then make an educated decision. Even with these morsels of advice you will still make mistakes, like we have, but at least you’ll know that you did all you could with what you had at the time. Again, ask Elizabeth about this one – I’m NEVER impulsive.

Passion, period.

If you ask me, this is the most important. You’re running your own business and you’re working 24/7 – why, oh why would you want to spend that much time and energy doing something that doesn’t make your heart beat faster…in a good way that is? We have an overwhelming passion for art and revel in the fact that we can make our as-close-to-the-original art prints accessible to so many. Art is for everyone and we’re seein’ to it that it stays that way!

Love & Support for Survival.

I’m blessed to work with someone who is a dear friend, someone I can depend on, someone I can argue with, work things out, and then move forward. We share in our successes and failures, dust each other off and keep on keepin’ on. So if you’re partnering with someone, make sure it’s a good fit. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who love you the most. Our friends & families cheer us on and give us honest feedback when we need it. They are the peanut gallery in a world of jelly. Does that even make sense?! Eh, you get the idea. 😉

So, to sum it all up, owning our own business is a wild ride. We’re still learning and will continue to learn. I know for a fact that we’re probably not done making mistakes either, but that’s A-OK. The ones we dodge allow us to sleep soundly, but the ones we make teach us more than any business classes ever could.

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