As my Facebook page reaches another milestone, I've been thinking back on the past three years and reflecting on the lessons I have learnt and how it has shaped the way I run my business today. I am sure I still have hundreds of lessons still to learn but here are 30+ of them I learned or wished I knew when I started my business. Feel free to comment with some of your own too so we can all learn and grow from each other :)
There really is no way to grow your business without stepping on someone's toes or offending someone somewhere. It is impossible to stay neutral and succeed at the same time. You may intend to be nice and stay out of trouble, but trouble will find you and things change once you start to move ahead.
Try and stay out of other people's business.
There is no such thing as 'business is business'. The things you do in business affect your personal life and the personal lives of others. You can't shove people out of the way to get to the top and then claim it's ok because 'it's just business'. What you do always has consequences and those consequences may one day come back to bite you. Be ethical when it comes to business.
Don't poop on everyone on your way up. You may think your work is better then theirs or that they are copying you, but one day you may have to come down again and you'll end up with nothing.
Never let anyone bully you into doing something you don't want to do.
It's ok to say no to an order you don't feel like you are skilled enough to do or if you just don't like it.
Follow your gut. If you feel a particular customer is going to be a PITA, then it's best to stay away before it's too late.
Be nice to your staff and to your suppliers. They may work for you but it does not mean you get to treat them like they are beneath you.
People who talk big and who think they know everything really don't know anything at all.
We live in a world of abundance. There is plenty of business around for everyone and there is no need to get jealous or petty because someone seems to be pulling ahead at the moment.
If you don't want people to gossip about you, then don't give them something to gossip about.
Be proud of your work and don't let anyone (especially clients) tell you otherwise.
Never base your business model around undercutting the competition and price matching. You won't win with that strategy and a handmade product.
Just because you have lots of media coverage does not mean people will be lining up at your door trying to place orders. Be wise about where you advertise and spend your marketing dollars.
Being a good baker or a pastry chef does not equal being a good sugar artist and vice versa. Those two things do not go hand in hand. Focus on what you are good at..
Just because everyone is doing it does not mean it's the right direction. Sometimes it may be the case of the blind leading the blind. Make sure you check your facts and numbers before heading down the same path assuming that it's the right way.
Cashflow is king. Without that your business won't last past how much you have left in your bank account.
Never stop learning.
Don't be afraid to try new things.
Don't work for free! your time is worth money too so you should not be giving away free sketches, ideas...etc
Nobody likes a know it all. If you walk around like you know it all attitude, then you really are not opening your mind to learning anything new.
If something goes wrong, do your best to try and fix it for the customer.
Be prepared to admit when you are wrong.
Stand your ground if you truley believe in something.
Don't be afraid to take the leap. Life only dishes out you what you can handle.
Try to find the positive in people and situations.
Learn to distance yourself from your work and treat it like a product. Don't get emotionally involved.
Do the right thing and have faith that others will also do the right thing by you.
Never start an order without a deposit or deliver an order without advance full payment.
Make sure you have solid terms and conditions or else you leave yourself open for 'interpretation'.
The client is not always right.