Dammit I'm just going to have to open my own pole/aerial studio then I can run it my own way, I remember smugly thinking one day. I started thinking about it often, every other day, many days, many more days, mentioning it to friends, mentioning it to my accountant, mentioning it to a realtor, mentioning it to my hubby and somewhere along the line, somehow - BAM - I owned a studio? [Tweet "It's super important to know what you know and know what you don't - then own it!"]
A lot of shit has happened in the past 3 years of owning and running Aeriform Arts, good stuff, annoying stuff, happy stuff, growth. Enough to fill a book and way too much for a blog post so for now let's just chat about my 10 best tips, revelations and findings that I learned from running my own business.
- Know your budget. So you say you have a realistic budget set up? Right - take that number and add at least another 40%, trust me on this at least 40%. Things will come up. Things you didn't expect or could have never foreseen. It's not your fault, it just is - better to be ready for it.
- Do as much yourself as you can for your company. If you can do it yourself do it. At least in the beginning. Do you really need the cleaning woman? For a long time at my studio we had a manager that worked for us and we covered the weekends. What a colossal waste of money. Now my husband runs the studio m-f and we have someone cover the weekends. Had we done this from the get go we would have more savings.
- It's super important to know what you know and know what you don't - then own it!I know enough web stuff to design a website BUT I do not know enough about photography to take photos for said site (although I'm working on it). I am, however, smart enough to know I suck at them and need to hire someone who doesn't.
- Have a realistic business plan & LIFE plan in place. Things will change, morph and grow over time but have one in place from the jump. Now here's the thing - most people have (or should have) a business plan in place, yet most everyone forgets to have a life plan in place. Hell I know I did. I had the financials, paperwork, support systems and vendors all worked out. I have a full time career, now I'm opening up a studio? When the hell am I going to be able to go out and get drunk, have a date night with my husband or watch Tivo for 3 hours? The thing I forgot to focus on was my life outside my business, how the fuck to eat sleep & be merry. Plan this shit out - you'll miss it!
- Listen to your clients. Clients are going to offer up LOTS - O suggestions. Listen to them all. A good deal of the suggestions will make no sense for your brand, or they don't actually understand the inner workings of your company, but some of them - some will be GEMS! For example "Hey Veruca I love this class - there should be more people in this class?!?! Maybe if you add the word cirque to the class it would help. People like that shit" so we did and boy was she right.
- Know that the customer is not always right. At least know when they are really wrong. There will be times when there is no pleasing anyone and you have to just say "no". Whoever came up with "the customer is always right" clearly didn't actually run a business on a day to day basis. I mean I get it, customer service is key and we do pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients but at some point enough is enough and you have to learn how to delicately handle some of the crazy customer service situations you will find yourself in. [Tweet "Don't forget to focus on life outside of business, how the fuck to eat sleep & be merry"]
- Some days you will be over the moon happy and other days you will want to quit. Running your own business is hard. It can be extremely rewarding but it is hard. Enjoy the good days, revel in them. If you ever feel like giving up, sit down, take a deep breath and step away from the situation for a moment. Try to remember why you created this in the first place. I'm sure generating an income is one of the reasons, but I'm also pretty sure there are more. Maybe you wanted to create something for you and your family or you wanted to be able to stay home with your children, have a better schedule, you felt passionate about your product - what ever drove you to starting your biz - try to remember it fondly. Talk with a neutral friend and ask for advice. Look at what the issue is and see if it can be fixed or improved or salvaged and then...
- Don't be afraid to walk away if you need to. Don't be afraid to say "okay this didn't work out as I planned" This is not a failure. This doesn't represent who you are as a person. The only time we fail is if we don't try. The moment you embrace this the amount of stress that is relieved will be mind blowing.
- Celebrate the small things!We always celebrate the big accomplishments but somehow never the small. I think it's extremely important to celebrate the everyday "wins" it keeps us going. It shows a progression in our business and personal lives and reminds us why we do what we do.
- Gratitude is key. Be grateful that after year 1 you are still in operation. Be grateful that your product or services helps people. Be grateful you live in a country where you can start your own business swinging around a pole. Just be grateful!
It's been a huge learning curve and even though there have been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I wouldn't give up the past 3 years for anything! Learning about my business has helped me learn about myself. Hopefully some of these insights will help you on your journey.
I would love to hear from anyone regarding what you've learned from starting your own business, things you would do differently, things you never expected, that amazing moment where you knew you had made it, share it with us here!
Love & Glitter,