February 26, 2014

Learning As I Go | Part Six

This is a feature of Always Rooney to highlight the good and the bad of “learning as I go” as I document and share about my journey of working for myself, doing what I love & taking time off from school. I want to remember these moments, and maybe…just maybe..other people will be able to relate along the way. I’d love to hear your thoughts and your own journeys (even if they look different) as well please feel free to share.

It is crazy and exciting to know I have officially been working full time from home running my own Etsy shop for more than six months now. I never thought I would be doing this at the age of twenty. I never thought I wouldn’t be finishing a degree right now, I never thought I would have this opportunity to do what I love full time. I actually think I’ve said a few times in the past “I never want to mass produce anything.. Or have an etsy shop.” It is funny how things work out, how things quickly come together- and even when you have no idea what you are doing, you work through that obstacle and grow in the process.

Here are a few notes I’ve learned over the past six months:

1. Be All In

Early on, I decided this was it. I wasn’t going to worry about getting another job on the side. This was a personal decision and isn’t the best for everyone, because finances are a big deal and are different for every situation, but I decided to go all in to the Etsy shop world. Through this decision, I took my Etsy shop more seriously in the beginning because it was all I had to worry about, and if I didn’t devote my attention to it- the shop would suffer. Be all in, take a step toward being all in..and stay focused!

2. Evolve

I started out selling anything I could. Since I started this way, it made it easy to get orders in and reach out to more customers. Over time, I cut out a lot of my items and still saw my shop grow from focusing on just a few items. I eventually will work toward specializing in a certain aesthetic and medium..but I am still growing in those areas. It is important to keep evolving and curating your shop.

3. Fail

It is more than okay to fail. It is often necessary for growth. I can honestly say I’ve dropped the ball a few times these past months through carelessness or just silly mess ups. I’ve seen growth from those moments and learned to measure a few extra times before cutting (figuratively and literally).

4. Stay Disciplined

Working at home, and being self-employed isn’t really a walk in the park. There is so much to do, and even when it doesn’t seem like there is anything to be done- there is. Making a schedule for yourself and to-do lists are musts. Preparing for upcoming and busy seasons takes a lot of discipline and planning. I do allow myself a little bit of cushion when it comes to this: I take vacations often, go out to lunch with friends in the middle of the day and I don’t work on the weekends. I have found allowing me those times to breathe gives me motivation in the week to work harder and smarter.

5. Ask Questions

I have no idea what I am doing. I have a lot to learn, and a lot that I want to grow in. I don’t know anything about businesses, and I want to be able to see my shop from more angles than just my own. That is why I ask questions, I google things constantly and I read other blogs and Etsy tips. I have a lot to learn, so I ask. For instance, someone inquired about a wholesale order a few months ago- I had no idea what to say, how to reply..or even if I could do it! I sent out a mass text to my family probably saying “WHAT DO I SAY!?!!” (this is what most of my text messages look like..ha!) with a screenshot of the email and my brother-in-law gave me some great tips. Along with this, I read up on it for a while before replying and since then I have worked on three wholesale orders. If you aren’t asking questions, how are you going to move forward?

6. Care About Customers

I feel like I have such a strong relationship with my shop customers. I have the Etsy app on my phone so I can quickly reply to e-mails and help whenever is necessary. I am a customer myself to other shops and online stores and communication is a huge deal- so I have learned to do whatever I can to help the customer. At the end of the day, their experience is what matters and ultimately what will propel you forward.

7. Enjoy It All

There is probably a lot more I could say about these past six or seven months..but I think this list encompasses a lot of main points. I’ve learned to enjoy it all, to trust God along the way and to be present. I don’t know how long this season of my life will last, but while it is here I am beyond grateful for every opportunity and the favor God has placed upon my Etsy shop. I’m learning while doing it- and enjoying it!

I’ve read and listened to many blogs/podcasts that have inspired and encouraged me along the way and I think you may find them pretty helpful yourself:

This interview with Susan Peterson of Freshly Picked is an hour long, but very informative and entertaining. Anything Susan does is great- if you aren’t following her on Instagram…you need to get on it! She is always so encouraging and on Tuesdays she writes about Entrepreneur Empowerment, which is always chalk full of great advice.

Living In Your Grace Zone by Brian Houston– I bought the digital copy of this oniTunes for $10 and it is completely worth it!

-If you haven’t read this blog post from Emma of A Beautiful Mess yet, you need to. It is so honest, and a favorite post of hers.

-I loved this interview of Brit McDaniel on Design Sponge, it is simple and encouraging to see Brit do what she loves.

Breanna Rose always has great freelancing advice you need to check out.