Hi everyone, I wanted to talk to you today about my other passion...small and handmade businesses. Handmade businesses have really blossomed in the last few years, and there are many sources all over the internet that can give you advice on how to start a business. However, the one thing I have found out in my search to create a "real" business, instead of just an expensive hobby, was finding someone I could connect with on a personal level. It wasn't just about "starting a business"- I needed someone to guide me.
The first time I even thought of my crochet design business as having the possibility to become "something" was right after I had left a 2-year horribly toxic job and was floating around temp service jobs just to pay the bills and keep food on the table. I came across a Christian Business Counselor name Christy Wright. She is a Dave Ramsey personality, and she had just put out a book called Business Boutique. I pre-ordered and when it came I just absorbed it. She opened my eyes and made me look at my hobby in a totally new light. She made me see it as something that actually had virtue and could be pursued as a business. She asked some tough questions and I decided to answer them honestly...which isn't always easy. You can pretend with others, but pretending with yourself is just destructive.
She has created an amazing podcast, YouTube channel, and website since I first started following her. You can get a free Quick-Start Business Plan from her website- no obligation- that can help you decide whether or not what you're doing is something that could be a business. Christy is an amazing encourager and she is very good at helping business owners look inward and make the necessary changes to be a success. Even though I do have several business coaches that I will listen to, I continually gravitate back to Christy because she is so sound and logical.
So, fast forward another year and I'm in another toxic work situation. If I have learned anything from those two jobs it is what kind of manager I DON'T ever want to be. I had really prayed about what to do. I hated my 9-5 job, but I didn't feel like I knew enough to be successful selling my designs. I had watched person after person start a handmade business with crochet and not succeed. And I wasn't interested in being a little factory that wore my arms out making the same toy 100's of times because it's popular. So, one day while I was scrolling through Facebook, this lady named Jennifer Allwood popped out at me. I don't know why. Something in the words she used snagged my interest so I started following her. She was constantly doing lives on Facebook and talking about really plain jane, everyday business stuff. I had never heard anyone talk about business the way she did. She is a Christian, but she didn't turn every talk into a bible study. I grew up in ministry, so bible studies don't bother me, but sometimes you just want to hear "plain speak", if you know what I mean.
She had created a 7-day crash course in figuring out what areas you should pursue online to increase your business. Should you do online courses? Should you have a membership group? Should you have subscription boxes? Plus, several other ideas. I joined her seven-day course, which was a funnel to her big online course- teaching you 7 ways to make money online. I borrowed the money from my dad to take the course and for the next 6 weeks, I was absorbed in this world of learning. I gained a lot from it, and I have lifetime access to the course I purchased, so I do go back and visit subjects from time to time for refreshers.
This last year, Jennifer wrote a book called Fear is Not the Boss of You. I have only read a few excerpts. I really need to get this on audiobook because I'm not good at sitting down and reading entire books anymore. But, from what I have heard, this book is incredible about helping you get out of your head and not letting fear stop you from moving ahead. That is one of the BIGGEST things that will stop you from pursuing your business...FEAR. I can't tell you how many steps I have taken while building this business, that I did with a huge ball of fear in my chest. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Sometimes you have to push fear aside and just do it...like the Nike commercials.
Jennifer started her business as a decorative painter of cabinets and tables and garage doors, etc. She did all those specialty techniques with the waxes and rubbed off paint...and all those painting techniques I don't understand but think they look beautiful! Jennifer personally knows what it takes to create a successful business from the ground up and then pivot it to an online platform. She has created her online world from scratch, and she has many useful things to teach you. I was in her business coaching group on Facebook for over a year. I'm thinking about rejoining her group because I'm in a place where I need to pivot again and I could use the insight you gain from being in a group like that. Her group is called Inner Circle and it only opens up a few times a year. So click here to get yourself on her waiting list! She also has an Instagram, a YouTube, and a podcast worth following! here's her website too.
Last, but not least, God has recently put me in the path of another business mentor. Her name is Melissa Dickey, and she has created something called the Christian Creatives Retreat. She helps Christian Artisans have a platform to sell their handmade items. She and her husband also have an artisan pottery business called Nunca Solo Pottery. She has a free group on FB called Christian Crafty Entrepreneurs. It is a place for like-minded business owners to gain encouragement and learn business basics. Lastly, she has a business coaching group called The Next Right Step that teaches new business owners how to go from point A to point B in creating their online presence. Melissa has a heart for Christian small businesses and she is a wealth of valuable information. One other thing I will say about Melissa is that she is extremely accessible. She is who I am currently hooked up with.
Ok, so why did I tell you about these people? Because I have found that as an entrepreneur, as a handmade business owner, as someone chasing my dream and my passion, and as a Christian...I cannot do this alone. Many business owners do not realize how important it is to invest in YOURSELF first! Yes, you have talent. Yes, you make beautiful things. But, that will only go so far. Sure, it's exciting when you get your first sales and things are flying off the shelves because what you are presenting is new or different. But, let's be real...after the first season it usually tones down and all your friends and family have been tapped out, and now what? Learning how to pivot your business and step into new things, do the scary things, and answering the big questions like "should I have a website or just continue to sell through Etsy?" or "Ok, I have the website, now how do I make all of this work for me efficiently?" There is a learning curve when you start a handmade business that we don't always stop and think about.
I'm encouraging you to seek out mentors. Any of the three that I have mentioned in this post would be a great place to start. I am going to continue to post about small business things because it is a world with which I am deeply ingrained and have a passion. I love seeing entrepreneurs win!!