Next week marks my three month anniversary as a small business owner. What?!
Over the years I’ve seen friends open their own business for photography, art prints, jewelry, calligraphy, home decor, boutique clothing and more. I was so envious of them! “How do you just start a business?” I wondered. “Are they making any money? How do they know how to handle copyright and insurance and taxes? They make owning a business look so fun! Is it fun? I think it would be kind of terrifying. Ugh. I want to be them."
One girl in particular caught my attention. A friend-of-a-friend started her own wedding planning business at the age of 24 after only coordinating two weddings (one of which was her own). I hate to admit it, but I thought she’d fail. I didn’t doubt her talent; I simply thought it was crazy of her to put herself out there with such little experience! The truth is I didn’t know what a go-getter this girl is, and I was projecting my own insecurities on to her. I’m happy to report she proved me wrong! Kat was able to quit her full-time job after only 17 months of owning Dear Sweetheart Events. She not only continues to do incredible work as a wedding planner, but she also offers gorgeous floral design AND she is the mastermind behind the Creative at Heart conference. Kat’s passion and drive continue to amaze and inspire me. I love seeing how God has grown her business and has used her experiences to bless those around her. I especially appreciate the many times she’s opened up about how much hard work it takes to own a small business, while also stressing that it is worth the work.
After losing a baby boy in 2013 and a baby girl in 2014, I needed a win in 2015. I decided to take a break from trying to become a mother and started giving more thought to the other dreams in my life. My best friend listened to my ramblings about interior decorating and offered to let me make over her guest room. Another friend requested help with styling her built-ins. Another friend let me make over her living room. I was starting to form a portfolio! Then, completely out of the blue, I got my first paying job. Suddenly this wild dream of mine seemed possible, and I felt a nudging from the Lord to go for it.
To answer my own questions...
How do you start a business? You do what you can to be prepared. You ask for help. You learn as much as you can. You tell yourself you will appreciate whatever time you get to own this business, whether it’s a month or ten years. Then, you jump in!
Do you make any money? Yes! Eventually! :) You have to be smart about it and be willing to wait on making big purchases. I chose to keep my expenses minimal. I used my first few paying jobs to pay for the cost of registering my business, my website domain, logo and business cards. I designed my website and business cards myself. I am now turning a profit!
How do you know how to handle taxes, insurance, etc.? I text my small business owner friends, call my dad (who is the CFO of a family business) and read articles on the Internet. All of these things are present tense — I’m still learning! There are TONS of resources for small business owners. Don’t try to do everything on your own.
Is it fun, or terrifying? Both! It’s mostly fun, though. For me, the terrifying part of owning this business mostly came when I first started. I remember going to my first meeting with a group of creative entrepreneurs and feeling scared to say, “I’m Laura. I own an interior decorating business.” I was also nervous I wouldn’t get any work. I set a goal to get at least two jobs a month, and I’ve exceeded my goal each month.
Due to the extreme amount of stress and heavy emotions I’ve experienced over the past few years, I have kept strict rules for myself regarding the time I spend on my business and the way I measure my success. Each inquiry that comes into my business e-mail account is like a present. (Simply having a business account is thrilling to me!) I get teary-eyed when I’m out shopping for clients because I can’t believe I get to do this as a job. Seeing my business cards around town and clicking on the link to my website fills me with pride and joy.
My Uncle Steve recently told me, “owning a business is in our family's DNA.” I love that! To name a few: my father and uncle currently operate Becker Electric in Alexandria, started by my grandpa in 1949. My grandpa’s wife, my grandma Jean, also comes from a family of entrepreneurs in Alexandria. Her father opened Dwyer Plumbing in 1922. Her sisters owned a women’s boutique called Margy-Betts. (First lady Betty Ford was a client of theirs.) My grandma owned Jean Becker Interiors, and she decorated the home of Sandra Day O’Connor!
Oh, did I mention I have a consultation with Michelle Obama next week?
I don’t know how long I will have the honor of riding this crazy fun train, but I’m going to relish every minute of it. Big thank-you hugs to my sweet supporters!
(In case you haven’t heard, I’m offering limited-time special pricing on room makeovers and e-designs through Dec. 31st. Design service purchases must be made by the 31st, but the project start date is determined by the client. You can even request one of my marked-down services as a Christmas gift or birthday gift! Head to the holiday special page to read more.)