Back in 2017, I wrote a rather beginner's 6 tips from the first 6 months post for the blog of our first kitchen home, the great Wandering Cooks. I've been meaning to revisit it, but I've been BUSY! The opinions below are all my own, but if just one point practically supports one other microbusiness owner, that is awesome. And thank you to all the colleagues and clients who've supported me to this point.
1. Keep knowing your clients
You’re maaany decisions down the track now, but to keep your compass tuned:
a. keep the interests of your primary clients (in my case, dogs) always at heart, AND;
b. the interests of your secondary clients (pawrents, who make purchase decisions) always in mind.
In my previous arts sponsorship career, it was exactly the same – my primary clients were artists; my secondary clients were sponsors. You can’t serve one awesomely without serving the other awesomely. (This is also my answer to your long ago question, Kath Melbourne, about a key similarity between my careers!)
2. Don’t diversify when you should probably scale
If you were creative enough to literally breathe life into a new business idea a few years back, you’re likely to feel just a bit bored at some point. However, from both experience and observation, I don't actually recommend adding a brand new microbusiness to your portfolio at around the 5 year mark... Instead, invest in scaling your core business and marketing at this stage.
And maybe make time for a new hobby that excites you for now (or just be present with your family a bit longer each day).
3. Keep filtering advice
The best advice consistently does NOT come from conversations starting with ‘you know what you should do’. It starts with the question ‘so why do you do that like that?’ to gain a little understanding first, and usually comes from other small business owners who can’t help nerding-out about small business generally.
I used to say this really naïve thing outloud: ‘I wish I could just have one normal week’. And I made ‘control’ my own aspirational word of the year for 2020 (LOL). Even before covid though, the likelihood that your increasingly complex community of suppliers, transporters, stockists, clients, staff, the economy and the weather are going to line up regularly is unrealistic. What does really help though is to channel your inner gamer, and to expect and greet each next-level challenge with a determined ‘how interesting!’
Oh and protect your clients from drama wherever possible. In fact, protect everybody in your community from unnecessary drama wherever possible. There’s no such thing as a dog food emergency.
5. Keep your hustling simple, smarty (you’re not stupid)
No one is doing as all-round awesomely as their Instagram suggests. No one. But if Insta-and-friends have taught us one thing, it’s that we DRINK UP simple digital content. So if your sentences are naturally really long (guilty!), hire someone to help you draft/design website-pointing content, even for a couple of hours a week. It will set you free to hustle #irl where most sales eventually happen.
6. Keep owning it
It’s ok to be a bit tired, but know the difference between just needing some help - and being completely over this thing you willingly made yourself responsible for in the first place. Here’s a really practical boss-task you can do in your head or on paper:
make a prioritised list of the business things you don’t like doing, and as soon as you have nearly enough money to outsource the first item, outsource it. Then work your way down the list. You may be capable of doing everything, but you’re not the best at everything. And you’ve earned the right to work in the realm of your superpower as much as possible now!!!
And remember to be happy and proud you’ve made it here.
Words by Anna, photo by Tails of Time