starting your own home-based business

Jessica is one of my nearest and dearest friends. we have only really started becoming good friends last summer but already we knew we were soul sisters. Jessica is truly an incredible and amazing person! she is always there for me whenever i need her, whether it be to watch Elijah while i run errands or go get a cupcake with me because i’ve had a bad day. she is a friend to everyone and makes all who comes in contact with her feel special and valued.

Jessica is also a very successful Etsy business owner. she started the shop Sebastian Design where she sells beautiful handmade jewelry. in a few short months, her shop has boomed and she has grown tremendously. and it all started with an idea, a passion, and lots of hard work. i have learned A LOT from her since i’ve known her and she has really helped me to fulfill my own dreams and goals even if it’s just to be a sounding board, edit my poorly written posts, or help encourage me. 

today, Jessica is sharing some important tips on how to become a successful, home-based business whether it be a handmade shop, blogging, photography, etc. her tips are really great and anyone who hopes to have their own home business someday should definitely read her advice!

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There are a lot of elements that go in creating your home-based business. A lot of them are boring. And complicated. And frankly, kind of dumb. But this article will strive to focus on the less technical, but still very vital, aspects to making your business as successful as possible!

Assess Your Skills

This is probably the first thing that needs to happen. If you already know what you want to do, this can seem like a superfluous step, but trust me, you need to take a good, long look at what you’re capable of because that will eventually determine your success. I am not saying there isn’t room for improvement and education and growth, but you need to understand first of all what you can do realistically. If you are thinking, “Maybe I want to start a blog,” but your grammar and writing skills are subpar, you need to seriously consider if you are willing to dedicate the time it takes to learn how to write well. If you want to start a newborn photography business but you don’t like kids or directing people, perhaps another area would be better suited for you. This is not meant to be discouraging. Rather, realizing your potential in certain areas as opposed to others will give you the footing you need to get a good start.

Be Professional

Since most home-based businesses nowadays are run online, the chances of you meeting even 95% of your client base is very slim. This means that most of your correspondence, and therefore your relationship building, will be conducted through email or social media. This can be overwhelming. It raises questions like: “How long do I have before responding to someone?” “Do I have to personally respond to every comment?” “How do I address someone I’ve never met?” In all things you do, remember that you are your business and your interactions reflect who you are and what you represent. The general rule is to respond to emails within 48 hours. Your email wording should be grammatically correct, polite, and show some of your personality. It is not always appropriate to call someone “honey,” “lovely,” “sugar,” or even “girl,” if you don’t know them. Try to keep exclamations, bolding, and all caps to a reasonable amount. Try to remember which status posts are best for your business page and which should be limited to your personal profile. Of course you want people to know you as “you,” but there are boundaries.

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Accept Your Size

I like to compare this principle to having positive body image. No matter what size you are, you have worth, you have value, you have the right to enjoy yourself. This is similar to shop size, blog followers, number of clients, and page views. Take the time to enjoy where you are right now. Yes, you would like to be more well-known and be able to expand your brand, but that takes time. Be happy with the five sales you’ve made or the one hundred five followers you have. Don’t expect that within the first six months of being open, you will be able to charge $50 for ad space. It might be easy to become discouraged that people aren’t lining up to be vendors for your 85 fan giveaway. That’s okay! These milestones are precious to you because you have put the effort in. And it does take effort. Even though you may be small now, your work will yield itself later. Be patient. Enjoy where you are now and don’t take it for granted. Don’t try to be bigger than you are and don’t think you’re smaller than you are. You are what you are and you can only go up from here!

Uniformity is Key

Branding is very important in the early stages of business building. It’s also arguably one of the most difficult. It requires making a lot of firm decisions without a lot to go on. You have to decide on fonts, colors, graphics, slogans, photographs, and design from the get-go so that when people see you in different places, they know who you are! It also seems impossible to do because you haven’t given it a trial run, you may not know what you want, and things inevitably change. This is not to say you have to stick with something that just isn’t working, but you should try and be as consistent as possible. This will help your brand grow more quickly and allow people to recognize you more easily. Along this line, always double check your headers, buttons, pictures, profiles, and business cards for quality, spelling, and accurate information. Nothing turns off a potential client faster than a misplaced comma or a mistyped web address. It’s been said before and I will say it again, “You are your brand!” Try to ensure that everything about your business represents you accurately, professionally, and consistently.

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[Swarovski Strauss Swing Prism Crystal in the Sebastian Design shop]

Have a Purpose

One of the best things I have done for my business is to create a mission statement. I have never been a mission statement kind of person. But I think that was because I had never adhered to one that was uniquely my own. One that was hand tailored to fit my goals, purposes, and needs. I firmly believe every person who is venturing out into the business world must have this. Not only does it guide you, but it shows your clients/readers/followers/fans/customers that you are established, confident, and focused. A mission statement also helps you stand out from the crowd so that you won’t be “just another craft blog,” you will be a shop that sells more than “vintage jewelry,” and you can be more than “a portrait photographer.” There’s nothing wrong with these labels, but they are so generic. You want to be “that portrait photographer who uses beautiful lighting” or the craft blog who “upcycles glass” or the jeweler whose “vintage jewelry uses modern elements.” Dig deeper to find your specific purpose. Who do you want to reach? What do you want to share? What do you want to capture? Who is your target client or audience? These questions help shape your purpose and give definition to your ideas.

Understand the Role of Chance

The final, and hardest for me, point is to understand that situations may not always play out favorably for you. There are going to be people who get a bigger break, who make more sales, who receive a lot of positive feedback, and it may lead you to wonder, “Why not me?” Sometimes, there is no good answer for this question. You may feel like you are the hidden gem and if you could just be featured on the Etsy front page or be discovered by a huge blogger, everything would work out for you. And that may be true, but it rarely happens like that. There is seemingly so much disappointment and unfairness in the online business world, but the sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be. Some people are going to get lucky and some aren’t. I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “But I’m a hidden gem! People would love me if they just found out about me!” There was probably some element of truth in this wishful thinking, but I’ve learned to get over and it and get to work instead. I’m happy with the successes I have created for myself and am grateful for the few chances that have come my way. Remember to grateful for what you have and share in the joy of others and you will be much, much better off.

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thank you so much, Jessica, for sharing your tips with all of us! i know i definitely was reminded of some things that i need to do better on {emails!!}.

this work from home stuff is really hard. and like Jessica mentioned, it can be really discouraging when you see other people’s successes and feel like you can’t catch a break. i know my emotions are constantly on a rollercoaster with feeling good about where i’m at to feeling like a total failure. but like Jessica said,
you are you and that’s all you can be.

i hope you all appreciated her advice as well and learned something helpful to apply to your own business.
be sure to check out Jessica’s shop and Facebook page to learn more about her {and her absolutely adorable little girl! who also happens to be Elijah’s best friend too :)}
and send her some love on Facebook and let her know how you liked her post!

Sebastian Design shop // Sebastian Design Facebook

4 comments:

GingerPeachT said...

Love this! I felt so discouraged with my own etsy shop but I had to take a step back and see if my passion for my shop is enough to do it daily. I realized no. I wanted more of a personal face to face interaction. So now I'm a direct sales consultant for a fun all natural bath and body products! I am very excited about this new path with perfectly posh. :-) and I can use these tips with that as well!

Stacey said...

Thank you for sharing this advice! You definitely make great points, and I will be keeping all of this in mind as I move forward to start my own business. Blessings to you!

Clint Shaff said...

Thanks for sharing Jessica’s success story. She is truly a wonderful inspiration for beginners and to those who are on the verge of giving up what they started, thinking it’s not at all worth it. Situations may not always favor you, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth a try. It’s about finding your passion, purpose and the right avenue to make your business flourish. Clint @ Franchise Match

Tomspry said...

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