I was not like many of my friends, who out of high school just knew what they wanted to do. I have held many positions, and learned quite a bit in my journey to entrepreneurship. If you are contemplating starting your own business, or have and not sure when to take the plunge to full time, then this blog series is for you!
For many years, I had the corporate life - Monday through Friday, woke up at 7 a.m., got out of bed, got ready for work, got in my car, fought traffic, all to put in an exhausting 9 hour day. Once I arrived home, I prepared and cooked dinner, played with my dogs, worked out, spent time with my husband, and the list continues. While this worked for some time, I always felt like something was missing. I was always jealous of those who had their own businesses, and wondered how they did it.
I realized that with my natural creative abilities, I was not using the best skills I had in my arsenal at my day job. When my husband and I initially talked about getting married, I was on the search for save the dates without much luck and realized that I could do this. I decided to purchase a Macbook and the Adobe Design Suite to pursue graphic design. With no plans at all to do this full time, I thought it would be a great creative outlet for me, and to have a little shopping money every month. Little did I know at the time that this random idea that came to me would end up turning into a full blown business in about two years.
During this time, I was working a full time corporate job, and going to college online at night so I didn’t have a lot of free time. I read as much as I could, and spent hours on the internet each week, just trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. During my extensive research, I found Etsy, and due to their wonderful SEO structure, I created my shop (with no products) on March 14, 2011. At this time, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to sell, but created the shop anyway just so I could get a feel for how it worked. During that spring, my best friend’s sister was engaged, and she had come to me to design something special for her day. When I printed everything out, it was an unbelievable feeling to see my work on paper - I realized at that moment, I wanted to sell suites like this to clients.
I purchased a high quality fine art printer, and found the paper stock that I wanted to use. I was getting ready to graduate college that fall, so I started having more time to put into developing a plan and a strategy for my new little start up. After a few months of fine tuning, I started building a collection of save the dates and invitations, and on September 18, 2011, I posted several items on Etsy for sale. I was unbelievably nervous, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. What if no one likes anything I designed? What if no one will buy from me because I don’t have any reviews? The thoughts kept coming, and while I did start receiving a few likes each day on my products, the shining moment came on September 25th, exactly one week after I started selling products - someone purchase a save the date deposit. It was the most amazing feeling, that someone liked something I created enough to buy it. WHAT!?
As each month came and went, more and more items sold. I was constantly designing in my spare time, trying to come up with new and fresh ideas. About few months into it, I was making my extra shopping money every month, and I was having fun doing it. It was everything I had hoped for, and in such a short timeframe. However, I started to feel like maybe I could do a little more with it. I became driven, constantly trying to see if I could beat last month’s sales, to see how I could make a better profit from each order. While I still wasn’t thinking about quitting my corporate job, I continuously earned more and more side money each month, and I kept breaking my goals. This once “side business” was flourishing into something I could have never imagined, and I needed to decide how I was going to make it grow.
I was constantly trying to improve everything I was doing. After two years of selling, I decided that if I worked really hard, and kept designing high quality products, there is a possibility that I could one day do this full time. I could wake up every morning, set my own schedule, have flexibility, not have a boss to answer to, work from my home - and this could be everything that I was searching for. It was time to come up with a plan to turn my passion into a career.
Continue to Part Two...