And these may even be things you have thought...
In this week's post, I want to share some of the common questions/comments I have been subjected too, and/or assumptions that have made, as the owner of a small creative business.
And yes, it's true that I am a maker/crafter that works from home... it's not all fun and games as you will see below.
Honestly, I find it interesting & sometimes useful to shed light or clarify what I do versus what people think I do as a small business owner. But, all too often I just have to accept that not everyone will understand how a small business works, or the lives that small business owners are trying to build.
So here goes...
1. I could make that... or Wow, that's really expensive... This one is the most commonly heard phrase and as a small business owner, I cringe every time I hear it. In fact, I have designed a sign for my live events that kind of eludes to this. **Yes, you could make it… but WILL you? And, this one’s already made and available right now!!**
More often than not I hear them mumble it under their breath, or to a friend as they walk away. Which is ok, they may go home and try... and succeed or... have an epic fail. But either way the next time they are in front of mine or another vendors booth they will know it's not as easy as it looks.
And I am going to be brutally honest... Ouch!!! This hits me just like I have been double-punched, this comment or phrase honestly has the power to not only undermine the hours spent creating, the ingredient sourcing, label & package designing, market research on pricing, etc. But for me and many others who hear it WAY too often... it can also affect confidence and make you doubt what you are creating for the benefit of others. Interestingly enough they are only thinking of the ingredients (not always HIGH-QUALITY) and not the TIME put into the item or project.
So think about this when you look and scoff at prices. Creatives deserve a paycheck too... they are not just combining ingredients, they are putting their time and their heart into the project.
Sadly, there are also many cheap rip-offs, other businesses undercutting prices, and a lack of high-quality ingredients from overseas manufacturers of mass-produced products that this problem continues to grow.
2. What do you do for your real job? Until a few years ago, I was a member of the workforce outside the home. My employer then wanted to change up the way they worked the scheduling, that would have left me in the city with 4 hours to kill daily while I waited for my carpool partner to complete his workday. When that happened ... this became my real job.
I wear ALL the hats...
I am the Boss, the Artist, & the Investor.
I am "THE Employee".
I am Quality Control and Customer Service.
I am the Marketing Director & Purchasing Manager.
I am the Product Designer, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Copy Writer, & Publicist.
I am Pre-Production, Production, Clean-Up Crew, Packaging & Labeling.
I am also the Packaging & Shipping Departments.
And actually our products are priced at the actual time & materials used in production. We don't buy our ingredients by the 50 gal drum, so they may cost a little more, but they are also fresher when we make each product.
So depending on who's asking and the way they ask it... they may get me full of energy and excitement about my products and upcoming launches, or they might get an eye roll and a touch of "F*ck you" attitude.
3. Seriously though, what do you do all day?
*laugh* Where do I start with this one? Each day is different, it literally could be any combination of creative or non-creative tasks.
If it is a production day it is area & ingredient prep, sanitization of all equipment, double-checking the formulation, weighing out ingredients, making sure that the packaging is also sanitized and ready, and finally creation.
If it is an office or admin day it would entail answering emails, following up on customer support email or calls, writing blog posts (like this one), social media content creation, scheduling & planning social media posts, deciding on sales dates and what will be on sale, list writing, ingredient inventory & purchasing, product inventory, packing orders, the list goes on...
(often followed by)
4. But you work from home... surely you can *do your household chores/washing and empty the dishwasher/do all your laundry/have a nap/wait for deliveries/chat with me on the phone/meet me for a coffee/lunch whenever you want... RIGHT?
Nope. I can't. If it's an admin day I "might" be able to work some of that in, but creative days are all-day events.
Don't get me wrong, I love that running my own business means I have flexibility, it also means that I have to have things structured or scheduled if I want to keep on track. I have to set up priorities on things I want or have to get done. So unless I am procrastinating, in which I am probably taking a lazy day to putter around the house getting things done while listening to an audiobook. You can be sure that things will get done maybe not always on the original timeline I set, but eventually, it all gets finished.
5. That sounds like a blast, I bet working for yourself is really easy and fun... Working for myself is not really something I considered or dreamed about when I was younger, and it has its ups and downs. There are good days and bad ones. Dreams often reach higher than reality lets you climb in the same timeframe.
But, yes, it can be super fun... but it's also been the hardest work I have ever known. I have days filled with excitement... but they are often followed by days of uncertainty. I have periods set aside for personal development and growth, but they can be loaded with moments of anxiety and overwhelming pressure.
It's not an easy choice by far, but with a community and peers to call on when I need them, the occasional chance to get advice and marketing information from experts/coaches, and the freedom to choose when/how to do the work I love... those not so fun parts are easier to deal with.
And my favorite one of all... Can't you pay someone to do it? In an ideal world, I could outsource the work that I get stressed over or hate doing. And maybe down the line in the future, that would be feasible, but right now as a tiny small business, it's not in the budget. And I enjoy the hands-on aspect of owning my own business. All the products are my creations, my ideas, my hard work. If I outsource it... it would no longer be MINE.