Starting your own business is a massive learning curve. I launched my own vegan fashion accessories brand a year ago, but spent a year beforehand getting it set up and perfecting the products that I was having manufactured overseas.
It’s been two years of ups and downs. There have been a few tears along the way, but it’s been an incredibly valuable journey (so far) and I want to share with you the three mistakes I made when first starting out last year.
1. Quitting my part time job in retail
Firstly, and the mistake with the biggest impact was quitting my part time job in retail as soon as I launched, (well technically it was just before, so even worse).
Realistically, I wasn’t expecting to be making thousands of pounds each month, but I was naive in thinking I could cover my bills purely from my new brand alone. Even though I was making a few sales a month, it only covered my bills and didn’t leave me with enough to pay myself and probably still won’t until I’ve paid back my initial stock.
It’s been a huge investment - I’ve spent so much money on courses, coaching, masterminds, etc. to develop my own skills.
I did eventually take on part time cleaning and babysitting though to ensure that my bills were all paid regardless of how many sales I would make. It took the pressure off.
2. Not knowing my true ideal customer
When I was in the process of setting up my business and writing out my business plan, I jotted myself down as my customer. Not literally, but a young woman in her early twenties, just out of University and massively into fashion and beauty. Nope, I was so wrong…
Within a couple of months of launching, it soon became clear that actually, my ideal customer is more like my mum and her friends: They have good jobs that pay well, a husband and kids, love to go on holidays abroad each year, they care about the environment to a certain extent and also love to support small businesses.
It wasn’t the end of the world to have gotten this wrong, I just had to quickly adapt my marketing and tailor everything to suit the real ideal customer.
3. Worrying about what people would think of me
This one is still a little tricky for me, I must admit. I need to work on my mindset and confidence every single day in order to improve this.
I’m sure everyone, at one point or another worries about how another person or a group of people think about you or what you are doing. I certainly did. I still do sometimes, but I’m learning to let the thoughts of worry be replaced by thoughts of achievement.
Doing Facebook Live’s and sharing personal stories of my journey so far are things that I would never have done before having my business, because I cared too much about everyone’s opinions of me.
I’ve had to learn to just forget about everyone else and do what I need to do to be visible and make money. Because at the end of the day, if no one knows what you do or how you can help, how can you expect to make any money these days?
These are just some of the mistakes I made when starting out. I made plenty and learnt from every single one! A quote that I heard and live by is “progress is perfection” by Eric Worre. So long as you continue to progress you will get to that place you want to be.
Katie Sykes set up her own vegan fashion accessories brand in 2016, and from her experience and knowledge of running that she now coaches others in how they can turn their idea into their dream reality
You can find my vegan accessories brand for women here: www.katherena.com
If you want to learn more about my journey and connect with me please come and join my new Facebook Group for start-ups!