Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I sort-of blindly “groped” my way into starting a first business.
I’d always had an interest in skincare, but it wasn’t until I finished my esthetics training and moved to Portland, Oregon that I knew I HAD to do skincare. I had my master’s degree and a job in a different field, and you had betta’ bet your butt that I wasn’t going to use my newfound skills to work for someone else.
I wanted to do skincare, and I wanted to do it MY way. The skincare industry was NOT alluring to me. I found the general profession to be full of quite superficial people who were way more worried about learning how to “sound smart” than they were about doing the work to actually get smart.
I wanted to do skincare differently. I wanted to use my intuitive talents and healing skills to tap into something much deeper than the “stratum corneum” (upper layer, baby!!) of people’s skin. So somewhere around 2009 I launched “Anna Marie Esthetics” … and by “launch,” I mean that I created a cute little room in my attached duplex, started a horribly hideous website, and began offering treatments to a few friends and family members.
Despite having a website and a business name, I was definitely NOT a business yet.
In fact, I vividly remember telling people it was just “sort-of a hobby,” and I would absolutely CRINGE at the idea of actually marketing my business to anyone. I had hopes of making money at it, but I also had this stubborn illusion that people would just magically know that I existed, know that I was amazing, and that they would come knocking on my door, kindly offering me their money (p.s. – this NEVER happened).
For roughly 9 months I played in “hobby/business land.”
If you’ve ever been here, you will agree that this is NOT a cheap place to be. You are buying stuff related to your biz, and focusing time and energy on your biz, but you definitely aren’t profiting enough to cover your overhead (even if you are working out of your house!).
I realize now that I was a wee bit delusional (as most people who start their first hobby/biz are).
Because deep down I had high expectations for my success … but on the outside, I was doing almost NOTHING to let anyone know I existed, which wasn’t a good way to support my business.
I had a dinner party one night, and one of my friends who had started a successful multi-media design firm asked me how my “business” was going. I told him I was struggling because I felt like I put a lot into it but wasn’t really making any money at it. He began asking me all these business basics questions to help me target specific areas of my business I could improve on. He had some great ideas (that scared the shit out of me), and then he said, “Anna, go big or go home … otherwise, what’s the point?” At the time I was really uncomfortable with this statement, and I thought “who is HE to tell me how big to grow my business?!” Ultimately though, he was right. If I wasn’t going to actually give it my ALL and try to make money from it … what was the point? It was simply a hobby if I couldn’t/wouldn’t do the work necessary to make it more than that.
So after sulking for a few days and complaining to my boyfriend at the time, I “got it together” and decided that he was right. It was time to go big or go home! Now don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t chomping at the bit to go rent a storefront in the popular arts district down the street, or to hire 12 estheticians to work under me … I was simply going to begin treating my business like a business (not just an expensive hobby).
It was amazing what began to shift when I started saying out loud that “I owned a small skincare business.” Well, at the time it actually sounded more like “ummm, yeah, so I sort-of have this skincare business … that’s small and that I do out of my home … like, no big deal. But ya know – it’s there if you ever need a facial.” Yes – cringe with me please!!
But you catch my drift: I was sharing with the world, and gradually beginning to own up to my biz-owner(ness).
I began scouring business books, talking to other health and wellness business owners, and setting small monthly financial goals that would give me something to shoot for (my first formal biz goal was $500 a month, and the idea of making even this much made my palms sweat and my panties bunch!).
I began to give a little more to my biz, and to invest a little more in my biz … and you know what? It actually started to PAY OFF! This may not be a shocker to you, but to me – well, my mind was blown. I created a little niche (after a TON of tweaking), and I had a devoted following (still do, actually) that would travel far and wide for a lil’ piece of the facial love I was giving.
How long did this all take?? Well, I would say all-in-all it took about 3 years for me to get to the point where I had a steady stream of regulars and was actually profiting each month. The sad part is that I could have done this in about 6 months had I hired someone early-on to help me with the “biz side” of things. I just wasn’t “there” yet though. I took the long road, learned a TON, and now use the skills I learned to help other struggling business owners create businesses (and get paid well) for doing what they love.
If you are brand new to biz, I’m here to tell you that your success will come in due time (which will be a LOT sooner if you decide to take your business seriously). The hardest part is the wait. Businesses transform and take shape the longer we own them (after all, they ARE an extension of YOU).
So if you haven’t seen the success you want yet, keep at it (just think of my silly go-around!), and begin to look at the small ways you can energetically and financially invest in the success of this biz you have chosen to bring into our world.
Not sure where to get started? Check out my free “Stages” Guide (available on the new website when it launches next week!). This guide will help you figure out what things you need to focus on, whether starting a first business, building up your current operation, or adding a new business to your growing empire.
Until next time…