Today is Mama Designs 9th birthday! Here are 9 things I’ve learnt from 9 years in business…
It’s a rollercoaster. There are highs and there are lows. Big ones! Sometimes daily, sometimes longer but it’s worth it. Some of my highs are higher than I ever imagined, receiving an email from Mel C’s agent saying she loved Mamascarf was one of my first, being on This Morning with my product, being told I was listed in John Lewis and the lows; IP theft, losing money, losing a listing in a big retailer to a competitor with a very similar product… there are loads. You have to pick yourself up and keep going. You learn something from every single one. Some are big and costly, you won’t make those again!
I am now unemployable. After being my own boss for 9 years I could NEVER work for anyone else again. That is not to say that no one would employ me, running a business has given me new skills in areas I knew nothing about before. Some of those things I am good at! It is more about me, I like working to my own timetable, my own agenda, I could definitely never go and do a 9-5 slog in an office again.
Your business /brand will evolve. What you want in the beginning might not be what you want in the end, or what you have. It will evolve. As will you as you learn and grow. I wanted a flexible job that allowed me more time with my baby boy. What I have ended up with (2 kids, 3 employees, a divorce and 9 products later) is entirely different.
Adapt. I launched with Mamascarf 9 years ago and had not thought beyond that single product. I had no experience. Why would I? In spite of Mamascarf’s popularity, when I started to think about the future I realised that I would need more than one product for a sustainable business. Luckily Mamascarf is still really popular and our best selling product, but if that wasn’t the case I would have had to drop it and move on and I was more than prepared to do that in favour of products/ranges that might work better.
You can’t do everything yourself. Delegate and grow. You will be good at some things and not others. Give those you like less to someone else to do and watch the business grow. Easier said than done? Even if cash is tight, start small and a little bit of help (freelance to start) might make all the difference and give you the time to work on your business instead of in it. Imagine if someone else was doing those post office runs and packing your parcels instead of you, what could you do with that time to grow!
You never really switch off. I do school runs part of the week, I work flexibly around my children, I try and spend more time during school holidays with them. I really try not to work at weekends any more but the reality is you never really switch off. My best times are away on holiday, in the sunshine. A chance to recharge my batteries. I won’t lie, I still check in on my emails but this is definitely when I am at my happiest and most relaxed. A reminder that I need more of this in my life!
Bigger isn’t always better. After losing a listing in a big retailer for one of my products, it was a huge blow. We had to really stop and think, refocus and remind ourselves that it had been a complete headache to supply and we weren’t making very much from it. I now feel that it was the right thing in the long run. Bigger is not always better!
Not to compare myself to others. I often hear this one being said and it is so true! I have to remind myself this when I am being hard on myself. Everyone is on a different journey. This is my journey. It is unique. I should be proud of it.
People. Surround yourself with great people and you can achieve great things. I feel blessed to have amazing people in my life (family, friends, boyfriend) and in my business. Having great people working with me makes me feel that I can achieve anything and helps keep me on the right track.
Trusset your gut instinct. I have not launched products as deep down I knew they weren’t right, done some things, not done other things. I think when you get “that feeling” about something. It is usually right and not to be ignored!!
Oops, just realised that is 10! I am going to keep the last one anyway!