What I’ve learned from my first year of business…

As the weather shifts to Autumn, I’ve felt myself remembering the cooler mornings last year, arriving at the shop to find the Japanese Maple leaves fluttering around the courtyard and on my door mat. There’s something about the familiar that is comforting to me, to think “I remember this last year”…to anticipate watching the stormy rain through my shop windows, the hum of my Nespresso machine, and to realize this isn’t foreign anymore, and it feels like home. To wonder if the roof will leak again…even that is nice, to have less surprises. And best of all, to know that life WILL hold surprises…and I can handle it!

In prepping to write this blog post, I flipped through my notebook I used in the very beginning. How fun it was to see all my lists, my frantic scribbles, my ideas – and to come to the realization that all those lists got completed and now there’s new lists!

And now for a fun list, what I’ve learned this year:

  1. To take risks and to trust myself. Whether it be signing the lease, deciding what frame lines to carry, investing in advertising. I’ve had some duds but I learned from them, so it was worth it. And MOST of those risks were successes, and I regret nothing, besides not trusting myself. haha!
  2. To sit with discomfort. Maybe there was an issue with the landlord, the tax board, an unhappy client, my children being disappointed in me. Nothing is permanent and by teaching myself to be patient, the solutions become clearer. My instinct is to jump and fix, to email immediately, to patch things up and try to make everyone happy. But things can’t always be fixed quickly, or maybe ever, and embracing things that don’t go smoothly – and let time pass, as I explore solutions – has helped me. Sometimes quick actions or words are the ones we regret.
  3. Employees. When I experienced a few very busy months, I panicked and found someone to help me. She was wonderful, but then as business slowed, I stressed about keeping her busy. Thankfully, her schedule changed as well and we mutually parted ways. I learned it’s not the end of the world if people have to wait a few minutes for me to help them, or schedule an appointment for them to come back. When do we ever walk into a place of business and expect to be helped immediately? Realizing this took the pressure off of my brain, and helped me to relax and have fun. I make mistakes when I hurry. Slowing down helped me. And honestly, it’s so fun to have groups in here, of people trying on frames and giving each other input! I don’t have to help everyone immediately. Good things take time.
  4. Enjoy the quiet time, and use it wisely. The lulls in business would freak me out. I’d go to worst case scenario in my head. “I’m done here, everyone who wanted cool glasses got them and now I’m over.” Then the next week, it would be back to crazy and I’d think, “why’d I spend my quiet time worrying?!”
  5. That I can lose people and life still goes on, and there will still be joy. Nothing is permanent in this life, the good and the bad. I’m not for everyone. Some people will buy glasses at Costco and that just means their values are different, it doesn’t mean my business is a bad idea.
  6. Stay in the moment. Preparing for tomorrow is a good idea but worrying about what it may hold is NOT.
  7. I have so much more to learn.

To all of you who have made my first year such a wonderful experience, thank you! Thank you for your trust and patience as I found my footing and confidence. Thank you to the town of Atascadero for making me feel at home, for all of my clients who have become my friends and new community. I’m looking forward to rolling into the next season with you. Happy Fall!

Courtyard Japanese Maples