One Year Reflection
Just a little over a year ago, I "officially" opened for business. That is to say, I went through the rigors of getting a tax I.D. from the IRS, registering with my local paper and county, and getting a sales permit. That, coupled with insurance for the business and a few other odds and ends, meant that I was ready to go!
Except, not quite. Starting a business, as anyone who's looked into it will tell you, is not as straightforward as filing paperwork and opening up your doors. How do you get people to come and look? Do you go to them, or do you wait for them to come to you? I suppose it depends on your personal situation and what you're offering, but for me, it's about getting myself out there and trying to get their attention in a market full of noise. Not always the easiest thing to do!
Over the past year, I've tried open markets and craft shows.
I've tried online marketplaces and social media. Then of course, there's my own website and blog. Behind it all, I've been learning to make soaps, lotions, scrubs, and other bath and beauty products. I've trolled reliable Facebook groups for information. I've sought out scientific websites to learn about the chemistry behind skin, hair, and the stuff we put on them to make them better. I've bought books and read magazine articles. In short, I've become a little obsessed about skin care and cleansing.
For me, that part--the research--is fun. I love to geek out over the benefits of jojoba vs. argan oil or whether 35% or 28% is a better water discount in my cold process soap. (for the record, both oils have great properties, and which water discount depends on what you are trying to do with that particular batch of soap).
And of course, I absolutely love the creating parts of things! There's a good reason why I have SO MUCH SOAP in my house, even more than you'll find in my shop right now. It's because I like to make stuff. And soap has way fewer calories than brownies, let me tell you!
SO, the hard part is this: selling. Especially selling something that you've put so much of yourself into. I think it'd be the same for an artist, or a writer, or anyone who's basically created something from nothing, because a rejection of your product can often feel like a personal rejection, which of course it's not, but it's a human reaction to feel that way sometimes. But selling is the point of it, is it not? I mean, one can only use so much soap and believe me, if I never made soap again and kept everything I had for myself, I'd be good for the rest of my life!
So I'm finding that the best way to combat my insecurities about putting my product (and therefore, myself) out there is a bit of a zen approach. Or, like one of my favorite Disney characters, "Just keep swimming".
Don't think too hard about it, just go out there and do it. Then do it again, and again. I'm trying not to put a time limit on how long it should take for me to see the kinds of results I'm hoping for. I know that people like my products, I've given away too much and gotten what I believe to be honest feedback to know that I'm on to something here. I think this is the key for anyone starting out in any kind of business.
If you've always wanted to do something like start a business, or write a book, or finish that college degree, may I suggest that my "just keep swimming" approach is a really good way to go about it. Life is going to go on, no matter how much we may try and stop it or slow it down, so what are you waiting for? Get out there, and do it!