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What “The Ville” Has Taught Me

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What “The Ville” Has Taught Me

Ally Carmichael

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The Ville if you are not familiar is the name of my crochet/ knit business. 2017 was my first full year of pursuing it full force. What I mean by first full year is that January 2017- December 2017 I actively focused on it and tried to see where it could go. It was very hard for me to think of The Ville as a serious business until this year when I put a lot of time and energy into it. It’s much easier to take something serious when you are trying really hard to make it good. With my first year came a lot of success and also a lot of failure, both lead to a TON of learning. I thought I would share some of what I learned this first year with you all. These tips below are for any small business owner so don’t feel like you have to be a crocheter or knitter to relate!

 

1.  SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T EVERYTHING. 

I went into this year admiring a ton of Instagram accounts that had a ton of followers and somewhere down the line I started associating followers with a successful business. I poured a lot of thought and time into growing my social media. I started a Facebook page for The Ville, I started taking pictures ahead of time so I would have stock for Instagram, I found myself putting a lot of thought into captions and being intentional with who I conncected with. These are all good things don’t get me wrong and it actually brought me a lot of success. My Instagram grew from 200 followers to 2,500 followers in about 7 months. With the new followers came more messages with orders which are always exciting. I quickly learned that while followers and messages are good they can’t be everything. Followers can’t be what define your business. Followers can’t be what define YOU.  Which leads to lesson 2. 

 

2. HAVE A SUSTAINABLE PURPOSE.  

If your sole purpose for running your business is so you can have a following of people, I’m sorry but that’s not going to be enough to get you through the hard parts. Having a purpose that you can say, “Yeah running this business is hard but it’s worth it because.... fill in the blank.” For me this year was the year for finding my purpose. Taking a step back and really asking myself what I wanted this to become and why. At first I started selling my stuff to make some extra money but that got tough to hold onto when you realize that it actually cost a lot of money before you start making money so I needed something else. In my heart I always knew I would need something more and I knew what I wanted it to be. My purpose is now connected to an issue that is so near to my heart, human trafficking. I found that giving part of my profits so a greater cause is the thing that makes me push through when it gets overwhelming. 

 

3. IT’S NOT EASY 

In fact it’s really hard. I truly believe that anyone who runs a small business full time or on the side lives with a never ending to do list in the back of their minds. The list may shrink at times but it NEVER goes fully away. Just when you think you are catching up 5 more things will pop into your head of things you need to do, things you want to do, things you want to research more about and it just goes on and on. With the list of never ending things comes the actual running the business part. I have an entrepreneurial family it’s literally in my blood so I thought it would be a walk in the park. It’s been the scariest walk in any park I’ve ever been. The running a couple social media’s seems like nothing when you compare it to Etsy, applying for markets and shows, actually participating in the markets and shows, getting good pictures of your products, learning more about the skill, and finances. Finances alone make me want to rip my hair out. I’ve never been a finance person so this is still a learning process for me. I could keep going but I won’t, yeah I learned running a business is rough. 

 4. BE YOURSELF 

Yes, I aware of how cliche that sounds but it’s honestly probably the most important one on here. Something that is super scary when you are starting a small business is when you realize how many people are doing exactly what you are trying to do. It seems like the most overwhelming thing in the world. That’s why being yourself and finding your voice in whatever community you may be in is so important. Take something you love and make it your thing. I’m still learning this one as well, heck I’m still learning all of them. One of my favorite things to do in the world is connect with people. To relate to people on a personal level. I love meeting for coffee and being totally transparent with someone only to have them be totally transparent back. I know that in reality I can’t do that with everyone because some people live no where near me so I started doing that through social media. It’s been a scary thing for me to be transparent online but trusting God and following what He is telling me to share has been so rewarding. I’m not telling everyone to go spill your guts online but find your thing and make it fun. 

5. IT’S WORTH IT  

There were a few times this year when I was staring at my husband with tear filled eyes asking him but really asking myself if this was all worth it. You put a whole lot of time and a whole lot of heart into this and for me I needed it to be worth it. I kept telling myself that I needed to look back at the end of the year and believe that it was worth it and I can honestly say now that it was. All the mistakes I made were outweighed by the successes I had and goals I met. I’m excited to year 2 and now every time I mess up I have a whole year to look back on and can say, “Yeah you messed up a lot last year as well but you are learning and it will all be worth it.” And it will all be worth because you now know social media is just social media and your purpose is sustainable and true to who you are and while this business is not easy it’s fun and it’s worth pursuing. I think I got them all in there :) 

 

Like I said I’m excited for year 2 and to see where it leads. If you are running a small business I’d love to chat more and hear what your advice might be. Shoot me a message or leave a comment below.

 

-Ally