For around 4 years I ran my own small business, a vintage clothing brand that I started with a friend in early 2010. We took Mad Elizabeth Vintage from a weekend hobby to a full-time business in under a year through sheer determination and making a lot of sacrifices along the way. If you’re thinking about starting your own business it can be truly rewarding but there are certainly some things you should consider before taking the plunge.
Are you truly passionate about what you’re doing?
I think this is one of the most important things to ask yourself. You’re going to be working like crazy whilst you find your feet so make sure you’re doing something that doesn’t feel like a job or a chore. Plus, if you’re passionate about something it shows in the business you create. I got to know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs along the way who had set up everything from bookshops to bars and the ones that had a true love for what they were doing always stood out from the crowd.
What are you prepared to sacrifice?
If you’re doing something you love then you won’t mind giving things up. One thing you should certainly take into consideration how important these things are to you. If your key values are to spend time with friends and family be aware that your business could infringe on this. If you like the finer things in life then you need to think about if you are prepared to change your spending habits before you can take a decent salary from your business. In the end for me it was the lack of freedom to travel and live in another country that finally made me decide to give up self employment.
Can you cope with failure?
Sometimes you’re going to make bad decisions and sometimes you’re going to lose some money. What’s important is that you don’t let it get you down and you can look back and learn from these mistakes. In our first year we were trying so hard we ended up spreading ourselves too thinly. We were juggling trying to run a new shop, travel to vintage fairs around the country and maintain an online store. At the end of the year we looked back and realised the overheads for the vintage fairs were too high and that we were better off focusing our attention on our boutique as this was the heart of our business and the part we were most passionate about. It’s all just part of the learning process.
Are you flexible?
When you first start out you’ll often be everything from the accountant to the cleaner. When I was running the shop there were fun creative elements like buying new stock but it didn’t end there. The clothing had to be steamed, hung up and priced and this was all part of the job too. Sure, you can employ people to do these things but when you start out the likelihood is you won’t be able to afford staff and even if you can you should be leading by example and getting your hands dirty.
Running your own business is a wonderful adventure but do take some time to stop and think or even try it out part time before you go all the way. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch or pop a comment below. Happy entrepreneuring!