I know it has been a while since my last post, but I think it is important that I take a minute to share more about myself and my journey as an entrepreneur. It is important for me to preface this mini series by stating that success does not happen over night and is most certainly not for the lazy. Owning your own business is not a ticket to shorter hours or easy street. I think it would be best if I start at the beginning and take you through my story on how I got started and the struggles I went through to make it on my own.
PrefaceAfter graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Interior Design I always thought I would work for an Interior Design firm and that would be perfectly fine with me. I always saw myself as an independent woman, but knew I'd eventually want a family. Society has told us that we, as women, can't always have it all. By "all" I mean family and a demanding work life. Now yes this does seem silly being as how we have entered the 21st century, but think about it. Now before I go any father let me state that these are my opinions/thoughts on family and work. I understand that the next part of my preface may resinate differently with everyone, but that is ok because this is my blog... In my mind I had made the choice that some day I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Not because I did not want a career, but because family has always been the most important thing in my life and always will be. Now this being a long way off (children) I went to work for a Design Firm in the Memorial area. After working and loving the french style I was becoming accustomed to designing, I made the transition to the Sugar Land area (yes I've skipped a bit of the story, but thats a whole other story) that took me completely out of my element. Although I love design and appreciate a good challenge the style in which most of the cliental in the Sugar Land area wanted just never quite appealed to me. So once again I found myself in a new environment working for a custom home builder in Magnolia, TX. Being the lead on a new construction build I began to find my own voice. For so long working for other designers I was always designing for what they preferred, never for what I thought was best for my clients. Before you go rolling your eyes, I do understand that as a young designer I had to start somewhere. I needed to learned how to stand on my own two feet as a designer and began to realize "hey I'm pretty good at this!" As my skills developed and I began to receive positive feedback for my own designs, I finally found my confidence as a designer. Once the spec house project was completed my husband gave me the push I needed to start my own company.
My Humble BeginningsWithout a large client base for design work, I started small by acquiring antique pieces at antique sales and estate sales that I could paint and flip for a small profit. It was extremely tough, I spent months draining our savings account to build up an inventory as well as gathering materials for painting furniture. I remember one saturday after hours of searching for an affordable piece to flip and coming up empty handed I broke down in my car from exhaustion. I felt beat down and really wasn't sure I would be able to keep going. So with my tail between my legs I came home and debated to myself. I had two options 1. Go back to working as an Interior Designer for someone else or 2. Keep trying to make ends meet and continue to push even harder to build my dream. It was in this moment I made the decision not to give up. I knew going out on my own would be challenging I just had no idea it would be as challenging as it was. But of course what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
Success Is Not For the LazyAs I kept pushing forward and building my client base one project at a time, my company was starting to grow. It was slowly transitioning into the design business I so desperately wanted to create. With each new client I learned a little more about what my clients wanted and how I could break into the market by changing the way people thought about an Interior Designer. My main goal was to show my clients that I was different. I refused to over charge my clients for silly things like answering an email or taking a phone call after hours. I built my company based off of affordable rates and customer service. I made myself available to my clients whenever they need me- within reason of course, but its true. I made it my goal to be a great designer doing whatever it took for my clients to literally fall in love with me and my designs. It's with each new client that I realize why I love what I do. Each new project is an adventure and with each new adventure comes challenges that must be overcome and clients expectations that must be exceeded. I do not just want my clients to like the homes they live in, I want them to love them every day and feel like their homes are a perfect reflection of them and their style as well as meeting their every day needs.
Being a Designer Today
I am still pushing every day to keep my company running and my clients 110% satisfied with my customer service. At this point my company is profitable and I am so fortunate to have the most amazing clients. There will never be a day that I will think "ok now I can relax". There is always something more I want to do or accomplish or a new client that pushes me outside my comfort zone. I am still learning new things each and ever day to ensure my clients are getting the best products and designs possible. When you own a company there is no resting on your laurels. I still work 24/7- yes this means weekends! I make it a point to answer my phone when it rings even if its 8:30pm. I even answer emails at 7am that come in after I've fallen asleep. I have no intention of slowing down anytime soon and I hope that my clients can appreciate how hard I work for each and every one of them. I still have every intention of starting a family one day, but I now believe I can have it ALL! It may be a big dream, but with hard work and organization/good time management anything is possible.
Advise I Wish Someone Would Have Given Me
SAVE SAVE SAVE!! The only way you can possibly even begin to start thinking about starting your own business is by having a nest egg that you can pull from in the beginning. Most small businesses aren't profitable until about twelve months in. If you do not have at least a years salaries saved up you probably won't make it on your own. As a small business expect to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is not an exaggeration! There is always something that needs to be done or something you can be doing to keep your company running. In the beginning every penny you make goes back into your business. Do not pull money out of your company until your company has enough money built up to keep you moving forward. Once your company is profitable do not get too excited, there will still be struggles and unforeseen obstacles that may need to overcome. Obstacles are not cheap. HAVE A PLAN!! Know where you want your company to go and have realistic expectations as to what you are capable of. NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM! If you work hard enough anything is possible.