Post-It Notes – 18th November 2011: Walk, Don’t Run

Credit: The Art of Hand Lettering

It’s quite a simple business note this week because a) I’ve been poorly (oh woe is me, seriously Gareth is so annoyed with my ‘milking it’ as he lovingly puts it!) and b) I’ve been working on my notes for my first blogging workshop* (which I’ve dubbed School of Rock (n Roll Bride) haha I know I’m just that cool) which is taking place in London NEXT WEEK so I’m a little bit exhausted of thinking about business type stuff if I’m honest!

Nevertheless, this is still a very worthwhile lesson for us all. Write it on a post it note and stick it above your computer, go on!

Don’t run before you can walk.

When you’re new to an industry it’s easy to want to want to try and ‘catch up’ to your competition as quickly as possible. One way many people try (and often fail) to do this is by doing too much too quickly. For example I’ve seen new wedding blogs pop up left right and centre over the past few months and already quitting their full time jobs (like seriously, you girls need to tell me how you’re doing this, it took me 3 years to be able to make enough money to support myself, am I missing some massive trick over here?), taking on advertisers, organising parties and meets, taking part in photo shoots, writing for magazines…hold it there sista!

While it’s great to have goals and to want to explore other avenues as part of your business, the most important thing you need to do as a new business is to get really good at being YOU. You need to hone your basic skills and get to know your industry back to friggin’ front.

It’s so tempting to run full steam ahead with every idea you have to take every opportunity that comes your way (read my blog post on saying no for advice on this one!) but you know what you’re really doing? You’re spreading yourself too thin and diluting your brand. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ right?

Get REALLY GOOD at doing what you started out to do and then after some time work on other ventures to extend that perfectly defined brand. The great thing about starting your own business is that you make the rules. There are no deadlines (especially if it’s a business, like blogging for example, that you can do while still maintaining a full time job) and you certainly don’t need to ‘catch up’ to anybody. Go at your own pace and make everything you do brilliant.

Trying too many things at once or launching lots and lots of ideas at the same time can be more detrimental to a young business than you might think. Do you want to a) annoy the more established guys within your industry? b) burn out? c) confuse your clients? d) deliver luke warm ideas?

No? Well STOP. Stop and get really good at doing the one thing you set out to do before you spread your wings and expand.


*The School of Rock (n Roll Bride) is currently full until the end of 2011, however we will be taking new admissions for 2012 classes soon!

28 comments

  1. I think the people who quit their jobs pretty much straight after launching don’t have that many financial commitments or worries. I’d love to see the look on my bank managers face if I wanted to do that! It is really hard trying to launch something for yourself whilst also holding down a full time job – and if I’m honest I’ve been the opposite to the full steam ahead brigade, I’ve been scared and tentative and only recently given myself the full go ahead – but if you want to do something then you’ll do it no matter how hard it is! (I do wish I could quit my job though)

  2. I think this is great advice. I think it’s very easy to get excited when you are starting something new. I have been doing my wedding stationery for over 10 years, but I still want to have my full time job. I quite like having the balance between the two, because they are do different!

  3. I just want to whole heartedly co-sign on this as I am very guilty attempting to be and Entrepreneurial Olympian, and the last 12 months were a gap business year of sorts as I had to refine, rejig, and rethink so much – and I am glad that I did!

    The great thing about going slow is you get time to think, you can evaluate and test things out, and more than that you can learn. I am still learning, I hope I never stop. And when you do take it slow what do create in the end is likely to be epic! Such sound advice!

    By all means if you are ready, you are ready… but this year I learnt in more ways than one that slow and steady wins the race. I’m not hating people need to do their own thing, but that Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare had a good point.

  4. This is great advice and I need reminding of this ALL the time. You can be so keen to get going you can easily forget the amount of time and effort you need to put in to create something of quality.

    I’ve learnt the hard way that I have to pare stuff back and only set goals I know I can deliver. You see people doing so much and you want a piece of that pie but getting there will take time and you can’t expect to be a success overnight.

    When I consider how many hours a day I put in just to keep on top of stuff I’m staggered at what other people can and have achieved. So I know it can be done, but it’s all about the long game.

    You need to have a long term strategy, understand where you fit in the market and what your unique selling point is. If you don’t have one then, you need to start thinking hard about what you have to offer that sets you apart. This also helps you keep true to your brand and ensure you aren’t just veering off for quick wins. This is sooooooooo tempting to do but won’t help you in the long run.

    There’s no such thing as an overnight success!

  5. This note has really hit the mark for me. It is so, so hard running a business full time and scary when when you haven’t enough orders to pay the rent some months and then so many another you can’t stop to catch a breath. This happens a lot in this industry, but with really hard work you come through it. I still have days when I wish I had a day job just to take the pressure off a little.
    I myself need to slow down a bit too and concentrate on what I’m great at in my niche. Thanks Kat. x

  6. You’ve hit the nail on the head.
    I think the most important thing you said is ‘get really good at being YOU.’ I have actually very recently been having debate over that very issue with other people in the industry. I think so many people are trying too hard to be ‘cool’ and what they think people will lap up. The frustrating things is that sometimes, because this industry can be fickle, it works, and you get people placed on a pedestal because they’re perceived to be ‘cool’, whatever ‘cool’ is, despite the fact that they’re actually not any better than a whole load of other people who don’t have their cool factor going on.
    People expect a certain level of quality from service providers, but the level of expectation is often not as high as service providers think. What matters SO much is the person behind the business.
    Reminds me of Dragons Den, and the recent programme with Peter Jones on entrepreneurs. To summarise one key point: people don’t invest in a business plan, they invest in the person behind it.
    So if a person in a business is really themselves and knows who they are, it’s half the battle.

  7. Great advice – I’ve been blogging for a while now, and whilst I’ve quit my job (for unrelated reasons) I know it’s too early to see the blog as my main revenue stream. It takes time to build up your voice and there are many ideas that you should experiment with before you have to worry about upsetting advertisers.

  8. Matthew Long

    Excellent advice Kat, thanks very much. I’m in the process of setting up my photography business and am struggling to hold myself back and focus on what really matters, producing the highest quality photographs I can. I could hit the social media all day with blogs, tweets and status updates but the brand is the images and if they’re not right, I might as well give up now.
    Love the blog, i will keep reading for sure.

  9. There must be an awful stage in the middle though for people looking to give up their full time job to run their own business. You don’t want to leave your job until you know your business is big enough, but getting your business to that stage whilst still working full time must be quite a testing time!!

    Kat what was the trigger that made you decide, “right I’m ready to take that leap”? Did you set yourself a target to reach?

    Cheers,
    Tori

  10. a great article for so many reasons, and applicable to so many different types of businesses… i find myself in this position every time, and find it so tough at times to remind myself to take it at “my” pace, and based on “my” capabilities, which is so vital for true business growth, creative growth, profitability and most importantly, customer satisfaction..

  11. Thank you, Kat, for such sound advice.
    I’ve started my blog as a way to keep my wedding planning business ‘dream’ alive. I wanted to write about weddings so that I didn’t feel oppressed by my previous job. However, having a media planning and buying background, I quickly realised that my passion for weddings and writing could have given me an income, and so I continued with my blog.
    At the same time, though, I realised that if I compare myself to other new bloggers who started at the same time as me and are at much more advanced stage as me, I would not only get depressed fast (because there is no way I could ever do what they do holding a day job and trying to set up my wedding planning business at the same time), but I would also fail.

    Setting unrealistic goals is detrimental to any business, and in our case, it also has the potential to damage the relationship with those around us who love us, and who don’t get to spend time with us as much as they used to because we are constantly typing on our computers.

    I had a time, less than 2 months from starting, when I was getting about 1000 visits a month. I felt good about it and wanted to press on at full-steam, but then I hit a wall. One of the many clips by J* helped me re-evaluate things, and now I’m taking things slowly, spending more time making plans for the future than actually writing. Of course I want to be a successful blogger, but I want that to happen when the time is right.

    I hope, sincerely, that I get to come to one of your future seminars (I’m sure there are so much more to come!). Yours is the first wedding blog I ever landed on, and from that day, nothing has been the same.

    Stay fabulous, as our friend would say!

    x Betta

  12. Totes agree with this Kat, and I think it not only applies to business but life in general. After my wedding I have made myself slow down like no other because life’s too short and its way better to do fewer things better than loads of things that are just average. Or worse, do loads of things badly and think you have been better off not doing them at all. It’s nice to have a reminder once in a while though xx

  13. Sound advice! I am amazed at all the wedding blogs that seem to be around for about a week before they take on sponsors and not that I’m a full time blogger but it’s taken me aaaaagges to be able to go full time. I don’t know why everyone’s in such a rush, life is much more fun when you have time to smell the roses as they say.

  14. Fab post (again) Kat!
    I’ve recently culled a few of my design ranges and gotten rid of some of the extra products and services so that I can concentrate more on just the invitations as i was trying to do way too much all at once! So yes, excellent advice! x

    P.S Hope you feel better for the workshop and Anna’s ringbash next Friday!

  15. Post author

    Tori – yes I set myself a goal so I was earning x amount a month from the blog which was the basic we could live on to cover mortgage bills etc.I was also very lucky that the kind of job I had meant I was offered freelance shifts when I left if u wanted/needed them. However I’m pleased to say that cos I waited so long I even managed to save some money (working 2 jobs doesn’t leave much time for shopping!) So I’ve never needed to take them up on their offer.

  16. Thanks for yet another thought provoking Post It Note Kat. I have just branched out into blogging as an add on to my all ready established full time business. Whilst making toppers will always be my passion i am really enjoying blogging, its kind of therapeutic.
    I found myself thinking about “my brand” or lack of, the other day. I love weddings, creativity, travel and bright, funky colours. Marrying the lot into one brand probably wont work, but i’m having fun in the meantime, in my own little bubble!
    I think a lot of people may see blogging weddings as easy, but its not, it takes a LOT of hard work, dedication and patience. So i’m crawling before i can walk, with not very much confidence but a million ideas whizzing around my head.
    I just wrote that post it note and it pinned above my desk ;)
    Thanks x

  17. Such a great discussion.

    There is confidence and then there is a sort of faux arrogance.

    I enjoy being the tortoise. I enjoy being me.

  18. This post sums up exactly what I’m going through at the moment. I set myself unrealistic targets and then stress that I’m not hitting them. Thanks for this Kat it’s made me realise I’m not failing.

    Optimism is one thing but being a mental lady who thinks she can do 8 million things a day AND keep on top of the hoovering AND oh yeah, raise 2 uncooth mancubs is not going to get you very far, just burnt out.

  19. So true. Im still dipping my toe in the water, and Im not sure I will ever earn enough to give up the full time job, but I will keep trying. The fulkl time job offers the financial security.
    I must admit I have have had loads of ideas re expansion, but Im still perfecting the original ideas that I had, so lots of stuff on the back burner for now.

  20. Why would you get lynched? Its great, honest advice!

    When I left my day job to go full time as a freelance photographer, I waited until I got to the point where I had enough freelance work that I started to resent having a 9-5 job as it was holding me back. I’d built up a steady stream of clients that could cover my bills and – although you can never totally feel safe on freelance work – it was enough for me to make the smooth transition over without too many sleepless nights!

    And I think you’re right about focusing on being a good version of ‘YOU’ – trying to follow someone else’s won’t give you a USP. Find your own niche and run with that in your own time!

  21. Very well written Kat & such a good point to address to newcomers (Myself being one of them). Detail is the key. And as everyone says – It’s quality over quantity any day! – Rach.XX

  22. I totally agree, I work in a variety of creative areas which could confuse prospective clients. I’m planning on spending time in December to really work out a decent plan for my site and freelance business. I’m primarily a designer who likes to blog all the things I see online (not necessarily weddings) and am bricking it about the prospect of giving up my full time job to work full time doing something I love, hopefully this is the plan – but’s it’s been the plan for the past 2 years (hello mortgage!)

    These posts are so super helpful, they through up things really worth considering, keep em coming Kat x

  23. Post author

    Thanks Lyndsay im so glad you’ve found them helpful! with this post i am all about people following their dreams but i do think its important for people to take it sloooowly and get really good at doing what they wanna do before steaming ahead and doing more more more!

    i can only speak from my own experience of course but thats what i did (i only quit my job this year!) and its working out ok for me!

  24. This is such a great blog post, and so relevant to me! I have quit the city job (again for other reasons too), and am now focusing on my new company. It does feel very alien to your usual desk job (in a good way!) And also very scary at times.
    What I have found helps is meeting and talking to lovely wedding suppliers and working with people who genuinely want your business to do well – ie. avoid getting sucked by the big advertising opportunities as they just want your money!
    Still feel like a fish out of water at times, but I’m determined and love the industry and what I have to offer it.

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