The Fears of Running a Small Business
Lately I've been thinking a lot about my journey with Gingiber. When I was a little kid, all I wanted to be was an artist, or a professional softball player (what can I say, A League of Their Own had a profound impact on me). I remember being in high school, quietly sketching portraits of friends and family. I still thought that maybe I could go to a great Art Institute and figure out how to make this "art" thing work as a career. On holiday breaks, my parents would have me carry around my "portfolio" of work to show off for relatives. During college, I was determined to be the best art student that any of my professors had ever encountered.
But after college, I lost focus. The reality of being a young, married adult sucked the color right out of my life. Then one day, I listed some illustrations on Etsy. Eventually I got my first sale. And slowly, I found so much joy and fulfillment in being an illustrator as my sales grew! It was then that I realized that maybe I could become a successful artist on my own terms.
I quit my day job almost 3 years ago. And the past 3 years have been filled with incredible highs (hello Land of Nod collaboration!) and several lows (failed product launches, stalled sales, etc). I'm about to have my 3rd child, and lately I have been wondering if Gingiber can last. Do I have what it takes to navigate the changing dynamics of online sales? How do I keep the brand relevant? How do I reach my customers and compel them to purchase?
You see, I feel like all of us small businesses are in a "rat race" of sorts. We are all driven to have better websites, better product photos, and exude all of the confidence in the world to our audiences. But you know what? I think that in reality, none of us feel like we can really show our cards. I will openly say that I get scared. I run a SMALL business. It is me, my sister, and a production assistant. I am the only full time employee. Daily I wake up hopeful that sales will be good, that I will pursue the right opportunities, and make savvy business decisions. Yet by the end of the day, I if I've only had a few sales (where last year I would have had 20-30) usually feel defeated.
I don't know what the answer is. Is my market overly saturated? Do my customers no longer connect with me, the person behind Gingiber? Do the glossy photos and the apparent "success" of the brand no longer compel customers to make purchases?
Daily I pray that sales go up. I hope that my holiday yields a dynamic season. I hope that I can pay myself. Pay my employees, and pay those pesky taxes. But most of all, I pray for longevity, and that 20 years from now I can still be creating and living this crazy, hard, ever changing dream of being a successful artist.
Do any of you ever feel this way? Surely I am not the only small business owner out there feeling a little lost? Like the old formula just doesn't work anymore? Are customers not buying? Because all of the affirmation in the world feels empty if you can't move your inventory.