1827 days ago, on Friday 17th July 2015, I walked out of the office for the final time with excitement and trepidation of what my ‘new’ life would hold.
It’s safe to say that the last few months of the past year have been the hardest so far…
Running a small business is extremely rewarding, but also very hard work. There’s nothing quite like the added challenges of a pandemic to test how adaptable your business model is, and how flexible and open to change you are as an individual.
One of the advantages of being a small business owner is if something isn’t working, or needs amending, you can make changes or try something new fairly quickly. But, you need to be open-minded enough to do it and work out the financial costs too.
This path I chose for myself means I don’t get sick pay or paid holidays. In the current landscape, I also don’t qualify for the furlough scheme, can’t claim Universal Credit, and certainly don’t want to be saddled with the burden of paying back a Government grant. This is why being adaptable is key.
I know that I’ve been one of the lucky ones by being able to keep some things running. This is just one viewpoint, the one from my perspective.
I’ve gone from teaching multiple face-to-face classes each week, supporting a fellow small business owner by holding the majority of them in a local independent cafe, to running online classes with postal project kits.
Thankfully, we were lucky enough to already have everything I needed to quickly set up a makeshift home ‘studio’ and start running classes again within a week. Lots of things were (and still are) being tweaked and refined, and planning has been ‘interesting’. Rather than sorting multiple class bags and heading off to teach, I now prepare individual craft packs, take walks to the postbox and look at people on a screen. I also have a love/hate relationship with ZOOM!
On the other hand (pun intended), my mobile nail technician business is not going anywhere at the moment. After taking a few months off nails, I had planned to relaunch around Easter. And we all know what we was happening then!
To fill this ‘gap’, I launched ‘Stitched, by Karen’, making items other people need, starting with face coverings. This new strand to HIPPOFROG Designs is something I can do on my own, without having direct contact with others.
When looking for a skill or product to meet a need, most people will go with the cheapest option. Often, this rules out small businesses as what is offered isn’t normally comparable. We can’t offer huge discounts like the chains, don’t have the buying power of larger companies, and aren’t able to offer regular free incentives or special offers.
We are, however, offering handmade, unique and bespoke items that take time and effort to produce, using skills that have taken years to build. Or we’re providing services that require a lot of initial and continual training. Don’t forget that you also receive a more personalised level of customer service too as you’re not just a number.
We, like all businesses have overheads, from base materials, tools and equipment, training, public liability insurance, etc. We also need to be able to work for an hourly rate that is at least the minimum wage.
Please don’t say that something is ‘too expensive’. It’s a fair price that has been calculated for what is being offered. It’s just more than YOU are willing to pay for it.
I’d love to be able to offer things for free during these uncertain times, but I can’t pay the bills with ‘free’.
Even with the uncertainties and challenges during these 5 years, I still don’t regret my decision to leave and am happy running a small business doing things I love.
Some things are still constant, such as not liking doing my tax return and always ending up putting it off until January each year. Even with spending more time at home, it’s not been top of my list of things to sort out!
The Boss is still a bit demanding, but I manage to keep her happy with regular gifts of chocolate!
On a more serious note, without the support of a lot of fabulous people, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So a huge THANK YOU to YOU – family, friends, customers, clients, class attendees, team members, the lurkers (yes, you!), and everyone else who has supported my various ventures during these 5 amazing years.
I look forward to the next (hopefully slightly less eventful) 5 years!
If you’ve made it to the end of this rather long post, thank you for taking the time to read it!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading back to my craft room to create some pretty things…