Today All She Wrote Notes turns 5! I can hardly believe it, because it seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in my bed, on my iPhone 4 hitting publish on my very first Instagram post. I had one follower, (which was me on my other account!) but today there are more than 30,000 followers across social media. None of this happened overnight. I grew slowly, one order at a time, one customer at a time, one dollar at a time and one life stage at a time, really. I couldn't be more grateful that this gets to be my job. I'm not much of a blogger, but I couldn't let this occasion go by without sharing a few words, So here we go.
Five things I've learned in Five years in Business
1. It cost's nothing to encourage.
Lighting someone else's candle doesn't make mine shine any less bright. This goes for liking, commenting, sharing posts of other small businesses. I never stopped being a cheerleader. And I SO appreciate my customers and friends being mine. I wouldn't be here today without my two best friends Laura and Andrea telling me that I should sell these note cards online because they would totally buy them! You can spread joy, positivity, encouragement, even business advice. When I first started teaching lettering classes people close to me panicked thinking I was "giving away all my secrets" but there is plenty to go around. As my friend Caroline once told me "when you are true to yourself, you have no competition in the world." I totally feel like I got to where I am today because I was willing to SHARE. Plus, some really great mentors ahead of me helped and encouraged me early on (Thank you Kelly, Kristen, Amber, Lara, Ashley and so many more).
2. Start Right Where You Are, With Exactly What You Have.
If you wait until you have everything perfect, you will never get started. It's okay to grow slow. I didn't even have INTERNET when I started five years ago. At that time, financially I couldn't afford it. I didn't have a computer, a printer, a website, logo, business cards. NONE of it. Everything for the first 1.5 years was manually written by hand (even 300 cards for Southern Weddings!) But I still started. I didn't have any expectations for All She Wrote Notes, I just wanted to craft something that I loved, and make other people happy in the process. It's okay to grow slow. Take your time and let your business FUND big purchases instead of going into debt to get started. Your first customers will likely be facebook friends you already know, so test the waters there and SHARE share share your work. If you aren't excited, nobody else will be excited. Check out these links to all of my "firsts."
3. I AM Here to Make Friends.
It's no secret that attending Conferences has been a highlight every year I've been in business. In the last four years, I've even been invited back to speak at some of my favorite conferences which was a dream come true! I have made the BEST relationships and friendships because I invested in the ticket (with biz profits) and made it happen. But the thing is, when I went to these conferences -- I was there to make friends. I put myself out there, I stayed up late, I asked a second question and I opened up. You belong there. Don't ever be too shy (or worse, too important) to introduce yourself by name. There is ALWAYS somebody out there who has never heard of you.
On social media, my goal is always to treat my followers as my friends. I post more on @allshewrotenotes than I ever think to post on my personal channels. I share about our life, I ask for advice and I do my best to respond to my messages and comments just as I would if I had 10 followers I knew personally. My mission for my business is to spread happiness through my handwriting. I want to give more than I take and I appreciate their relationships. My goal is to treat everybody with the same kindness, whether it's the keynote speaker or the waitstaff clearing food. Whether they 1 follower or one million fans, Invest in those who invest in you.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are going to be hard seasons and many late nights of hustle, but that craziness will not last forever. I like to think I busted my youknowwhat in the beginning so I only have "sprints" of hustle now--- Not a full out marathon all year just busy weeks or busy days here and there. Having Vance changed my work habits in the best way! At first, I left a 9-5 job to work a 24-7, But now I have very specific working hours 3 days a week in which I have to be a productivity machine.
I could never do all of this alone or during naptime. I do this with a ton of help. My sister Kasey is my hero. She helps with Vance 3 days a week in addition to being able to do anything I need help with upstairs at ASWN. My parents watch V every Thursday, Chris is ALWAYS understanding when I have to work. Even our next door neighbor (who's 13) LOVES to help sticker packages and help with V when I am in a pinch. We have super supportive family, too, even though they all live about 40 minutes away. I've hired everything from a graphic designer, business coach, accountant, house cleaner, photographer, videographer, hourly child care, dog sitter, meal delivery service -- you name it. I don't need this kind of help all the time, but I can't clone myself and I LOVE watching other people shine when they get to do what they are REALLY good at. That frees me up to do my best work in the areas that it most benefits me and my business, too.
5. God Has a Plan For My Life
And he already knows what's coming next. I could tell you SO much more, but nothing is more important than this. In the past 5 years my faith has strengthened into a real relationship with God. Watching how He works through me and my business and how I feel like He's given me this platform to encourage others and spread happiness astounds me daily. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be the girl at Animal Quakers gift store who wrote the names in paint marker on all of the school supplies. I get to write pretty names for a living every day. I actually went to Carolina to major in Broadcast Journalism to be a news anchor on TV -- I didn't quite make it there, but I've been on the news, I speak in front of a live audience every single week and I just launched an online class today where I look JUST like a news anchor sitting at my desk. It's all coming full circle for me and It's so clear that God already knew the plan. It just looks differently than I imagined. It looks better.
I have most certainly had my share of failures in life. You wouldn't believe how many doors were slammed in my face at one time or another. But God has helped me turn all of my mistakes into confetti. And I feel like I am put here on this earth to share the message that you can too.
Thank you for being here, thank you for taking this ride with me. I am so grateful for you! I will keep showing up here as long as you will have me. Here's to the next five years and beyond.
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that's all she wrote!