Since I've been working at my small business for a few years now, I thought it would be great to jot down what I've learned so far, in hopes it may be of some interest to anyone else in a similar position.
Let me preface this entire series by saying this is not a tutorial on creating a small business (let along being successful at it). If I've learned anything from my failures, it's that every circumstance is different. Every business owner works differently, customers respond differently, heck the period of time we're in changes how a business will operate (looking at you 2020). A super successful month in February doesn't imply that March won't tank. So I can't tell you how to become rich quick while making your hobby your career. I haven't done that, and honestly I don't want to.
I can tell you about my successes and failures, though. And most importantly, I can explain what I've learned from them. I can describe the emotional toll this takes on not just the owner, but the family. We can talk about community and taxes and logos and oh-my-goodness should I be on ETSY?! I'll tell you everything I wish I'de known before I started a small business years ago. And I'll tell you right now that it might be completely useless information.
But it might not.
To kick off the series here's a brief run down of my history:
OklaRoots started as a public Instagram account in 2016, so that I could participate in a quilt block party. It was 100 blocks in 100 days and I'de never made a quilt, but all of a sudden I was overcome by a strong desire to sew.
After participating in the quilt along, I become absolutely hooked. Not only did I want to spend more and more of my time sewing, I wanted to create my own patterns. So I drafted up a free pattern, and started this website (oklaroots.com) to have a place to share it.
So "selling free items" doesn't require much. You need a way for people to download it, but you don't have to worry about financial information. However, if you want to get paid for your work, now it's time to think about security (you aren't going to ask folks for their credit card numbers) and making sure you're following all tax rules for your state. After researching as much as I could, I created an online shop (using Shopify and Etsy, we'll have a whole post about that later).
Spoiler alert: my pattern writing (more like pattern selling) life was short lived. About a year after I opened shop, I shut it down.
Which lead to another video, which 6 months later lead to an exponential increase in my subscribers.
And about a year and a half after shutting down the doors of shopOklaRoots, I opened them right back up. Except this time I had physical items to sell, and an incredible community who wanted to support the work I was doing.
And that's where I am now. YouTube videos every week, shop openings (with the hard working help of my mother) every month, quilt patterns back in the works and who knows what's next.
We'll dig into each of these events and lessons deeply over time. I just wanted to show you the roller coaster, and I've only just gotten started. Imagine what we'll add to this over the next 5 years.