Our CEO and Founder Eve Hardcastle opens up about what she has learned so far creating Wolf and Mermaid an Eco-friendly Yoga product company. She offers advice, tips and honestly on startup life. She shares it all, the ups and downs the twists and turns and how to keep strong and focused. If you’re thinking about starting your own business or you’ve already started we’d love for you share your thoughts and ideas.
10 things I have learned about starting a creative business…
- The highs are super highs and the lows are super lows
I can’t describe to you the feeling when you get your first sale, you’ll never forget it. You’ll maybe cry a little bit and do a happy dance or maybe you’ll squeeze the customer so hard they will look at you a bit strange. Whether is the first sale, getting the first samples through the post, or making your first wholesale order- the highs feel incredible, but the lows can feel so bad that you dive nose first into some of the worse feelings in the world. If your heart is invested, as often in start-ups it is, there are some moments that feel like heart ache.
- You can’t do it alone
To get through those lows and to share the highs you need people around you that support you and your business no matter what.
When I first started I often wanted and thought I could do it all myself. How wrong I was! You need a strong team around you, whether that be friends and family or colleagues. You need to know your own weaknesses too and bring in people to help you with the things you aren’t so good at. It’s good to bounce ideas with other people who are also running their own businesses, some of the most valuable conversations I’ve had is with other entrepreneurs that are further along the track than me.
Speaking to other entrepreneurs or following other companies on Instagram can sometimes make you feel deflated because you ultimately compare where they are 5 years into where you are 6 months in. It takes time to build, like a house, you have to get the foundations right before you start building the roof and start filling the insides. Also sometimes in the set-up of a new business, there is some waiting around. I am the least patient person and waiting for my samples felt slow and irritating. Rome wasn’t built in a day as the phrase goes so you need to patient and continue to grow.
- . You’ll make mistakes
In growing the business you will also grow yourself – often the biggest times I have grown is through the mistakes I made. Whenever people told me about mistakes I’d make I’d laugh and say “ha! I never will make mistakes like that guy!” But I’m here to tell you, you might not make that guy’s mistakes but you’ll make some big ones yourself! Learn from the mistakes, don’t ever think you are a failure – look at them objectively and see how you can learn and grow from them.
You need a big cup of perseverance every month. If you’re like me and you usually don’t see great ideas or projects through till the end, finding this cup of perseverance all the time will be a challenge. Often, I’ve wanted to give up along the way, I’ve thought about stopping it all, moving to a tropical island and selling coconuts instead. Through the lows and the mistakes, you’ll need to keep going no matter what. You’ll need to dig deep and ask yourself why you want this? How badly do you want this? And how are you going to move forward and past whatever hurdle is currently in front of you?
- Take breaks
If you love what you are doing and you’re passionate about making it happen and it will consume your head in ways you’ve never experienced before. You’ll wake up at 4am to iron bolsters, you’ll be doing emails till midnight and you’ll be in constant day-dream like states either planning the next collection or worrying about sales and Instagram followers. It can feel all-consuming and your head can start to get stuck into thinking one way about things. When things all get a bit too much, a great friend of mine told me to take a break. Turn your phone off, leave your laptop and go take a break. A day off won’t make a difference to the thing you’re worried about. If it gives your poor brain a break then do it. Often when you come back to work it out, you’ll be back with more energy and 10 more solutions to the problem instead of being stuck.
- You’ll need money and maths
I’ve read stories of people that have set up multi-million pound businesses from nothing – and some part of me still doesn’t believe it to be true. How do they do it? In the words of Donald, “My father gave me a small loan…” and if you don’t have a loan or an investor it will very difficult. Mainly because something rarely comes from nothing and money doesn’t grow on trees. The cost of setting up a business isn’t cheap and I was naïve to this. Maths and money have never been my strong point but they need to become so if you want to make a successful business. If like me and you’re creative, you’ll need family or friends (or you’ll need to hire someone) who can do the accounts for you. If you get the numbers wrong you’ll not make it very far and you’ll run out of funds. Lots of creatives hate hearing this part because we are dreamers – but math needs to become your friend as much as the dreaming part.
One of the first things you’ll need to know is your market, do your market research. What does this mean? It basically means, makes sure that the product or service you’re selling actually has a place in the market. It’s like the new cheeses from Waitrose that they test by handing out free samples. The most popular cheese will go into production. Why? Because it sells. Another great friend of mine told me recently that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be a great salesman. I hate salesmen. When I think of a salesman I think of those people that try and sell you cleaning products at your front door. Or those really annoying shop assistants that ask if you need any help every two minutes. But my friend is very, very right. Whatever you’re selling style is you’ll definitely need one. Don’t be scared by this because you’ll know the products or service better than anyone because it’s yours. You are the best person to sell it – so…sell it. If no one knows about it you won’t get the sales. No sales, no business. Like the people at flower markets “£5 for roses go on treat ya self £5, £5, £5 a bunch a’ roses!” You need to constantly be telling people about your business. Shouting and sharing all the time constantly. I’m still learning to do this. Don’t be shy tell people what you are doing and they might know someone who can help you with the parts your struggling with!
- Strong vision
With money, a great team and a great position within the market you’ll still need a strong vision. Something again I struggle with as I get easily distracted. My partner often gets me to look at my bigger and greater vision. Where are you heading to? What’s the bigger goal? It’s really easy to get swept along with the onslaught of emails, sale pitches, meetings, and the rises and falls of each day. So, it’s good to have a strong vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve. Whether that’s finically or personally. I’m a visual person if you couldn’t tell already 😉 so I make a vision board with pictures. You can make one too and you can print the images off or make it on Pinterest. Whatever helps you to plan and organize the bigger steps to where you want to get.
- Review, review, review
One thing that will keep you motivated and also keep the business healthy and bouncy is reviewing. Review every month, every week or even every day. What could you do better? How can you make your products better? What isn’t working? What is working? How can you improve your website? Listen to your customers are they all saying the same feedback? Ask them questions! Ask them what they think!
All these questions help you to prune and trim your business like a magical garden. Refining and readjusting all the time helps to elevate the business and also helps you to stay focused and full of clarity. Getting others to help you review is also so valuable – to have 10 ideas on how to review will be far more valuable than 1 idea.
A great friend of mine, Yummyyogagirl believes Together is Better. And she couldn’t be more right!
If you are thinking of starting your own business or you already have we’d love to hear from you!
Email us at info@wolf_and_mermaid.co.uk