When did you know that working for yourself was going to, well, work? What made you feel legit enough to say, “I own my own business”? Maybe it was your first customer (who wasn’t your mom!) or a check made out to your business name. Or perhaps you’re still wondering if your endeavor will succeed. In this series we’re asking entrepreneurs, “How did you know when your business was Really for Real?”
Entrepreneur: Jennifer Creighton
Business: Function Pottery
With her functional pottery selling in 28 stores throughout the U.S. and her Etsy sales currently approaching 3000, Jennifer Creighton can safely consider her business to be a success. She fell in love with pottery making while taking a class in college and continued to study the art form after graduating. After deciding to turn her passion into a full-time gig, Jennifer knew it was working when ...
“I got on Etsy and saw that people who didn't know me or hadn't met me chose me out of a slew of other choices, I knew I had something good going on. Makers can earn a living doing art fairs, but it’s quite difficult as they can be extremely unpredictable because they're a ton of work with no guarantee of income. Once the online store took off, I felt optimistic. I’m always busy and I have very few slow seasons these days.”
The rest, as they say, is history!
When did you realize that you were “Really for Real” in business?
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I knew my business was Really for Real when I had to explain to others what it is I do... My first specialty was radio productions so people would ask, do you work for thus-and-such station? I'd have to explain, well, you do hear my work there but I made it independently... At some point, my response evolved into a statement about being an independent and ultimately a proud declaration that, in fact, I for myself! It was a slow process for me that matched the slow realization of what I was doing.
I still don't know if my business will work because I haven't launched my product yet. The thing I keep coming back to is something I hear Seth Godin say over and over - you don't need millions of followers to make a business - you need a small tribe of dedicated people who love what you do. The more I talk to people about what I'm trying to create, the better I get at honing my message, which means I'm getting better at figuring out what my business should be doing to help people. Talking to people helps me realize what they need from a business like mine and makes me realize that my business will work. Whether it will make me rich or not is another story, but I think if you're in it to be rich, it's going to be a painful journey. If you're in it to solve problems (both the problems your business encounters along the way as well as your customer's) - you're likely on the right track!
I am more orthodox or maybe old fashioned in my approach. I took a contract before I quit my job. Mine is an online bookkeeping and accounting services firm. I do bookkeeping for an Accounting firm currently. I had the contract made before I quit my job. The idea of being without the Fixed and Timely income that jobs give us was scary to me. I am on the lookout for more Clients. I initially hired one bookkeeper. So there are just two of us in the office currently. But I earn more than what I was making when I had my job. Also have more flexible timings. Its just the third month. As time goes by I become more confident that my business will grow. :smileyhappy:
Thanks so much for sharing that, @cruberti! I read and enjoyed "Tribes" too, and since I've come to QB Community I've discovered that Seth Godin's approach meshes very well with Intuit co-founder Scott Cook's idea of "love metrics," i.e., "how much people love the product, how often they come back, how delighted they are." If just one person truly loves your product or service then you can build to five and then ten, and so on. With that perspective the process of starting a new business can feel much less daunting.
You may have yet to launch your product, but it sounds like you've already got a compelling and well-crafted "business story" and a growing network of fans who are just waiting to be delighted! I hope you'll keep us updated on your progress!
Hey @Sangeethmathew - congrats on "going indie" by opening your own shop! Lining up a good client prior to making the leap is always a smart move (LOL, sometimes "old fashioned" and "tried and true" can be used interchangeably). Just curious: What inspired you to strike out on your own? Why now?