Last night I gave this talk about the 10 things I have learned about owning my own business. The Anchor Club from Winder Barrow High School came over to see The Pearl Girls shop and we went out for dinner and my presentation. What an amazingly bright group of students! I am sure they have much to teach me! I feel so compelled to share with young women how truly wonderful they are. I don't thing young women all hear the message of their awesomeness. I think sometimes when they hear that they are highly emotional no one mentions that it is because they are highly intuitive too. Who tells a girl that she can truly follow her own inner guide instead of listening to the voices around her?
I am still learning as I go but, as of today, here are the the 10 things I have learned about owning my own business.
Enthusiasm is everything.
I am super enthusiastic about pearls, about everything to do with pearls, pearl jewelry, etc. I do not consider myself a good sales woman but my enthusiasm trumps everything. I love my business and my enthusiasm is probably the sole reason we have survived and thrived. I truly love what I do and as long as I love it, I will keep doing it!
If I don't love it, I have to stop doing it
On that note... I have gotten to the point where I am physically unable to do things I do not enjoy! Our company started as a direct sales company. I love direct sales and the opportunity to give jobs to women. However, the more women we brought on, the more my job shifted from being an awesome pearl loving buyer, traveler, creator and more. Suddenly I began managing people. So, we shifted out of direct sales and my happiness soared once again.
Go with my gut
People have opinions. Lots of people, lots of opinion. I have learned not to over think or over listen to anything. Instead, I have learned to let my inner spark drive our organization. After we were featured in Southern Living Magazine in 2011, business soared. We were busy and sales were booming. So, I though, I need to hire a PR company! More PR = more sales = a bigger boom. I chatted with a company and I felt good about them but before I started working with them, these little signed showed up. Three significant signs and I ignored them. I went with the company even though my gut told me to run. And they ended up doing a horrible job for a lot of money. Lesson learned! Now I know my intuition is the strongest thing I have and I listen to the small signs that pop up.
People have opinions. Honor your own opinion first.
On that same note, do you know how many people tell me to diversify? They tel me that NO ONE can have just a pearl jewelry business and I need to diversify and include gemstones and diamonds. Thank goodness I have learned to go with my gut! My passion is pearls and as long as that is what I love and what drives me, we will not diversify! I love honoring my own opinion! It makes me feel stronger!
Cut myself some slack
Why am I my worst critics? I would never talk to other people the way I sometimes talk to myself! When I had my children I realized all those times that my parents thought I was awesome when I didn't think so. But suddenly I realized with my own children, I feel the same way. They do not have to do anything to win my love and they certainly cannot do anything to lose it. What if I can hold myself with the same loving energy? That would be awesome! Im trying… starting with cutting myself some slack!
Define yourself by who you are not by what you do or what you have!
Cue the Madonna... we live in a material world! But, no problem, right? There is always someone richer, cuter, funnier, skinnier.. you get the picture. I am myself and I want to honor and love myself. So I define myself by being happy with who I am, with choosing actions I can live with, by being fair, open and honest and living my life with integrity.
Things change, I change.
Thank goodness! I am not carved in stone and I do not believe other people have to be too! I can change and adapt and love something one day and not love it the next and change my mind. How many times have I changed my mind? I change my mind about events I want to participate in, people I want to work with, etc. I have changed my mind on everything from the direction the business is going in to products I want to carry to business relationship I want to cultivate. Some of this is gut drive, some in logical but either way, no problem. Things change, I change. I no longer beat myself up over wanting to change!
Stay fluid and curious
On that note, it is so much FUN not to carve myself in stone. Last year we operated The Pearl Girls in a warehouse on Barber St at the back of a coffee roasting shop. You had to drive through a chain link fence and park next to building materials to come see us. But people started stopping by and shopping. Up until this point, I thought we were an online-only business. I stayed open to people’s desire to come see us and in January I opened our official store on Hawthorne. I had to stay open to realize people wanted a store. And with our storefront we have doubled sales. So, woo hoo! I love staying open and curious. I know we will continue to be successful and I am so excited and curious to see how we grow and expand!
Feelings are valid, they just aren't always real
Somedays I feel like business is awful and I need to close my doors. Some days I feel like I am the most successful woman on the planet. I believe we should always honor and respect our own feelings HOWEVER, I realize that how I feel does not necessarily reflect what is really going on! So I just say, my feelings are valid but they aren't always real. And in those super down days, I recognize even if we are having a slow day, the overall thrust is towards growth and expansion, so that is great! But I still get down! And I still honor myself no matter what I am feeling.
Authenticity is Awesome
You know that commercial, never let them see you sweat? Wrong. We all sweat. Authenticity is the fastest way to connect with people. So much cooler and easier than putting on a show or being something you aren’t! And on that note, I love being authentically excited about The Pearl Girls business and our growth and successes! So I don't have to be authentically self-deprecating. I can be authentically excited too. But authenticity and being true to who I am is something truly awesome that I have learned.
Here I am with the amazing young ladies from the Winder Barrow High Anchor Club!