Four Things I Learned During My First Year As A Solopreneur

During my last buying trip for  ANGELIKI's  Fall Winter Collection. January 2015 Athens, Greece

During my last buying trip for ANGELIKI's Fall Winter Collection. January 2015 Athens, Greece

1. You become an expert before you know it

When I first registered my domain name for my e-shop in September 2014 I never heard of search engine optimization (SEO) or Google Analytics before. I also never used Pinterest before. There was so much I didn't know about running an online shop, but I am so glad I didn't let that keep me from pursuing it. Many of the skills I use everyday are self-taught and the learning never stops. When I see sales after launching a new product or creating a Facebook Ad it's always exciting to see what you have learned is actually working. The takeaway from this is you don't need to know everything before you get started. You are always learning and before you know it you will find yourself showing the ropes to another business owner.

2. Online only, so email is important

When you are running the ship by yourself and in one day you have to schedule two Instagram posts, an email newsletter, shoot two products, and ship new orders it's hard to stay on top of the emails that are coming in each hour. When I wrap up at the end of the day and as I'm getting into bed thinking about what's still on my to-do list, it's always the unanswered emails that are left behind that weigh heavy on my mind. Since having an e-shop is 'online only,' email is important to me. In January I changed up my routine and now I dedicate the first 1-2 hours each day managing my inbox. I was inspired to do this when I emailed Joanna at Cup of Jo twice about featuring my products on her blog and both times she replied the same day. I want people to find it easy to reach me and learn more about my shop and services.

3. Everything plays to your favor

Several times throughout my first year as a solopreneur I hit some road bumps as to be expected. Whether it was problems with customs paperwork, a challenging customer, or a less than ideal number of sales at a craft fair--in all of these instances I learned something I didn't know before. 

Whenever something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, instead of thinking that something went wrong, see it as something that went unexpectedly well, but for reasons that are not yet apparent.
— Steve Alexander

While customs paperwork is still tricky, now I know the right questions to ask and the steps for each part. A difficult customer showed me that the idea of 'handmade' is not the same for everyone. And when I didn't make my sales goal at a holiday craft fair last year, but met two other solopreneurs like me that in turn introduced me to a list of new ideas, tools, and tips for running a business solo--that was enough to make the whole fair worth it.

4. Staying fresh

Working for yourself has it's perks, but occasionally you have those days you miss being a part of a team and having someone to bounce ideas around with. To stay current and fresh in my field, I make an effort to attend networking events like those at General Assembly or CreativeMornings as well as invite other solopreneurs to tea so I can pick their brains. Setting up these types of meetings and attending these events provide a big boost of not only creative energy and inspiration but also technical and specialized learning. In many cities, co-working spaces are becoming more and more common and are filled with like-minded entrepreneurs and freelancers. If you live in Atlanta and are interested in shared office space, check out: Foster, Strongbox West, and Industrious Office