Five Life Changing Lessons I Learnt Starting My Own Business
Posted on 07 March 2017
It occurred to me that I've talked at length about starting my own brand in interviews and panel discussions but haven't written about it for our blog. So in the spirit of International Women's day tomorrow, I wanted to share a few things I learnt about starting my own business and hope it inspires those that have been sitting on the fence.
1. Don't Wait Until You're Ready. Start Somewhere
Starting your own business doesn't have to be a dramatic life change where you quit your job, give up your creature comforts before leaping into the abyss. I'm of the opinion that if you're drawn to something, it will keep calling until you listen. I started MISCHA while I was still working full time. I'd take red-eye flights to Japan over the weekend to source my vintage fabrics and meet with kimono suppliers. In the early days, your passion will drive you through the sleepless nights. Once your idea is proven, you can take the next steps.
2. Protect Your Creativity
I learnt this the hard way. Designing handbags part time, was one of the best things I've ever done. I was being paid to have fun and I felt more inspired by my travels and invigorated than ever. It was only after four years and lots of encouragement, that I quit my job to run MISCHA as a business. I struggled to be creative on demand and according to schedule, while dealing with the practicalities of running a business. I believe that creativity cannot be forced, it needs to be conjured and be free of the obligation to pay the bills. If you're about to embark on a creative business, make sure there's a lot of room for inspiration to flow.
3. Business is Character Building
Running a business can be lonely, make you doubt yourself, test your relationships and question whether you have masochistic tendencies. There have been so many dark times when set back came after mistake, came after rejection. I thought giving up would be the smartest thing to do. But the moment just before you're about to give up, is just before you see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you persevere and learn from your mistakes, you realise you're able to do things you never thought you could. Your weaknesses become your strengths and your capacity for handling adversity expands with every challenge.
4. Surround Yourself with People Who Believe In You
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It honestly feels like it takes a miracle to nurture a brand and grow a business. I see MISCHA as my brainchild, and it would not have come thus far without the priceless people on my team and the partners I've crossed paths with. I think it's really important to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in order to create a dream team. While I believe everything can always be learnt, it's always best to let someone excel at what they do best. And most importantly, I've learnt to surround myself with people, partners, mentors, who will celebrate with you during the good times, and support you during the most trying times.
5. Gratitude Brings Magical Outcomes
The biggest lessons I've learnt about starting my own business have been personal ones. The steep learning curve has never been comfortable, but over time I've found ways to step back and marvel at the magical brew of adrenaline, adventure, frustration, creativity and celebration that's been running MISCHA so far. Smiling through the ups and down helps a lot, and I'll keep doing it as long as I'm having fun!