This week I celebrated the first anniversary of Blessed Little Bungalow’s launch! That’s right, exactly one year ago on 4/4/16, blessedlittlebungalow.com went live and I officially started my business. My, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
In my first blog post, BLB & Me, I took the time to introduce myself to the world and share with readers why I decided to venture into decorating and interior design. I described it as taking a leap of faith, one that required a lot of hard work. After months of preparation, logo and website design, government filings, blog writing, photography, second-guessing and dodging doubt, I started a business in a city I barely knew.
Along the way as I’ve strengthened my knowledge and craft, I’ve learned many lessons that can be applied to any profession or aspect of life, so I thought I’d share a few of them with you:
1. Authenticity is your gift to the world.
After publishing my first blog post, I received so many compliments about the new website (thanks Kelly!), my professional photos (thank you Becca!) and the stories that I shared. One of the nicest comments I received was that my post was so refreshing and authentic. That made me pause and smile from ear to ear. There’s no better compliment than being told you’re amazing just the way you are. In fact, my goal was to be very transparent about who I was, vulnerability and all, and to speak genuinely about why I wanted to start this business. Sometimes it’s a terrifying thing to tell the truth. To expose your flaws and passion for all of the world to see. So when it is embraced, there’s a feeling of satisfaction, acceptance and pride unlike any other. I don’t want BLB to be like any other interior design firm and I don’t want to be like any other designer. I wake up every morning and choose to be myself. Choose to love my life. Choose to live my truth. What makes Blessed Little Bungalow special and any business sustainable is that it does the exact same thing. The fresh ideas, designer spaces and client relationships developed by BLB cannot be duplicated. Neither can its mistakes, poor experiences or faux pas. I have to own it all and grow at my own pace. When you’re authentic, you have no competition except the heartbeat pounding inside you. So I say to myself, “Be you, darling! You owe it to your clients and you owe it to yourself.” That honesty and loyalty is what carries me through.
2. The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.
Actually, self-doubt is the enemy of a lot of things. Confidence. Growth. Independence. Faith. Success. This quote is originally from the late poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath. I imagine writing and anything creative takes a lot of courage, and when being courageous, you cannot constantly repeat to yourself that you are not. I never started a company before. Never took an interior design class. Never wrote a business plan. I should’ve, and will, but I haven’t. None of those facts stopped me. Had I let them, I would’ve quit a long time ago. Don’t discount yourself. A hobby becomes a business not because of an LLC, advanced degree or business card. It becomes a business because of YOU! Your talent. Your faith. Your sweat and tears. If you’ve got that, you can do anything. A few weeks ago, I was out with a client shopping and we ran into a friend of hers. She introduced me to the friend as “my interior designer” and I legit cringed. I felt overwhelmed, embarrassed and ashamed, like I was an imposter wearing a mask pretending to be something that I wasn’t. I shared that with my client and she simply replied, “WHY!? That’s what you’re doing. And you are SO good at what you do.” Wow. That was all the assurance I needed. I’m doing this and I’m good at what I do. Don’t doubt yourself. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be doing exactly what you’re supposed to do.
3. Know your worth.
As a new business owner, you can be taken advantage of. By "friends" and distant cousins (LOL) wanting free products or services, by vendors or scammers depending on your inexperience and by potential customers that think your prices are “too high” since you’re just starting out. Trust me, I’ve experienced each of these and I’m sure I may again. But don’t let that deter you. You’ve got what it takes and you’re worth every penny. During a Tuesdays Together meeting hosted by my local Rising Tide Society group in San Antonio, we once talked about how to choose your ideal client. I was floored by this discussion because all this time I thought that your number one priority as a business owner was being chosen by the client, not you doing a good job of choosing them! Turns out, it’s a combination of both. It’s okay to turn away money if it’s not a good fit. (Yes, I’ve said “no” to business opportunities. Shocked myself too! LOL) Myleik of CurlBox and the MyTaughtYou podcast recently talked about this too. She shared some good advice this week in regards to pricing, negotiating and knowing your worth as an employee and entrepreneur. She stated that the key is understanding that you cannot afford to discount yourself, your brand or business. I sometimes struggle with negotiating in the corporate world and at the car dealership, but I refuse to do the same with BLB. Before my site launched, I was completely open to doing work pro bono or for very cheap price to gain experience. While others in the industry were charging for consultations, a la carte prices, hourly rates and countless fees, I thought because I didn’t have the tenure in the business so I couldn’t do the same. However, the experience I had and offered clients was unlike any other interior designer or e-design company, in San Antonio or anywhere else for that matter. My personality, techniques, resources and relationships set me apart, and that’s what your clients are paying for. Furthermore, exceeding expectations on each project allows me to prove my worth every day. I’m still not charging enough (LOL again), but I’m doing a much better job of valuing my time and talents. Once you recognize your worth, learn how to say “no,” set boundaries and believe in what you do, so much of this entrepreneurial path is a much easier to walk.
4. Surround yourself with light.
Bask yourself in the light. Not just rays of sunshine, but surround yourself with good energy and positive vibes. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place. Some days you’re barely treading water and it may seem like no one can relate to your struggles. I occasionally look up and around, and I begin to remember there is a life outside of work. My day job, my BLB job, my state of busyness...there’s more to life. But when you’re on deadline, exhausted and there aren’t enough hours in the day, you start to beat up on yourself and think that maybe you’re not good enough and that you’re only bound to fail (see #2 about the dangers of self-doubt). Don’t allow that dark cloud to hover over you. If you’re a believer, hand those worries over to Him. Breathe, slow down and get organized. Constantly running after fires and mega-multitasking is not sustainable or healthy. Surround yourself with mentors, loved ones and people who support you. Know that support isn’t just comprised of pats on the back. You need honest folks around you that will give real feedback, challenge you, stretch you and help you change for the better. Look to others for advice, especially those that are where you want to be and have walked in your shoes. A great example of this type of light for me is Cheryl of Dwell by Cheryl Interiors. She’s 10x the designer I will ever be and her work and spirit inspire me to be the best version of my self daily and own my journey. Lastly, remember it’s also important to give back just a much light as you receive and I try to do so for my own mentees, clients and anyone around me. You never know how much someone else may need it, so don’t keep it all for yourself. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine…” (had to add, the song just makes me smile. (-: )
Since starting BLB, I've received a tremendous amount of support from family, friends and strangers alike because they believed in a dream I dared to write down on paper. Now thousands of followers and likes, and several clients later, Blessed Little Bungalow is thriving and transforming lives every day. I don’t take an ounce of that for granted. Yes, there have been and still are challenges, and I've got a long way to go, but I'm so proud of what BLB has become. And who I’ve become. BLB has changed my life too.
Thank you for all of your support and following me as I do what I love.