Sometimes I surprise myself. I’m not sure what was in the water when I decided that it was totally reasonable to try and start my own small business – must have been something good! I look back and am shocked. Shocked by how much I didn’t know about starting a small business before I decided to take the leap. Astonished at the utter hubris I had to think my products were worth selling. Astounded at my utter confidence that my initial investment would one day be recouped. But I’m not shocked and saddened. I’m shocked and amazed!
Here’s the thing: if I had any idea of exactly how hard this would be, I never would have tried. It’s not unlike parenting, really. If one really, fully understood all the work, time, money, thanklessness, anxiety (both real and imagined), and heartbreak involved in raising a child, few would ever screw up the courage to do it. But ultimately, despite how hard it is, it’s totally worth it. Sure, there are sleepless nights, but there are also breathtaking moments of joy. With this baby business, I’ve had both.
Despite my brief moments of rock solid confidence, I have had my fair share of sleepless nights. What if this was all a huge mistake? What if I never make back my initial outlay? How much debt is too much debt? I’m an idiot; I should have used that money and gone to Iceland, not start a stupid small business! What was I thinking? What if no one really likes my products? These are the thoughts that invade my sleep and chase my dreams away.
On other days, though, my confidence returns. And on those days? Those days, I make cold calls. While Mama K Breaking Bath is currently pretty much only sold via my Etsy store, I would love to one day see my products in stores. And so I cold call. All. The. Time.
If I see a store that looks like it supports local crafters, I send them an email. Local Farmers or Craft Markets? Email. Go in person. Talk to people. Hand out business cards. 99% of the time I get politely rejected (or get no response at all). 1% of the time I get mild interest that never seems to come to fruition, despite my best efforts to follow-up without coming off as harassing (the line is finer than one might imagine). You need to have audacity in spades and an ego of steel to make cold calls because most of the time they just don’t go your way.
So yeah, starting up a small business is hard and scary, but there are awesome moments as well. This weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of vending for my first time at a small pop-up event. I successfully put up and took down my display. I had my first ever credit card transaction. For the first time, I was able to talk to complete strangers about my products, why I love them, and why I think they should buy them. You know what? Some of them did! I was really proud and can’t wait until September 22 when I’ll have my first opportunity to vend at the Apex Farmers Market. Until then, the sleepless nights will likely continue, the Etsy hustle will be ceaseless, and the cold calls? They’ll keep coming…