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6 Things Learned In Our First Year Of Business
11 days ago·
11 days ago·
Today marks one year since our little business went live! All we can say is time really does fly when you're doing something you love.
We went into business in a rather unorthodox way. Two of us lived in England, one in LA and one in the Cayman Islands and because of Covid we couldn't see each other. This meant all Four Sisters meetings consisted of a lot of facetime and whatsapp messaging. At the start we were all working full time so this made things quite difficult when it came to communication due to time differences. However this did not stop us from creating a beautiful business that we couldn't be more proud of (yes, we may be biased).
We had an extremely busy first Christmas but managed to navigate it without too many hiccups. Then the summer of 2021 hit. Due to Covid cancelling all the weddings of 2020, they were all pushed back to 2021. Two of us are wedding photographers so this meant working double time in the summer months than usual due to postponement. This meant we had to take a little time off the etsy site for a while because of the intense feeling of burnout.
As a team we managed to navigate our way through a difficult time and we have come out on top stronger than ever.
So to celebrate this milestone, we have taken some time to reflect upon what we've learned.
1. Know when to relax & recharge.
This was a tough lesson to learn, because even if it doesn't feeling like work, you still need a break. As mentioned above, the feeling of burnout were creeping in. Sometimes we would mention to each other how we would wake up and feel anxious about even looking at our phones because we felt so much pressure to do well. It was not healthy! Productivity started to disappear and we quickly realised that time sat at the desk was not a barometer for how "hard" you worked. Sometimes we think that motivating yourself to do the work on you business is much harder than working a 9-5 job, maybe it's because we care so much that it takes a mental toll and saps our emotional energy!
The lesson we learned? Give yourself adequate space and time away from the business to recharge yourself. Yes it is hard to adapt to a new work and lifestyle, but burnout is easier than you think and harder to recover from.
2. Dreams are pretty, but the hustle is not.
It seems like every single day there is some form of inspirational post about big dreams from business owners, coupled with flawless instagram grids and huge captions that make you feel immediately inspired. You think 'I can do this, it will be easier than I think.' But in reality, no one really talks about the serious hustle that is required behind closed doors, the breakdowns and the feeling of pressure.
We are lucky that we have each other to lean on when things get tough, if one of us is feeling a little down or in need of a break, the business can still function to a degree. We do have this dream of thoughtful, gorgeous, curated gifts for all occasions, however, putting in the leg work is not the prettiest.
3. Welcome criticism like an old friend.
Criticism can be a tough pill to swallow, even more so when it is in regards to your business that you have poured your heart and soul into. But the truth is behind every criticism is a lesson. The faster you listen to them, the faster you can adapt and fix it. If you shut out every negative comment about your business it will remain static. Even if your clients seem happy, never hesitate to ask them if there was anything you could have done better.
Really listen to what they have to say, take it on board, learn from it, reassure them that you want to hear it so you can improve your business. Sure it can sting, but in the long run, your business will be so much better off.
4. Perfection & progress do not mix.
No one and nothing is perfect (except maybe dogs). Yet we seem to be bombarded with 'perfect' on all forms of social media. It can give off an overwhelming sense that you have to do better because you think what you have created is not good enough. There has to come a time where you stop comparing yourself to others around you, the term 'perfect enough' will have to be added to your vocabulary, otherwise you are never completely happy with what you have created. After all others will look at your business and think that it is perfect and you will be your own worst critic.
We have had many times where we weren't happy with how things were, and would spend hours trying to change it. Sometimes you need to take a step back (or go to sleep!) and come back with some fresh eyes, 9/10 times you will be happy with the result.
5. Never stop learning.
Read non-fiction books about business, take online courses, speak to other like minded people, ask them for advice and what problems arose for them so you know what to avoid in the future. Never. Stop. Learning.
Over this past year we have made plenty of mistakes but we have learnt from them and adapted when necessary. With the power of the internet you can learn anything you want to if you put your mind to it. Courses we have invested in have saved us money on hiring in experts which has helped us level-up on our business strategy and knowledge at a fraction of the price. The downside is it can be more time consuming
6. Communication is KEY.
The final lesson and the most important one is communication. Due to living on different continents and different time zones, finding time for conversations was extremely difficult. Sometimes when one of us was awake and ready to start the day of work another was finishing for the day and ready to wind down. Then bombarding them with questions about this or that caused anxiety and burnout,(we have realised the message can sometimes wait until the morning.)
But the lesson is that we have to make time for each other, even if it's a quick 5 minute phone call to ground yourself and what needs to be done or if they require something from you. We are still not perfect but we are getting there and have figured out a way that suits us!
The ultimate lesson we have learnt?
You don't need to have it all figured out from the start, every mistake you make will teach you something else for the future.
One year later and we are so excited to see where the next 3 years are going to take us. But for now, roll on Christmas!