New Series Intro: Navigating Entrepreneurship

March 26, 2014

On Monday, I shared this image on Instagram, wanting to remind folks that despite the pretty exposures, flashy filters and perfectly styled shots, life isn’t always as perfect as it looks on social media. I also opened up my heart a little, asking if anyone would be interested in hearing some tips I’ve learned from running my own business, as well as some practices that have worked wonders for me and my shop. I was completely blown away by the response! 
 Over the next eight weeks, I’ll be sharing a handful of tips that I wished someone would’ve told me the day I sat down and decided to launch b is for bonnie. Some of these concepts may sound fairly elementary and others may blow your mind, but hopefully all will hold a little bit of truth that will encourage you to keep pressing on. Whether you’re a business owner or someone just searching to find the balance between your desk job and home life, I hope my experiences offer a little encouragement and truth. 

Before we dive in, let me share a little about myself and how I got here (hint: it involved lots of trial and error!). Early in 2012, I got the idea to launch a custom stationery business while designing the save the dates for my wedding. In between graduating college, planning a wedding, moving from Texas to California and working a part-time job, I decided to go for it and opened an Etsy shop. Since then, b is for bonnie grew and changed in so many ways, blossoming into business branding and a signature line of inspirational paper goods. 

image by Jade Reilly Photography

Thanks to lots of hard work, an encouraging husband, amazing clients and so many wonderful supporters, 2013 was our most successful year yet. During that year, I was able to hone in on my passion for business branding, as well as my desire to cheer on entrepreneurs as they chased their own dreams. But at the end of the year, I was so tired. After a busy and fruitful year of business, I was burnt out, worn down, sleep deprived and discouraged. Many people will tell you what hard work it is to run your own business, but no one thought to include how hard it can be on your personal life, your health and your relationships! I found myself working after my posted business hours, lying in bed at night thinking of a branding client’s project or a new collection idea for the shop, and missing out on those sweet little moments that come from being present in every moment of your life. Have you ever been in this place? Friends, take it from me when I say that it really, really stinks. 

I knew I was overdue for a change but I also knew this change wouldn’t happen overnight. I know myself and my old habits truly do die hard. But my marriage, health, and happiness are infinitely more important to me than making it big or bringing in a six-figure salary. By starting with little, tangible changes, I was able to set a strong foundation for a growing business. Once I identified what wasn’t working for me, I was able to try something new and rejoice when I experienced a successful change in routine. Little-by-little, I started to get a better handle on the life/work balance, something I’m still learning about every day. To my amazement, my business didn’t implode, clients still kept coming and the world didn’t end. 

Although I don’t do things perfectly by any means, my rough and tumble first year of business taught me so much about setting realistic goals, creating a healthy work environment for yourself and eliminating distractions that will only hinder you from reaching your goals. A few things that have worked wonders for me are set office hours, staying away from emails after 5 PM, and learning to say no to projects that just aren’t a good fit.  

In the next few weeks, I hope you’ll join me as we dive headfirst into creating a strong foundation for your business. If you join me in making even just a few of these changes, I wholeheartedly believe it will protect your time off, as well as restore the balance between living to work and working to enhance your life.

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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