Starting a Business: a fun and exciting (and sometimes scary) roller coaster

09/13/2010 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

A friend asked me if I would mind to give her daughter some insight to starting a business. I was so happy she asked and, as I wrote some notes, I thought there might be others interested in the same information. So here goes!

So exciting to be starting your business! It will be the scariest, most fun, gut- wrenching ride you’ve ever been on. And, I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself along the way. Here’s a little about how we began:

Dave and I have been married for two years and we currently own two small businesses. About eight years ago, while working full-time at a local newspaper, Dave started doing graphic design work on the side. It slowly evolved and last year he realized that he was so busy that he was working every night and every weekend, along with a full-time day job. It was then we decided that he would take Panorama Creative Group, LLC live and full force. We got the necessary permits and registered our ‘LLC’ with the state and IRS. Last November he was able to take his ‘day job’ and add that company as a client, along with our other clients. At this time I was working at Zirmed full-time, so he had health insurance through me. (Private health insurance is astronomically expensive, so during this time we saved a TON of money.) Along with a lot of hard work, we’ve been lucky that PCG has been so successful. It’s been so financially successful that I was able to go part-time at Zirmed and put a lot more time into my own company, while still doing business development for PCG.

In April 2008 I ‘officially’ started Kalla Studios, LLC, my jewelry and accessories company. I picked ‘Kalla Studios’, a) because I love calla lillies, and b) I couldn’t use my name because there is a famous actress with the same name, hence no one could google me and actually be able to find me. (Important Note – When coming up with a business name think long and hard about the name you choose – I’ve come up with at least 15 better/more meaningful company names since April ’08.) As a side business it, too, has evolved slowly. In the beginning, I purchased tools and supplies as I had the funds. Basically, I started with nothing and now I now sell online, as well as several boutiques and galleries.

My first major purchase was business cards. Business cards are a must so that people are holding your website in their hand. I find people almost think of a website address like they used to think of phone numbers – they’re a must. And, while there are companies that offer free business cards and free website hosting (no start-up costs) you should purchase cards and a website that compliment you and your business. Think of it as ‘branding’. When someone goes to your site, and/ or looks at your card, you want them to get a feeling for your company, and you only get one time to make a first impression. I’ve been lucky that Dave does graphic design  and could help me, but I’ve also taught myself and can now code my website and work with photoshop to perfect my own photos.

Both businesses started with us working full-time day jobs, and working A LOT of nights and weekends, but because we evolved slowly, over time, we never had a need for start-up capital. We have no credit cards and, thus, never went into debt for our companies. We run our companies out of our home in order to save rental payments for office/studio space – we’ve each taken one of our spare bedrooms as our office, and I use our enclosed back porch as my studio. That’s the thing, if you want it bad enough, you’re willing to make it work with whatever you’ve got at hand. And, it will make you so proud to say that you’re paying your bills, AND, you owe no one but the mortgage company. 🙂

Over the last couple of years I have devoured any business blogs for creative businesses that I could find. They offer a wealth of information and usually are written from experience. Here’s a few to get you started:

sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/ – I heart Seth Godin. His posts are usually brief, but give you a lot to think about.

craftmba.com/ – Megan gives real-world experiences on how to run a creative business.

designspongeonline.com – Grace writes a great blog, but I specifically love their segments on small business: designspongeonline.com/category/biz-ladies. You may get a lot of event planning ideas from designsponge.com, itself.

timelesspaper.com/blog/ – This is a beautiful blog that is part business, mostly inspiration

artbizblog.com/ – This one has some great information for the creative types.

whitneys-pottery.blogspot.com/ – I love the way Whitney writes – she speaks very frankly about her business and some of her customers

thinkbakery.com/blog/ – Again, this one is a wealth of information. Look along the side bar for other fantastic biz sites.

makeryblog.com/ – Pretty good blog, and I think Sarah, the blogger, lives in Louisville.

Just take a look at each one and go back a few posts to a feel for the blog. With the blogs above, if you look in the sidebar of each blog you’ll usually find the blogs that the blogger reads himself/herself and you can then see what inspires him/her.

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Entry filed under: biz.

What a Whirlwind Friday coolness, new work, and a fabulous new retailer

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