Spring break is coming on the heels of a very busy week. I’ve been going non-stop all week, like a chicken with my head cut off, convinced that I CAN catch up – somehow. How did I get so behind?? It’s due to a good thing – sales are on the rise all the way around. The boutique’s sales are up, our online orders and wholesale orders are up too.
Which has presented a whole new level of challenges, and a whole new level of craziness. I can tell that we are in this weird growth phase, we’re leaping to the next level, but we’ve got just a couple more steps to climb to reach it. And we have to push to that level (I’m yawning even as I write that), and it’s going to take a real push. Come on feet, don’t fail me now!
Our newest boutique sold out of their first floral onesie order in a week!! This is good on so many levels – we got an immediate re-order, the new boutique is very happy with us, and we know our newest designs are going to sell really well.
This week is also killing me because of the time change. I get up before the kids as it is, now it literally feels like the alarm is going off in the middle of the night. But if I don’t have time to check in at the office and (usually) get a blog post done before the kids rise and we’re off and running, then my stress levels sky-rocket and the day goes nuts.
Now I have to try to plan for Spring Break. There will be less nuttiness in the mornings, but there will be a lot of entertainment needed too.
I’m quietly getting some work done while my children are playing “paleontologist” this morning. They each have a compacted dirt egg on which to perform their archeological dig. The 5 year old just finished and found her buried dinosaur. I overheard their simple, but powerful, conversation:
3 yr. old to 5 yr old: “WOW Mirmir, I’m so PROUD of you.”
5 yr. old to 3 yr. old: “Yup, C-buds, all you have to do is NEVER give up. If you give you, you won’t get it. So just don’t give up. OK”
It was the sweetest,? most heartfelt conversation. We can learn so much from our children just by listening.
Not to mention it’s SO nice to have something come out of their mouths that I’m proud to say we’ve passed down (as opposed to the “DAMMIT” my daughter exclaimed last week as we walked up to her kindergarten gate, and when I was shocked, simply explained that she had learned it from me).
I share my startup journey on a blog about starting a clothing line from scratch. One of my blog readers sent us a scathing (and unsolicited) critique of our Baby Fabulous website – well, she really spent the majority of it letting us know that everything about our STYLE, from our business name, logo, & color scheme, to the designs on our shirts, is “unappealing as a whole”. So, walk on by, we’re not going to please everyone, it takes a zillion styles to make the world go ’round.
But the part that stung a bit was her personal critique of me (based on my personal blog I can only assume) “you hold yourself back WAY too much”.
I wanted to scream against that at the same time I wanted to face it. Part of the selfish reasons for doing the startup clothing blog was to hold myself accountable – make myself feel like if I was going to be talking the talk, I’d have to keep everything on the up-n-up. And here one of my readers was, holding me accountable and basically telling me I talk too much of the talk and need to keep walking, and all I wanted to do was rant about the billion ways she’s wrong (I have launched my own products, have a celebrity clientele, have a strong customer base, lots of press, and on and on!!! No one who “holds themselves back” goes that far, right?)
But after taking a day or so with this, I’ve given myself a new perspective. I DO spend moments of my day that aren’t focused on the business. But I DO do enough. I try my hardest and I try my hardest not to lose my focus on my family; the whole reason behind all of this business stuff. A LOT of my energy goes to my kids and I’m going to remain unapologetic about this. So the business grows a little slower while my kids are little and this precious time with them is flying by…there’ll be time enough for growth as the years go on, and they’re off to school more often…
My daughter received a “Horseland” movie for her 5th birthday and the theme of the first story is “Doing your personal best”. The whole concept is “compete against yourself only”. Every design I create, every trade show I do, even every web page I create, I’m constantly trying to remind myself to do just “do my thing”.
Walking in to set up for our first trade show was very overwhelming. All these BIG companies having BIG booths built up by professional builders and there we are, hand-carrying a couple boxes of samples to our booth – but it didn’t matter. We weren’t competing against them, we were there to show our stuff, to do our thing. We had boatloads of confidence and we got orders!
My daughter’s movie served as a nice reminder for me and got us talking about practice and doing the work it takes to be ready when it’s time for the “big show”. I think this is a crucial thing to remember when starting a business because it’s easy to look at the competition and start comparing yours to theirs. But you can’t do this too much. Sure, you have to study the market, know what’s out there and what prices the industry are holding, but you have to do your own thing. It’s how you’ll set yourself apart as a startup.
For our next trade show, competing against myself means how much better can I make our booth this time? How much can I improve our product offering, our display, our presentation? I can only measure our improvement based on how far we’ve come and whether or not I feel I did my personal best.
I have to write a post just to get back on the wagon. I ended up taking an unintentional sabbatical from blogging on this mompreneur’s blog over the summer, but I’m back. I did keep up blogging for our baby business and my start up kids line blog, because the blogs bring us a lot of traffic.
This summer, and now the start of the school year, has been about finding a better balance between my work life and my home life. The baby step I’m starting with is stressing less. I’ve come to realize that things are about as stressful as you perceive them to be, and I was letting everything stress me out way-too-much. I needed to chill.
I’m the first one to tell others to take a break, or cut out early at the first sign of a cold, but I’m not good at taking the same advice. I need to be. It is true that there is always work left to be done. And at the same time, I’m trying to work on my horrible procrastination. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”…
The great thing is that when I do manage to make myself buckle down and get rid of a few tasks that have been hanging over my head (like writing this blog post after it’s been SO long), then I feel a lot LESS stressed in general. I also find that I’m less stressed if I actually put the work down and spend 10 minutes of quality, focused time with my children. It lifts my soul.
I think that balance becomes the main theme for every parentrepreneur in one way or another. My daughter started kindergarten this year. We put her in a Spanish immersion program, which is fantastic (I know there are a couple of mompreneur’s here who will be happy to hear that). She goes to school all day and I just have to say that her schedule has forced us all into a better routine. It isn’t just babies that like routine, a good rythem is good for all of us…
I have a love / hate relationship with email. I’m trying to get a grasp on it, but I feel like I’m always trying to get a grasp on it. I’m one of THOSE people who has an inbox with a ton of emails piled in it. Every once in a blue moon I get around to filing some of the emails into archive folders.
I never get the inbox cleared completely. The inbox is only half of my problem; the other half? is that emails inevitabely slip through the cracks with my cluttered mess of an inbox. It will often hit me weeks after I was supposed to email someone that I never got back to them.
If identifying the problem is half the battle, here’s the other half of the battle for me – sticking to my new plan to tackle the email beast:
I’m taking on simplifying the disorganized parts of my business and email is a huge piece of that disorganization. Having my inbox in a state of disarray is incredibly time consuming and costs me in productivity. I hope I can stick to my plan, it should make my life a lot easier.
Since I’m finally getting back to writing a blog post again, it seems like balance is the perfect topic. Balance is an art that I work hard to master everyday, and that’s because it takes a lot of work. I’m sure I’ll forever being striving towards better balance, because just when I get the knack of something, something else changes.
I’ve tried numerous different work schedules, from late-at-night to early-in-the-morning. Those few hours while the kids sleep are usually very productive. But sometimes I’m too tired for the late nights OR the early mornings, and I opt for sleep instead. I tell myself there will always be work to be done, but if I let myself sleep, I feel stressed by the lost time.
There are two things that are working well for me right now. First, if I at least update my to-do list every night, then I feel prepared for the next day and it helps me to rest a little easier. I put the highest priority task at the top and work my way down each day. I mix all of my to-do’s on one list, from kid stuff to house stuff to business stuff. Anything that is my responsibility and HAS to get done goes on that list. I can’t believe how much it’s helping my sanity level.
The next sanity-keeper is devoting small spurts of time with each of my kids. I’ll even set the timer and tell them they each get to choose what we’re going to do for 5 minutes. It makes nice refreshing breaks for me, and makes me take those breaks. We all truly enjoy each other’s company, and just devoting those few minutes to my kids everyday has decreased all of our stress levels tremendously.
Even though I’m learning little tricks to help balance my work life with my family life, it’s still a struggle. In business, “fires” come up all the time, and in life “fires” come up all the time, so at times, it’s nothing short of nutty. Luckily, everything goes in phases, and there are times when things just flow.
This morning I let myself sit with my son at my computer. He was snuggled perfectly into my lap, thrilled at the permission to explore typing on a computer. I let myself sit there without being stressed about doing the next thing I needed to do for my business.
I spent a lot of time this weekend playing school with my daughter and ball with my son. I spent a lot of time with my kids this weekend, and my soul is better for it.
While I make a valid attempt to focus extra time on each of my kids every day, rarely am I able to do it and completely let myself go – put the stress off for later and make a commitment to be in the moment with my kids. And just giving myself permission to let it all go for 15 beautiful minutes with my son actually gave me new life. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Most importantly, I could tell that my son could feel my calm. And his calm increased my calm. So, I’m on a mission to give myself permission to enjoy my children and my time with them without thinking about the outside world or the rest of life – or anything except them, what we’re doing, or where we are.
I started blogging for our business by writing about our start-up journey. We went through a lot of turmoil to get a website and e-commerce store launched, so I started blogging about it. However, it wasn’t long until I decided that I would keep my “startup” diary on a seperate blog. It is still a journey that I want to document, and I most definitely have plans to make money off of it, but our business blog wasn’t the appropriate place for me to rant about the trials and tribulations of starting a new company.
I made this decision because I want our ecommerce site, our business website, which is such a large part of our brand – to be nothing less than 100% professional.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t blog about experiences of running the business on our babyfabulous blog; especially since I’m a mom of two young kids and have plenty of experiences worth sharing. But I do not blog about problems I’m having with our business, whether it’s sourcing issues or time constraints.
I’m lucky, because for our baby products business, I can blog about all sorts of things “mommy-ish” and get away with it; new parents and parents of toddlers are a large portion of our customers. I’m sure you’d be surprised by how much there is to blog about for your business if you let yourself expand beyond the topics of your products.
Here are some ideas to get you started blogging:
If you have an informative blog, you’ll keep your readers coming back!
Blogs are fast becoming the number one form of business-to-customer communication. Not long ago, blogs were still considered ‘out there’; a wild-card tool for the political arena. However, it didn’t take long for businesses to start exploring the use of blogs on their websites. People started asking, “do we or don’t we”? If you are serious about an online presence, then a blog is as much of a “must have” as a Contact Us page.
Today, I’ll touch on the benefits of having a blog for your business. In later posts I’ll get into optimizing your blog for maximum traffic generation, where to host your blog, and what to write about.
Here are the reasons you need a blog on your business website:
I can help you hit google page one for your keywords in a matter of months, if you start blogging for your business now. So, next we’ll talk about keywords and content.
Please comment if you have any questions or input. Would love to hear it!!