HOW I STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS, Part I:
Finding the Courage to Start
Hello, fellow bloggers, entrepreneurs, designers, DIY-ers, and everyone inbetween!
My name is Kathryn Wheeler and I’m the owner of The Paper Studio, an (in-process) online business for all your printable, décor, and design needs. Welcome to my personal blog!
I’m brand-new to blogging and even less experienced in running my own business. That being said, I know I’m not the only one. I hope that sharing my process of opening a business will be beneficial for other burgeoning entrepreneurs.
I’ve had this dream for quite some time, so making it this far is a huge step for me. My biggest obstacle (so far) has been finding the courage to start. Learning what you want to do comes from knowing what makes you happy.
Figure Out What Makes You Happy
I’m sure that everyone says something along the lines of, “if you told me two years ago that I’d be starting my own business, I wouldn’t believe it.” However, that sentence does ring entirely true in this scenario.
In 2014, I graduated college with a B.F.A. in Visual Communications and ended up taking the first position that I was offered: an in-house graphic designer for a marketing agency.
Little did I know that over two years later, I’d still be at that first job. Now, don’t get me wrong, my day job is pretty undemanding, and I have no quarrels with my co-workers. But, as my first real 9–5 desk job, this experience has taught me a few things about myself.
The most important of those being the following: I hate commuting, I waste too much money going out to eat for lunch, I want a job with growth opportunities, and I really, really — I can’t stress this point enough — prefer working at home, on my own schedule, and in my own space. Whether it’s because of my social anxiety, chronic health issues, or the fact that I don’t like to be micromanaged (but who actually does?), I’ve realized that I work better when I can complete tasks at home versus at the office. Unfortunately, my current day job doesn’t offer remote working.
All these realizations led me to the decision to look for a new job. Long story, short: I decided to start The Paper Studio.
I figured the best way to be able to work from home is to run your own business. Of course, discovering what you want to do is the easy part. Actually making it happen is another story.
I spent over a year going back and forth inside my head, trying to figure out what I wanted to do, how I could start a business, and what that business would even be. In fact, my actual business plan is still a work in progress.
Again, realizing what I wanted to do was the easy part. It took a few weeks of Etsy research and some inspiration from my best friend’s craft business to spark The Paper Studio’s flame. But the idea was there. Then the idea had a name, then a logo, then the beginning of a real business plan. Then the fear hit me. I had no idea what to do next.
What was I thinking? I can’t run a business. I don’t have the time or extra money to invest. I should quit. I tried, right? I really thought about it — made the logo and everything — but I’m just not cut out for this.
I have a habit of starting and quitting things too early. However, I realized that I had let fear stop me too many times throughout my life — and this was not going to be one of those times.
What did I do then? Honestly, it was just a lot of self-reflecting because you can’t overcome a fear without first knowing what that fear is. Therefore, the first step in finding the courage to start a business is to…
Figure out what you’re afraid of
Personally, it was my past experiences (the whole start a project just to quit it right away issue) that pushed me to work harder at this dream. I just became so tired of complaining about what wasn’t going right in my life and not doing anything about it. Thus, I jumped head first into planning and creating The Paper Studio.
As I’m attempting to market myself, make more products and start a blog, what I’m most afraid of now is failing. I’m afraid to leave a steady job that I’ve gotten accustomed to. I’m afraid that this will fail and I won’t be able to leave my steady job. I’m afraid that because I’m an introvert, I’ll be a terrible business owner. I’m also afraid of spiders — but that probably has nothing to do with running a business.
However, what I fear even more than failing is not trying (Ding! Serious lightbulb moment).
Normally, I’m not a huge sharer, but I hope that me explaining my process of finding courage will help you better follow your dreams, too. Therefore, my advice from one DIY entrepreneur to another is:
Be honest with yourself. It’s the key to realizing what’s holding you back. Find some time to yourself (or talk with someone you care about) and dig deep. Think about what may have stopped you before and what you need to do differently this time.
What are you afraid will happen if you follow (or don’t follow) your dream? Write it all down, make lists, do whatever works for you.
Now that self-reflection is done, what comes next?
Finding the Courage to Start
Growing up, I thought having courage meant being fearless. Even though that can be one way to define courage, I prefer Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s definition much better:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
In other words, courage is not being fearless, it’s being able to do something in spite of that fear.
Starting a business even though you’re completely afraid of failing is one example of having courage. Writing your first blog in spite of fearing no one will read it because you’re not a professional writer is another.
Once you have that courage to begin, hold onto it. Every time you think about quitting or hit a scary obstacle, remember what’s more important than that fear. Remember that, and you can be brave enough to conquer anything.
A helpful hint to finding the courage you need to succeed: Get a support system. I could write a whole post on just this topic, but I’ll keep it short — surround yourself with people who motivate you and believe in you.
No matter how much you plan or how many resources you have, starting a business is scary. However, knowing what you’re afraid of and being honest with yourself about what you need to do to follow your dreams can help make the process a little less stressful.
I originally titled this post “how to get over the fear of failure.” I had to alter after I started writing because (in my opinion) there’s no getting over the fear of failure. More accurately, it’s following your dream despite the fear of failure.