One woman operation. I’ve used this phrase countless times to describe my small business. But it’s not really accurate…
The other day my friend Morna texted me with great marketing ideas and I responded that I was struggling to prioritize as a one woman operation. Sometimes I use ‘one woman operation’ as an excuse when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
But what is really happening when she texts me? My friend was thinking about my business, my growth, spending her education, skills, and time to share with me. (if you check out some product listings, you’ll see that Morna modeled some products at a recent photo shoot!)
I’m not alone in this journey. And neither are you.
It is true that I run all of the business operations by myself. But I’m never really doing this alone. A support system formed around me, full of people I love - family, friends, colleagues, fellow business owners, and strangers turned friends.
My friend Janine reviews my website design constantly. She once called Shopify to get design support. Every email subject line you’ve received from me was written with help from Janine. You might also know of Janine as the inspiration behind these gorgeous resin drop earrings.
Molly is the first person on my site every time I launch a new design. She saved my butt on a website glitch just a few weeks ago. She would also want me to mention that she recommended the color for the sunshine studs.
My friend Linda is really into chunky jewelry, which I don’t make. But that doesn’t stop her from telling everyone about my business, liking every social media post, and asking me how my business is going every chance she gets.
These are just a few examples of my support system. The people who get me through my toughest days and celebrate my best days. I probably would have quit on day 2 without my support system.
I love to surround myself with other strong, motivated women. Women who are clear about what they want to achieve, act on their passions, and most importantly cheer for other women (loudly!).
Building a support system that aligns with your goals and mission is critical. Your support system isn’t just your friends, it’s anyone you invite into your business and your life.
Friends and Family - While this seems obvious, I don’t take the support of my friends and family for granted. My husband reviews my finances, has helped me turn our guest bedroom into my studio/office, and makes sure that I get an entire hour uninterrupted for resin work.
Not all 'friends' will support you. Your dreams will be too big for some people, they are not your people. It’s important to me that I note that friends and family support means they don’t devalue or expect your work for free. They see your value and honor it.
Internet Friends - This category cracks me up. I often tell stories about how I learned about a new product, or saw a great meme from my Instagram friends. The Internet can be the best place to build a support system for a completely e-commerce business like mine.
I’m not going to spend much time on the downside of the Internet because as supportive as it can be, it is full of trolls and basement keyboard bullies. What they have to say about you says more about them than you… trust me, it’s never really about the person they are bullying.
Fellow Entrepreneurs - I recently invested in my business with branding photos with Cristin, who owns Goss Boss, and I left this review of her “everyone needs a photographer who will tuck in their armpit fat”. That’s the level of support in other entrepreneurs that I have found and believe no one should settle for less. The entrepreneurs who share their successes and secrets so everyone can succeed. It’s not a competition, it’s a community and we need each other.
I know you read that last paragraph and either completely understood the need to tuck armpit fat into your tank top or didn’t understand it at all. If you’re in the latter, just think of it like the need to tell someone they have broccoli in their teeth.
Strangers turned Customers (and friends!) - This is my favorite category in a support system. The strangers who stumbled upon my site and decided to purchase. They made the most important investment in a small business - they used their money to say “I believe in this”. I love learning more about my customers. Being a part of their life with jewelry that I designed and made with my own hands is something that will never become mundane to me.
So how can you support a small business? -
Send them notes - A quick email, text, or direct message to let them know that you’re thinking about their business, their dreams, or you love something new they have offered or created.
Share their work - Social media is a powerful tool for a small business. Share their posts, share your review, a photo of you with their products (you know I love a good earring selfie!), or share their website. Sharing with your friends and network is the ultimate endorsement.
Purchase - We show support everyday by where we spend our money. As quickly as you would order from a major online retailer (known for their speedy shipping), you should spend on small businesses. The impact on a community from supporting small businesses is much greater. Your financial support means that entrepreneurs can invest in their businesses, feed their families, pay for kids’ extracurriculars, and so much more.
Provide direct feedback - Please share your feedback with them directly. If you have an issue, let them know. I personally commit to supporting my customers through the life of their jewelry. I will repair, fix, update issues with a design but I can only do that if they come to me. Don’t complain about something behind their back, let them know. Business owners can only get better if given feedback by people who care.
Leave reviews if you’ve purchased - Why do we only leave Google or Yelp reviews when mad or disappointed? (I know I’ve been guilty of this, hello dry cleaner who lost a pair of pants 3 years ago…) BUT positive reviews are like SEO currency! I do a little dance every time I get a new review on my website or Google. It helps small businesses to get noticed, appear in search rankings, and build customer trust. A review takes about 2 minutes but makes a lasting difference.
Cheer successes and share wine through failures - Honestly, wine works everything. The best support systems are there for the good and the bad. I love celebrating with my friends about business wins but I also feel the most supported in knowing that they all will answer my texts or my teary face time calls when something goes wrong.
If you’ve visited my site to read this blog, thank you for being part of my support system. Every bit of your support means the world to me. Pursuing your dreams isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it.
Please leave a comment, send me a text, or email me with your dreams and how I can support you!