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Building a Business: Don’t Count on Luck

by Arianne Foulks

April 22, 2014

building a business: don't count on luck

In part one of this series about success and hard work, we talked about Etsy shops, successful entrepreneurs, and why you may think others may have it easier than you, or just be confused about why “it’s not working” for you when you try to build your business. Read What You Need to be a Successful Entrepreneur.

In part two we talked about some things parenting could teach you about business, and I shared some great articles about working hard to pursue your goals. Read Success, Hard Work, and Picky Eaters.

This post is part 3, where we hear from small business owners about being a hard worker. The most important things you need when building a business aren’t “tricks” or “secrets,” in fact they’re pretty much the opposite – really obvious:

  • To work hard
  • To work smart
  • To be in it for the long haul

Some stories that share the “how” and the work behind it

When I interview our clients, I try to get at some information that will be helpful to a business at an earlier step of the process. I don’t know of many that blew up overnight – with a few notable exceptions, our most profitable and recognized clients have been working away for years, perfecting their craft, understanding their customers, hitting the markets, shows, and craft fairs, approaching wholesale clients, finding less expensive manufacturing methods, chatting with colleagues and customers on social media, pitching to the press, improving their packaging. It’s never-ending, and it has to be something that you wake up excited to do (most) every day.

Here are some of my favorite stories from our clients and others – and remember to read critically: was the lucky break really so lucky, or did the shop owner work to get to the point where she could benefit from it? Did the shop owner build a website and sit back hoping for sales, or did she go out there and nab them? Is this a person who is completely dedicated to working to make their dream come true, perhaps from a humble beginning?

Little Hip Squeaks grows an Etsy shop into something bigger

I spent hours looking at what other shops were doing right, in terms of photography, keywords, tagging — I knew that if 50 shops were doing identical Michael Miller blankets, that those were the things to set them apart. If I could combine those elements AND offer something original and more exclusive, then I knew it would be a home run.
Outgrowing Etsy? How to Move On and Save Money by Amy Richardson

Reflections on the progress of a home-grown business

I started this little brand with a stack of Crane Lettra and a Pantone swatch book in the same office I work into today. I’m grateful to not be doing it alone anymore. I literally used to design wedding invitations, print them on my printer, cut them down, line the envelopes, box them up and take them up to FedEx to send them out to my brides (at 2am before leaving for my “real job” at 7am). Many paper cuts (and a lot of changes) after I started this brand five years ago, I hired my first employee and today Gina and Sarah are my right hand gals.
What a Week by Emily Ley

Some encouragement about the creative process

Sometimes, especially to someone watching from the outside, it may seem like everything just falls into place effortlessly. But I know, and I’m sure you do too, that that is very rarely the case. Most of the time, it can be a frustrating process, and the end product can fall short of the vision that you had in mind at the beginning.
A Creative Pep Talk by 1canoe2

Making a website redesign work for your business

Since taking more time to market Freshie & Zero, I’ve gotten more inquiries from bloggers who are interested in a feature, more wholesale inquiries, more customer interaction, and dare I say, more respect from the media outlets I am currently pursuing. I would not have had the confidence to do this without Aeolidia’s site and logo redesign as a spring board. It was the catalyst I needed!
Freshie & Zero Website Redesign

Hey, building a career around your art may take years. That’s okay

It’s important to remember that supplementing your art/making income with other stuff (a part time job or another entrepreneurial endeavor) may need to happen for a number of years before you can spend 100% of your time doing what you love. It took me several years! Also, in the meantime, I was working really, really hard to promote my work and to build my portfolio.
Transitioning to Full Time Artist by Lisa Congdon

I read these articles and don’t see luck, I see hard work. What I get from these stories is that even if you get lucky by having an amazing press opportunity come knocking on your door, was that actually luck? Or did you work so incredibly hard on your original, brilliant, must-have product that it made the promotional aspect of selling online easier? There are many ways to “make it,” and you shouldn’t compare your business to one that operates in a different way than yours. Really, why compare your business to competitors at all? Just do what works for you and your customers.

What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked? What do you want to learn more about?

Stay tuned for our final installment next week, where you’ll hear how Etsy is (and isn’t) working for our readers.

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