On October 1, 2020 With Grace and Gold celebrated its sixth year in business. Whether your business is 1 year old or 10 years old, every business anniversary is so special — it’s a reminder to remember how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come — and it’s a moment to dream big about where you’d like your business to go next.
This year has been challenging and bittersweet for all small business owners, but we wanted to bring a little ray of sunshine in by sharing 6 lessons we’ve learned in these past 6 years of business. We hope they encourage you — and help you to jump-start a new season in your business.
6 Lessons We’ve Learned in 6 Years of Business
Before we dive in, what is With Grace and Gold and what have we been up to since 2014?
With Grace and Gold is a Wisconsin and Minnesota based brand and web design business. I live in Wisconsin and serve as the business half of With Grace and Gold, and Andra lives in Minnesota and serves as the design half of With Grace and Gold. Together, as best friends and business partners, we’ve been honored to serve more than 400 creative small business owners through brand and web design.
At the core of our business, both Andra and I share a desire to help small business owners succeed — and we know, and have seen first-hand, brand web design have the power to help you create connection, to sell your products and services more seamlessly, and to grow your business with more purpose and direction. While brand and web design have always been at the heart of With Grace and Gold, over the years, our business has evolved in some new ways, too.
In addition to offering custom brand and web design services, we also offer a shop filled with completely-customizable Showit website templates. We also offer an online, educational workshop for fellow brand and web designers who would like to create a strong foundation for their business, too!
So, through custom brand and web design, our Showit website templates, and our online workshop — we are driven to encourage, equip, and empower creative small business owners to succeed. In our more challenging seasons, and through the uncertainty of 2020, knowing design can be such a meaningful asset for small businesses has kept us moving forward.
Now, let’s dive into those 6 lessons!
- Solidify and re-solidify the foundation of your business. Every year, around our business anniversary, Andra and I sit down to discuss our business as a whole. We revisit every area of With Grace and Gold — our brand and web design, our services and products, our client experience, our marketing — every aspect of our business, to be sure it’s still a reflection of the heart behind our business. In the busyness of the year, we keep a running list of the hiccups we encounter, the questions we receive, or the ideas we have for the year ahead. By revisiting every area of our business, we can ensure the foundation of our business is as solid as can be, that we’re working as efficiently as possible, and most importantly, that we’re serving our clients as seamlessly as possible.
- Know the limitations of social media. You may be surprised to learn that I rarely-to-never scroll on social media. Although social media can be an awesome place filled with so much creativity, and although we use social media on behalf of our businesses, whenever I scroll on social media, I start to second-guess everything we’re doing at With Grace and Gold. And I’m not alone. An academic study from the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that, when we use social media we can’t help but compare ourselves to others — and those comparisons only make us feel worse about ourselves, consciously or subconsciously. That being said, know the limitations of social media. Social media is just one way we, as small business owners, can connect with our audience and prospective clients. Knowing how tricky social media can be motivated us to grow other areas of our business beyond social media — like our website, blog, and newsletter community.
- Embrace seasons of simply running your business. As small business owners, we are creative people who love to see the results of our creativity. When we make changes within our businesses, we are eager to see the results of those changes. When we have ideas about our businesses, we want to put those ideas into place right away. While those are helpful characteristics, and while making strategic changes is one of my personal favorite parts of being a small business owner — there is also something really powerful about embracing seasons of simply running your business. By simply running your business — no big changes — you can gain a better understanding of what is going well and what can be improved upon. You can work the kinks out of your processes and procedures. You can discover what matters to your clients — or what can be removed from your business altogether.
- Create the business you’ve always wanted — and know that what you want can change. When we first started With Grace and Gold, I was 26 years old. Back then, what motivated me to become a creative small business owner was my desire to have more creative freedom. In working for larger businesses, I wasn’t able to be as creative as I hoped and there wasn’t much freedom to create my own processes. I desperately needed creative freedom in my work. Maybe you can relate to that, too! Now that I’m 32 years old, what motivates me to be a creative small business owner is my desire to do good, meaningful work. To do the best work I can so our clients can experience their best seasons of business yet. I want to create a business rooted in quality and purpose. Create the business you’ve always wanted, and know your motivations could change along the way. Don’t feel pressured to do what other business owners are doing; feel excited to do what you’ve always wanted… to create a business uniquely aligned with your one-of-a-kind values, vision, and goals.
- Start small. So often, as small business owners, we have big dreams and big ideas — and we want to put all of those dreams and ideas into place right away. We’ve learned that, if we want to add a new layer to our business, we can do so in a small, yet meaningful way. (We explore this idea further in Episode 011: Your Passive Income Action Plan.) As an example, if you’d like to add a Shop to your business, begin by asking your past customers and clients questions to determine if they’re seeking the solution you’re planning on offering. Start with just one product rather than a whole suite of products. When you start small, you can build a strong foundation for this new layer of your business, you can determine if there’s a need for what you’re offering, and you can use fewer resources — time and money — in order to do so. Allow the smaller areas of your business to grow gradually, over time. When you embrace slow, meaningful growth you can strengthen each area of your business in a more balanced way.
- Embrace your definition of success. Lastly, my personal favorite lesson — embrace your unique definition of success. Successful small business ownership looks differently for every small business owner: for some small business owners, it’s about the impact they create through their business. For others, it’s about the revenue they generate through their business. For others, it’s about the ways they change their clients’ lives. When you create a business rooted in your definition of success, you won’t feel as though you’re constantly chasing the next peak and the next peak. Instead, you can create a business that feels more like your legacy — a reflection of your heart, values, gifts, and talents. When you keep your definition of success in mind as you run your business, you’ll have more purpose and direction.
No matter how many years young your business is, we hope today’s episode encourages you and reignites your passion for small business ownership. The truth is, whether we’re part time business owners or full time business owners, we’re doing something really special by sharing our passions and by serving others. So, keep up the amazing work — and thank you for tuning in!