Secrets I've Learned Running a Business
As my 32nd birthday approaches this week, I find myself getting a bit sentimental, especially as a Cancer sun sign. Throughout my time with the Field Notes, I've expressed how the business has transformed me. Now, on the verge of Ardent Market's fourth anniversary and with a host of exciting plans ahead, I wanted to offer a bigger glimpse behind the scenes.
For those of you who don't know me, I’m Em. I am the founder, buyer, sales rep, operations manager, photographer, writer, marketer, tarot card puller, recipe crafter, sunshine addict, and playlist freak you've come to know at AM. In truth, I've been hiding from you a little. I’ve always felt more comfortable sharing about myself with the subscribers of the newsletter—my second home. Initially, I was focused on getting the business off the ground, and later, it got harder and harder to be a human first, and business owner second.
Today, I want to share what I've discovered about myself through this business journey—how I've grown, stumbled, and adapted. From the breakthroughs during late-night video messages with my sister to the exploding brain emojis shared in my witchy business group, and the Voxer messages exchanged with my business BFF. My goal is to not only tell you what these four years have done for me but also to show you what it truly means to be a human running and evolving within a business.
Mindset shifts make space
- Success can be a spacious and expansive term if we define it for ourselves.
- Curiosity, listening, and experimentation can solve every problem.
- True failure is not trying. Hiccups and mistakes are inevitable, but not taking action out of fear or being overwhelmed is defeat.
- You do not need to be lucky if you are well organized.
- Complaints are a symptom of needing to make changes and different choices.
- Rest, more than hard work, is the key to success. Your best ideas need space and energy for the lightbulb to go off.
- Asking for help from the people I love will be my hardest life-long practice.
- Action creates motivation. Whenever I am stuck I do the tiniest, most insignificant part—That first tiny step paves the way for the rest to follow.
- I can choose for things to be easy.
It’s a people business
- In my experience, sales is only about understanding the human experience and being prepared.
- While the market vies for the attention of people wanting to buy, I focus on the relationships I get to build.
- Having a community can make a significant difference. Knowing that someone understands your experiences and can help you move forward can breathe new life into your creative cells.
- You’re the common denominator of your relationships, don’t be afraid to search for the people who instigate growth.
- Asking someone permission to vent or complain is one of the kindest ways you can show up for the people you love.
- Caring about others does not mean solving their problems for them.
- Being a leader (of any kind) is about your eventual irrelevancy.
Busyness is not an option
- Burnout is rarely about doing too much, it’s a lack of doing the things you care about.
- If I don’t say no, my body will for me—with illness, injury, or overwhelm.
- Systems are the only real path to freedom in work, they are the little engine that could when as a human being, sometimes I can't.
- If my business only survives if I am constantly hovering over it, then it was not built to last.
- Doubling down on yourself is always a good investment—education, experience, support, and rest.
- You have to prune the branches that are taking energy and nutrients but not producing. In a business, it takes some time to understand your daily habits—which are moving the needle, and which need to go.
- There is a season for everything, and accepting the season I am in has taught me about grace.
- There is rest to recover and rest to build a reserve, it’s important to know the difference and invest accordingly.
Let life fuel the work
- It’s okay to believe in everything a little bit, and maybe nothing completely.
- There can never be too much inspiration.
- Jealousy is sometimes the first step to learning what you truly want.
- You don’t have to proclaim a change you want to make, you can just do it.
- You have to love your life to yield great work, otherwise, it is average work and you resent the time you spend on it.
- Take breaks from recording or capturing life moments, just enjoy them.
- Schedule breaks, vacations, and time off because “later” is dangerous.
- Self-care is gateway reparenting. Would a parent let a child hunker behind a computer for 12 hours? Skip meals? Sleep with a screen? Probably not. Self-care is not just face masks and bubble baths. It’s the hard work of self-respect, boundaries, radical responsibility, and values.
- Don’t let your passion keep you from being prolific. Caring about your quality of work and perfectionism is a very fine line. Too many brilliant things have been lost under the disguise of wanting the work to be “good”. You can always try again.
- Living is an occasion.