“Your Genius Idea Might Actually Suck” and Other Lessons Learned From My First Year of Business

first year biz lessons

So it’s been about a year since I launched my second e-commerce business Adorned by Chi! I launched fully understanding that finding my ideal customers would be a bit difficult considering my whimsical branding and even my products (handmade head wear). Heck, I was happy with the $600 in sales I made in 9 weeks. Fast forward to now and  I made almost that much in sales this week!

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While I still have a ways to go before I hit my ideal monthly sales goal ($5K), I’m celebrating the small victories as I go and hey, I’m nearly halfway there! Anyway, when I realized my business-versary was drawing nearer I was mostly excited for the chance to finally write one of these obligatory “Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of Business” posts, so, here goes nothing!:

Your Genius Idea Might Actually Suck…And That’s OK.

Listen, I have a lot of ideas. Lots. And the majority of them suck.

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That’s just the reality of it. But you won’t know if an idea sucks until you try! In the last year I’ve tried Instagram giveaways, blog giveaways, working with influencers, pitching to blogs, ad campaigns on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some of my attempts were successful, some were not. But each failed attempt was an opportunity for me to learn, tweak, and grow.

Your Sucky Idea May Actually Just Need Some Tweaking

A while ago I created this cute tee design to express my love for Sailor Moon. I signed up for Teespring, made a mock up, integrated it with my site as a separate page (the “Cute Tee” shop) and…crickets. No one bought a single tee and it was up for months!

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I thought maybe I was trippin’ and the shirts weren’t that cute. Or maybe people were just into my crowns. So, I scrapped it. A few months later, I realized there were many t-shirt shops selling pro-Black wear that I loved but didn’t quite fit my style. So I made one, ordered samples of it and my Usagi tee then modeled them myself (no mock up) and released the tees on my product page, selling them directly through Shopify, rather than Tee Spring.

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Now both tee styles are two of my highest selling products.

Exchange Vibes With Your Tribe

I’m not one to brag but my #bizgang goes hard! Every day I find myself gaining new insight from the people I choose to surround myself with. Be it product ideas, marketing ideas, collaborations, and even motivation and support, my business buddies have truly got my back and I’ve got theirs. I can attribute a good deal of my growth to them and they bring out the best in me.

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Yep, I’m a sap, ha.

Community Building Works Wonders

After some inspiration from one of my favorite Facebook groups I decided to launch my own, an extension of my brand: Soft Black Girls.

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Now, I have gotten some confusion over the name but my Tumblr peeps know what a “soft aesthetic” is and so do my customers, who understand that Adorned by Chi is a fashion brand. Anywho, the group is nearing 300 members and I love being able to get to know the people who purchase from me on a deeper level than just sending them some product in exchange for money. I now know what my customers watch, what they love to listen to and who they admire. It’s really amazing!

You’re Gonna Lose Money, Honey

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I’ve rolled in the dough at some points, and at other times I’ve been super broke. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up! The ups and downs are all part of business and you are not alone. Be sure to actually track your earnings and spending using Quickbooks Self employed, which is only $5 a month and has literally been a Godsend! After setting up Quickbooks I now know I’ve been super profitable, even with those rocky times in between. It definitely does wonders for my morale.

Overall, my first year has been super exciting and I’m definitely ready for year two! *insert sunglasses emoji*

What do you think? How did your first year of business go? Any tips you’d like to add? Share your thoughts below!

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