What I learned in my first year of business.

Wowwwie! It’s about time I do a bit of self reflection on my first year in biz! While I have been freelancing since 2016, it wasn’t until this time last year that I officially packed up my belongings, moved to NYC, and transitioned into pursuing my business full-time. I swapped out my days of flipping quesadillas on my sister’s food truck for days (and nights) fully committed to building this very business and designing many amazing brands over the course of one year. 

I’m going to be honest with you, there were plenty of times where I wasn’t sure I’d survive (financially, mentally, emotionally) but here we are! Surviving and thriving! Hoorah! 

This past year I have taken courses, I’ve joined virtual groups, I’ve had business coaches, I’ve learned new programs and processes, I’ve improved my design skills, and I’ve taken in as much knowledge as physically possible to make sure I was “doing it right.” And here is my main takeaway:

You don’t have to listen to anyone.

People LOVE to give advice and share what works best for them. And I am all here for it! I love to listen and gain different perspectives on how people operate their businesses. But I also know myself, and I know that what I deem to be “successful” may look a lot different than how other people view success. And that is A-OKAY! That is the beauty of the world we live in, we are all so different in what we want, and value things differently according to our goals.

Once I made the realization that I don’t have to follow in the footsteps of anyone, it made me feel so free and inspired to run my business exactly the way that works for me, and not to question it! It’s always great to gain knowledge on business operations, finances, systems, scaling, etc. But do so in ways that make sense for your lifestyle.

We get to choose what success feels like, and it’s not about achieving it on some theoretical timeline, but embodying it now. It’s not easy to just flip a switch, but I’ve been noticing how much can come out of simply feeling success and letting your work, goals, and creativity flow.

For an example— investing in yourself/your business doesn’t feel scary when you’re already successful.

Spending extra time in the morning to read, think, pray, meditate, or just lay doesn’t leave me feeling guilty when I’m already successful.

Saying no to potential clients who don’t align with my business doesn’t seem risky when I’m already successful. It only opens up opportunities for more YESes. 

Okay, so that was a bit of a rant. Now on to some more organized tid-bits of insight I’ve gathered over the last year—

  • Learn learn LEARN
    • Every webinar, every freebie, every newsletter sign up. Take advantage of allll the free resources you can. And then don’t be afraid to put some money behind furthering your education. Whether it’s learning a new skill or expanding your business knowledge, find something that may be a little bit of a financial investment— and prove to yourself that this will only lead to more growth and success.
  • You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing
    • Although I encourage learning as much as possible, you don’t have to follow the exact same model as all of the other designers, educators, and business owners out there. You started your business so that you could do your own thing, not someone else’s thing.
  • Perfect isn’t always the answer
    • Heyoooo, perfectionist over here. Honestly, being a perfectionist has been a challenge for me this year. I find that “done” is not good enough. And I’m not saying this like the “what’s your greatest weakness” interview question where we always spin our faults into being positives. I mean this truly and honestly, perfectionism often holds me back from moving forward and I’ve had to overcome this.
  • Get your finances/logistics in order early on when you aren’t consumed with work yet. 
    • If you have a slow start to your biz, use this extra time to get organized and set that foundation so when tax season rolls around, you’re prepped and ready to go.
  • Age does not matter in this industry.
    • This year I’ve worked with people ages 19-65. And I can guarantee NONE of them thought a thing of my age. Being young used to be something I tried to be hush-hush about and didn’t want people to know that I was only 22 (now 24). For some reason I thought it discredited me as a professional. But here we are, successfully running a business, designing beautiful work, and creating strong relationships with my clients and collaborators. Do not let age be an insecurity. If anything, it’s pretty badass that there is a whole group of young designers out there that are KILLING it, and are up to speed with the designers that have been doing this for much longer!
  • Boundaries…. Oops I failed at this one
    • I had to throw in a lesson I’m still working through. Boundaries are vital to our well being as business owners and I am the first to say that I know I don’t do this well. I take on almost every good opportunity that comes my way, but lately have been fortunate enough to turn down some that didn’t feel aligned. And let me tell you— it just makes those “YES” moments feel even more exciting. Having professional and personal boundaries in place is truly a game-changer to our mental health, which above all is most important!

So there ya have it, some of my takeaways from this past year of business. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the growth of my little design studio. It gives me the biggest smile to think about what this next year will bring!

xo

Racquel

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