The Hard Truths of Running a Small Business

We’ve all been there. Seeing a small business succeed and saying to ourselves “I could probably do that if I tried” or seeing a handmade product and thinking “I could probably make that.”

The simple answer is no, you probably can’t unless you’re willing to put lots of hard work into it.

Since quarantine has started, it seems to be a new trend to run a small business or have some type of a side hustle and as a highly ambitious person myself, I decided to partake. When I look back on those moments of deciding to start a small business, thinking it would be so easy, I only have one word to describe myself: Naive. 

I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurship my entire life. My grandfather started three of his own businesses that are still alive today. After working at one for the past two years, I learned just how much money, time, and effort goes into every single day at the park. My family still runs these businesses and my mother started her own family therapy practice while raising four children. I thought if anyone was going to start a successful small business in 2020 it would be me, right? I mean, it’s almost like it’s in my blood. 

After months of seeing young people launching creative businesses, I decided to put myself to the test. In August 2020, I launched JDesigns, a sticker business. I learned everything there was to know about apps like Procreate and Cricut Design Space and used my (somewhat) artistic abilities to create products I was really happy with. 

This was not an easy process. Somehow, in every step of the way, something went wrong. That is what you don’t see when you’re scrolling through Instagram or TikTok– the mistakes. Already, after a month of running JDesigns, I had gained so much respect for small business owners.

Through it all, there I was, running a small business out of my tiny bedroom at my off-campus house. In these moments, I had never been prouder of myself. I sold upwards of 300 stickers from Connecticut to places as far as Nashville, TN and Calabasas, CA.

During the fall semester, I tried my best to manage my school work, my sorority, clubs, and JDesigns. When finals rolled around, I was overwhelmed to say the least. The quote “You can’t pour yourself into anything while empty” had never described my life better. 

During winter break, I took a break from JDesigns. Partly because transporting all of my supplies was too much of a hassle and partly because I was just burnt out. My original plan was to re-launch in Feb. with more products and better time-management skills.

After trying to launch a second time, I truly don’t think I could have any more respect for small business owners. With more product came more stress and planning. In an instant, it’s April and I am finally launching.

In no way am I saying that JDesigns isn’t successful, but it’s a work in progress. 

That’s what I have learned through this process– Everything is a work in progress. Just because a small business may look successful and easy on social media, doesn’t mean that their day-to-day life is easy. Any person who runs a small business is doing it solely because they love whatever they’re doing. 

Nobody is in it for the money, because for the first couple years, there really isn’t any. Nobody is in it so they can be their own boss, because that is much harder than having someone else tell you what to do. And most of all, nobody does it because it’s easy.

Moral of the story is that small business owners are some of the most hardworking people. Every decision is made strategically and from the heart. So next time you’re shopping, shop small and shop with your heart. 

About the author

Assistant News Editor

Leave a Reply