It is hard to be an entrepreneur. And we need to be really honest with ourselves, too. It isn't in everyone's blood to do it.
Someone can tell you that you are a fabulous at designing interiors and you should do it as a business. But if you doubt yourself, fear the process of building a business, you'll never succeed unless you get the determination that you will make it work.
When I was an interior designer I didn't have any magazine quality projects. I'd look at other interior designers and wish I could be them. They were so cool and their projects were so professional compared to my work in my mind.
So when I created Iron & Magnolia I had some fears. One of my first clients had a portfolio that had me going back to thinking about my body of work as a designer. I felt outclassed instantly.
I did know that what I was doing with my company now was needed and my passion. There was a need and I felt compelled to go forward. I had to get over my feeling of inadequacies and move forward.
I also knew that all of my years of experience in marketing my virtual interior design business and the processes that I nailed down was where I could nail it. No one out there in this niche of "interior design business coaches" was doing what I did in the way I'm doing it. No one.
So when I felt that I was less than a perfect candidate to start this company and listened to the voices in my head I would go back to my mission. My mission is bigger than me. I have a mission to inspire and help interior designers. If I was to not do that, then what? And maybe it's a shitty motivation, but I would look at what they were doing and rolled my eyes. I knew I could do it better and with a shit ton more personality than them. So I did.
My first year in business
My first year in business was equivalent to being on a ship in a storm on the Bering Sea. I thought the way to help interior designers was to create websites and graphics. I soon got burned out on it. Much like I got burned out on designing interiors. The clients I was attracting were hiring me to basically be "data entry" for a website.
"Make my website look like hers."
In my head I was screaming nooooo! No, I don't want to, let me do my thing and let's create something different. But I didn't have the confidence to say that. So I went with it.
That didn't work so well.
I earned $7,800 that first year.
My second year in business
My second year I went back to why I started my business to begin with. Why did I start this business in the first place? To inspire and help interior designers. But I had to add more to it. What did I know like the back of my hand? Creating and marketing interior design businesses.
So I packaged up my knowledge which included an eBook of my first year in business that was a manual for starting an eDesign business.
The Toolbox included all the stuff I developed for my design business. My schedule for marketing on social media. Ideas for blog posts. The email templates I created for responding to the common emails I received all the time to save me time. My design questionnaire I sent clients. The Welcome Packet I sent to clients to start the project off on the right foot and made sure we didn't waste time on bullshit. How to figure out who your dream clients really are. Blog titles for posts that people would click on to read. Newsletters to send out to your clients when you're not sure what the hell to send them.
I also started my group. I have seen some of the online communities for interior designers and I still felt out of place. I knew I couldn't be the only one, so I created my own group. A place for designers to feel safe, get support to grow their design businesses and make friends.
I also had some flops. I hired a coach who thought I should expand my business from just serving interior designers to all creative types. Blindly, I did it. And that's how we had the Creative Campfire Jamboree that didn't pan out how I liked. So I reverted it back to the updated version of Designer DNA with videos, checklists, homework, etc.
I earned $57,000 last year.
We're 8 months into the year and I know where this business is going. I know what I'm excellent at. I know who I want to work with. I know what I want to offer. I know how to make money. I'm not questioning my confidence.
I've helped a client make more in three months than all she earned the previous year. And while I can't reveal the exact amount it's multiple six figures. In three effing months.
This year will be the year I hit 6 figures.
I'm not special, I'm determined
I know that I've been where you are. You make peanuts and you don't see a future for your business. You wonder if it's worth it. You wonder if it will all work out? Is it even possible?
I work this business with a 10 year old. I take my daughter to school and walk with her home. When it's the summer, I'm often worn out after waiting in the 100 degree temps. So I have to take a nap. I'm not some superwoman, but I'm working on my business more than I'm socializing.
I work this business with a 77 year old mother. She lives in our home since my father died. Because you're supposed to take care of your parents.
I've had people think that I'm rolling in dough with a cabana boy. (I don't have one of those yet). I can tell you that everything I've put on a vision board has come true. My Challenger has been my dream car since I first watch the "Dukes of Hazzard" (I know it was a Charger but new Chargers don't look like that anymore, but my Dodge love started then). That has been my biggest personal goal I've set for myself. I thought I'd never have one. I do now.
I've had people think that because I'm white, I'm rolling in dough. I lived in a home that had rats and other insects in it. The paint peeled on our rental house. My father was a hard working alcoholic. I went to a school that had drive-by shootings constantly.
I was a victim of molestation. I've been diagnosed with PTSD. I've had depression. I've been an asshole.
I never got a scholarship to college. I paid back my student loans and had a job in college.
I've been laid off from a job because I told my boss that I drink every day because I didn't feel like my opinion counted.
I've been an alcoholic. Using alcohol to escape from my reality.
I've had the breast cancer scare. I wrote the letter to my daughter in case I wasn't going to be here.
I've had the clients who took advantage of me. I've had the friends who have done the same. I've been sucked in by MLM's and their "work when you want" schemes.
I'm not someone who got here by accident. I got here because I was determined. And I'm not even at my destination.
I believe in the spirit of entrepreneurship and this country. I cry everytime I hear the National Anthem and I feel blessed every damn day to live in this country.
I don't take a damn thing for granted and I damn sure don't accept excuses. You're here for a reason. If you're going to let circumstances define you, go for it. But you won't have my support.
I'm a fighter and no one will stop me. I'm a warrior. It's no mistake I'm still here after years of thinking I would die by the age of 27.
And here's another big thing for me. I just shared with you some shit I've never shared publicly because I know that it's important. My mission is bigger than my "story". Or who it hurts by telling it.
I'm inspired everyday by you. You keep the pressure on me to share my knowledge and my struggles. You inspire me to be better every damn day. And I'm not about to let you start believing your doubts.
Being in business for yourself is hard, but living with regret is even harder.
What do you choose?
Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in online marketing strategies.Her clients land more of their own dream clients and make more cash, period. Celebrity gossip whore. Elvis-obsessed.