📣 It's Officially my 8th Year in Business today!
We've been celebrating all week, but today is THE day. 8 Years Ago - Woo!
In honor of my 8th Year in Business, I wanted to take a moment to share 8 Lessons I've learned while running Paper Raven Co. I could expound on these further (this girl can CHAT), but I figured I'd keep these nuggets short and sweet! Do some of these resonate with you?
I look back on this and chuckle. I learned this my first year in business, when I made holiday greeting cards with the year "2015" on them. I was not pleased when I realized that I could not sell those cards the next year, had to recycle my remaining stock, and reprint (without adding a year to the design). A costly lesson!
Even though there are things that (at the time) may seem really important, urgent or costly... at the end of the day, mistakes happen, and everything is learning. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. I try to approach my low moments and mistakes this way now, and extract all of the information I can out of them, rather than wallowing and allowing setbacks to tank my creative flow. Nothing in stationery is so critical that I won't see the light of another day, and a new opportunity to try again. Keeping this in mind, I can give myself grace.
One thing I learned early on was to label my Photoshop/Illustrator/Procreate layers as I created them. Waiting until the file prep was due to go back through and find/label every single layer was an arduous task, and took me double the time. I have tried to apply that to all of my processes, and have found that a small amount of organization from the beginning will save me a lot of hours in the long-run.
When I started my business, I was in my 20s and I hustled a lot. I worked non-stop, never took time off, etc... all for the sake of becoming "successful" in the fastest way possible. There is a lot of pressure to do this in our society! It was not until I had a health setback that I realized that I AM my business. And if I am not well enough to work, the business stops. (Now, I have built a big part of my business on passive income, so it would keep going for awhile, but you get my meaning). My business would not be here if I wasn't... so I have learned in my 30s to care for myself first and foremost. Cultivating my own sense of physical and mental wellness IS taking care of my business.
Maybe it is because I have experienced so much art theft over the years, but I have learned to keep integrity at the heart of my process. I want to lay my head down and be at peace with what I've made, knowing that it came from a place that was truly mine. Gut checks are vulnerable but powerful. Even if we've made mistakes in the past, the ability to make different choices in the present is always within our control.
This took several years to learn, and a lot of discipline. But I encourage everyone to approach money with a sense of curiosity and possibility. I encourage everyone to invite money in and think of it as a friend: the more you interface with it (even when it's hard!), the deeper your connection is, and the more understanding you gain. Being intimately familiar with my numbers, and the ebb and flow of cashflow in my business has been one of my most valuable assets.
This should probably be at the top of my list! Diversification in your revenue streams is the absolute secret sauce to building a sustainable business. Layering income so that you have flexibility and diversity in your cashflow is such a valuable place to be. For this reason, I have built 4 Core Revenue Streams into my business: Retail, Wholesale, Licensing, and Freelance. That way, when one ebbs, another will flow. For example, when the Pandemic hit, all events halted almost overnight. So all of my designs for Weddings, Baby Showers, Birthday Parties pretty much tanked. However, because I had diversified my client list and revenue streams, suddenly digital greeting cards and virtual events took off. So while some types of designs and products failed, others flourished and I was able to maintain the same (and even increase!) my income in 2020.
The most successful things in history have been so because they've been different from what has come before. There is no winning strategy in trying to emulate what someone else has already done. Being yourself, breathing deeply and trusting your intuition and originality will always pay off.
💕 I hope this was helpful. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I would narrow down everything I've learned from running my business for almost a decade. Hopefully I will learn so much more in the next 8 years. Now, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you had the same experience? Different?
Thanks for being with me on this journey,