Thursday, 15 December 2016

Own it 003. | Know Your Limits

After SUCH an overwhelming response to my blog post last week (Read it here) about Darwin & Gray taking a step back this Christmas due to not feeling 100% about life recently, I received a few emails and private messages from fellow small business owners and creatives who too have suffered from anxiety or similar feelings and I couldn't help but think of the endless amount of people out there who are going through the same thing in silence thinking that it is all a part of the stresses of being a girl boss (yes, I say girl boss seeing as everybody that I have spoken to over the last week have been female...sorry guys). I've definitely found that opening up about the not so polished side of this business life has actually helped my own understanding, talking to others about their struggles and how they're trying to deal with them has a bizarre comforting effect knowing that this isn't necessarily 'normal' to feel these things but it is not unusual. 

Just a side note: I WILL be posting some super positive sides to running a small business and kicking the shit out of being your own boss too so fear not, I'm not totally negative over here!!! 

I think we all missed the memo in the doing-it-for-yourself job description that said 'anxiety is inevitable' when starting up your own business. Admittedly I have always been a worry wart, even way back when I was a kid I was anxious of change mostly (I'm talking new school terms, change of classes, routines being altered) but I never really understood how or why I felt a certain way about particular situations until I reflect back now. I won't delve too far into the depths of my personal anxieties just yet but with regards to my business, the acceptance and admiration of my creativity is my absolute downfall. Oh, dollar dollar bills also put me on the verge of a break down too......

Designing for yourself is easy, it's therapeutic and it doesn't mean anything necessarily and can be tossed in the trash without question. Designing for a client, a new product or a commission is a whole different kettle of fish, there are deadlines and opinions and generally just the idea of whether the final outcome will be accepted or even admired. I am currently designing a whole new range for Darwin & Gray and despite being in control as well as being a collection that I have wanted to do for quite some time, I find it mentally exhausting. The nature of social media and the internet mean that it is easy to stay on top of current popular trends but trying to get one step ahead of that is so difficult and I'm not alone in this struggle obviously as we (the independent designers) are trying to compete with the big dogs of the high street and top designer brands to keep on creating something new and exciting. It is of course all a part of the fun but also contributes excessively to stress and anxiety levels, not to mention wanting to desperately avoid the disheartening moment of launching a new product for it to not do well at want to curl up in a ball and fucking give up.

I'm just going to throw it out there but money must be the biggest concern or cause of anxiety for a hell of a lot of people, not just us small business owners. Transforming a hobby into a career is hard as it has to pay off in order for you to survive but you have to try your best to not let the financial side consume you or the brand because ultimately the company and creativity will suffer. I am incredibly fortunate in that I am yet to leave home, don't have to pay proper bills and have very little to payout every month but I have definitely come to a point in my life that it is time to move out and buy my own place (Note: I say buy as I'm a stubborn bugger who really doesn't want to rent). The harsh reality is that Darwin & Gray definitely does not provide me financially with the means to afford my own place so I am in the sticky situation of.....

A. How do I develop Darwin & Gray to earn me more without getting consumed by the 'make money fast' kind of attitude that some businesses take and end up ultimately failing.
B. It's time to get looking for a 3rd part time job to add to the mix and let Darwin & Gray plod on in the background.

Blah, times like this I wish Monopoly money actually had worth & I'd be rolling in it.

H O T & C O L D
Just one last thing, you're not always going to be the flavour of the month unfortunately and when you just think that you've cracked this small business thing, the buzz drops off again and it's back to square one. This world keeps you on your toes, drives you insane but there's nothing that quite compares to the moment you receive an order and you realise that people do like what you do, so much so that they want to buy a piece of it.
So yes, we're all totally different but the same when it comes to anxieties and this is barely even touching the surface but it is all about limits, you know yourself better than anybody else so just don't push yourself beyond your own control and don't spread yourself too thinly. Also, try talking to others, releasing some pressure and being honest.

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