It was three years before we made any real money with Inkleaf. By real money I mean more than just covering the cost of running the business. Does that mean that those first three years were worthless? Hardly! Were they frustrating? Absolutely. Did they make us wonder whether this was ever going to work? Yes, but we learned so much by our many failures. Things that had a value far beyond mere money. We learned of course the various aspects of how to run a business. We learned how not to run a business. We learned photography, design, and marketing. We learned how to engage with customers. And of course we learned how to make great leather products.
Most importantly though were the personal traits which we developed. Perseverance chief among them. Patience also. Most people don't fail because they never had it in them to do something substantial and fulfilling. They fail because they give up too soon. They fail because they look for the value of the thing they're doing in all the wrong places, especially when it comes to money.
Money is a necessity of modern life and one of the significant reasons why you may choose to begin a business. However, it won't sustain you as a person and unless you're one of the exceptional success stories spoken of in last week's post, chances are there will be times especially early on when you struggle financially. It's these times above all others that it's important not to measure your success solely, or even primarily in financial terms.
Look at what you've learned and who you've become as a result of your effort. Knowledge and wisdom you can carry with you. It can be applied in a variety of contexts even when the money isn't there. Even if your current business doesn't pan out, what you learn and the beneficial traits you develop may give you a better start with whatever you may attempt next.
Lastly, and most importantly, measure your success based on gratitude. Look beyond your business. Look at your life as a whole. What are you grateful for? Who are the people that will still be by your side regardless of the financial success of your business? What other blessings are you fortunate to have? Don't compare your life with other people. Find your own gratitude regardless of circumstance and live from that. Your business is important to you, but never lose sight of the fact that all of these things running through your mind right now are of far greater worth.
*Inkleaf is the third business between Steff and me. Steff ran a small online Etsy store selling handmade jewelry before we started Inkleaf, and we also started a short lived video production company together called Kalns Studios.
For more Craft Business Tips, check out the posts linked below!