Most days I feel like I may have gone about this whole small business thing backwards. If you're a fellow small business owner, you might feel this way too.... the last few years have felt like I was navigating a dark street, with no real direction and just crossing my fingers that it would all work out. Any brand designer will tell you that the first thing you need when you start a business is your why. Why are you doing this? What void are you filing in the market? What's your mission statement?
My what? I didn't do any of that prior to beginning this adventure. No mission statement, no authentically created brand, no worksheets full of what my client experience would look like or my yearly goals. I just started designing. And posting to Etsy. And helping friends... and taking whatever work someone threw my way, telling myself that I'd figure it out as I went.
The end of this month will mark one full year since my website launched. Since I branded my business. Since I started taking myself more seriously. I've tripled my sales from a year ago. I've far surpassed some of the goals I set for myself in January. I've had to say no to work because I'm at capacity for what I can handle with my full-time job and being a mom. And you know what? I've probably done it all wrong.
But for me, going in blind and doing it all wrong was exactly what I needed to start doing it right. If I had to have written a mission statement to stay in business last year, it would have been fake. If I had to define my why, I would have said "because I like to design". If I had to answer questions about what goals I wanted for my business in 5 years, all I would have said was "to make a profit".
One full year later, I'm finally clear on it all. Who I want to work with. What I want to do. What I want my business to stand for, and what steps I want to take to get there. And while I wholeheartedly believe in the brand exercises to answer these questions, the only way I could have answered them for myself was to just start. I didn't have a thoughtful business plan or a perfectly curated Instagram feed; my product assortment was probably too broad and not really reflective of what I wanted to do; I didn't have a niche and actually thought that designing everything from logos to wedding invitations was what I wanted my business to be about. All I did was start. And what I've realized this last year is that when you're first starting out, it's okay to not know all the answers. It's okay to want to do (insert business trade here) because you just really enjoy it. It's okay to not really understand your target market. It's okay to say, I have this idea and I want to try it out and see how it grows, before investing thousands of dollars into starting a business.
So what does all this mean for Bella Carta?
I have a big heart for my clients with really full lives. Brides who are juggling a full-time job, spending time with their fiancé and friends, and planning a wedding. Couples who are buying a home, starting a family, or expecting their first little love. Moms who are doing it all: raising children, running a home, working full-time and trying to find an extra hour in the day to decorate for the birthday party they're hosting this weekend. I want my business to serve people who celebrate the smallest milestones, people who have a deep appreciation for good design, and people who yearn to work with a business that can simplify the celebrations in their life, so that they can live in the moment.
This new focus (and also maybe my constant need for change) has led me do a small brand refresh which I will be sharing soon. Most of you may not even notice the tweaks, but I think they're a great reflection of this slightly refreshed direction and of where I want this business to grow. Over the next several weeks I'll be sharing my updated services, some new packages, and plans for additional resources to come this fall. I'm so excited for this next stage of my business and really can't wait to share it with all of you!