I enjoy meeting and getting to know other small business owners. In this industry, there’s an amazing amount of inspiration and collaboration to be found talking to other creative individuals. Specifically, I love sharing and hearing about the journey to owning your own business. Everyone’s path is different but I truly feel that there’s something to learn from each of them. Today, I wanted to share mine with you. Many of the people following this blog already know some of it, but for those who don’t (and for those who want to know a little more), read on!
How long have you owned this business?
I started Cedar Gandy on January 1, 2014.
How did you decide to strike out on your own?
After 6 years of working for an amazing graphic design firm, I found myself wondering and dreaming about the possibility of something more. Something new and different. Specifically something a little more handmade, a little more broad, and a lot more me.
At the time I was making this decision, my husband Jordan and I were 10 months into marriage. My brother (who also happens to be my closest friend) had just moved across the ocean. We were talking about adding a fourth UPS Store to the three we already owned. To put it simply, transition was in the air and I felt it. After months of prayer and wise counsel, I stepped out of my design position and stepped into the world of a self employed designer entrepreneur. I’m going to be honest here: this whole thing felt like a huge risk! But I wanted to have faith and trust what I felt like God was calling me to.
What is the best part of running a small business?
The sense of having more freedom. As an entrepreneur, I get to have more say in the types of projects I work on. I’m now free to take on work that inspires me, which is an incredible blessing. I also have the chance to pursue the kind of clients and jobs that interest me. Now, I get to work on a wide variety of projects that include designing visual marketing pieces for larger companies and creating smaller custom projects for small businesses and individuals. Practical “freedom" is a huge part of why I started Cedar Gandy. I can easily take my work on the road and spend time with my husband while he travels for work.
What is the hardest part of running a small business?
The hardest thing about it is that I don’t get to design all day, which I would love to do. One of the common responses people having when they hear I run a small business is the classic, “Must be nice that you can do whatever you want!” Of course, that really is true to an extent! But people underestimate the huge responsibility that comes along with that well, especially if you want to grow and be successful. For now, everything is on my shoulders—at least until Cedar grows a little more.
I split my time between creative meetings, corresponding with clients and vendors via LOTS of emails, accounting and invoicing, creating quotes for different jobs, keeping up my website and social media, growing the business, continuing to learn and grow technically and creatively, and staying fresh and innovative with my design as much as I can. With that comes the daily pressure of starting work at 8 and not stopping until it’s done. So getting up, taking breaks and moving around can be a challenge, which is a bummer—most days I eat at my desk while in the middle of responding to clients!
What doubts or resistance have you had to face?
If I’m facing resistance, it’s usually coming from myself. It’s often the resistance to put myself and my work out there more, resistance to dreaming big, resistance to being totally confident in my work and where I’m at in this journey. Even though it can be a tough thing to admit, I love being able to share my story and be honest about the obstacles that I face. Even in the moments when I find myself worried about growing my business, it really is my clients (both new and regular) that keep me going. They don’t give me any reason to doubt my creativity, ideas, design aesthetic, or business. At the end of the day, that is one thing I am so grateful for!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out on this journey?
Come up with a plan that involves your dreams, but also your mission and goals. For me, that is the key to sticking to your vision and staying motivated. Ask people that have gone before you for advice and wisdom. Pick their brain and expertise. Listen to their stories. Work really hard and ride the waves of highs and lows that come with owning a small business. Also, know who your support team is– whether it’s a business partner, parents, spouse, or close friends. Talk with them about expectations, goals, and even how starting your own business will affect the relationships in your life. Ask yourself: what am I willing to compromise? What am I not willing to compromise? Then have someone to hold you accountable to those decisions.