Monday, October 1, 2012

The Battle of Self Doubt, Business Doubt & Being Discouraged

Today I want to talk about the absolute biggest business challenge I have ever faced: myself.

I've been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to write this post, but at the end of the day, this blog is supposed to offer insights into my business - both the high and low. While I would love to only post about the great growth and fabulousness, that wouldn't be showing what really goes on behind the scenes.

Last week I shared some of my Common Business Mistakes, and while it was a scary mini-series to write, I thought it would be helpful so I wrote it, and it has gotten a ton of views, so thank you! Today I'll let you in on something that's even scarier to me, but I think it'll be even more helpful for you and the life/business you may be trying to grow.

Let's start off with my big confession: I seriously doubt myself. Like, all of the time. I doubt that I have the business savvy to really keep Believe Notes growing, I doubt that I have the accounting savvy to not have the IRS knock on my door and take me off to jail, I doubt that I have the actual design talent to create something timeless and versatile, I doubt that I have a warm & inviting personality and that I won't be able to make friends and be successful at networking, and I doubt that I have the ability to come off real and authentic in my blog posts.

Most days I am able to dock my doubts in the back of my mind and just plow through my to-do list,  but lately my to-do list has grown overwhelmingly complicated and my available time has dwindled to just about nothing. I'm so consumed by my business that I basically ignore all other house chores. There are stacks of laundry that need to be put away, my office is a mess, if it weren't for auto-pay, our bills wouldn't be paid, and I have a chronically empty fridge.

 my fridge, a few weeks ago: apple sauce, milk, eggs, beer, plain pasta. Oye.

One day last week I came home from my full-time job, exhausted and in dire need of some R&R. I needed to clear a spot on my sofa just to sit down, seriously. I looked around and noticed that my dining room table was covered in envelopes, samples, stamps and boxes - with just a little area cleared for my husband and I to have dinner every night. My sofa table was stacked with "inspirational magazines" - but wait, what color is my sofa table again? There was a giant pile of empty boxes sitting by the door, waiting to be taken to the recycling bin - one of Miss Juliet's balls was in there somewhere, but she was too chicken to dig in an get it herself, so she sat and cried and begged for me to reach into the pile and get it for her. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed, guilty, upset and out-of-control. Usually I'm able to come home from work and fold laundry, go through mail and tidy up. But lately I've been so busy filling orders and designing for Minted challenges, launching my wedding line, and prepping for the holidays, that I literally come home from work each day and go straight to my computer. I feel like a bad wife, and feeling like a bad wife is a sucky feeling (even though my husband swears I am not exactly the mutant stationery zombie that I think I am)

The hardest part for me, honestly, is the doubt around whether or not my business is legitimate. While my sales have increased, I'm still not anywhere near where I want to be. My Shop has days with zero visitors and weeks with zero sales. Granted, some weeks I have more sales than I can keep up with, and that feels fantastic. But on the weeks with nothing, I feel like a failure, and I start the doubt cycle again. I'll also add that I have a particularly hard time in the beginnings of the month, because all of the statistic stuff for website/blog/shop go down to zero. It's overwhelming when I look at the zero on the charts and have to think about how hard I'll be working over the month in order to get my numbers where I'd like them to be.

Speaking of numbers, I know I want more exposure. It's a goal, and I'm definitely working hard at it. I had reached out to a bunch of advertisers in the beginning of September and was so overwhelmingly surprised and happy that ALL of them not only supported my business, but wanted to feature me as "hand picked" or the like. I was on a high, until I realized that while I had money in my savings, I didn't have enough to pay for all the basic advertising. Well, that totally killed my high. I know it takes money to make money - and maybe I should take the risk of pulling money from my personal savings to pay for some of the ads?

So, at this point you might be sick of hearing me talk about this, and you might be looking for my advice or a tip of some sort. Well, I don't have one yet. I'm not exactly sure what my next step is from here, but I'm going to make sure it's a smart one (who wants to make a stupid step, right?!). Maybe I need to reduce the variety of products in my shop to just a select group of things I truly, truly love. Maybe I need to recruit my mother to help me manage some of my accounting & paperwork. Maybe I need to take some money from my personal savings to help get the exposure I want/need. Maybe I need to have more defined business hours. Maybe I just need to be patient and keep on doing what I'm doing (success doesn't come overnight, right?).

There really are some big and exciting things coming with Believe Notes, and I know that I'm running a good business, but I think we all get to a point where we need to think a little more strategically about the future. I do promise, though, that whatever happens, it'll only be in the interest of improving Believe Notes as much as possible.


  1. This was an important post to write and one many of us can relate to. It is difficult to work full-time, keep up with a household and start a business. You feel torn in all directions and sometimes like you are not giving your best to any of them.

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! I'm glad you can relate, and you're totally right about feeling torn in all directions

  2. Great post! I can definitely relate to it. There are times I get discouraged when it comes to my own business. Though, it is encouraging to hear that you work full time and run your business and are successful. I find that the hardest thing for me is to find time and motivation to get things done. I've found that paying for ads does help to get exposure, but only if you advertise where it counts. Keep going though, your stationary business is great!

    1. Thanks, Jasmin! It's so encouraging for me to hear that other people have similar challenges - we're all human, right?!


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