What I had hoped to be a successful online sales trial, turned bad in just under 4 hours. I finally admitted defeat and shut the sales page down at midnight on Wednesday due to a large amount of lost carts and the loss of charging sales tax on invoices. Not properly charging sales tax is kind of a big deal people, but so are frustrated customers who just want to support your business and can’t because their cart is missing.
I have been putting so much effort into everything that I do at the store, be it my first day open, my events, and now an online sales trial, in order to make them perfect. But when I aim for perfection, I am setting standards that I know I can’t achieve. I get so caught up in the hype, that I forget these things take time - not a spur of the moment decision without proper thought or planning. Why did I think that I could launch an online sales page in less than 10 hours? Or, why do I always stay up the entire night before an event changing the layout of the store instead of tagging and entering in new inventory for said event? Easy - I want perfection. I want growth, and I naively thought that it could be obtained overnight. When I do those things, though, I don’t get perfect. The outcome is never what I wanted it to be, and I’m left feeling overwhelmed and defeated. And I usually take about three steps backward instead of forward - not good for the growth I so badly desire.
Perfection is a myth. It’s an unrealistic goal that we set for ourselves and others. We are all flawed. We all fail. We all make mistakes. And that’s okay as long as we understand that:
1. Those flaws are a part of us - tools to help us learn and grow, not excuses to why we can’t do something.
2. Failure doesn’t mean defeat and it’s not an excuse to give up or quit; it’s a reason to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go at it a different way.
3. And that the second time, it’s no longer a mistake, but a choice. And sometimes, we make the choice, because it takes us a little longer to find our way, but eventually, you need to stop making the choice.
So here I am, admitting that I am flawed, that I have failed, and I have made a handful of mistakes, and even choices, during this journey of business ownership.
It’s okay to grow slow. Say that again, slowly. It’s. Okay. To. Grow. Slow. It has taken me the last 11 months and a failed online sales trial to finally believe this statement in its entirety. Growth isn’t achieved in a few hours, or days. Sometimes it takes months, even years and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The time it takes for your growth does not define your business - it’s the steps and choices that you make that define it. This doesn’t just pertain to business either - it’s just as true for self and relationship growth.
In the past, I have always been a planner, but I have yet to fully plan anything that I have done in the store other than the initial business set-up. I got so caught up in the hustle to big growth and perfection, that I stopped seeking a plan or putting any real thought into things - I just did them sporadically, but still expected perfection. See the problem? So, I’m taking a step back and once again, creating a business plan of sorts - planning for the year, and years to come along with finding the tools and resources that I will need to do the things that I want to do, then mapping out what makes sense to do now, and what needs to wait. Of course there will be pitfalls and set-backs, but at least I will have a plan to guide me.
Although the online sales trial was a flop in the are of sales and malfunction, some good came from it, too. The participation was much greater than I expected, so I know that the need to pursue on-line sales is there. My current website platform cannot support on-line sales the way that I need it to, so I will be switching to a platform designed specifically for boutiques and on-line sales. And, the best part, I learned that I can handle it. In under 10 hours, I did all of the product photography and editing, researched and recorded all of the product information, material and care instructions along with inventory and pricing. Imagine what I can do with more time and an actual on-line sales plan!
You’ve been my customers for seven months now - long enough to know the style of the store as it is now, but is there something that you would do differently or change entirely? I would appreciate if you could fill out the survey linked below, so that I can use your feedback in my planning. Be honest, but be nice. I will not tolerate rudeness or cruelty. Constructive criticism can be done without tearing someone apart.
Although it doesn’t look like it here in Minnesota, Spring is coming and it’s on its way to the store in the form of fun new home decor, kitchen accessories, clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses and bags, and so much more! There are also some fun events and projects that I am working on, along with launching a new website platform with online sales capability. And much to my husbands dismay, we are working on some layout changes at the store so that we can accommodate more inventory and a better flow.
Thank you so much for your continued support, words of encouragement, patience, and not giving up on me. Running a business is hard, but when you have people who truly care about you, and support you - getting through the hard times are so much easier. Thank you, thank you!