What I've Learned After Starting a Business

Farmyard Darlings Letter #5: Ten (Well, Eleven) Things I’ve Learned After Starting a Business in 2010

1.     You can’t be good at all things. Just be sure to kick a** where you can. Realize that you’ll end up spending 20% on what you love to do, and 80% on what you don’t like to do. But be sure to never lose sight on why you started the business in the first place.

2.     Don’t go into debt. Don’t let debt be an albatross around your neck. Credit cards are like your best frenemy and are good for one thing. To earn good credit. Period.

3.     Be authentic to your brand. Our brand is simple. We are two authentic gals, who left their careers in sales and hi-tech PR to form Farmyard Darlings, with one simple task: To make country chic real again.

4.     Be clear about WHY you started the business in the first place. And saying “Because I think it would be fun!” is really not a good business strategy. But do you know what is? Because we had an idea to reclaim forgotten wood and make it into something functional like barn doors, farm tables, benches, bars, and much more!

5.     Find a lot of mentors. Make sure that they are a helluvalot smarter than you and be sure to ask them a helluvalot of questions. You can’t do this alone. So, find your (spiritual) mentor and be sure to listen to your instincts.

6.     Don’t work weekends. (Especially Sundays.) Well, that’s just plain ol’ funny talk. Be with your family. Be with your friends. Heck, plant a garden! (I wish that I would listen to my advice!) All of your work will be there on Monday am. I promise.

7.     Be productive. Be organized. Keep an eye out for those cracks because something will most likely fall through them unless your organizational routine is super stellar. (Mine’s not. But I guarantee you that my younger sisters is! Love her!)

8.     Read a lot. And not just “Who Moved My Cheese?” or the infamous college graduation gift of “What Color is Your Parachute?” Devour anything and everything that helps you move your business forward. (And don’t forget The ONE Good Book. The one that guides us all.)

9.     It’s really okay to work with a friend. Yep. Really it is. This was our deal. Family first. Then friendship. And Farmyard Darlings falls somewhere after that….

10. Don’t procrastinate. One of the most popular brand campaigns of all time (in my opinion) was Nike’s “Just Do It.” Personally, I like ours too. “EVERY RIDE COUNTS.” Because it’s the RIDE of LIFE that counts…Because you’re only gonna do it once. So don’t procrastinate. Make it count.

11. Salt heals everything. I kind of knew this before starting a business. Especially in PR after you’ve sent out an email to the Senior Writer at the NYT with a gazillion errors, or better yet, the wrong pitch — or delivered a beautiful custom table 1 -2 inches shorter than the spec — well, at that time a good ol' salty cry really helps followed maybe with a super salty-rimmed margarita of course! (And if you’re close to a very salty ocean, go for a swim!!!)

A shout out to my perennially-positive-business-partner, Kim Berry, she’s my kind of crazy!

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Farmyard Love,

Carole

So, now, it’s your turn. What have you learned after starting your business?