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The Business Marathon

Hello again, my fellow entrepreneurship enthusiasts! This is just another (already a third!) article about my journey with my small business Brightnin. You seem to really enjoy these kind of blog posts, and I love writing them, especially because it is also my way of reflecting on what has happened in the past most crazy 8 months of my life.

Ever since the beginning of high school (around two and a half years ago), I have loved being a runner. It is a way in which I clear my mind, go outside, enjoy the sunshine, and… watch some beautiful little flowers and birdies along the way. For some, those details might be nothing special, but for me, seeing them makes me really happy over and over again.

Every year in autumn, I also run the Ljubljana 10-kilometre marathon. Being an entrepreneur, I have learned that running a business is not much different. First, you need some preparation and enough endurance to even begin (well, in business, that means idea, time and at least some money). The rest is in your head – how perseverant and motivated you are and how will you respond to challenges along the way.

I have already written about how I got the idea for colourful notebooks that encourage creativeness and innovativeness while abolishing stigmatization of people with scotopic sensitivity syndrome and dyslexia. This was the part of my business marathon when I was still very far from the start. Now I will take you a bit further, to the time when I had to step in front of the starting line and prepare for the actual run.

In spring 2021, I had an idea that I (most importantly) strongly believed in, and that actually had a great potential according to my customer research. Then, the next big step was to find a printing company that could make the notebooks for me and therefore bring my idea to life.

I had zero experience with such companies, so what followed were just hours of googling and contacting dozens of printing houses. In the next week, my email box was so full as never before. But, although I tried to describe what kind of notebooks I would like in as much detail as possible, most of the printing companies replied that they needed more information. Despite having done the customer research, beginning to work with them felt like my researching has actually just begun. I had to learn about different types of printers, printing techniques, different paper, colour scales… so that we could really define all the necessary details.

Digital printing.

Here is another funny story. One of the employees I was in contact with asked me to make a phone call because it is a much quicker way to exchange information than by email. Of course, I agreed, but before I called her, I was so… unnecessarily dramatic. Whenever I wrote an email to a printing house for the first time, I always introduced myself as a “young entrepreneur”, but never disclosed my age (many then addressed me Ms./Miss, which is very polite, but I was so not used to it that I felt kind of old). Anyhow, making a business phone call for the first time, I was afraid that the employee could tell from my voice that I am a 17-year-old teenager and that she would not take me seriously. Did that happen? Of course not. She was very kind and professional, and the phone call went excellent. Now, looking back, it is definitely a good memory to laugh about.

However, I was understandably nervous when I was waiting for the first offers to come from the printing companies. I was well aware that what often happens is that many great ideas do not get realized due to having too little money. I had quite a lot of savings and was prepared to invest it all, but still… will it be enough?

Finally, the first offer came. Okay, here we go, 3, 2, 1, and open! But what I saw in the following moment was… some terrible numbers. The notebooks would be ten times too expensive! There would be no way I could afford this, and even if there was, nobody would buy them, because I would have to set a ridiculously high price to cover all the expenses. Oh noo! Despite having had a great idea that could help so many people and despite all this hard work I had done to come this far, I was beginning to accept that unfortunately, I was about to be one of those many entrepreneurs-to-be that could not afford to launch their business.

You will not believe what happened next. It was a miracle. Wait, are we in a movie or what? After my dad carefully checked the offer again, he realized that the prices per unit were actually calculated for something similar to a book, which is completely different from a notebook and would be much more complicated to make, hence the prices were so high. It turned out that this printing company could not even make such kind of notebooks that I would have liked.

The following offers that arrived from other printing companies were way better. I was very happy to find out that my idea will also be financially doable! Yeeeeey! I was overwhelmed with joy as one of my biggest concerns was gone. I decided which printing company to work with and then there was another exciting task waiting for me: choosing colours for the notebooks. I got a heavy colour fan deck with thousands of different shades. There were so many beautiful colours to choose from. After a difficult consideration which took quite some time (even though the time went very quickly for me), I finally chose the 7 shades: 5 beautiful pastels, beige and grey. I chose them mainly according to my customer research and fell so in love with them that I later even named every notebook according to its colour (if sparking from curiosity, check them here).

As we are already talking about names… let me touch upon choosing a name for my small business. Finding this one word was one of the. Hardest. Parts. Of my entrepreneur journey. It took me weeks to find the right one. On some days, I spent even 10 hours, trying to come up with a name. Literally, I am not even kidding. Even if I was not moving at all but was just sitting outside or laying on my bed, this continuous thinking was so exhausting that I had to take a nap in the middle of the day, which I never do otherwise. The creative process of finding ideas is among my favourite things to do, and it was enjoyable this time as well, but I did not expect it to be that complicated at the same time, I mean, come on, for one word??  Well, I did come up with many ideas, but each was either so good that it was already taken by another business, or I did not like it anymore after 3 minutes. I am glad that I was patient enough so that I really waited for the perfect name to appear in my brainstorming book. And after having gone through more than 150 already-used or not-good-after-3-minutes names, I finally found the one. Brightnin.

Not only that it spelled nicely, but also, it was meaningful to me. It derives from an adjective »(to be) bright« that has multiple meanings which are tightly connected with what this business is all about: it means that you are full of light and ideas (which is exactly what I wish to encourage and it also nicely connects also to the logo – the light bulb), strong in colour (the main characteristic of the notebooks), intelligent and quick to learn, and full of hope for success and happiness. Suffix “nin” (conversationally shortened form of “ning”) next to the word “Bright” simbolically shows that I wish the upper four meanings to last continuously, forever (it stems from a rule that in English, continuous verb forms always end on -ing). If you ask me, this name was really meant to be. For me, it is perfect. Just as it is a perfect moment to wrap up this article.

At that moment in my story, my business finally got a solid foundation – a name, a product, and a very important goal to bring more colour into this world and spread the joy of creating while helping many people with scotopic sensitivity syndrome and abolishing their stigmatization. And also, after all, the goal was for me to try something new and enjoy the ride. Sorry, not the ride. The run. I am still running this business marathon, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me. Until next time!