Up the Stairs We (Can’t) Go
When you start looking for any job, it usually goes like this: you get a list of what will be required of you as an employee, and what will you receive in exchange from a company. On the other hand, choosing to become an entrepreneur is quite the opposite: you are given a blank piece of paper and you have to write everything from scratch yourself.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. An entrepreneur is given all the freedom to write all the plans and the “how-s and why-s” in a way that it will make sense for their own story and for the specific product they are planning to develop. Therefore, entrepreneurship is so much more than being creative only when coming up with products. It revolves around creativity all the time, which is especially why I enjoy it so much.
It is like going up the stairs – you go step by step. I have already written about many of those steps (like getting an idea, doing customer research…) in my previous articles, and another one important to mention are finances. This one was one of the most challenging to begin with. How do you even calculate finances? It seemed so complicated and daunting, especially because my knowledge about how to work with numbers didn’t reach anywhere beyond what was taught in my high school math class. Well, I was involved in a financial math club for a year, and I learned a lot there, but it was mostly connected to shares, bonds, interest rates etc. and was not really helpful in my situation.
I was trying to figure out how to deal with finances for such a long time, while it was actually completely unnecessary. Then I finally decided that “you know what, I will just write down the list of all possible expenses, simply divide them into divide them into categories and estimate, how much each of them will cost me initiallly and over time (monthly), add them up, and that is it”. I opened an Excel sheet and did exactly that, and it was so clear, organized, and easy to go through. Therefore, the best advice for finances I could give to any aspiring entrepreneur and also my past self would be to just keep it simple. If you are starting small, you do not need to overcomplicate your finances. At the beginning, basic mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) combined with some logics are your best friends.
However, this advice only applies to the part of your finances connected to understanding your business’s expenses and knowing how much you will be required to invest. As soon as you start dealing with receipts and taxes, leave it to a professional unless you really have sufficient knowledge of how to do it, because it leaves no room for errors. I am working with an accounting company that provides me with professional guidance and makes sure that all financial-tax-legal kind of matters are in check. For me, that was definitely a worthwhile investment.
Another important step was to figure out the order fulfilment and logistics. How will an order turn into a package and come to a creative soul that ordered them. The first part was pretty easy to figure out. I knew that I wanted each package opening to be the whole experience. To be a minute of joy and excitement. To feel like Christmas. That is why I put a lot of effort into nicely wrapping the notebooks in wrapping paper, tying a cute little bow around them, and writing a thank you card by hand. I want every customer to know, to feel that this package was not prepared in an automated manner, but with lots of care, love, and gratitude of another human being. In addition, Brightnin is a sustainable brand. That part of my story is of great importance to me. Not only that all our products are locally made (in Slovenia), but also: I actually do not use even a single piece of plastic to pack an order. Everything is either re-used or made of eco-friendly materials. I did not forget even about the details like an adhesive tape, which is in my case made out of natural rubber and does not contain any plastic. Such tape costs three times more that an ordinary plastic one, but I am without doubt willing to pay for it, because I am aware of the current environmental situation and try my best to really minimize my effect on the environment.
Another part, finding a courier company, was a bit harder. It was a meeting after a meeting after a meeting, with many phone calls and emails in between. And sending packages was crazily expensive! At some moments, I honestly began doubting I will be doable, but on the other hand, I had already overcome so many obstacles up to that point that I still strongly believed we will find a solution to this challenge as well. And we did! I found one courier company that thankfully had reasonable prices. I am convinced there exists a god for small businesses or something because looking back, the fact that so many things managed to click and work out… it still astonishes me.
Let me wrap up this article in a bit different way. I have to tell you something funny about the title. You would probably be asking right now, wait Nika, so you are explaining the title, the most initial part or the article possible, in the last paragraph? Well, I’m Ms. Demystify, so let’s say I can demystify something even at the very end. 🙂 Joking aside, I wanted to say that the title of this article (Up the Stairs We (Can’t) Go) does not have a meaning only in a metaphoric sense. At home, my family and I literally could not go up the stairs when I started with Brightnin, because there were so many boxes with notebooks placed in the hall at the top of the stairs (as there was no place for them elsewhere). After a while, we managed to move them because other family members wanted the whole width of their stairs back, but at least I was always happy to see them at the top of the stairs everyday right in the morning. It was definitely one of the first, nicest and funniest memories of my beginnings with Brightnin that will stay forever.
Until next time!