The Entrepreneur Journal #5: Month in review
It's literally the last day of the month. An October that seemed like the longest month of my life.
This end of the month finds we exhausted like I've never been in the past two years and I'm wondering if I'll realize it when I cross the limit that leads to burnout. Over the past few months, I've heard a lot of discussions around entrepreneurs exhausting themselves right up to a hospital bed. Listening to them sharing their stories, I used to tell myself that isn't going to happen to me. I will be aware of my body, of my mind, I will plan days to relax and unwind. Yet, in this month I have worked every day. No break. And the past weekend was the last drop. I was out in the field, working my lavender crop both Saturday and Sunday, a total of 12 hours, out in the cold. Don't get me wrong, I loved every moment of it!
Sure, I checked a ton of things off my list this month. I've had a couple of breakthroughs, and a lot of good moments. Yet, at the end of the day, I feel exhausted and painfully aware that I need to find ways to cope with this rhythm. I don't want to give it up. I love this rhythm, I love getting creative with everything I do, I love to experience and challenge myself with new projects.
One of the ways I came up with boosting my energy at the end of a full month is to go through everything I've been up to. The idea is to summarize the highlights of the month in an attempt to keep track of my progress and to prove to myself that despite my exhaustion I have created something. It's an exercise, I dare to say, you should try it yourself.
Publishing my first lamp tutorial
I started October by recording my very first video tutorials for my handmade business and ended it with a photo tutorial of my first ever lamp, a project I did for I Like That Lamp. It was a one-day project, that involved transforming a real pumpkin into a lamp and a floral centerpiece. Had quite a lot of fun doing that. You can check it out right here.
Getting my lavender field ready for winter
This was the hardest thing I did this month. It wasn't a mental challenge, but it was the most exhausting physical task of the month. I'm happy I did though, and fortunately, I had the help of my partner, but I'm scared out of my mind about what's going to come next year. You see, the awesome part about lavender is that with each year it grows bigger and stronger, which means more flowers but at the same time, it makes pruning more time-consuming every year.
I also realized that the more I expand, the more time I need to invest in it, which won't be a problem if I wouldn't get a ton of ideas every day. On the other hand, I understood that with a small crop you have to be smart about the way you value your production in a way that is worth your time and financial investment. So for the second time, I attempted at planting lavender cuttings from my own field. However, unlike the first time I tried it, I'm now doing it out in the field. Hopefully, by next year this time, I'll have some great news to share with you.
Starting a new awesome project
This is one of the best highlights of October. I will help the awesome women at Women's International Festival promote their 2018's edition, which is set to take place in New York, March 8 - 12. I'm just starting out, but you're welcome to check out more of this project on Facebook, in the upcoming weeks.
Launching "Old Lamps, New Life" on Amazon Kindle
Last year, I marked a premiere launching an eBook on Amazon for a client. I never expected I would get to do it again, but turns out I did and I had a blast doing it. Even better, I learned from my mistakes and scored great results with the free promotion campaign for Amazon KDP Select. Plus, I realized how powerful the one-on-one interaction can be when it comes to Instagram communities. You can buy the eBook for Kindle right here.
Publishing five articles on my website (and this makes six)
Making time to write on this website is one of main biggest priorities every month. With all that was going on this October, I am surprised to see that I actually published five articles, and this makes six. You can read them below:
Starting my lavender journal
I've been keeping an offline journal about my lavender farming efforts ever since I first got the idea. However, I kept that a secret. I was a bit scared I didn't have what it took to be in this business, but something changed this month in the way I understand entrepreneurship. So I decided it's time to move from putting pen on paper, to hitting the keyboards and telling the story of my first year growing lavender. I'm happy to say, the first year is now available in my lavender journal.
Creating my first lavender product
This one was a huge task on my list and for a couple of months I have been completely uninspired. And then, one evening while cleaning the house I found some wood slices, somehow stumbled upon my hot glue gun and decided to mix it all with some lavender flowers. The result? My first lavender products which I fell in love with on the spot.
There's one more thing you should know about how my mind works. It's not just brainstorming a new product. It's doing all the math to see if this product would actually be worth it. It's creating a marketing plan and a distribution strategy. I'm so grateful, I finally got to wrap my mind around that too.
Finding my wedding dress
This was probably one of the easiest things I've done this month, but hey, it made the list. I don't have any bridezilla story to tell you. In fact, I think some of you might freak out when you'll read that it only took me 4 dresses to find my "one". Yep, that 1 dress, out of four, and I think it only took me around 30 minutes to decide. Here's a sneak peek. My partner is reading my blog, so I'm going to keep this a secret until the day we say "Yes".
Starting coaching sessions
I moved away from office life almost two years ago and I've never been happier. However, it sucks not to have someone to bounce off ideas on. As a freelancer marketing consultant, digital, solo entrepreneur it's really hard to test your ideas when the only other being around you on a daily basis is a cat. A bored cat for that matter, striving for attention. So I jumped to the opportunity when a fellow entrepreneur and friend asked on Facebook if there's someone interested in participating in self-run coaching sessions.
I didn't expect that first coaching session to provide that much value, but it did. It was an opportunity to bounce off ideas, test strategies, share my fears and get feedback from someone going through a similar journey.
If you have the opportunity to have this exchange, don't even think about it and just do it.
Choosing a name and creating 2018's offer for my photo booth business
Starting a photo booth and wedding decoration business was an idea that my friends from Frame My Life inspired me to take on. Over the past few weeks I've been investing in photo equipment and decorations, however I could not for the life of me brainstorm any cool brand names, nor focus on making a business plan. Two weeks ago, at my friends' demands, I eventually sat down and checked both tasks in one weekend.
The brand's name is "Dear You Events" and if you're based in Romania and interested in entertaining your party guests with a cool photo booth (and my presence), please contact me here.
Learning to video edit
Since I recorded my first video tutorials I realized YouTube's Video Editor won't cut it, so I asked around for recommendations (thanks guys) and eventually chose Cyberlink to start with video editing. I enjoy learning new things and while I have dabbled before with video editing, I never had such advanced software on my hands. My first video tutorial is almost there, I just have to make some fine updates and publish it on YouTube. Visit me in the first week of November for the final version.
Recording my first quilling video tutorials
I'm almost annoyed by hearing everybody around me talking about how video is going to be the next big thing in marketing and if you're not doing video, you're basically invisible. To some extent I agree with that, but on the other hand, there are always two kinds of people: people who dig text vs people who dig visual. But that's another story.
Anyway, I checked the analytics for my handmade business blog and realized I wasn't doing all that well. And it's really not a big surprise. I only post for a couple of weeks every year. But as my biggest selling season is approaching, I decided to boost my traffic well in advance of that and since Christmas is coming (or winter is coming, read it anyway you want), I chose to start my video tutorials with a series of quilling ornaments.
Took me one weekend to record two video tutorials, and another 2 days to video edit the first one, publish two teasers and one photo version in Romanian (which you can see here).
Over the past few months, I've made this a priority. I can't live up to my rhythm without working out and recently I've taken on running (I used to hate that so much a couple of months ago) and swimming. I walked 18 km, ran 4 km and swam 2 km. Not a lot, I know, but for someone who is spending 10 to 12 hours sitting on a chair working out my fingers on a keyboard, this is actually progress. Oh, and did I mention the weather turned bad this month?
Collecting the last lavender harvest of the year
October started with a trip to my lavender field to collect the last harvest of the year. For some reason, I was expecting to see a lot more blooms, but the best part is that I saw how much my plants developed over the summer. They look fantastic!