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The first 90 days

February 21st marked the first 90 days of Millie & Sebby being officially open for business.  I can still remember the brisk Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving when I decided that we were ready as ever to launch our small business.  I figured we were just in time for Small Business Saturday and with that thought opened up our online store and posted on social media telling friends about the arrival of our first shipment. 
Our first order arrived
As we round out the first 90 days of our business, I can think of the following things I have learned:
  1. Done is better than perfect.  Sheryl Sandberg said it best, but every day I make an effort to just get things done rather than get them completely perfect.  Of course, when it comes to preparing one of our orders to be shipped, I take extreme care to fold the tissue paper just right.  But when it comes to completing other tasks like sending emails, writing posts, etc. done is better.  In the end, if it doesn't work, I learn for the next time.
  2. Customer acquisition is a full-time job.  Particularly for a small business when you're selling across a number of channels, trying to get awareness and trial, and trying to get brick and mortar distribution - acquisition takes a lot of testing, learning and iterating.
  3. There is an underground world of other small business owners and friends who are ready to help new businesses get started.  In our journey to launch our business, I have come into contact with a wonderful graphic designer, an accountant, a market researcher, a social media expert, and a franchise business owner who have been at the ready to help me figure out various part of our business.
  4. Working with the small business council in your city and the small business division of any regulatory agency has been the most easy going experience. I reached out to both the council and the small business ombudsman in order to learn all about the process of importing children's clothing.  They were always willing to help out and review documentation so that we did not have any trouble when going through customs.
  5. Talking about your business with friends, particularly business-minded friends, can be like a coaching session and catch up session all in one.  I recently sat down with a friend who is doing a social media certification and we were able to talk about new ways in which we could bring traffic to the site which I'm going to be implementing in the coming weeks.  It was great to get the tips, but also be able to catch up with her.
  6. When you're a small business owner, you are everything and everyone.  I was and am regulatory, customs, billing, accounts payable, marketing, brand, sales, operations, fulfillment and lots more.  But man, every time I see how a campaign has performed or I see an order come through, my heart leaps with joy because that was the result of our direct work.
  7. There is no better support than family and friends who cheer you on and ask you how things are going, like your business on social media and pass it on to their networks.  We have been lucky that we have received great support from our family and friends as we embark on this journey.
  8. The pride and joy that fills our hearts every time we get to tell our story.  Whether that is while talking to a potential customer, a retailer, or just a friend.  We are so proud to be able to show our products and the careful thought that went behind them.

I know there are more lessons that I have been able to internalize in these first few months, but in the spirit of "done is better than perfect," I'll close out the list for now.  In the meantime, I will take this time to thank all our family and friends who believe in us and cheer us on every day through their advice and encouragement.  It takes a village to raise to a child and a business is no different.


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