I like to start businesses in school, because you have so many potential customers. In primary school, I started a library business. Fellow students could rent my storybooks and I would charge them by the days. I also started writing children’s books in the little brown “Exercise books” they gave in school, and people started renting my books. A couple of my friends were great artists and soon, I left pages out in the book to let them draw images, just like in the Sweet Valley Kids books. We made a business out of it, and it was so much fun. I don’t know if they still remember it, but I certainly do.
In high school, I was too pre-occupied experimenting with lipsticks and started discovering boys, so the last thing on my mind was business. Such a waste of time that was!
In university, my passion for business came back unexpectedly. One of the bravest things I’ve done is set up my own scrapbooking business on Facebook. One sudden day, I created a group, invited friends and through word of mouth, the group grew larger. I got a lot of good feedback and words of encouragement, but also cynical remarks and skeptical faces about whether or not I was capable of succeeding.
Nevertheless, I took it as a challenge and put on a brave face trying to market my business. I had a lot of orders from friends of friends etc, and soon, I even had some photo shops that wanted to advertise the service in their shops, which would be a great boost for a new target market i.e. non-students.
My business failed. But not because I didn’t have customers. It was probably because of these things:
- Time factor ; I had a law degree to finish. In between writing essays and going to lectures, making 10 scrap-pages a day was extremely tiring.
- Man-power; Being a one-woman show, I was the manager, the marketing person, the finance person, the labour, the secretary, the paper-cutter, the glue-er, the postman, the everything. Dean was an amazing unpaid help, helping me cut flowers and print words and print pictures. But being slightly of a perfectionist, I just had to do everything else myself. I need to learn how to delegate.
- Finance; probably the biggest challenge. I was constantly buying supplies here and there, and not logging the purchases into the Excel finance sheet Dean set up for my business. I was selling the scrapbooks for way too cheap, compared to the price of the ingredients to make them. I was making a loss by each scrapbook I made, which is stupid and a terrible business decision, but I just didn’t have the heart to charge an enormous price for fellow students like me.
- Passion; it soon died. I love making scrapbooks, and so I jumped to conclusion that I would love making a business out of it. Wrong. What I soon realise was that I love making scrapbooks for my personal hobby, scrapbooks filled with pictures of my loved ones and my happy memories. I just didn’t enjoy making it for strangers I’ve never met before, just to see my efforts disappear from my hands and into their homes, which I cannot enter to cherish my labour.
Most businesses are born out of passion. But not many can succeed because if you love doing it so much, you tend to forget about the finance, because you are having too much fun.
Scrapbooking, to me, is a personal thing and should be made by you to your loved one. Half the fun is seeing their faces when they open it, but the other half is making it. The process of looking for pictures, thinking of a creative layout, writing personal messages is priceless and should not be delegated to another person. I guess I learned that along the way, and it is simply against my conscience to deny someone the feeling of making their own scrapbooks, which believe you me, is a lot of fun!
I’ve also learned \’a0that the most important person in any business is the Finance person, I think. Money is what makes the business go round and without a good cashflow, no business can profit and succeed. I’ve experienced that firsthand, and I am glad to have learned it at a young age, so that I hopefully won’t repeat them when I start a proper job.
Though short-lived, my scrapbooking business has opened my eyes. Besides learning the business game, I gained self-confidence, I gained boldness that I never knew I had. I made new friends out of great loyal customers (you know who you are!), who still supported me to the end. And most of all, I felt good knowing that I tried to achieve something in my life, on my own, and made my parents proud with my spontaneous project.
I highly recommend you to start your own business, if you can. Start it young; because you can afford to make mistakes along the way, and if your business goes well, you can expand it once you get out of university. I was scared at first, but I put on a thick face and still sent marketing messages to people, knowing that they’ll end up in the recycle bin, and I risked getting laughed at.
If you’re always worried about that, you will never start anything. So yeah, go and find something you like, and sell it!!
I hope I’ve contributed something with this post and I wish you all the best if you decide to start your own business, which is extremely fulfilling and rewarding to both your self-esteem, and your pockets.