I started Tea Thoughts several years ago and I wanted to share some important things that I’ve learned. I hope that these will help you in your own endeavors!
1) The Importance of a tribe
While creating content and/ or products can be satisfying to anyone trying to express themselves creatively, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t have an audience to share with! Tea Thoughts is still very, very small and has plenty of room to grow but one thing that Tea Thoughts has, is a tribe. Through social media, I’ve connected with the most amazing and supportive people. My tribe are the ones who pay attention to, engage with and support my content.
Even if your tribe is small, it’s way more important than having a bunch of followers who you never interact with. The tribe is there through all the algorithm changes. The tribe is there when you come back from not posting for a while because you needed a break. The tribe is there when you release new things. A tribe is actually just a family that you’ve created around your business. They aren’t just “customers” they are people who you can actually connect and share your passion with.
2) You can always do more
Sometimes it feels like I’m always working. I go to work then when I have breaks I’m doing things for Tea Thoughts and when I get home, I work on Tea Thoughts. Content creation or design is not the only task for my business. While I’ve gotten used to some of the other things I need to be doing like sales tax and managing bills, it’s so easy to neglect certain parts of a business.
For me, I often will focus on new designs and products and then my blog goes without an update for a while. This is something that happens all the time and it can lead to embarrassing things like having the link to your etsy shop on your blog in several places even though you don’t use etsy anymore !! A couple successes means that the work will continue to pile one. This is a good problem to have. It seems like the more you do the more you find out you can continue to do to improve. While I maintain my blog and shop as best as I can there are many aspects that I could go through and fine tune. It’s not the most fun but it’s important.
3) It’s not all sunshine and rainbows… and that’s ok.
I receive so much positive feedback about my blog and shop, it is sometimes emotionally overwhelming. I think when people see your online presence they make an assumption about your success. While you want people to view you in a positive light, their view doesn’t define your reality. In the communications I put out, I’m generally positive because I want to be and because I want to spread that to others. That positive attitude doesn’t always reflect what is happening in the background.
As a product shop owner, I haven’t reached a point where I’m sending out a bunch of orders every single day. Generally, I will have times where the orders roll in and then times in between that are quiet. These quiet times can be rough. As a small business owner, we can sometimes tie our self worth to the perceived success of our business whether that is views, sales, referrals etc. So when your your success is down, you often feel down on yourself.
Having these times aren’t all bad. When orders roll in, it’s generally a time of happiness and motivation. When sales are slow or non existent there is a different type of motivation. During these times, I take a deeper look at what I’m doing and see what I can change or fix. Great progress can also happen during these times. Trying to find positive aspects in times we perceive as “bad” can be healthy and productive for our businesses.
4) Follow your passion
It’s easy to get sucked into following trends in order to be successful. I don’t advise that you ignore trends but to make sure that everything you do is somewhat in the realm of your passion. When we are passionate about something, the result is always better. Creating a certain product or type of content can be more fruitful but only if it’s done right. If the trend is boxes, you can’t just throw together a box and expect it to do well.
Your passion will lead you on a journey and while on that path, there will be stops along the way where you can step off the path slightly to create something. When creating that something, make sure that one foot is still on the path. Ultimately, that path will lead you to success and you don’t want to stray too far from it. Passion makes us happy and happiness helps us be more successful.
5) You’re doing ok!
In all aspects of life we like to play this comparison game. Sometimes the comparison is against actual statistics like: my swim time was this and that other person’s was 3 seconds slower or faster than mine. The other more harmful type of comparison is when there isn’t a clear outline or what you “should” be doing and yet you compare yourself to others anyway. This type of comparison extinguishes parts of our passion. It brings us down. It makes us doubt ourselves. This is an illusion. When you’re on your own journey, the path is what you make it and just stepping out and being brave enough to follow your passion on a somewhat scary and undefined road is an accomplishment.
In times when the comparison bug won’t stop nagging, remember all the amazing things you’ve done. Little wins are worth acknowledging because all together they equal something great. Be motivated but be kind to yourself along the way!