I decided to start a small business or 'side hustle' as everyone is calling them last year while I was on maternity leave from my corporate job as an communications manager at FNB.
I was struck by the 'great' idea while wondering through a baby store where everything is labelled 'made in china'. I happen to love hand-made items and support South African businesses where possible. So I thought why not bring beautifully handmade items - starting with baby and kids via an online platform? Easy right? So ... apparently not so much.
When I started off I had no idea how much it takes of you - energy, emotion and time (plus money). There are lots of good things too ... but here is what I have learnt on the journey - so far.
1) There are so MANY different aspects
I have momentous respect now for every and all small businesses. There is so much admin involved, and when you work for a big corporate you have 'people to do stuff for you'. In a small business that is hoping to actually bring in more then you spend - you are the people! For everything! Social media(you), advertising planning (you) logistics (you), packing (you), updating the website (you,) customer relations (yes you got it - you!). I am not sure who I thought would do all this when I started, but there are definitely thousands more small everyday tasks I hadn't even begun to think of.
2) Cash flow is a real thing
In corporate you get your salary... every month. I never realised how difficult it is to try and make money work out is! My accountant husband often laughs at me when I have big eyes trying to figure out if the money coming in is going to match that going out. When you have a salary - that is what is coming in, and you normally have quite a good idea of what is going out.
That leads me onto the next point - keep a separate account!
3) Keeping the money separate
I have a First Business Zero account (yes yes I know I work for FNB - but truely its awesome) - zero fees on a monthly basis, with a cool card and its like R1.50 to pay people. The the best thing is that you keep your side hustle money separate from your 'real' money. It is amazing to see how that money has a different 'value' to your money for groceries and petrol. It is more precious.
4) Dealing with customers
I have never been in retail. I have worked for many clients when in agency. Customers have your item and sometimes it is not what they want, (which does happen), or there has been a mistake (which also sadly happens). I am not sure how people in call centers deal with unhappy customers but it really throws me. I am getting better at it - not to take it personally. On the upside - the lovely mails and messages when a customer is happy are great - and you even make friends. And there are far more happy customers than unhappy.
5) You are going to learn a lot
I have learnt so much in the last year. From social media to dealing with websites (the good and the bad), to the different types of yarn in SA and their wholesalers. To running campaigns and finding great suppliers from all over the place.
HandSpun is really small still and will probably stay that way. But I am really loving it and, if you have the chance, will suggest starting up a side hustle, just for the experience it will give you in life!