I´ve written before that when you start your own business you become a Jill of all trades: president, secretary, bookkeeper, manager, creative designer, and the list goes on.
There are benefits to this. You can run the business the way that you want it run. You can create the name and design the business cards. You can hire the employees and choose the services or products that you will sell to consumers. You can take care of all of the phone calls regarding the business and write all of the checks going out to the companies that supply you with the materials that you need to be successful.
The downside? These tasks each require a different skill set. With some, such as bookkeeping, you must be strong in math. With others you need a creative edge.
Most people are stronger in one area than in others, and while this is not always a detriment in life (for instance, even if you don´t do well with numbers you´ll probably learn to balance your checkbook at some point, because, of course, you will have to), when you are running a company you need someone to balance you out so that you can make well-rounded decisions that will benefit your company.
While working on my own business I find myself spending long, solitary hours writing the business plan, designing the bags, ordering supplies, and searching for a seamstress. I rarely run my thoughts by anyone. I suppose I feel that this is my adventure so why involve others?
Unfortunately, I recently realized that this was a mistake.
A few weeks ago I ordered a variety of samples from the fabric company that I´m using for the diaper bag material. I was excited when they came, and quickly picked out those swatches I felt would make the nicest bags. These I took with me to dinner a few nights later when I met up with a friend. After eating, I pulled out the samples, and as I was doing so, the waitress stopped by the table. Since we live in LA and we were eating in Burbank, the waitress was, of course, an aspiring actress and costume designer. She was so excited about the fabrics that she asked if she could give her own input.
Unfortunately, two of the fabrics that I had really liked were shot down immediately. The two ladies also began talking about the designs of the bag, and they mentioned a few things that I had not considered. I listened to their words carefully, but panic set in. As I left the restaurant, I questioned my ability to run a business. What if I spent all of this time designing the bags and none of them sold? The idea that I might be heading into a failing proposition scared me.
It took several days to regain my excitement about the company again. I concentrated on other things for the first day, and then the second day I began considering the advice I´d been given. I realized that a few of the points they had made had merit and were things that I had not considered.
I then emailed another friend and ran the advice by her. I also sent pictures of the samples and asked what she liked. She agreed with some of their thoughts but said that she really liked the two samples that they hadn´t liked.
I took everyone´s advice with me to the fabric store the next day and, with the new ideas, began scouring the racks of fabric with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.
What I learned that night is this: Though you may be opening a business that you run alone, you will need to have at least a few people on whom you can depend for ideas, suggestions, and honest opinions. While you might believe that your ideas are flawless, others may not, and oftentimes people become so involved in their ventures that they fail to see what is lacking in their ideas or designs.
Always remember that you start a business to attract consumers. If you don´t do this, your business will fail. Therefore, make sure that you discuss your ideas with people that you trust. Their fresh perspectives just might make the difference in your company.