3 Things I Learned, Building a Small Business while Working a 9 to 5

We here at Yellow Hibiscus LLC (“Yellow Hibiscus”) quietly celebrated our one-year anniversary this past March.  We've had our ups and downs, but thankfully we survived the first phase of our journey, and have created a beautiful platform for our customers to discover, admire and collect works from talented local and international artists.  To celebrate our first year, I’ve decided to share some of the lessons I’ve learned thus far.

    Lesson # 1:  Sleep Less, Work More

      The first lesson is a simple one - sleep less, work more.  Sleep is wonderful.  Sleep is amazing.  Sleep will allow you to function at a higher level.  Sleep will make you a better person.  Unfortunately, if you start a small business, you will be sleep deprived, especially in the early stages.  In the first nine months of the build for our website, I found myself needing more time in the day to complete the tasks on my checklist.  Sleep unfortunately, was the first thing to go; which meant that for a majority of the past year, I was a sleep deprived caffeine junkie.  However, despite the lack of sleep, I can say that starting an online gallery while working a demanding 9-5 has been a challenging, frustrating, yet rewarding experience.

        Lesson # 2:  Be Adaptable, Be Flexible

          Mistakes happen.  Things will fall apart.  Your best-laid plans will lead you up a creek without a paddle.  Take a breath, panic, scream . . . vent, lean back, then learn from your setback, adapt, pivot, and repeat the cycle.  Very earlier on in the build of our website, www.yellowhibiscusgallery.com, we learned to be flexible when our plans hit a snag.  In the initial planning phase for our site, I fell in love with a picture that captured the look and feel I wanted to conveyed.  We tested the image with our focus group, and when we felt that our assumptions were validated, we went all in and built a branding strategy around the image.  Unfortunately, we did not clear the image with the copyright owner before moving forward.  [Mini lesson – make sure you get permission from all copyright holders before you use their images, words or works].  As we got closer to a launch date for our site, we sought to remedy our initial mistake and asked for permission.  The photographer predictably said no.  We were disappointed, given all the work that we put into developing a branding strategy and the build of our site up onto that point in time.  Luckily, we took the opportunity to adapt, and found a better strategy, one that utilized the works of the artists we feature on our site. 

            Lesson # 3:  Acknowledge and Celebrate your Minor Victories

              For the most part, building a website is a tedious and monotonous process.  There are long periods when progress is slow.  In the initial phases of the build, I lacked an appreciation for the amount of time and energy that it would take to complete the project.  On an intellectual level, I understood that we have long-term objectives for the gallery, but on an emotional and psychological level, my expectations were stuck on short term gratification.  We were running a marathon, but I was sprinting.  Once I recognized this dichotomy between our long-term objectives and my short-term expectations, I restructured my thinking.  Firstly, I created mini goals that aligned with our long-term objectives, then identified the tasks required to achieve those goals.  This gave me the opportunity to celebrate our mini accomplishments.    

                Bonus Lesson:  Be Patient, Be Kind, then Be Gentle

                  The final lesson I picked up over the course of the year is arguably the most important.  Just because Rome was built in a day does not mean that you can repeat the same feat over night.  Ideas need time to grow and evolve.  As the cliché goes, patience is a virtue.  Being patient will allow you to be kinder and gentler to yourself, your team members, and your partners.  You’ve got a long way to go, take a chill pill and enjoy the journey!

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