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Season 1 Ep 46: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known (Before Starting My Greeting Card Business)

This week on the xoxo, jess Podcast I am reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey over the three years, and sharing with you five things I wish I had known before I started my business. Join in as we talk about thinking like a CEO from the start, tracking your sales, being empowered to make your own choices, and more! Listen to the episode above, on iTunes HERE, or read the transcription below.

Episode Transcription:

Jessica Walker

Welcome back to xoxo jest where we dive deep into the world of greeting cards, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the mindset tools to start creating the business of your dreams today. I'm your host, Jessica Walker, and this week, we are going to be doing something a little different. I was thinking back, I'm about to hit my third year in business since I started my first shop, which is better in company. And I was looking back to kind of see, like, if I were to do it again, what would I wish I had known? What would I have done differently. And I think I might do this as a little series leading up to that three year anniversary. But I wanted to share the first couple of things that came to mind with five things that I wish I had known before starting my greeting card business as today's episode.

So when I started my business, I didn't think of it as a business, I was trying to have a creative outlet. I knew I wanted to create products for the cancer community. But it wasn't really something that I thought could be a business, I didn't know if it could support me, I didn't know anything about really anything. So when I started my shop, I did a couple things that I wish, in hindsight I had done differently. But the thing was, is that the mindset I was coming in at was this is just something I want to do. Not necessarily This is a business. But if you're someone who has this goal of having a business, and starting your shop, starting an Etsy shop, or starting a website is the first step for you in that journey, then I would listen to this number one.

So my first thing that I wish I had known before starting my greeting card business, is that if you want it to be a business, set it up like one from the start. So because I didn't know exactly what it was going to be, and I wasn't sure I had a different career at the time, I kind of just saw it as like a hobby that occasionally made money, which was what it was to me at that point. But I wish that I had earlier checked in with the permits needed made incorporated my business which I made into an LLC, I wish I had split my finances better and had a business account and had a business credit card. I wish that I had just seen it as a business from the start, because it would have informed a lot of the decisions that I made that I then had to go and undo or fix or pay a fine or these are small fines, but like it was like I didn't have I wasn't remitting my sales tax because I didn't know that was something I needed to do. Because I was just I wasn't thinking like a business owner. And if I had been thinking like a business owner, from the start, I would have looked into these things I would have looked into how to, you know, set up my LLC, or how to make sure that I have all my eyes, what does it take cross T's and dotted eyes as far as my business permits. And, and the thing is, is that even if you're selling on Etsy, you have to be aware of these things. Even if you're not making a lot of money yet you have to be aware of these things. The thing is, is that we want our businesses to succeed, we want them to do well. And if you are saying you know what, I'm not making much money now. So I don't need to worry about this stuff. But I want to make more money in the future. That's a difficult place to put yourself because when that future part comes in, the money starts coming in the sales start coming, your business is not prepared for that on the permit side on the just organization side, and you want to make sure that everything you're doing is just you don't even have to you don't even have to think about it, you know that all of the boxes are checked, you know that your business is operating legally, you know that you're remitting the sales tax, you need to you know all of these things because you've set it up from the start. And it's also a lot easier to set it up when it's really small, because you don't have to catch up and you don't have to look back, you can just have it set up from the beginning. So that's the first thing that I would recommend if you are starting your business is to set it up as a business from the very beginning, whatever that means for you. And it doesn't have to be like before you start, you have everything completely done, you have your LLC, blah, blah, blah, you can maybe ease into it, but I would definitely do it as soon as possible sooner than later.

And that does lead me into my number two is to have your financials organized from day one. And what that looks like for me is two things. One, I have a business banking account, a business checking account, sorry, and a business credit card. And the reason it's so important to have these split is when it comes to tax time. It just makes it so much easier. And it's also just easier for you to be able to track how the health of your business how profitable you are without it bleeding into your personal finances. And then the second thing is to know from the very beginning that you can't get too intimate with your numbers. You can't dive too deep into the data. And this is something that I've said many, many times on the podcast, but financial organization organization is the key to scalability. It's a key to all Honestly, every success that I've had in my business leads back to making sure I know exactly where I am financially. So that means that I track every dollar that goes in and every dollar that goes out. So if you are someone who started your business today, and you want to start organized to stay organized financially, I would recommend starting with a spreadsheet, immediately, putting every dollar that you've spent on your business, I'm in the spreadsheet, and I just organize it daily, I check this kind of thing, I track my sales daily, or you can check it weekly, if that's something you'd rather do. But I don't recommend doing it less than weekly, because I think it's just so important to stay on top of knowing exactly where you are. So make a spreadsheet have a log of everything that you spend money on also organize it by type, I just have like shipping, marketing development supplies, like I have it organized like that. And then every time I spend money, or I mean I get It's not like I charge my credit card and jump into my spreadsheet. But regularly, I make sure that I have an exact log of what I've spent on my business, you can do this on your own, which I do, because I just enjoy it, you can do it through something like QuickBooks, which is integrated with that theme. And then also have a log of every dollar coming in from every single sale. And the thing is that having this from the start means that you can build upon it later to be able to gain a lot of insight from this data. And also, the thing that I did, this is why I wish I had known I'd done it is I didn't do this from the beginning. I just kind of like went with the flow. And I thought I had an idea of where I was financially. And I thought my business was making this much. But when I got down to the brass tacks, I wasn't as profitable as I could have been. But if I had known that earlier, I could have been more profitable sooner, it helps you decide when to start buying your supplies in more bulk, you can see just the percentages of your expenses to profit, you can make sure that your profit margin is where you want it to be, there's so many things that you can gain and make informed decisions off of based on your financial organization. So again, if you're starting, I would make sure to as much as you can separate your business finances from your personal and have a very specific log of money in money out. And it can be super simple, but just make sure that it's all there.

And that leads into the third thing that I wish I had known when I started my greeting card business. And a lot of these first three things are a little nitty gritty. But taxes, taxes need to be paid quarterly, this is for the US for if you've I believe it's if you make over $1,000. So this is another thing that I ended up having to pay money on because I didn't know I need to pay my taxes quarterly. And this goes back to not setting my business up at the very start as a business. Because I was used to as a as a single person paying my taxes in April, I use TurboTax It was pretty simple. And I knew as I was putting my business together that I had an LLC, but I was a single member LLC, so I could file my taxes through my social security number. So in my mind, that was where I just stopped researching, I was like great, so I'll just do it like my normal taxes. But I can't do it through my normal through my social security number. It doesn't have to be through my business. It's so I file it as myself or I file it with my husband, but I need to be paying quarterly taxes. And I found out from my accountant last year that I was going to get a fine it was only I think it was like $95 or something. But it was still like I didn't need to be spending that fee money if I had known ahead of time that I needed to pay my taxes quarterly. So look into what makes sense, or look into the regulations and the rules for where you live. But be super on top of this because it can feel like something all of these things like I like I mentioned, like incorporating your business, being financially organized, being prepared for tax season, I can feel like these are big scary things that you want to just put your head in the sand and hope workout and just kind of like cross your fingers. But I'm telling you, you're gonna feel so much more empowered and so much more on your game and so much more available for growth. If you're on top of these things, I found myself like at one point, I was making more money than I had ever and I was like kind of nervous about it. Because I was like I hope that I'm like saving for taxes correctly. And I hope that I'm paying my sales tax right and and I was getting nervous about the amount of money I was making, because I didn't I wasn't prepared for it. So don't put yourself in that position. Make sure that you're just prepared, you're on your game, you just take that time, it doesn't take as much time as you think it does, to make sure that you're doing everything to a tee.

So the fourth thing that I wish I had known before starting my greeting card business is that I can do anything, but I can't do everything all at once. So what that means is if you've started a business or if you're thinking about starting a business or if you're running one, you know that there are a million things that you can be doing to move your business forward. There's recommendations coming from everywhere. You're listening to all these business podcasts. You're hearing all of these seeing success from other people in your you think you know what they're doing and you want to implement. You want to get on all the social media platforms and you want to get on all of them. wholesale market places and you want to do all of the things you want to have every card designed, covered for every holiday. And it's the thing is, is that you can do all of these things. And you will do all of these things. But you have to know your business is going to be here for a while, there is time. And, again, you can do anything, but you can't do everything at once. If you try to tackle all of those things at once, you're going to make marginal progress in a bunch of directions, that's not really going to be a needle mover and reflect growth in your business. So this is something I talk about all the time being super essential, practicing essentialism, which is my favorite book, by Greg MacAllan, not my favorite book in the world, but my favorite business book. So the way that I work around this is I like to choose focuses I like to choose a focus for the year I like kind of a theme that I want to work towards for the year I pick a focus for the quarter Epica focus for the month, I get really specific weekly with my tasks. So I know that maybe I can't lean into all of these things this month. But I know I can definitely lean into this this month. And it makes sense right now. And I can save or like put on the back burner, but no, I'm coming back to it something else and I get to it next month or next week what what however the timing works for you. Just know that you don't have to do it all at once. No one expects you to do it all at once. And honestly, I think it's detrimental to try to do it all at once. But you can get specific and work towards specific, essential goals that with intention and see real progress and see real growth from this kind of idea.

The last thing that I wish I had known number five, when I started my greeting card business is that you are the CEO, and you get to decide how your business works. So it may seem like you have these ideas of how businesses run or you have these ideas of how you think a CEO has to run their business. And you are the CEO, whether you see yourself as like a little like you think of your thing is just a little se side hustle or not, you are a business owner, you are in charge. So you get to decide so many things that aren't just decided for you. So I used to think like, I had to ship all of my orders out every single day as soon as they came in. I don't know why I thought that. But I realized quickly that I was like, You know what, I get to decide how often I process orders. And I decided on three days a week and it worked great. And I could decide in the future, two days or one day or five days, whatever makes sense. But the thing is, is that you get to decide you get to choose how your business works, you get to decide do I work weekends, do I work after 5pm? How much time do I spend towards my spend on my business, you get to decide how you handle custom inquiry emails, you get to decide like if you say yes to a project or no to a project, and you get to decide how valuable Your time is. And I would encourage you to make your time very valuable in your mind. So maybe you're it's the beginning of your business. And you can accommodate a lot of different custom orders or custom requests. Because you have the time, you don't have a ton of orders. And you you can say like I do have the time right now and you do it. But maybe as you start growing, you realize that your time is more valuable. If it's spent in a different area, then accepting all these requests. So then you are the CEO of your business, you get to decide, I only accept this many customer requests per month, or I only customize the text and not the images or whatever it is. But just like empower yourself to know that you are in charge. And you get to decide exactly how you want your business to work. I decided I posted this on social media this week that my family was in town in New York, and I wanted to spend the whole week with them. So I could be a person who my business doesn't allow me to take time off. But I decided early on that my business allows me to take time off, I set my business up to be able to accommodate a week away. And right now seven days off is really, really easy for me to jump in and out of. So that's something that I try to take advantage of often, I am able to just extend my processing times I know that the traffic might be a little lower because of the extended processing times. But people are still gonna order. So I know that that's an opportunity cost for me that I get to spend time with my family. And I decided early on that that's how my business is going to run I'm going to never have to say no to family time because of my business. So just take a look at some of the ideas and the beliefs that you have about your business and say, Is this a belief that I actually believe is this a thought that I chose? Or is this something I think I should be doing or if someone else is doing and so I think I have to do it because they're doing it but take a look and say like I'm the CEO of my business, I get to decide how this works for me. And just know that that's going to be really empowering move moving forward. So those are the five things that I wish I had known before starting my greeting card business.

If you like this kind of series, send me a message on Instagram at five post and let me know I can do more of these. If you have any questions that you want me to answer here on the podcast, I could do another q&a episode as well. I know that that was popular last month. So I am in the works. So Not my next quarters, episodes. And I'd love to get your feedback to see what you guys want to hear and what you're finding helpful here on the podcast. Also, if you would take the time to jump back over to the show and leave a five star review and let me know what you like about it. That would be awesome. It really helps other people find the podcast and as it is still new, it would make it would really be really special to me if you could do that for me today. I know it's one of those things I hear all the time on podcast, like, leave a five star review, go leave a review, and I never do it. But I'm trying to get better about that. And I actually am taking the time because it just takes two seconds in it. And it really does make an impact for the people who are hosting the podcast. So thank you so much. And I will see you all next Wednesday.

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