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Four life lessons I’m taking from four years as a business owner

This weekend (Sunday June 18th, to be exact…) marks Wild Strings by Eleanor’s fourth birthday! It’s the cliche of all cliches but I can’t quite believe how quickly this fourth year has gone…


I’ve now run a business for longer than I studied for my degree, which feels like a huge comparison because - for a long time - my degree always felt like my biggest achievement and proudest collection of work.


It’s these opportunities to reflect, like business birthdays and big moments, that make me realise how far I’ve come and how much the brand has grown, how proud I am of it and how much more I want to achieve.


I’m not great at patting myself on the back but I will say that my pride for this brand definitely surpasses the pride I had for my graduate collection and the person I’ve become and lessons I’ve learnt over the last four years are up there too.


There have been mistakes, giant hurdles and - never mind a rollercoaster - a whole theme park of emotions. I could write forever about the experience I’ve gained but I thought I’d keep it simple and on theme.


Here’s four of the biggest life lessons I’ve taken away from four years as a business owner; whether you run a business or not, I hope these learnings resonate with you.

 

1. Celebrate everything


I am well known in my family for making my birthday last a whole month - or even two.


I love marking special occasions and having something to celebrate…but I always thought it had to be something ‘big’ to warrant a glass of Prosecco and or a treat. Through my journey as a founder I’ve come to realise that life (and business) is actually made up of little wins and small moments that really fill your cup and make your soul sing.


Taking notice of these moments - of the good things and the moments I’m proud of - has really kept me going in the tough times (and there’s certainly been a few these last four years…).


So this is your reminder to celebrate the small stuff. Celebrate the sun coming out - finally. Celebrate sending that email you've been putting off for ages. Celebrate a good review or receiving praise from your boss. All this 'small' stuff is what makes the big moments happen.

 

2. Daydreaming is a skill and not a flaw


There’s this strange idea that daydreaming is for children. We grow up and lose the childish wonder and sometimes, the ability to dream big.


The funny thing is, I’ve rediscovered a lot of these habits as a business owner - being curious and dreaming about what this brand could be and how I could live my life has been vital in keeping me on the straight and narrow.


All these daydreams remind me why I do what I do and what I’m working towards. Rather than being the distraction; they are the vision.


I encourage you to allow yourself to daydream again. Whether you're dreaming about the perfect holiday or the side hustle you're itching to make your full-time gig, let your mind go there. Use these daydreams as a reminder of what is important to you & what fills your cup.

 

3. Stop saving things for ‘later’ or best - do what makes you happy. wear what makes you happy.


One of the biggest questions that kept popping into my head when I first set up Wild Strings was - ‘is this the right time..?’ I knew my end goal was always to have my own brand or studio but did I need to wait until I had more life experience behind me? Or reach a certain age or position before I went it alone…?


It’s funny what a global pandemic and a cost of living crisis can do for your perspective. Neither of these were in my business plan, that’s for sure, but the fact that I have navigated all this (and more) and am still standing with a business to show for it is something I am really bloomin’ proud of.


The events of the last four years have made me realise that there is no ‘right time’ there’s only right now. So do the thing. Launch the business. Chase the career. Wear the nice dress for the supermarket run. Be the person you wanna be - right now!

 

4. Get comfortable with imperfection


My partner Cal (who, as chief cheerleader, tech support, shoulder to cry on and all round gem, deserves a birthday shout-out of his own) will be the first to tell you how Type A I am…he frequently winds me up about it when I try to take control of the date he’s started planning or start to talk myself out of a whole collection, just because one piece didn’t turn out exactly like it did looked in my head…


But, I like to think I’ve mellowed a lot from the gal who launched in 2018…


Back then, I wanted only perfection. I wanted to be the perfect brand. Be perfectly sustainable. Be the perfect business owner. If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth doing…which is wild to even type out here because - I’ll let you in on a secret - all this perfection never existed.


The brand I launched wasn’t perfect (and still isn’t today) and as a business owner, I’m a work in progress. There are still processes I want to put in to make us more sustainable and there are ways I want to show up as a founder that I haven’t figured out yet.


Four years in, I’ve come to realise that being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and just takes up a lot of space and energy. Imperfection makes us human, and I like to think it’s what connects you to Wild Strings - that personal, human, imperfect touch.


Imperfection is what lets us take action and moves us towards the next milestone or connection and the more we embrace it - the more action we can take (to better ourselves, to better others, to better the planet).

 

Maybe it's cheating but I did have to add in this fifth lesson...


5.I bloomin’ love my job!


I am so aware how privileged I am to be able to chase this dream and build this brand and there is not a day that I don’t feel incredibly grateful that I get to do this for a job.


I get to sit at my sewing machine and transform second-hand duvets (and other textiles) into beautiful clothes that you love - every day! How wild is that?!?


So I want to bestow my final birthday shout out on you - dear Wild One!


Thank you for every order, kind word and vote of confidence you have given me - and Wild Strings - over the past four years. I don’t take any of your support for granted and am truly thankful - as I will be on every business birthday (and other day) for the next forty years…hopefully!

 

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