Starting a business: tips + tricks & how I got started

Most of you know that I currently own a clothing boutique, and I get questions almost daily on how I did it and what goes into starting something like this. People ask "what do you do everyday?", "how do you get housework done?", and my favorite (NOT), "do you even spend time with your son?" All of these (and more!) will be answered in the next few paragraphs. Let's do this!

For those of you wondering what a day in the life of a boutique owner looks like, I've laid it out for you. Keep in mind, some days are busier that others, some not so much. Typically, it goes something like this:

  • 6:45 AM - Wake up to my son (most likely already in my bed) tapping my shoulder and begging me to ask about his "dreams". Make breakfast, then watch a cartoon together while we eat on the couch. (Yep, we're THOSE people.)
  • 7:15 AM - Brush teeth, brush hair (mine, NOT HIS.) , and maybe change out of our pjs. 
  • 7:45 AM - Free play time. Most mornings, I answer emails on my phone while he drags me from room to room with toy swords, trains, stuffed animals, ect.
  • 8:30-Noonish - We get out of the house, whether it's our front yard, a park, or a friend's house, we just have to escape most days. Most friends ask me why I don't just order my groceries online, this is why. My husband always tells me I'm a homebody, but only after 6 PM.
  • 1-3:30 PM - NAP TIME. This is the time where I fill orders. Typically, I can get about 30+ done in that time (packing orders, printing labels, yada yada.) Then, when our mailman comes around 2:30, I just hand them off to him, and they're on their way. (However, some days, I unashamedly nap with my kid. Mamas gotta sleep too.)
  • 3:45-6 PM - Free play CUZ DADDY'S HOME (all the SAHMs said "AMEN") and dinner prep + cook,.
  • 6-8:30 PM - Eat dinner, watch 2 cartoons, bedtime routine. 
  • 8:45-10 PM - site maintenance, respond to emails, snuggle my hubby, and watch Psych for the MILLIONTH TIME.

^^ See? I don't have to stare blindly at a screen all day, my little one gets plenty of his mama, and my customers are taken care of.

How do you get housework done? I won't lie, we keep a pretty clean house. I think that's mostly because we trained ourselves to pick up at the end of each day. Rarely do we go to bed with dishes in the sink or toys still out. But we also don't do laundry EVERYday or take out the trash every time it piles up. I've found that, as a family, we function better when we've got less on our to-do list. So we take care of the basics over time so they don't build up.

TIPS + TRICKS (from someone who wishes she'd had them)

  1. When opening your boutique, settle and purchase your domain name before anything else. I saw this advise on every bit of research, and I've heard horror stories. Just trust me, skip the legal battles and be original.
  2. Take care of the legalities. When you start to hear all of the paperwork, permits, licenses, ect. that you have to track down/pay for, your head will start spinning. I recommend setting aside room in your budget (see step 3) and using a service like INCFILE or LEGALZOOM, which does alot of the legwork for you. These sites gather the neccesary documents for you and walk you through each step of establishing yourself as a business owner. They'll even check to make sure your business name is legal and available!
  3. Set a budget and stick to it. This one I didn't do in the beginning. I began shopping and the moment I found something I liked, I bought it. Before I knew it, I had a good bit of inventory and no customer base yet. You need to do research and make lists of what you'll need. Do you need a photographer for your products? Do you need a website? Will you need office supplies? Packing materials? A storage facility? A manufacturer? 
  4. Be okay with a slow start. Very few (if any) successful business owners will tell you it all happened overnight. Personally, it took months to really pin down a steady flow, and by then it still wasn't exponential. Every time I wanted to throw in the towel, my husband would encourage me that no great empire was built in a day, and that my business was no different. 
  5. ASK QUESTIONS. I'm a firm believer in the phrase "no question is a stupid question". You can't hold people responsible for what they genuinely don't know. When I 1st became a mother, I asked questions constantly, like "how do I keep my kid from peeing on me when I change his diaper?" It seems so obvious to cover him with a wipe or his diaper, but to someone who had never done it, it was brilliant. The same can be said for business. Ask business owners that you know and trust. There's so much info out there. You just have to look for it.

Whew! Sorry, that was a lot. Are there any questions you have? I'd love to answer them!