I didn’t know that I would start a small business. My entire career was built around education, as a teacher first, then a tenured professor who teaches teachers. I saw academia as my career path, and my more creative side as just that - a side of my skill set, not the focus.
It’s funny how life works out. When the opportunity to branch out and pursue my creative passions as a profession, I took that leap. Since 2016, I’ve been working on this business, known as Grasshopper Goods, and it seems like I learn something new about entrepreneurship every day.
It can be a daunting life path, but it helps to gather wisdom from those who have already “been there, done that”. Maybe it’s that educator side coming out in me, or maybe it’s just a desire to talk about what I know (so far), but I’ve been reminiscing on the past four years, thinking of how far I’ve come, and how my challenges and triumphs can help you get to where you want to go too.
Here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned since starting Grasshopper Goods.
Embrace what calls you
You might know the story behind why we’re called Grasshopper Goods, and, if you do, this lesson won’t surprise you. Throughout my journey as a small business owner, I’ve learned to listen to my gut, pick up on signs that are calling to me, and follow the road that seems lit with possibility. If I continue to think about a new marketing initiative, product line, or business model for Grasshopper Goods (waking up in the middle of the night to write down the idea, or researching over and over) I know that it is something that I should pursue, if only to see if it could be successful.
Pivot to serve your people
Hasn’t COVID-19 taught us all something about adaptability? The world is moving faster than ever, adding more obstacles into the mix than we could possibly be prepared for, so it’s imperative to remain flexible and open to switching up a plan when it makes sense. The pandemic has forced many small business owners, including Grasshopper Goods, to pivot in order to continue to serve their customers. I’ve found that the businesses who have been able to do this quickly, with intention, have survived and even thrived throughout the chaos. This lesson can also be applied to your business model and inventory. If something isn’t working for your customers (maybe it’s your product, or maybe it’s the way you’re delivering it), be open to moving into a new phase in your business. And remember, you can always ask for support and expertise from others. It helps you thrive and grow.
Personal connection is the greatest reward
I couldn’t have predicted the number of people I would meet, the stories I would hear, and the relationships I would form through starting my small business. I went into Grasshopper Goods hoping that it would be a good outlet for me, something that I could channel my creativity into while providing others with a service and a product that they loved. I hoped that it would be a financial success as well, of course. But more than that, my business has allowed me to get to know my community on a deeper level, to meet other entrepreneurs like me, to form bonds with neighbors down the street and strangers who quickly become friends at events around the state.
This has been the best learning of all - that when you go after a dream that you’ve held onto for years, you will be rewarded with something that you could have never imagined.
Four years in, I’m still learning. The small things (pro tip: you will always need hope and a sense of humor) and the big things. I’m so grateful for this journey, and I know that there is so much road ahead of me (and Vinny, Grasshopper Goods’ mobile boutique, for that matter). I can’t wait to see what lessons I’ll come across next. You can be sure that I’ll share them.