small business, small steps

JH Doll House Furniture 1

I thought I would revisit this post, and maybe even try it out as a regular Friday feature. Don't get your hopes up though, the last time I said I was going to do a regular feature was when I did my first (and only!) outfit post. You had forgotten about that, right? Well, I'm hoping that "small business, small steps" sticks around a bit longer. I have spent another good little chunk of my week researching how to start and run a successful small business, and would like to share some of my findings with you - ready?!

This week was a really great week, really. I had the week off from teaching English and used it to play 'dream job'. You know, the game where you get to live your dream job for the whole week and not worry about money because, hey - you have a real job (that begins again right after the weekend). If you haven't played it, I suggest giving it a try. The number one thing I read when perusing the "How to get your dream job" (or a version thereof) articles is, make sure you love your dream job as much as you do in your dreams. And it's true, some people would not be cut out to work from home with only a little dog (who sleeps all day, anyway) and endless podcasts to keep them company. But me, I love it. Sure a little more social interaction would be good, but that's what dinners out and post office runs are for, right?

Now, this is a good find: NO BUSINESS PLANS REQUIRED! (I wasn't yelling at you - I promise, it's just that it felt so validating to read that). It has been my stubborn belief since day one of starting English Muffin that charting a concrete course for what I assumed to be choppy waters made no sense. Read this article, Don't write a business plan and I have a feeling you'll agree. While you're there, you should check out asmartbear.com's entire blog, as it is full of important and interesting articles on small businesses. I've currently got Why I feel like a fraud bookmarked - but that's for another day.

Another method of research I really enjoy, although I'm on the fence these days about how useful it really is, is the interview. Don't get me wrong, I love reading them and can get lost in internetland using this Google query formula: Name of Favourite Designer + Interview + enter. I have read hundreds of interviews, I'm sure. There is something very comforting in hearing about the success and failures of one of your design mentors. I have found so much useful information and inspiration in these interviews and I definitely recommend reading them, especially in the beginning stages of your company. For me, however, I think I've reached my saturation point. There is a common theme in all of them, and that is, everybody's story is different, difficult and (if you're reading about them) ultimately successful. I think I try to find the encouragement and validation that I need from other people's stories, it worked out for them so it will work out for me. At this point in the game, I'm ready to move away from that and into the more practical research that will help English Muffin to ultimately be that successful company. That said, here are a couple goodies from my designer interview bookmarks folder ;)
Formspring.me - Design*Sponge Q & A: an interactive forum where you can ask Grace anything, and read her answers to all the questions posed. cool!
modernemotive blog - Whimsy & Spice interview: check out all the interviews in the category, "The Self-employed Life" on Adele's blog

If you've made it this far - thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts and to know if there are any of you wonderful readers who are on a similar journey, business or otherwise.

Have a great Friday and bon weekend!

(photo: Made by Joel via Lobster and Swan)


  1. I thought you had an employee who was in charge of the mail runs?

  2. he's prone to taking long naps in front of the heater, don't tell him but he snores too.

  3. You know I am. Unfortunatly if it works out, I don't have a dog and don't know if I ever will. I'm a cat person, Paul hates cats. Anyway, I definately look up to you as my design mentor. Sure you aren't a millionaire but you are getting your name out there alot and I wish I had the drive and patience to do it to.
    Thanks for helping me on my many emails and queries.
    I need to stop being so lazy, maybe I should move to Vienna so that i can have a holiday every week or so too... ;).

  4. Bess... thank you so much for starting this series (you will keep it up won't you ;). I am in the same boat almost by default. I lost my graphic design job last May and haven't worked since. Then I fell pregnant in October and I'm just trying to make the most of my time until the baby arrives. So, I AM living my dream job - working from home illustrating all day long - but so far it's not paying off and I'm rapidly running out of money. I love that you've so diligently researched things and so willing to share your secrets with us. I will start investigating your ideas immediately! :)

  5. Linda & Leanda: you both have such great work - i have no doubts!! I'm so glad we'll be on this journey together :) Yay us!!


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