5 Things People Don’t Tell You When You Become A Small Business Owner

By Cailin Chien

Two years ago, at the age of 25, I decided to start my own business. At the time, I was balancing a full-time job, a part-time job, some freelance gigs, and working on Unmrkd. I was so confident and excited about this new venture I was about to take on but being a big picture kind of gal, I had many ideas and wanted to accomplish them quickly. Being a child of hard working immigrant parents who owned their business, I knew my whole life I wanted to create something of my own also. Little did I know, this path I decided to take would be so difficult and lonely. 

Two years later, I’m still just as confident and excited. I still have so much more to accomplish but I know that this business will succeed. With that said, I’ve also learned a lot: how to manage expectations, move on from mistakes, utilize my voice for my business and more.

Here are the top five things I’ve learned from being a business owner over the past two years:

  1. It’s ok to take things slow.

    Starting a new business is exciting. The idea that a stranger will spend money on something you created is a different kind of high. There were so many ideas I wanted to execute but looking back at it now, I could have taken a step back and really thought about what I was trying to accomplish. I remember having so many mental breakdowns because I was either taking on too much or something small would trigger me to go on a spiral. Yes, it’s important to take risks and jump at different opportunities, but it’s ok to take things slow and step away from things you’re not ready for.

  2. Celebrate small wins.

    Social media has made it easier for individuals to create something of their own and share it with the world, but it has also created more competition. It’s hard not to get caught up and focus on the next. Celebrating weekly goals has made work not feel like work. The little things that are most often overlooked, are sometimes the most important.

    A little trick I do is create 4-5 goals in my notes (personal and business) I hope to accomplish this week and check things off as I go. I will include my week’s goals below!

  3. Being a boss is lonely as fuck.

    From the beginning, I knew I didn’t want to do this alone. I had experience managing a team and interns so I wanted someone to join me to get a different perspective. For about a year, it was just me and an intern. We worked well together and created a bond. However, there will be situations when you have to put your “boss” hat on and have uncomfortable conversations. It’s important to accept that even though you’re a team working together to accomplish the same goals, there are certain problems you have to deal with alone.

  4. Stop comparing to big companies.

    During our first year in business, I was obsessed with comparing myself to bigger companies. There are so many things to consume it’s hard to figure out a way to stand out. Around our second year in business, I made the decision to move to Long Beach, California. I was so inspired by the community here; it reminded me of how important it is to stay true to what you know and what you’re creating. Even if you’re creating something that already exists, the advantage you have over big companies is your unique individuality.

  5. Be personal.

    For a while, I wasn’t comfortable sharing my voice and face on my business’ social media platform. I thought it was important to show that there was a separation between my “brand voice” and my personal voice. Over time I came to realize that the community I was building wanted to hear my voice, and that the “brand voice” IS my voice. This realization for me was especially important. As I took on this role, we began to grow at a much faster rate. It’s a huge responsibility but consumers like to see and know the face behind the business. It bridges that gap for them and creates a much stronger community.


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