Elaine Yu - Simply Chic Styling

TOP 10 LESSONS LEARNED - Happy 1.5 Simply Chic Styling!

Being a personal stylist is my third career after eight years in marketing and a decade being a full time mom. When I launched Simply Chic Styling 18 months ago, I really had no idea what running a business would be like, much less how much I would love it. A year and a half in, I've spent a bit of time reflecting and I feel so lucky to be able to do a job I love while working with people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. All while still being able to pick up my kids from school everyday at 3:00.

Here are the top 10 things I've learned about running my own business in the first 18 months:

1. Do it with passion. Or not at all.

Working as an entrepreneur means you have to do everything for your business. This includes thinking about how to market yourself, attending networking meetings, researching workshops for enrichment, planning client appointments, thinking about the business financials, working on social media/newsletters/blog posts, and showing up to appointments ready to serve clients. I can't imagine doing all of this if I didn't love my job.

2. Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher.

The amount of time I have to work is limited. I have 3 kids and once I pick them up from school, my focus is on the family. So during my work day, I have to be as efficient as possible which means I have to hustle to get everything done. Working with other entrepreneurs who have the same mindset really motivates me to do my best work and as a result, I feel energized and creatively fulfilled.

3. Balance is hard.

Maintaining the right balance is something I've struggled with this year. I've asked many friends how they do it - run a successful business and keep the right balance with family. In addition to those responsibilities, I also love to train for races - I'm currently training for a half Ironman. Of course the answer is so obvious - it's shifting your priorities around. But the execution is not always easy. This year, racing has taken a backseat and has dropped down on my priority list. I've struggled with this shift but while I'm now training and racing with a more relaxed effort, my business has been booming and I'm still a kick ass mom. This is the right balance for me - although it took me a little while to get here.

4. Reinventing yourself as an entrepreneur is AWESOME!

It's like creating a new part of your identity where you get to make all the rules. I don't HAVE to do anything because I'm the BOSS!

5. Social media is your best friend.

I love social media. I use it as a tool to stay in touch with my clients and let potential clients learn more about me and my style philosophy. I try to focus on tips that are helpful to my audience.

6. People will surprise you.

People have definitely surprised me in ways both good and bad. Last winter, I hired a graphic design agency to work on my branding. In retrospect, the relationship was doomed from the start. Communication was poor. The designs presented were very far off from what I envisioned. Things just weren't going well so I requested a refund based on the contract outlined on their website. But all I got were excuses. The refund check had been sent weeks ago they kept telling me. Perhaps that is the truth. But I never received a check in the mail and that was an eye opening disappointment.

But then, out of the blue one day an old friend sends me an email asking "What's up? I see you've started your own business." And it turns out this old friend is a graphic design genius who offers to help with my branding and comes up with a logo in one shot. And it's P E R F E C T.

7. Invest in yourself.

My first year in business I could not believe I was getting paid to do a job I loved so I sat in the corner counting my jelly beans. I didn't want to spend the money. I just wanted to watch it grow. This is what happens after ten years of not collecting a paycheck! But then I took a leap and enrolled myself in The Committed Program through The Paid Stylist where I learned the strategic side of running a personal styling business. I came out of it with more confidence, clarity and energy. Going forward, I plan on taking workshops twice a year.

8. Get up early & schedule days off.

My work day wraps up at 2:00 so I can pick up my kids from school. In order for me to get my training in, I usually wake up at 4:00/4:30 to get to the gym or go for a run. Now that many of my clients are working women, this means I have to work on weekends too. And so if I have client appointments on a Saturday, I schedule myself a day off during the week to do my bike training or visit a museum in the city. See #3 re: balance and see #4 about being your own boss.

9. Running a business takes grit.

There's a leap of faith required to launch your own business. You have to be a little gutsy and you can't be afraid to make mistakes. It's also helpful to be dedicated, persistent and self motivated. And having lots of energy is good too. And so is caffeine.

10. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

"Anything is possible" is the tagline for Ironman. It's also the motto for my friend Glenn Hatrick who is hands down one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. I'm going to make it mine too. Just believe it. And then do it.

I have so much respect for my clients and business partners and I look forward to seeing where this business adventure continues to take me! Thanks for coming along.

Images by mikifoto.

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