Reflections on our First Year in Business
What have you loved about your first year in business?
A few weeks after quitting my full time office job to run Rystedt Creative I remarked to Gabrielle that this was the best decision of our marriage. Why? The time with my family means the world to me and I’m now pursuing one of my passions full time (my previous job didn’t have a very positive or creative environment).
I love that I can answer client questions any time they have them. I love the people I have worked with so far – especially Farm Market iD, Lady Environmental, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church. I love the combination of creativity and organization that running a business like this requires.
I guess to answer this I need to back up a few months before we actually started Rystedt Creative. You could say it’s the “inception moment”, when Josh and I sat down to talk about our future and decided to actually do this crazy thing and start a business.
I say crazy because, well, it was crazy. It still is. And I love that about this whole thing. We said “yes” to an off-the-wall idea (okay, not that off the wall – we’re both first born INTJs – there’s no true off-the-wall here) and went forth and did the dang thing. Together.
I love that Rystedt Creative is truly a family business. Sometimes our three-year-old will want to “play client”, and we have to answer phone calls and talk about copywriting or blog posts. The whole thing is awesome to me.
What have you not loved about your first year in business?
Let’s face it, running a new business is difficult. If someone were to ask my opinion if they should do what we’ve done I would quickly respond “NO” (and probably try to shake them out of it). But if your passion drives you to start a business despite the warnings, hurdles, and opposition then you just might be cut out for it.
I don’t love always chasing the next sale. I don’t love needing to tell my daughter that I can’t play because I need to work (not always my answer but it happens enough to make me sad).
Also, I actually do miss having a seperate office in a different building in which I can work (perhaps one day).
We’ve basically bootstrapped Rystedt Creative and hey, we’re still here a year later. But dang, we’ve worked hard to get here.
As much as I love being together as a family… Wow! sometimes it’s really hard. We have three very small children who have constant needs and we’re all always together in a very small space. I honestly can’t even divulge how small it is here, it’s that small.
I love carving out time and space to be creative, and Josh does too. But we’ve had to adapt in some truly bizarre ways to make everything work. I think we’ve done a pretty awesome job at it, and we’re both so much more adaptable and creative than we were when we started at this whole thing, but yeah, it’s been a serious learning curve. No doubt.
Also, I miss the standing desk I used to have at my office job!
What is the best advice you have for aspiring creative entrepreneurs?
Don’t undersell your products or services. You’re a professional. That’s why people pay you to do what you do best. Don’t fall prey to the price war in your market. Rather than underselling your products or services, build value in the eyes of your target market. Becoming a client or customer of your business is valuable – prove it to them.
Don’t underestimate the value of potential clients. Sometimes the small sale will develop into a long term business relationship.
The first Apple device I bought cost only about $150. Nearly two decades later and I’m typing this on a 27″ iMac and listening to music on my plus sized iPhone.
The first client Rystedt Creative landed needed a small project completed. He’s been with us ever since and we provide him with regular web maintenance and support.
Don’t only chase the big sale. Don’t slack off for your small clients or customers who only stop by for something small. Give every customer your all – it’ll pay off.
Work your ass off.
Search the depths of your soul: honestly and deeply. Decide whether you really want to take the plunge and do whatever it is you daydream about when you’re at your day job.
Most people are either creative or they’re entrepreneurial. Either of these things is great, but it can be hard as heck to get them to work well together. And it’s okay not to have both personality traits.
You need more grit than you could ever, ever imagine at the outset. There is nothing easy about starting a business, and there’s nothing easy about keeping it going. It’s always about the next sale, the next product, the next month’s editorial schedule. And don’t even get me started on the next month’s bills or deadlines.
A lot of times, you’re reaching down to dwindling reserves and giving it all you have. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or haven’t had a vacation. It doesn’t matter if you have a lavish lifestyle or a handful of kids depending on you – if you don’t bring your A-game everyday, you’re not going to eat.
If you are okay with that reality, then you’re probably going to make it. If not, there are plenty of awesome creative jobs that also offer things like stability and a 401(k) investment program.
Does being married and business partners make your life harder?
Every marriage is unique because every person is unique. Gabrielle and I work well together and are usually on the same page.
I couldn’t run this business without her.
She’s the best teammate I could ask for.
No. We already raise kids together, which is a way more important project than running a business. Not that we don’t put 110% into our business – we definitely do. But if I trust someone enough to raise my progeny with him, I’m totally cool with being business partners.
What are you most looking forward to as you go into the second year of Rystedt Creative?
The future is never set in stone. One wise man once wrote “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow”.
Even so, I’m looking forward to the new clients we’ll be working with, the new services we’ll be launching, and the new communities we’ll be joining.
I think that I’m not at liberty to give away the things I’m most excited about. (hehehe)
What I can say: I’m definitely looking forward to taking on new clients and working on more diverse projects. We’ve been welcomed into our local business community with open arms and I’m thrilled to see these connections grow and deepen. I’m also looking forward to the chance to make new connections in other communities.
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