FYI as you read: Threads by Nomad is our company. My daughter is my partner. Her name is Christen, but she has been Sissi to the family her entire life. So while this is about Business with a Purpose there is a lot of personal thrown in. After all, business is personal.
This blog post has been floating around in my brain since the beginning of Threads by Nomad. I was freaked out scared when we started. Ministers/missionaries are not business people. Or at least I was not! I have changed in so many ways as a minister as a result of Threads by Nomad. I can’t even begin the list the things I have had to learn. I am very grateful to many people who have helped in that process. There is one group in particular that has stirred me to go ahead and put this on paper. I meet with Women Helping Women 2 Network fairly regularly. We talk about goals and we talk about how we can help each other in our businesses. Many of them like me, really did not know much about business or what they were getting themselves into. Like us at Threads by Nomad, they took the leap. Listening and sharing with this group of women has led me to wonder if there are not others who toy with the idea of having a business with a purpose, but have no idea what they are getting themselves into. In this blog series I want to share what I have learned that may or may not be in the books on business. Maybe some of what I have learned can help others. There are no priorities in my list. They are all important….at least they have been to me.
(Read about the first 5 things I wish I had known here.)
(Read about the second blog with 6 – 10 here.)
1. From the beginning my daughter and I promised grace and forgiveness to each other and to ourselves.
2. It is a gift if your abilities and the abilities of your partner complement each other.
3. There is enough business for all of us.
4. Bartering is not a bad deal, but it is messy.
5. Get out of your little world…intentionally.
6. Network, Network, Network.
7. Learn, learn, learn.
8. Make use of fund raising programs.
9. Determine your mission and stick to it.
10. Know the population of the folks you are working with to make a difference.
11. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and help. This has been gigantic for me. My daughter and I spend time encouraging each other. I have a group of women that I pray with each week that encourage me. I have developed a relationship with a business school that is offering me valuable encouragement, advice and help. I have dear friends who have come along side me to help with finances. I have numerous people on speed dial that I call when I don’t know something, can’t figure something out or am discouraged. Business is not for the faint of heart. You need those who can help and encourage.
12. Determine if this is a hobby or a business. A friend has told me on a couple of occasions that we are not really a business yet. We are more of a hobby. It sure doesn’t feel like a hobby! Sewing is my hobby. Gardening is my hobby. But I understand the comment. For many doing something like this is a project and not a long term investment. Or it is something done because they have a bit of time they can offer to help someone else. They make a couple of trips a year to a foreign country, connect with artisans, and then try to sell their wares. That is not what we are about. We are attempting to develop a long term sustainable company that provides jobs for refugees at fair wages and marketing and entrepreneur opportunities for artisans in other countries. We are providing a model for other small businesses to replicate and hire the marginalized. No we are not making money yet. No we are not paying ourselves. Yes we both have full time jobs. This however is not a hobby.
13. Social media is not an option. I hear it all the time. I hear it among people in ministry who lament and ditz the need for social media. In the networking group I belong to it is one of the most frequently stated concerns. There is lack of knowledge. There is discomfort. There is an outright dislike of the invasion many feel social media is. There is concern about the time it consumes. And many frankly wonder if it is worth it. No question…yes, it is worth it. We must give people an opportunity to know us and to connect with us. We no longer live in isolated communities but a world that is connected on every level imaginable. To not connect is to say on some level you are not interested in them. When someone expresses interest in you to ignore it is a refusal to engage in the relationship. Very few of us will be social media experts. I most definitely am not. But we must do our best to use the tools in front of us to build our brand and to let others draw nearer to us even if it is only virtually.
14. However much you think it will cost, it will cost more. Geez, if only I had known this. Over the years that we have been in ministry we have submitted many budgets. The hardest ones were the ones when we were going into something new. We had no idea how much it would cost to do ministry in the new setting. Getting Threads by Nomad up and ready was no different. Rent costs more than anticipated. Fabric cost more than anticipated. Who knew to add renting booths at shows into the budget before beginning? Why is business internet three times the price of home internet for a service not much different? I could go on. I am very grateful for this budget year to have some financial folks who know more about this process and have been a great help. When budgeting for your start up talk to as many people as possible about what you should put in your budget.
15. Love what you sell. It was on the mannequin for photography. But it was just so very beautiful. I had to have it. They were the last pair hanging on the rack. We were having a sale. They would go. I had to have it. The fabric was heavenly with a beautiful drape and feel. I truly needed it!...well maybe not need…. We have only so much fabric for each line. When it is gone, it is gone. So I wait to purchase until I am comfortable that we don’t have a customer about the click the “add to cart” button for it. I just love our designs. I love our fabrics. It is hard to resist buying every single piece. You can’t sell what you don’t love. And you can’t sell what you don’t believe in. I believe in the quality of our work and the mission as well as the beauty and style.