(Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Allison Barnhill of Allison Barnhill Designs, an Annapolis, MD based stationery designer and friend of ours - we're thrilled to feature her! Learn more about Allison at the end of the post!)
When I first started Allison Barnhill Designs, over 12 years ago, I was obsessed with what every other person in the industry was doing. I thought that if I wanted to be "successful," I had to do all the same things that they were doing. If a "successful" vendor did a certain bridal show, I thought I had to do that show too. If they had an ad in a bridal magazine, I thought I had to do that too. I spent a lot of my time worrying about what everyone else was doing. And, that wasn't really getting me anywhere, except losing sight of my own business.
You'll notice that above, I put "successful" in quotes. Why? Well, success can be defined in so many ways. And, success to one person is different to another. You need to define success for yourself and your business. If you are just starting out, your definition of success might be making enough money to stop working full or part-time at your "other job." If you are established, you might define success by taking on additional employees to help with your growing workload.
As you can see, everyone and their definition of success for their business should be different. And, that definition should change over time, as your goals for your business change. So, you need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and do the things that will make you successful, at this point in time. You will be happier and your business will thrive.
The one exception to the "stop worrying about what everyone else is doing" mantra should be when it comes to mentoring. Mentoring relationships with established vendors can be very rewarding and educational. You can ask questions, learn from their mistakes and have a supportive ear to bend on those days when you want to hang your head and cry. Just don't base your business' value on someone else's accomplishments.
In the end, I've learned that what is most important to my clients is me. They connect with my personality, my design, my customer service and work ethic. And, they don't care what every other stationery designer is doing. They care about their big day and how my business helps make that day everything they imagined. My focus is best spent on them, not my competitors, and that is what defines my success.
Allison Barnhill Designs, based in Annapolis, MD, creates custom event invitations and stationery for clients. Allison and her husband Tom are also the founders of Avergan Foundation, promoting acceptance and awareness of autism spectrum disorders. Learn more about Allison on her website or Instagram.