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It's been a year and a half since I propped up cards on a suitcase at the Parkdale Flea, and declared the launch of Gotamago. I can say, without a doubt, that I am now a different person from the girl standing under the tent that day, pictured above in the photograph, smiling brightly and not knowing what I was in for. Here are some of the lessons I've learned seventeen months into this entrepreneurial journey.
Time, not money, is the most valuable resource. We've all heard this adage, of course, but I never actually took it to heart until I sat down and evaluated the time I was spending on projects that did not directly help the growth of my business. It was difficult, but I chose to cut down many opportunities and activities this year to focus on Gotamago. Learning how to allocate time effectively, and to be cognisant of the 80/20 rule every day, was singlehandedly the biggest challenge I faced this year.
Sort out your bookkeeping and business finances as soon as possible. Balance sheet, income statement...say what? I avoided business and accounting courses all my life -- I found them extremely dry, and preferred instead languages, psychology, art and design -- so it's fantastically ironic that I ended up starting my own business. This book helped, as well as this amazing (and free!) software. I'm currently taking an online accounting course and fumbling through bookkeeping tutorials. In hindsight, it would have been good to have learnt all the basics right from the beginning, but I'm catching up. Check back on me in a year.
It's okay to feel like nothing's okay...and that's going to be 80% of the time. It's also okay on a weekday to do laundry at 9am, grocery shop at 11am, walk the dog at 2pm and then work until 1am. That thing about striking the perfect balance? Total myth. I particularly like Randi Zuckerberg's mantra: "Work. Sleep. Family. Fitness. Friends. Pick three."
Know when you need help, and when that time comes, swallow your silly pride and ask for help. I am someone who would rather exhaust my energy doing everything by myself rather than ask for help, and this one was a hard lesson to learn. I literally had to be knocked on the head to admit that I needed help preparing for the One of a Kind Show. Thank goodness I had amazing friends around me that muted their "I told you so"s, and immediately stepped in, and not a moment too late.
Every little thing amounts to something. Gotamago's logo is inspired by a sticker from a Japanese pastry box that I carefully pressed into my sketchbook eight years ago. The Gooderham Building painting that I finished this year had its beginnings in a photograph that I snapped in 2011. When I was nine, I received a calligraphy set for Christmas, and my love for typography was ignited; little did I know that twenty years later, I would incorporate this passion into stationery design.
When in doubt, exercise and sleep. The answer will reveal itself shortly after.