When you start a small business, most of the time the dream is to be able to do it full time. When I finally made the leap to have my business full time in May 2015, 5 years after being in business, a part of me not only want to document this time, but give a glimpse to those dreaming of having their business full time of what it's really like to have one.
Before I share about dealing with money, streams of income, facing fears, time management and many more as a small business owner, I want to talk about the journey that lead me to where I am now. Because if I didn't go through what I did, all of this wouldn't have happened. So let's start from the beginning, shall we?
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If you had told me in college, that I would have a small business full time, the very shy, quiet, introvert me back then would have thought you were crazy. My dream was to work for a non-profit, have the office and the 9-5 job.
In 2009, my first job out of college was in Advertising Sales for a small local newspaper. It introduced me to cold calls, putting myself out there, flexible hours and a commission-based paycheck that varied, month to month. Since the company was small, there was no insurance or retirement included. I ended up setting things up on my own which has helped the transition to having a full time business smoother in the long run.
The whole year of 2009, I was busy doing all sorts of DIY for our wedding in October. It tapped into the creative, graphic design skills I learned in college that I wasn't completely using at my current job. That led me to open an Etsy shop in March 2010 that offered stationery and paper goods. From the get go, I registered Leen Machine as a business, with all the official bells and whistles like a business license and monthly sales taxes to file because I worried I would owe the government a ton of money if I didn't do it right the first time. No, really, that was my mindset.
From 2010-2011, I transitioned from my Ad sales job to a part-time restaurant job to attempt to have my Etsy shop business full time. Looking back, I wasn't ready then. I didn't have multiple streams of income and I sure didn't believe in myself.
I went back to having a job from 2011-2015, a dream non-profit job where I grew professionally and personally. Looking back, I needed that time to grow and to believe in myself. In 2013, two pivotal things happened. I started practicing calligraphy in May 2013, originally picked up as a hobby and it ended up taking over my business. I also went to my first creative conference in August 2013, which exposed me to creatives like myself for the very first time. It showed me that this dream of mine is possible. It made me believe I can do it.
Fast forward to less than two years later since that creative conference. On May 15, 2015, my last day at my non-profit job, I finally did something I never thought was possible - I chose to leap and do Leen Machine full time. I knew if I didn't, in the back of my mind I would always wonder, "What if?" and wonder if I could do it.
This full time journey is not easy or pretty, but it has been worth it and I have no regrets. I'm excited to share this journey with you.