As of this month, Smoke Perfume has officially been in business eight years! WOW. I can hardly believe it’s been that long. In some ways, it feels like it’s flown by and in other ways, it feels like I’ve been doing this forever.
I’m so thankful for my community and the support over the years. I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve learned over the last eight years, and here are eight big takeaways that stand out to me.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
This has been a hard-won lesson. When you’re running a business, it can be hard not to take everything personally and I used to totally wig out about little things that don’t ruffle my feathers at all now.
I’ve learned that a lot of things tend to work themselves out naturally if I relax and go with the flow. I’ve also become better at setting boundaries at work so that I can disconnect from the small stuff and be present when I’m not at work.
2. But do be detail oriented.
Not worrying about the small concerns doesn’t mean I don’t find joy in the details. I think thoughtful touches go a long way—everything from the packaging I use, to how I interact with my customers, to how I pack orders and handwrite thank-you notes. All of these things feel like small touchpoints connecting me to my customers and helping my brand stand out from others.
3. Be kind and generous.
This might go without saying, but we always need more kindness in the world. Be kind, gentle, and giving (with boundaries in place, of course) to yourself, your contractors, your customers, and everyone you work with directly and indirectly.
4. Know when to pivot.
Don’t cling to an idea or way of doing things just because you’ve invested time in it. There’s a lot of beauty, ease, and abundance that comes from allowing yourself to pivot and change your mind. Don’t be scared to change course when something isn’t working out.
One of my biggest mistakes happened a few years ago. My roller bottles were leaking, but I was too stubborn and attached to the packaging I was using. I didn’t want to change it.
After a year of fighting with the leaking packaging, I realized I had to make a change. I rebranded the roll-on bottles and resolved the packaging issue. Which leads me right into my next lesson...
5. Some of the biggest growth comes from “failure”.
Resolving my packaging problems led to increased customer loyalty. It bolstered my profit margins and allowed me to streamline production, which is so important for growth.
These were all big wins, and I would have stayed stuck if I’d been unwilling to pivot and grow.
I made a ton of mistakes during that period of time, but it ultimately elevated my business to a better place. And as a bonus, I now recognize when I need to make a change much faster than I used to. I’m not scared to grow or to make mistakes along the way.
6. Dream BIG and pay attention to what stands in your way.
What are your biggest dreams? Are you on your way to achieving them? Make sure to note whatever is holding you back.
Running a business will push your buttons and bring up things like fear, self-worth issues, and confidence issues. It can be scary to face these things but our business offers us the chance to observe and then heal these parts of ourselves that keep us small or hold us back.
7. Ask for help! Outsource what you don’t like doing.
I absolutely would not be where I am today without my support network. Whatever that looks like for you—finding a mentor, hiring a business coach, working with an accountant, seeking therapy, leaning on friends and family—know that you cannot do it alone.
I want to give a special shout-out to my perfume teacher and biggest shero mentor ever, Mandy Aftel. I wouldn’t be here without her. Other mentors and coaches have come and gone in my life, but I remain a huge fan of her continuing education and her guidance in the art of crafting an evocative, complex, and long-lasting natural perfume.
A word on outsourcing: I recommend identifying the aspects of running your business that you don’t particularly like, enjoy, or thrive at—and then outsource the hell out of them. Your business won’t flow if you hate working on it! Hiring out for these tasks allows you to spend time on doing the things that you do enjoy and will allow you to bring more joy and purpose to your work.
8. Keep your own energy clear.
Finally, take care of yourself. Schedule in regular breaks. Know what inspires you and go after it. Nourish yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. Lean into the things that fill you up and help you feel present.
Running a business can be all consuming, and burnout is a real threat. Remember that you’re a human doing your best, and it’s okay to have needs that sometimes take precedence over your business.