Business Reflection + Success.

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As winter deepens, and the holiday buzz is nearly overwhelming – I find myself in a serious time of reflection.

This past week I finished my last market of this year, and unfortunately had bigger expectations for the “final finale of 2016”.  Lets be honest, Vintage Whites is my baby and was Alpine Baby Co’s very FIRST market. So I’m used to having loads of support, and not a ton of competition.

In 2016 however, I decided to expand my market love vending at The Whitefish Arts Festival, Vintage Whites, Handmade Holiday, and Holiday MADE fair. I love how each one is unique & meeting new supporters completely fills another part of my soul.. but as I’m starting to learn each one has a different vibe + financial gain for our family.

Missoula MADE fair was a great show, but I was TOTALLY the newbie in town (or at least felt like it… wasn’t sure what to expect). Not to mention there were two other Kids Organic Clothing Companies in attendance, which nearly landed me to go back to middle school girl mode… when you double and triple check your outfit because that one boy is trying to decide between you and another equally beautiful gal at school.

Except THANKFULLY this isn’t middle school.

I’ve found lots of love in collaborating and supporting everyone, no matter what their trade. While I would never discuss “where I get my fabrics” with someone who sews kids clothes (or anyone else for that matter)… there’s always new marketing strategies, or things you can find to admire about the other competitive businesses… whether you want to admit it or not.

So I was left with finding what really makes my brand unique… What do I have in place that will help my business evolve through the trends + other business competitors?

I’ve discovered (and been encouraged by others) that what makes me one of a kind is not just my product or supplies, but my innovative heart. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers, or likes, that I forget how far I’ve come as a person.

So two nights ago, I lit candles at night to bring some peace to my chaos, and started setting goals for 2017 + defining what success really means to me. To any sane person, hitting a financial goal for a show clearly doesn’t equate to success; therefore, I shouldn’t be using it as a basis for how I feel about my business… which at the time felt like “a total failure” (thanks depression + no sleep, I hate your guts).

Are you ready?!

Success is providing for your family, in only a way YOU know how. Whether that be making, writing, painting, building, waitressing, selling, etc. Whatever you do on a daily basis that provides an enhanced life for your family.

By this definition, I’ve been successful.

Success is getting up, day in and day out (no matter how hard it is) to pursue something your heart desires. Consistency, and drive are key factors here… If you’ve ever wanted to give up, but didn’t… I commend you.

By this definition (even through tears at times), I’ve been successful.

Success is being courageous enough to throw your heart into the public lions den, even under massive fears. I still find myself caring about what others think, but I’ve found my skin has become much thicker over the past two years. Were you ever scared of sharing a talent, or business in fear of what others would think – but did it anyways?!

By this definition (alongside the gossipers), I’ve been successful.

Success is acknowledging your faults, and sometimes learning things the hard way. That’s right… even when you “fail” you STILL succeed. You are working on a better YOU – and that often involves making mistakes. Plus no one likes a perfect person, including me.

By this definition (plus a few bouts of self degradation), I’ve been successful.

Success is seeing the good, even through miles of fog. Donating to others, sending loving messages to friends, holding that door for a stranger, cooking dinner for a new Mama. Being the good in the world, and choosing to actually SEE it for yourself.

By this definition (plus a few lost moments), I’ve been successful.

Leave out the numbers friends, and ask yourself: did I grow this year? Did I meet new people who only I was able to help?! Did I work towards a goal, no matter how slow it went or close I got to it? Did I live for a purpose, and press on when faced with a difficulty?!

If that answer is Yes to ANY of those…

YOU’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL.

No matter how UGLY 2016 was for our family… we pressed on. We continued to look down our finances, family, and fears square in the face and KEPT GOING (even when we wanted to give up… which was too many times to count). Just because I didn’t hit my last market goal of the year, doesn’t mean I failed… and just because something you really tried HARD for didn’t happen – doesn’t mean you failed either.

Over the year we kept working to minimalize, to become a self-sustainable family, to lift others even if we were a sinking ship. The majority of our days as a family would end with someone in tears (most of the time it was a child), and if you were to ask me through the lens of 1 day if I felt successful…

I’d tell you to quit cussing ridiculousness at me, and get the hell outta my house. Like friend… are you CRAZY?! My toddler is over here throwing a huge tantrum because I wouldn’t let her eat the marker… and my baby hardly gets snuggled (because biz mom/three kid life). You seriously think I’m successful… I make everyone cry!?

But I am successful.

In the lens of a year, our family went full time self employed. We overcame depression, death, and desperation. I’ll be the first to tell anyone its been nothing but a struggle… and I feel like an awful Mom, Wife, and Friend most days. But expand out to 365 day view, and we’ve had a hard-learned, yet successful year.

… and I bet when YOU look through the scope of 2016 – you can pull out major accomplishments, goals, or changes you’ve undergone to become better.

Take some time to reflect on what your 2016 looked like as a family, and what lessons you can take out of these past minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months.

I stumbled upon this quote a few days ago, and had to share…

“Nothing can bring you peace, but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can be at peace with your past, and move on. Or you can choose to lug it along… and suffer from being disheartened and bitter.

I choose the first.

So here’s my personal declaration to change my way of thinking. To define my personal + business success as accomplishing little tasks everyday that better my life, and the lives of those around me…

… no matter how that looks on paper.

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