Hey, my name is Lucy and I started an eCommerce business that sells face masks. The entire experience of owning this business has lead me to realise how naive I was when I started, how much I’ve learnt in two years and how grateful I am to have gone through it.

That’s what this post is celebrating — ignorance, naivety and gratitude.

Let’s dive in.

1. Build a business, not a brand.

I misinterpreted big brand’s Instagrams to be the core reason for their success. What I’ve since learnt is design doesn’t sell, advertising does.

The reality of eCommerce is this —

Your social media channels are 1/100th of what you should be doing well.

If I could turn back the clock and build this same business again, I would hire digital advertising super stars and build the brand in my spare time.

The way your business looks matters so little, especially when you’re starting out.

 

2. You don’t know what you don’t know.

In the beginning, you know you don’t know very much about running and growing a business.

But as time passes, you start to feel you know business intimately and deeply and can predict what’s going to happen next.

You don’t. You may think you know, but you don’t.

I’ve found it’s always wise to assume that as soon as you start feeling good about your expertise, you’re just around the corner from a big lesson.

 

3. Heavily regulated industries are difficult to navigate.

Particularly if you don’t have a highly unique product and a lot of capital behind you.

Skin care is one of those industries and the frustrating part about our recent strategies to grow in this industry are the hoops you need to jump through.

Skin care is not an easy industry to start out in.

At the end of the day, you need to have a product that is special and you have to be excited about jumping through those hoops to make it happen.

 

4. You have time to think before deciding.

I’ve rushed making decisions because I felt pressured to grow fast and do everything as fast as I could.

You always have time to think analytically before making a decision.

Recently, I have given myself hours (not minutes) to make a decision and the result has lead to more rational, strategic moves on my part. It feels good to weigh the options before deciding, particularly when launching a product.

 

5. Focus.

This is a takeaway built from the foundations of Lesson 1.

When you’re growing a business, it is so important to pause before blazing through a project to ask yourself —

Is this going to lead to growth?

If the answer is no and it’s not customer service, shelf the idea and find a project that will.

If I could go back and use this question to make better decisions, I would in a heartbeat. I would have added more products to our range sooner, I would have hired differently and I would have focused on digital advertising a lot sooner than I did.

 

6. It doesn’t have to consume you for it to work.

You don’t have to give your soul to your business — to the point where you don’t know yourself anymore — for it to work.

A great eCommerce businesses will flourish with focus.

And in order to build a great eCommerce business, you have to be great at selling product. If you have any doubt about your ability to naturally sell, you’ll soon find out when you start a business if it’s your strength or not and if you’re willing to put in the time to learn.

 

7. Wring every drop out of it when it’s good.

I think there’s one thing that’s guaranteed in business —

When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, it’s very bad.

That’s why it’s so important to work as hard as you can and put in the extra hours when there are opportunities at every corner and your growth is exponential.

Take every opportunity that fits and will help you grow and leave the rest behind.

 

8. You’re more than your business, revenue and profit.

This comes back to Lesson 6 and how I found my identity was baked into how well my business was doing.

At the end of the day, I needed to take a step back from my business and look around me.

Firstly, to recognise that I’m a human being and I have friends and family who don’t hear from me any more, or when they do I only talk about my business.

Secondly, to remember that there are people all over the world struggling to survive, let alone build a thriving business, and that figuring out how to sell more face masks isn’t going to solve those problems.

Thirdly, that I do think I have something unique to offer outside of skin care and that I want to pursue that.

Moments away from the hustle of my business have given me path-altering perspective and it’s in these times that I feel most alive.