Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest road blocks in business ownership. Often starting a business means leaving what you know and going all in with something new. Bethany Stahl is all to familiar with this concept. After getting her degree in biology she realized her passion was art. She decided to go all in and pursue her art full time. She is a now an accomplished artist, illustrator and author.
Bethany has learned a lot along the way. Business is more than creating and she has agreed to share the hard work that is necessary to get your products in front of customers. You can find out more about Bethany and her art on her website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
Tell us about yourself.
I am an author, illustrator and artist. I love long walks on the beach and swimming in cold mountain rivers. I own “Bethany Stahl” which sells original art including paintings and sculptures, as well as my books that I have authored and illustrated.
The idea of my business was born in 2015 on my honeymoon. Instead of a baby, I came home with a business idea! It was the first time in my life I felt like I was living my life for myself and doing what I wanted. In the middle of it, I realized I wanted to be a self-sufficient artist! It became official later in 2015 and has been a whirlwind ever since!
How did you get into your business?
I started my business out of desperation. Like a lot of millennials, I was stuck in debt from getting my Bachelor’s in Biology and was unable to find a job from fast food to research positions. I found myself under-qualified and over-qualified without finding a middle ground.
Throughout school, I found art. It was the best way for me to wind down from a day of studying but more and more I began to see my art skills increase as well as realize that I was able to sell my art. During the middle of this trying time I married my best friend and on the honeymoon, realized that I had to embrace the art! I soon after started my business and the rest is history!
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was and is, always staying up to date with ever changing algorithms. The hardest part of business is getting your product seen by customers. The customers are there but making sure your posts are getting seen and you are riding on top of the social media wave instead of getting swallowed by it is the number one priority of everyday. If you don’t know about SEO, get on it!
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
I wish I knew what SEO was and how complicated the back end, tax-side of business, can be. I had an idealized view of being a business owner and didn’t realize it was 85% SEO and social media, 10% keeping up with the legal stuff, 4% helping customers and 1% creating. Obviously these aren’t real numbers but I always thought it was completely opposite.
It is a lot harder work than it seems but I am grateful everyday that I get to work an unconventional life and build something amazing. I also want to mention that you can’t expect to make a steady paycheck. Around the holidays I feel like a queen and once the February slump starts, I panic. Get on top of your finances and make sure you don’t live the lifestyle of the paycheck of the week but the paycheck annually!
If you could narrow your success down to one thing, what would it be?
Determination. I don’t stop, ever. My business is my child and it needs me all hours of every day and when it needs you, you can’t give up. When those hard times come, when you invest endless time and don’t see results, don’t give up. Re-evaluate and do it all again.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
Hopefully laughing at myself in this interview because I have learned something new that will help my business continue to grow and I will feel silly for not knowing it sooner!
What are your top three tips for women starting a business?
1) Figure out the legal stuff first. Don’t just jump into it without realizing your profit to income and how taxes take a huge chunk (this may affect your business plan).
2) Get yourself on social media! Don’t sell, be apart of the community instead.
3) Network! We all have a little piece of knowledge that someone else doesn’t have, if we can all get together and share these little pieces, we can make each other great.
What is a typical day like for you?
Wake up early and take care of all my rescue animals (three cats and a dog). Pour a big ol’ glass of Dr. Pepper and then get straight to answering customer questions.
After that, I fill any orders I have, check my stats and see where I am gaining, losing, etc. I then put in place adjustments that are needed, make myself present on social media, catch up on the orders that came in the mean time, look for new opportunities to showcase my business, answer the customers that are now waiting, realize it has only been 10 minutes since the start of the day, try to create and update products, more social media and then repeat until the day is over. Glamorous isn’t it?
What is your business motto or quote you live by?
Fake it ’til you make it.
What this really means, is have confidence in yourself. I was so scared at the beginning of owning my business that I was going to be laughed at, people said I was “pretending” to own a business, sales weren’t great. I felt like they were right, it was “pretend”. But HECK NO! It was not, that is a part of starting a business and being confident helped my sales dramatically.
If you were starting your business over again, what would you do differently?
Be confident and believe in myself. Simple as that. Your business is a direct reflection of you and if your attitude isn’t all for it, then it is going to show. Everything else, I think was necessary to learn and grow as a successful business owner.