I teach emerging online fashion boutique owners how to crack the code of eCommerce success for a life of uncapped income, flexibility and fun.
Hi, I'm Jodie
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But perhaps not a lifetime?
My iland co. story
Welcome to this week’s episode of Online Store Success
So in this week’s episode, I want to tell you a story.
It’s a true story, with all the highs and lows you’d expect..
And better still, it’s my story.
And it includes some amazing lessons, some hard truths and yes, a lot of vulnerability
Over the last few months, I’ve been making some HUGE business decisions behind the scenes.
But before I tell you about them I want to take you back in time.
It was 2014 and I was ready to start my own fashion business.
Like many of you I wanted to escape my corporate job and create a career on my own terms.
I wanted freedom and flexibility over my time.
I wanted the mythical ‘laptop lifestyle’ (yes I’m doing air fingers)
Over the last 8 years, the business has gone from a humble market stall beginnings to a million-dollar-a-year fully-fledged eCommerce business with a fancy office, a team of staff I love and loyal customers over the world.
I’ve won a host of business awards, featured in many newspapers, radio segments, magazines and more and done 5-figure sales days, sold out of collections in minutes.
We launched into the US, have a heap of wholesale customers and a stand-alone B2B website and even did our first wholesale trade show in Melbourne this year.
I was kicking all of the business goals.
But personally all that came at a cost.
And I want to be really honest about that, even though it’s a little painful for me.
It started on a family holiday, when yet again I found that I was working like a mad woman, glued to my laptop rather than enjoying family time.
This wasn’t what a laptop lifestyle was supposed to look like.
I had become a slave to my business in the pursuit of scaling and growing to the ‘next level’…
The truth was.
1. Despite having a team I could never take a day off, let alone a week.
2. I was working myself to the point of physical and emotional breakdown in order to continue feeding ‘the beast’ that I had created in order to keep on scaling.
3. I was constantly stressed trying to ensure enough revenue was coming in to meet the large overheads such as wages, rent, big supply bills, electricity, new product development, sampling, rising costs by the day and everything in between.
In truth, I was utterly miserable because of it.
I was back working full-time in an office environment, which was one of my main reasons for starting the business in the first place – to not have to do that! But now with the added responsibility of paying ALL the bills, managing staff for which I was not equipped to do or really even wanted to do, including paying consultants to teach me about building a strong culture and working on my leadership skills which is not where I ever envisioned myself.
My skills and interests are in the big-picture thinking and ideas, digital marketing and analytics,-not in HR conducting annual performance reviews or building office cultures, not designing fashion pieces and managing production, not in recommending style tips to customers or dealing with yet another lost or delayed customer order threatening to take us to a current affair if we didn’t deliver their kimono IMMEDIATELY…
With each new level of business, instead of questioning “Is this what I actually want?”, I rolled with it hoping that by building a bigger business focused on growth, I’d be able to hire more people to help, expand our product range even more and perhaps sell the business later down the track for a big fat healthy cheque.
But I already wasn’t enjoying the business in its current form and hiring more people and creating more designs were the things I hated the most…. Growth meant more and more of this! It meant more work, more hours in the office and more moving away from my initial WHY I started the business in the first place.
And so on that holiday back in April this year, I seed was planted in my mind that I couldn’t shake… ‘is this what I truly want?’ And for the next 6 months, I came up with a thousand different ways that I could try and fundamentally change my business… But none of them had any hope… because a creative business (or any business for that matter) needs a passionate leader at its helm. And I’d completely lost my passion to the point of being resentful of the position I found myself in. I felt trapped, unable to escape from this business I so desperately wanted, but was so far away from my original ‘WHY’ of starting in the first place.
One morning I woke up and said out loud “I don’t want to sell clothes anymore”.
And from then I knew I was done. It was time for me to exit this business I’d created for myself. I then spent the next 3 months having difficult conversations with staff, suppliers, and customers about what was coming. I stopped ordering more products, I started discounting everything via a clearance sale, so that we had a good runway of not owing refunds after we closed.
I continued trading until my very last employee found another job, and then simply turned off the website.
This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make and it’s been filled with ALL of the emotions. This feeling of dis-alignment has been lingering for almost a year now and it got to a point of not being able to ignore it any longer.
I’m in the process of listing the business for sale, but despite my broker’s distress that I’m no longer trading and every day that goes by is possibly less money we will get for the business, I just don’t care. Because when I made the decision to close, I knew that possibly meant I would never sell the business. But I’m exhausted and have always had a steadfast, unwavering faith that everything will be ok in the end. And it will.
I have made peace with that, like relationships, businesses too can be for a reason or a season and not always forever.
My business has been for a season of my life and career, and that’s ok.. One in which I’ve learnt an entirely new skill set launched another business and moved to a different business model.
I’m sharing this because I want to give other business owners that are at the cusp of expansion (or burnout), to always remain focused on the ‘why’ you started your business. Is it for a laptop lifestyle where you can work from anywhere?
Because if so, moving into a commercial office or warehouse filled with staff won’t serve that goal. Even if you have people running the business for you, there needs to be someone ‘running the people and that is a full-time job in itself.
I hope this heartfelt episode has been helpful to you and will help you re-align with your overarching goals for starting your business.
Perhaps you need to stop and course correct too and see if there’s a better way that will serve you more or perhaps it’s time to wrap up a business that no longer serves you.
Some businesses are created for a reason.
Some last just a season.
And honestly very few last a lifetime.
But deciding when to step off the merry ground is a hard thing. And I hope this episode has help.
Until next week,