I grew up reading the Ann Lander’s advice column in the newspaper. It was always next to the horoscopes and crossword puzzle like a little bit of wisdom to go with your daily entertainment. Each short letter from readers started out with this salutation of Dear Ann and then they poured out their trouble with the hope of how to make things better. It felt warm, loving and motherly to read Ann’s response. At the time Ann was still writing her own responses that were founded on solid simple advice on what to do in a variety of situations from relationships, how to make sure you weren’t being ripped off to just solid every day how to live well guidance. I always marveled at the simplicity of the advice that while basic contained the sage wisdom we all need to hear sometimes.
These days advice is easy to come by and sometimes not at all founded on anything but personal opinion and trending hashtags. What you should do, buy, vote for, think and live like are all freely spread across the pages of social media and any answer your looking for is a scroll away. It is as if we need an advice litmus test of validity that comes with a warning label that results may vary by individual experience. That really is the truth of it too, sometimes you do just need to see for yourself what’s down pass the do not enter sign and turn back now signs someone put up as a warning or hoax.
When I started Dragonspit Apothecary I received a lot of advice that was well intentioned. Some of the advice I applied and was grateful for the way it helped me get started or figure out some new problem. Other advice left me wondering what type of decision I had made and was I even doing the right thing at all by starting my own business while trying to juggle a full time career and family. That type of advice always set me back a bit leaving me with frustration and doubt. If it is one thing I’ve learned is you need all the confidence and courage you can muster if you want to have your own business, take my advice on that!
The thing I found the most about small business advice was it is very difficult to find good advice when the thing you are doing is something most give up on or believe isn’t going to be successful. A lot of people have tried direct marketing and given up after realizing it wasn’t a quick trip to the millionaire level. Others call it a scam or my personal favorite the pyramid scheme. None of these things are true of course but when you are starting out a business selling products it is amazing how much advice covered in negative personal opinions you actually get. Instead of feeling encouraged and supported you feel like you just made the worse decision ever and soon you give up too.
Well I didn’t give up though. Maybe it was my rebel heart or maybe it was reading too many Dear Ann columns in my younger days. Instead of heeding the turn back now signs I took another step down the scary path covered in briars and thick with creepy naysayer voices. I found others on this path who like me are searching for the right path and determined not to give up. It is in many ways a huge corn maze of twists and turns. Sometimes we link arms with another helping each other through a challenge and sometimes we go it alone but we hear the voices of others nearby.
In my experience with direct sales, I have learned that as long as you don’t give up you will eventually find the rewards. You will find others who want to join you. You will also hear less and less of the naysayers and instead hear them ask how you did it. You will grow in your confidence and courage and take more steps than you even thought you could. You will find a deep desire as to why this is important and you will recall it in the times things are not working. You will also recall it when you find that momentum and things are going well. Using the best Ann advice I ever read, you can do it, if you try.
I made myself a promise when I realized I was being discouraged at building my own business. I promised (and still uphold this many years later) that anyone who came to me wanting to try it I would be their loudest, most supportive, best encourager friend and partner I could be. I would help them in any way I could to reach their goals and go as fast and far as they wanted to go. I would be the support that I wished I’d had at points in my own journey. In all I did I would give of my best to another who felt the calling like I did to do something different.
That mindset not only helped my own resolve to stick with it but has become a culture instilled in those who have joined forces with me. It is true we all have our own businesses,