When I first started Allebasi I knew that it would be challenging and it was. Since then, I have faced many challenges that I was able to overcome and today there are still some I am still trying to overcome. I don’t mind challenges; I welcome them. They make you improvise (one of my strengths is improvisation) and they help you ascend limits. Today I’m sharing four of my biggest challenges as a business owner.
1. My hearing impairment.
Being hard-of-hearing is a constant challenge in business dealings and always will be. It means I am not able to make or take calls and whereas I’d love to think I live in a perfect world where everybody is sympathetic and understanding, I unfortunately have come across people who didn’t understand. I’ve had people call me countless times (even when I don’t answer) and when I answer to give them other options of communicating with me, their voices get louder to the point where they are practically shouting, which doesn’t work; if I’m not aided by lip reading, I cannot tell what people are saying. I’ve also had people prefer not to deal with me because of it.
I am however fortunate to have people helping me. Earlier in the year I was emailing suppliers and the forms on their websites required a phone number. Some emailed me back and some called. Since I work alone, I was fortunate to have my Dad answer the calls and confer on my behalf and he was just amazing! It made things easier for me.
I’m also fortunate that most of the people who contact me do not mind conversing through email and if they want to call and I have no one around to take the call, I just inform them of my hearing impairment and I’m always surprised at how kind and understanding some are. Just yesterday I emailed a potential supplier and he asked to confer over a call and I informed him that I don’t take calls and he understood and offered an alternate option: chatting through Whatsapp! I was elated!
Once my business grows, I’d love to employ an assistant to assist with making and taking calls so that I can give clients options for ease of communication and that will be a great thing! For now I mainly communicate through email and I’m open to other forms of written communication as well. In this digital and social media age, there are so many options to choose from!
2. Time management.
I think every business owner struggles with this. Since I am working alone –what people call a solopreneur- I run everything by myself. I have to find clients, blog, update my website and design brands and it is hard work. I haven’t gone out with friends since last year. The little time I have is spent catching up with family or catching up on my favourite things to do like reading and working on personal art projects. It does get hard sometimes but making sacrifices is a big part of business and of life.
What helps is being able to prioritise to better manage my time. I develop schedules and I try my best to keep to them. I’m getting better at managing my time effectively and once I get into the flow of things and my business is steady, I’ll be able to schedule regular time off for myself and my friends or just to take a breather and relax.
Oh, man this is a big one. My industry is big; there is no doubt about that. It is full of the most amazing and talented designers and it is challenging to differentiate myself from the rest of those designers. Just when you think you’d be noticed because you’re clad from head to toe in neon lights you turn around and there are others out there in the same get up as you. I have to constantly think of something new that sets me apart from other graphic designers and brand identity designers.
As challenging as this is, I love it because it helps you reach new heights; you’re constantly trying new things to stand out and the more new things you try, the more you find what really fits you and actually differentiates you from the rest of the crowd. It really pushes you to be innovative!
The one thing that helps is telling myself to stop looking at what other designers are doing that make them better and just focus on myself and the service I am able to give to clients.
4. Getting clients.
This is still quite a challenge. Since I rebranded a month ago, I am still struggling to find new clients. I thought it would be easy because I had a niche –which is brand identity design- and there are so many creative entrepreneurs out there and thousands of people start new businesses every day.
I was so wrong.
It is challenging. I constantly have to market myself and actually have to actively look for clients. I have to get out there and find people I would love to work with and pitch to them why they should use me to design their brands.
The biggest obstacle with this is that many people do not know the advantages of having a well designed brand and plenty believe they do not need the services of a brand designer. It is up to me to show them how a great visual brand will benefit their business in more ways than one. Another alternate way I do this is through my blog posts and I wrote one last week about the difference between a brand and brand identity and through more posts like that, I hope I’ll be able to show clients why they need a brand identity design and why they should hire me.
Business…it is full of challenges and once you’ve overcome one, another comes your way. I think being a business owner would not be worth it if it wasn’t challenging. After all, challenges make things fun!
What about you? What big challenges do you face or have faced as a business owner?