Now that RIS is over, everyone has been asking me: How was RIS (Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference 2015)? Translation: did you make any sales or was it a bust?
I keep saying ‘It was a great learning experience’ Translation : it was horrible but I’m being optimistic.LOL…actually that was true only until Saturday night. Alhumdulillah it really was a great learning experience and I’m really happy that I did it. Actually make that, I am proud of myself for going through the ups and downs of the entire experience..
So many women, especially mothers just like me who exited the workforce when they had children, were following my story keenly. Subhan Allah, a few strangers from around the world messaged me to let me know how proud they were of me! I honestly appreciate the support and kind words so much. For the well wishers and the potential mompreneurs to be, here’s a few bits of advice from my first jab at making and selling my own products.
1) Just do it:
Your idea doesn’t have to be the most perfect, and your business plan (if you even have one) doesn’t have to be top notch. By just starting something you will learn so much about what you really want to do. You might start off thinking I’m going to start an online ESL tutoring service for kids then you might shift and realize, No, you’d rather write books for the ESL curriculum. Your original idea wasn’t a ‘fail’ because it helped you recognize what you really wanted to do.
I took the Ladypreneur Course by The Business Boutique prior to this venture. It gave me the confidence to start my business by making me think about key points related to target customers, my Unique Value Proposition and advertising. In all honesty, I was too busy making products to fully act upon what I learned; but every little bit helped.
Most people overwhelm themselves by thinking too far into the future. It’s great to have plans and a scope but it doesn’t mean you have to come up with a business idea that you have to commit it for the next 20 years. Understand that this might be a flop and it’s ok if you ‘fail’ because it’s part of your journey.
Just try your idea, it will either be THE BIG IDEA or a stepping stone in the path towards your big idea. But you will never know until you try.
2) The middle path:
Don’t be extreme in anything.
Emotions: never allow anything to make you feel despair or ecstasy. Stay grounded with the bigger picture. Your purpose in life is to worship Allah. Unless you are given news of your guarantee to enter Paradise or Hell-fire, nothing should be able to make you feel extreme emotions. I must admit on Friday and Saturday evening I was really depressed. I may or may not have cried. I thought about all the money I spent, how embarrassing it will be ‘to be a failure’and how foolish I was for thinking this was a good idea. Suddenly I was questioning my intelligence, my parenting skills and overall what type of human being I was. Really, so what if I made zero sales? How could I let that define what type of person I was? This business venture is something I am trying, whether it’s super successful or a bad idea, it doesn’t define me.
Work hard but take breaks: My situation was a bit unique in the sense that I was making my products for the first time, in bulk and under very short time constraints. In order to manage my day to day chores/expectations as well as trying to meet deadlines , I had to cut corners. Those corners usually ended up having to do with me. I slept around 1am (that’s insanely late for me), I woke up around 4am, I ended up having breakfast around 5 pm. I aged 7 years in two weeks; deep dark circles around my eyes and popped blood vessels in my eyes .I mistook this inhumane practice as ‘ strong work ethic’- not only did I deny my body the rights it has on me, I compromised my judgement and probably ended up slowing myself down in the long run. Hard work is important but not at the expense of your health and well-being.
3) Be grateful: always
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” [Muslim]
It’s easy to wallow in self pity and feel sorry for yourself when things don’t go your way. To be honest I had some pretty unrealistic expectations, which obviously weren’t met and then I got upset about it. Then it was a domino effect. I focused only on the negatives, magnified them and became even more emotional. Thank God I was at an Islamic conference where speakers came with uplifting messages..Alhumdulillah I snapped out of it by Sunday. In retrospect, had I been eating and sleeping properly , I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been so prone to jump on the pity train.
I had to embody the lesson I always teach my kids: be positive if you want positive things to happen.
- I had pretty horrible sales on Friday & Saturday. Positive Outcome: that forced me to investigate what worked and what didn’t. On Sunday I was in there selling to customers myself, seeing first hand what was efficient and what wasn’t. If things were selling easily on Friday and Saturday, I would simply be recovering from the hard work before the conference and not doing much learning.
Several of my frames broke: Positive Outcome: I realized I should purchase self- standing frames next time and specific rails to display them. I walked around the bazaar to see how other people were displaying similar items and ended up getting excellent ideas by building connections with the other vendors and artists.
Positive thinking worked!
Alhumdulillah times infinity, Sunday sales were great! Not only were the stuff selling but I got to interact with customers to see what they actually wanted, what they liked and what they would change.
The Sadqah JARiyyah jars were a hit! The most exciting part is that hopefully I’ll get good deeds, as people use them!
The most important lesson I learned this weekend is : never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
Though I forced myself to start listing every little thing that Allah had blessed me with, the effects were genuine. In my gratitude I realized that everything is going to be all right because it always works out. Allah always provides, He always rewards hard work and nothing can get in the way of my rizq.
My advice to anyone thinking about a small business idea- just go for it. Regret is more expensive than than a little bit of money down the drain