The Liberty of Doing What You Love

This week, while attending the Sustainable Holiday Market at 701 Whaley in Columbia, I had the opportunity to film my experience and showcase the merchandise of the vendors present at the show. All of them local to South Carolina, each featured an array of unique items for sale; there was food, there were festive cocktails and all were merry. It was a joy to be there.

In the middle of a very sincere conversation with a small business owner Jenny who runs the Seminole Candle Company about the risks and difficulties of running a small business and the ultimate upside - the Freedom to Create and Do What You Love, I had a flashback. I was brought back to 3 years ago when I attended the Sustainable Holiday Market for the first time.

It was December of 2015 and I just got hired into a sales job that I was prepared to love because it involved working with small businesses. I got a free ticket to the event at our office and took a friend with me as there was an extra one. It was exciting - my first opportunity to mingle with my new colleagues outside the office and take in the holiday cheer!

At the time I decided to network and prospect a little while “off the clock” - I wanted to show commitment to my new employer as well as use my outing as an opportunity to improve my rapport building skills. It went well - I remember getting several promising contacts and following up with them the next day at the office by sending out some emails. I didn’t get too many responses when my contacts found out that I was in sales - but I got a few, and continued the conversation with those. Finally, I was able to schedule a meeting with a talented artist, and since I was new at the job, my boss accompanied me to the call. It went well, we had a long conversation and discussed everything - from art to art sales, from the local economy to the ways to attract new clients that seem to be working in the local market. We finished on the promising note - the artist expected her business to grow, but she couldn’t afford the products and services the company I now worked for offered at the moment.

I remember realizing - this is not the type of client I should be looking for! It was an unsettling realization… Having been raised by parents who are both small business entrepreneurs, it didn’t sit well with me that the “little guys” could not afford most of the traditional methods of advertising and business development. They could use the help more than the bigger, more established companies and corporations - and yet how could they? Was there a way for me to help?

Fast forward a year from that point - in the end of 2016 I was no longer with that company. I was contemplating starting my own business, but didn’t know where to begin. It took me until May of 2017 to actually register my company and start operating as an independent Marketing Consultant and Social Media Advertiser on behalf of local small businesses. I knew I wanted to help small businesses most, but I still haven’t figured out the best way to structure my services. All I had was the experience of working in sales, and an understanding of business models of larger corporations, which was not perfect for a small business owner wanna-be - but it was a start.

Fast forward to… this week. At the Sustainable Holiday Market, sniffing Seminole Candle Company’s luxurious products, talking to Jane, having a flash-back. Here I was, I thought, on the other end of my dream - creating content to promote small businesses, a free service that absolutely every vendor can afford! And when it comes to sales - I am completely Liberated to design my services, products, prices, delivery methods, and volume to allow me to Serve the Businesses I Believe in Most - Local Small Businesses. I am able to adjust my offerings and offer my clients the flexibility that they require.

And yes, there are days when the challenges seem particularly intimidating, and there are times when I simply don’t know what to do next because I’ve never done it before - but ultimately, to me, the Liberty of Being a Small Business Owner is what Allows Me to Best Serve Small Business Owners - whether its doing business together or simply helping each other out.

I remembered that I am living my dream! And though bumpy at times, it is still a Dream that I made to be my Reality.



Katerina BarrieComment