Business Questions: It's Complicated
In January of 2022, I started making TikTok videos showing some behind the scenes here at Eclair Lips and they took off in a bigger way than I could have ever imagined. And not only on TikTok - it wasn’t long before the videos went viral on Facebook too, and within a few weeks, we had amassed tens of millions (yeah, my jaw still drops at that number) of views.
It’s been a roller coaster ride to say the least, but one of the things I really wasn’t expecting was the flood of questions I would get from people asking where I bought all of the equipment that I use.
If that's what led you to this page, I want you to know this before you read any further:
It's not wrong of you to ask another business owner a question. However each person has their own comfort level about what they want to share or not and with whom. The only thing that is wrong in my book is not respecting someone's boundary once they've communicated it. The boundary is about the person setting it and is likely based on the experiences they've had before you came along, as is the case for me, and it's not a reflection on you doing anything inappropriate. <3
But for me, this is a bit of a sensitive area, and I thought I'd share why.
I started working on my business back in 2014, and it took me a very long time to get to the point where I am now and the suppliers and equipment that I use have all been chosen through a painstaking trial and error process. And I honestly just don’t feel comfortable handing over my years of work to others just like that to anyone who asks, so I don’t. It’s a boundary that is in place for my well-being, and I hope that people can respect it. To me, it feels the same as working hard on a book report in school and then having someone copy my work without them ever having to read the book. Which brings us to another interesting point…
Why did they make us all read the books before handing in a book report? Because there was something to learn from it. And there’s something to learn from doing your own business research too. Sure, asking someone certainly qualifies as research, but if they aren’t able to give you the info you need, it’s important to have other ways of getting answers. Building my resourcefulness muscles has been the most important factor, in my humble opinion, to my success, and I believe that doing our own research really helps develop that. You end up learning even more than you bargained for along the way, often finding answers to questions you didn’t even realize needed to be answered.
Another reason that I’m not able to answer questions related to other people’s businesses is that I am not a business coach. I am a cosmetics manufacturer - that’s how I earn my living and I have to guard my time carefully. As my business grew, the list of tasks grew much faster than my team did, which means there is less of me to go around, but a lot more work for me to do. It’s important that I stay on task now more than ever because not only does my family rely on the income from this business, so does my growing team of employees, not to mention our customers who are our top priority.
That’s not to say that I don’t help or mentor other business owners at all - I help out as much as I can in a variety of different circles. But I’m at capacity right now and the volume of inquiries from people wanting help with their business has skyrocketed since we’ve gone viral - we’ve been getting dozens of people asking business-related questions each week.
I am, however, happy to share a few tips on how I did figure out a lot of things in my business because I honestly feel like that will be much more helpful to any entrepreneur:
I know, I know - Google isn't the answer to everything. But it does have the answers to a lot of things. I often joke that I waited to start a business because Google just wasn't that good when I was younger, and it's true.
2. Business Courses
I have taken dozens of courses, on dozens of topics. Marketing. Bookkeeping. Cosmetics production. You name it, and I've probably taken a course on it.
In the early days, it can be hard to justify the costs of courses, but many creators offer mini-challenges or sample courses that are totally free! You'll learn a lot, and will learn which courses you might want to invest in later. It’s also where I met a lot of other business owners and where we help each other out with things specifically related to the topic we’re studying.
3. Business-Focused Facebook Groups
I get and share a lot of information in Facebook groups focused on running a small business. Some of them are groups I pay to be in, some of them are free and accessible to anyone. I’m part of both types and they’re great. You know that book report analogy from earlier? These feel like a study group where everyone is working on their book report together. And personally, I share a lot there with other members because it feels right for me to do so there.
My recommendation is to join a few, see if they're covering the topics you need in a way that works for you and don't be afraid to join the conversation! You’ll often learn about other, more specific groups from joining a more general group too.
I know, this is a scary one. But consultants are SO helpful when you have a very specific question that Google, Courses, and Business Groups just can’t answer. They can help you find a solution that’s specifically tailored to your business and situation.
They can be expensive, but it often feels worth it once you’ve left a meeting and have a much deeper understanding of the topic than you thought you could. It may not be the right time for consultants now, but you might want to invest in their knowledge someday! And many of them are active on social media where they share great tips and tricks too.
I hope all of this was helpful and I wish you all the best.