Secrets to Success: Rule #10

By Brittni • Updated on 02/25/2013


Its not always easy to start a business, build a blog readership, or quit your desk job to pursue your hand sewn line of womens clothing full-time. In fact, its almost always quite challenging at times. So, I started a series that tells it like it is”¦the good, the bad, and the completely “˜Girl, I cant believe you went there.” Secrets to success that have been learned along the way. This is where we left off last time”¦

So, we have finally made it to rule #10 of the Secrets to Success series and the big 1-0 is a heavy one. Here goes…I see plenty of biz tip articles popping up around the web, but hardly anyone wants to share how tough and completely non-glamorous being out there on your own as a business owner truly is. Yes, there are glamorous parts. And yes, occasionally someone might mention how ‘completely jealous’ they are that you get to follow your dream and be your own boss. But’s it’s not all cocktails and party fringe. It’s just not. Which is why…

Running a business (big or small) is not for the faint of heart. Period.

Whether you are a freelance designer, blogger, Etsy shop owner, craft stylist, etc the following is true:

If this is your full time job, or you are hoping to eventually make this your full time job, there will be stress. LOTS of stress.

There will also be some disappointments – big and small. Nothing goes ‘right’ for everyone all the time. There will be moments of doubt. And there will most certainly be tears.

I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you this so that when these things pop up, as you grow your biz (whatever it is), you feel ‘normal’. No matter how amazing you are, and I know you are pretty amazing, the road to success is almost assuredly not going to be a cake walk.

You’re going to have to get your fingernails dirty, and I’m not talking about a little glitter here folks.

This dirt is legit – and it doesn’t fit into the categories of cute or trendy. You may have to scrounge pennies at some point and maybe even break down a few (virtual) doors in the process. But the good news is that it is doable.

And seriously, if I can do it, so can you. I’m just an average person. Honestly. I didn’t go to a fancy business school (or any business school at all, for that matter) or have a shit-ton of media connections before I launched this blog or the online gallery. I introduced myself to anyone who would listen, which is especially hard for a shy, introvert like myself, and kept plugging away – even through those ‘what the hell am I doing’ moments.

Over the last (almost) five years, I have shed a whole lot of tears and felt completely uncool in more than 100 ways, but I’m still here. Still kicking. And in that way, I’ve even surprised myself.

Final thoughts…

At some point, the ball will drop and it may seem like the end of the world. You may even want to quit as a result. But I’m here to tell ya it’s not the end of the world. Not even close. Rough days will make the good ones even better. And on the days when it seems like the walls are closing in around you, feel free to vent here. I’m listening.

54 comments | Click here to reply

[…] week Papernstitch continued their series on the Secrets to Success Rule 10 where she reveals the fact that running a business (big or small) is not for the faint of […]

Link Hype 3-1-13

RT @EtsyNY: Keepin’ it real! Running a small business is not for the faint of heart… via @papernstitch


Secrets to Success: Rule #10. Running a business is not for the faint of heart via @sharethis #smallbusiness

Bev F. (@Linkouture)

RT @fanchimp: Running a business (big or small) is not for the faint of heart. Period.


Running a business (big or small) is not for the faint of heart. Period.


Thanks for this! I’ve been in business for 10 years and it certainly hasn’t been without sacrifice. Lately though, I have begun to question my sanity! 🙂 One thing after another has gone wrong and it’s really begun to wear me down a bit.

erin brain stead

Secrets to Success: Rule #10 via @sharethis


Great words to live by + just what I needed! Thanks for the lovely post.

Ozana Gherman

Take a look at this secret to success:

IndieMade (@IndieMade)

Have loved this series of posts by Brittni over on @papernstitch Secrets to Success: Rule #10 via @sharethis

Vanessa (@six0sixdesign)

Haha loved reading this and it is so true. I don’t think anyone can really prepare you for how hard it will be you’ve just got to go for it and just keep on going no matter what. Nothing is easy but it will all be worth it in the end! Trust me, do what you love and in the end you’ll find a way, no matter what hurdles you will need to overcome to get there. xx

Tania - Tdesign

Secrets to Success: Rule #10 via @sharethis This will keep you going for those flying solo out there.


Secrets to Success: Rule #10. Running a businesss is not for the faint of heart via @papernstitch


Secrets to Success: Rule #10 via @sharethis


Secrets to Success: Rule #10 | Paper & Stitch So very very important to know before you start any type of business.

Laura C. George (@Laura_C_George)

I love this post so much. Thanks for the truth telling and the encouragement. You are an amazing voice, and I’m so glad you are doing exactly what you’re doing.

Mere // Not Merely Living

great post B. and yes, being a business owner IS hard work. a LOT. I may have a home office, but I got to my desk and work all day like everyone who goes to commutes to an office. I have clients to answer to and project deadlines. I juggle my main business and my side venture that I’m trying to grow and most nights and weekends, you’ll find me back in my little corner studio and working more. Until I can’t see the computer screen anymore. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. However, sure would be nice if it wasn’t so damn hard, but then the payoff (and i’m not talking monetary) wouldn’t be so sweet.

Pamela Bates/Bates Mercantile Co.

Brittni, this is wonderful! You have most definitely hit the nail on the head. No one knows how hard building and running a business actually is until you are in the thick of it. Thanks for posting this :).


Yes. THIS. All of this. Sometimes, like this week, I just wake up and ask myself what have I done. I’m not even going to put the little smiley face emoticon here. Because I don’t feel smiley today.


I was meant to read this post today! I can relate to this struggle, 110% of it, all of it. After shedding plenty of tears switching from a great paying job to pursuing my dream to have my own design studio, I thought the worst part was over! Boy was I wrong 🙂 It’s been an incredible journey, but THANK YOU for talking about the not-so-pretty aspect of having your own business also. It’s really a relief to know that what I am going through- everyone went through to get to where they are. My fiance said last night that “it’s not that getting into slumps defines your character, it’s how you get out of one that does!”


Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. Very empowering for beginning in the blogging/creative shop space.

Especially love your final thoughts — Rough days will make the good ones even better. – you should turn it into an art print!

annie @anniemade

great post and actually this entire series of posts are amazing…

janika R

I’m a new follower of your site and while I don’t have a business, I appreciate how I could completely relate to this and apply it to just blogging itself. For all the hard days, there are days where you remember why you stayed with it. Thanks for a timely post!

Alex @ northstory

Lovely post It came at the right time for me as I’m preparing to go on my own thanks


How encouraging! I’m just beginning to build my blog and this is what I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing.
🙂 Liz @


Aw, love you too Ash!


Oh man, this is why I love you!

Ashley | Sugar & Cloth

Just what I needed to read….

I remember what an old boss of mine used to say, “if it was easy, everybody’d be doing it.”


True story @papernstitch, great post!


Secrets to Success: Rule #10 describes right where I am. Thanks for the honesty. via @sharethis


Hugs to you too Carol.


Yes indeed, its hard, sometimes you cry, get lost, doubt, but sometimes you say ohh im happy with the results. Thanks for your writing and blog. Hugs


This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m just starting out and already ready to quit ha. I’m going to go through and read the other 9 tips!



Great post, Brittni. I’m loving this series! One day I would love to have my own business and I’m sure these tips will come in handy 🙂


I’ve really enjoyed this series. For a few years now I’ve daydreamed about doing my own thing, quitting the office job, and starting a creative business. I’m finally (slowly) working towards that goal. I know I’ll come back to your rules when I need a reality check and some encouragement.


You can totally do this Kelly. Even if you’re an introvert like me. I promise. 🙂


Thank you so much for posting this!

I haven’t gone on my own yet, but have been dreaming about it. You actually addressed one of the reasons I’ve been afraid to start up. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of an introvert & very shy. I’ve always been afraid that this makes me destine for failure because it’s all about reaching out. but you’ve shown me it can be done.

It won’t be easy & I do love a good challenge. Now that I see it’s not entirely impossible for a gal like myself, I might actually take the baby steps to get there.


I launched my shop nearly 4 months ago and I just can’t express how much I appreciate these posts! Thank you for sharing honest point of views!


Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve just this year been jumping into turning my creative skills into a business and it’s been a bit overwhelming at times. There have been quite a few midnight worries about whether or not I’m actually cut out for this. On the outside already successful businesses make it look so easy. I just have to remember that’s not true! 😉

Anna Simmonds

Truth! Be sure to read #1-9!! RT Running a small business is not for the faint of heart… … via @papernstitch


Speaking the truth! Rough days will make the good ones even better…it’s what keeps you going and makes you better at whatever you are doing.


You’re totally right Van – I write encouraging posts a lot too, but this time I just felt like I needed to write something more raw / real. Thanks for stopping by.


I was working on a post like this one. We’re writing a lot of encouraging posts because we really are passionate about helping others do what they want to do for a living and we may be making it look too easy.

It’s HARD. I worked 55+ hours in an office and 20+ on the side before I worked for myself full time and I still put in crazy hours. It’s hard to motivate yourself day after day and set your own money goals and hit them. It takes a hell of a lot of work but like you said, the bad days make the good ones even better. If you’re addicted to what you do and have an obsessive attitude about your work you can make it.


Consider this your virtual hug for the day Danielle. 🙂 You’re not alone.


Great article—-I really needed it today too! I’ve had a lot of the “what the hell am I doing?” moments lately and I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one!


Sounds like your mom and grandmother are smart ladies. Thanks for stopping by Rin.


Thanks Brittni, for your very grounding advice. My Mum and Grandmother are both business owners, and they always say that working for yourself means that instead of pleasing your boss, you now have to please all of your customers. It most certainly is not for the faint hearted!


Keepin’ it real! Running a small business is not for the faint of heart… via @papernstitch

Etsy NY (@EtsyNY)

Yes. This. “@papernstitch: Secrets to Success: Rule #10: It’s not always easy to start a business, build a blog…â€


Thanks for sharing your thought Erin. You are so right – running a business is very much like a roller coster, with ups and downs – overall the ride is pretty exciting when you look back, but there may be a few scary/nerve-wrecking turns along the way.


Thanks Van! RT @thriftcore Love this post. Running a Business is not for the faint of heart (Amen, sistuh!)

Brittni Mehlhoff (@papernstitch)

Ain’t that the truth? I have had my share of tearfully bad, “maybe I should just quit” days. And more people going into business should consider that part of it, so thanks so much for bringing it up. The thing to remember during the lows is that owning a business is a rollercoaster ride, and one of the greatest things about it is that when a situation turns on you, it can just as quickly turn back around. Bummed you lost one client today? Don’t worry, tomorrow could bring you five new ones! And in the end, the amazing, fulfulling, rewarding days always far outweigh the bad. “Keep on keeping on” is the rule of game!


Love this post on @papernstitch Running a Business (big or small) is not for the faint of heart (Amen, sistuh!)

Thriftcore (@thriftcore)

Secrets to Success: Rule #10: It’s not always easy to start a business, build a blog…

Brittni Mehlhoff (@papernstitch)
Leave a reply