From the sidelines, I’ve watched Abby build this SMP business every step of the way. As one of her most devoted readers, her biggest fans, the loudest cheerleader … I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows right along with her. And while all moms dream that their children will be successful, they most of all hope and pray for their child’s happiness as well. Building a business ~ from the ground up is certainly not for the feint of heart. Style Me Pretty is no exception.
Today, I thought I’d share a little of my own BACKSTAGE advice ~ from a mother’s point of view! I’ll warn you, up front, there’s nothing new here. Just some reminders from the sidelines …
10. TURN YOUR WOUNDS INTO WISDOM (by Oprah Winfrey)
I wish I could say that’s my advice, but it’s from Oprah. I’m a huge Oprah fan. When I read this, it jumped off the page at me because so many of Abby’s biggest challenges, have ended up as her greatest sources of wisdom. Everyone learns from their mistakes and Abby aka, SMP, is no different.
If one of your ideas doesn’t work out … don’t beat yourself up, don’t dwell on it. Chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.
9. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE
Abby repeatedly says not to be afraid to take a chance. I agree. Her dad agrees. I’m sure many of you agree. But from the sidelines, taking huge risks makes a mom a nervous wreck! So please, please, please do your due diligence. Yes, risks are often key to great success … but weigh the options thoroughly.
Being described as impulsive is not always a compliment.
8. CREATE A NETWORK or ‘step outside your comfort zone’
When everyone else in her senior class was visiting local universities, Abby was touring out of state options. I encouraged her to step outside her comfort zone … and she did! The day we left her at Vanderbilt, I cried for 13 straight hours on the way back to Houston. It was a decision that was really tough on all of us, but the network of friends that she developed along the way was A M A Z I N G. I realize she would have done that even if she’d stayed closer to home. A huge part of her business success, however, comes from the vast network of friends she has developed through the years and the gumption to pick up the phone and call someone she’s never met with poise and spunk.
7. BUILD A TEAM
A one man show might be the only way to go in the beginning … it may be your only option. But, as cliché as it may sound, “no man is an island”. (Can you tell I’m big on other people’s quotes?) As soon as you can, consider finding a way to factor in some help. In Abby’s case, she hit the jackpot. She just happened to marry Tait (!) and TOGETHER they have built SMP into a website more than worthy of it’s praise.
Your ‘teammate(s)’ ~ whether they are family or not, formally in business with you or not, will challenge you, will push you, will embrace your success and lend you their shoulders. If you’re on your own, FIND a group of peers that can accomplish this same thing. Your own ideas, bouncing around in your own head, need a venue to vent.
Caution: If your team is your family, they’ll probably want to talk business when you’re all talked out. As Abby has said on BACKSTAGE before, even if there are no set hours in your business … try to establish some for the sake of your relationships. Being a husband and wife team is HARD. Tait and Abby struggle to keep work and family apart. (Maybe they should write a BACKSTAGE article on how to accomplish that! I know for a FACT that I could not work with my own husband.) I worry about them. (I’m a mom. It’s my job!) But, so far, so good.
6. TAKE A BREAK
Probably one of the biggest mistakes Abby has ever made is not distancing herself from SMP even for a few days. It’s old school, but every good manager knows that if they build their team correctly, they can be gone for a few days and things will run seamlessly … because they spent precious time training and recruiting.
As any of you seasoned self-employed gurus knows, burnout is a HUGE problem. Burnout applies to everyone … but when the business is YOUR baby, it seems way worse. Force yourself to put your laptops or your cameras or your phones (yikes!) away ~ where you can’t get to them even if you want to!
STYLE ME PRETTY is on Abby’s couch, at her kitchen table, on her bed. She can’t shut it out of her mind, but sometimes, she must close her Mac.
Force yourself to get away from “it” to regroup and recharge.
5. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Remember … it REALLY DOESN’T have to be your idea to be a good idea! This is just one other reason networking is so vital. Ask, explore, and LISTEN. Asking for advice is so often the kick-start to a really great idea. But if you’re asking just to be polite, don’t bother.
I have to laugh about this piece of ‘advice’ though. One of Abby’s father’s biggest complaints with his girls is that they ask for his advice and then they don’t take it! Well, he and I don’t agree on this one. I think it’s perfectly fine to ask for advice and then make you own decision. (So sorry Bill!) As I’ve already mentioned, though, don’t ask for advice if you don’t want to hear the answer.
Then, give credit where credit is due. Recognize (out loud) that you are a part of a team and that the business wouldn’t survive without the concerted efforts of all. Yes, you might be the mastermind and yes, you might be the boss, but (back to #7) no successful brand is due to the efforts of one person. Sounds preachy, but when you ask for input? LISTEN.
4. LET IT GO
Let me tell you a secret about Abby. When she was a teenager, she was the best! But … she WAS a teenager. We had our moments. And we definitely didn’t practice the don’t go to bed mad thing. I’m pretty sure, with teenagers, that’s impossible (or at least for me it is). The next day, though, she’d be totally over whatever it was that we were disagreeing about to the point of sometimes, not even remembering why we got mad at each other in the first place. When I’d re-confront her about it, she’d say, “Oh that … sorry … you’re right!” She had the most wonderful way of moving on … of letting whatever it was go!
I’ve never had that trait. I take a hold of something and shake it and shake it and shake it. I’m not really sure how she learned to let go of a fight, but she did. I just think that unless it’s life or death, we should all learn to just ‘let it go’ more often than we do.
3. BE WILLING TO TAKE THE BLAME
Even if it’s not even remotely your fault. I have to say that this is only an observation on my part, but I’ve noticed that when someone fusses at Abby over an error (inadvertently printed) on Style Me Pretty, she just bites the inside of her cheek and apologizes profusely. Even when the source of the original information was wrong. Even when the tone of the ‘complainer’ was unnecessarily harsh. She just grits her teeth and says she’s sorry and fixes it. (I do think that this might have started, way back when, I told her to just listen to her Dad when she messed up, nod her head, agree with him, and apologize:)
Of course there are exceptions to this one. The point is, I’ve seen her, time and time again, apologize and fix ~ rather than belabor the point.
2. HOLD YOUR TONGUE (OR EMAIL)
This is probably an extension of #3. Everyone has bad days. Everyone shoots out that semi-nasty email that they later wish they could take back. Since SO much of our communication is via email, be sure you don’t let your temper flare in the body of one! Wait until you’ve calmed down ~ especially if the matter isn’t all that urgent. The fact that you don’t send an immediate response is a clue in and of itself that you’re not happy. If they have a conscience, they’ll get it. If they don’t, your angry response won’t help anyway! And ~ insensitive people don’t usually know that they’re insensitive.
1. BE NICE BE NICE BE NICE BE NICE
When Abby has said she’s had a BAD day, it’s almost exclusively because someone (or several someone’s) have been ugly. She even stopped writing BACKSTAGE because of some rude and nasty comments. No amount of begging would get her to start it up again until recently. But, she DID wait until she was over the hurt. She DID hold her tongue. And she DID turn her wounds into wisdom.
My daughter amazes me in just how NICE she can be in her replies to mean-spirited people. I’d like to think that she gets this attribute from me. Ha! The point is … whether you’re an up and comer or a well established icon, don’t let your clients or your peers see you lose your temper. Bite your cheek, close your computer, walk away, but above and beyond all … BE NICE.
In the end, NICE WINS.
Now THAT sounds like something a mother would say!
Style Me Pretty revolves around a world of REALLY great people. Abby and Tait (and Michelle!) have pretty much made that a prerequisite! We’d LOVE to hear some other words of wisdom from you (or your mother)!