A Road Map for How to Be Your Own Boss

A Road Map for How to Be Your Own Boss
Mary Big Bull-Lewis for Authentic Friends. Photo Credit: R Digital Designs

My childhood nickname was “The Boss” which is fitting as I am now the co-owner of two small businesses. My husband and I launched our first business in 2013, R Digital Design, then decided to put the marketing skills and knowledge we learned on display with launching a clothing brand in 2019, Wenatchi Wear.

With Wenatchi Wear, we often discussed launching a clothing brand. I quickly realized we could do this on our own, and navigate our own path. We knew we wanted it to be unique, and not just another t-shirt or sticker company. During this time, I began to deepen my connection with ancestral practices and found my purpose: to continue to be authentic as the Native American woman I am in a primarily white community versus blending in. 

In this Level Up, I discuss several key components to starting a business: how to find your passion, reach out for help, and put in the work to get your business off the ground!

Find your passion

Maybe you've thought about being an entrepreneur and what that means as far as freedoms and creative direction, but what’s most important is to understand your “why." Ask yourself:  What inspires you? What is going to keep you motivated when things turn upside down?

Trust me, it happens and that is the time that passion is what keeps you going. 

Figure out your niche. Each business is unique, that's what draws clients in. What makes your business different from others? 

Put in the work 

Entrepreneurship is more than being a boss, it’s a lot of hard work! There is a lot of trial and error. Be prepared to fail —not all the time, but it takes practice. As an artist, I can never plan to sit down and create a final piece in one sitting. I know what I want it to feel like, but getting there takes time. 

Continue to learn. Entrepreneurship takes effort, patience and ability to adapt. When launching our first business, I learned Quickbooks and much more (which is my least favorite part of owning a business, but someone has to do it!). With Wenatchi Wear, I built an eCommerce website. I had to read multiple books, take the time to listen to elders, and grow personally. 

There is not a one-size-business-strategy that fits all. If there was, don’t you think others would be running their own businesses? 

Find local community resources 

The Small Business Administration is a great local resource to help with getting a small business started. They can help with business plans, learning bookkeeping, and funding resources. 

It is important to start with a strong brand presence. Utilizing local professional graphic designers is key to building local relationships. Do not cut the budget on this, a professional designer understands the importance of building a versatile logo for multiple platforms (garment printing, marketing pieces, embroidery and more.) 

Local organizations are great opportunities to meet other small business owners. Many charge fees, so it is important to evaluate your return on investment.

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