asking for trouble

10 Things I’ve Learned From Running My Own Business

I think this kind of post is legally required for a ten year anniversary!

asking for trouble 10 year anniversary

1. You need multiple sources of income

Retail is a very unstable industry so it’s good to make sure I have money coming in every month, even if I’m sick or on holiday. Some of my backups include freelance design, on-demand sales, digital downloads and advertising/affiliate schemes.

2. My time is my most precious asset

When I think back to some of the things I used to spend time doing in the early days, I want to slap my past self. Nowadays, I try to use my time more wisely for things that only I can do and outsource/automate other tasks. I have another post coming up of the best investments I’ve made in my business.

3. It’s okay not to be ambitious

We all dream about being stocked in Liberty or having our own storefront but big opportunities also come with big changes. I’ve come to realise that I don’t want to have to hire staff or deal with everything that comes with breaking the VAT threshold, let alone taking on investors. I’m happy staying small and that’s fine (as is the opposite, obviously, if that’s what you want).

4. Keep to a regular schedule

Working from home means I have a lot of freedom, but this is also a job and so I prefer to have a regular schedule for each day of the week so I know what I’m doing and don’t waste too much time. I do my best work in the mornings and at the weekend so I set my alarm early every day and then leave afternoons for easier tasks like packaging products and photo editing.

5. Work with other people

Even if you’re a one man band like me, it’s good to get some help. Collaborating with other makers can give you a whole new product range – my fabric pencil cases and polymer stamps wouldn’t exist otherwise. Taking on staff writers at Super Cute Kawaii was a bit daunting but they all have skills that I lack, making the blog so much better.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s easy to feel like everyone is more successful and popular but we all know that social media isn’t a true picture of someone’s life and you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. My two top tips – unfollow/mute people that really make you unhappy with their constant amazing achievements and try to imagine living their life and whether you would really exchange it for yours. You can’t just take their good stuff and add it to yours – the bad stuff comes too.

7. Adapt or die

I rely on social media, SEO, Etsy, apps etc. to run my businesses but I have little control over them and sometimes they make huge or frustrating changes. However annoying it is, they have their reasons and there’s little point in hoping they’ll change it back. Instead, I do my research and figure out how to work with it. Sometimes it’s actually better in the long run!

8. Find someone to brainstorm with

I’m usually pretty sure of myself but sometimes I need a sounding board or some reassurance. Mostly I rely on Claire who is always good for a DO IT! or to listen to me unpick a problem until the answer presents itself. A single trusted friend is much better than the opinions of a random bunch of people on Twitter (who will always vote 50/50 for whatever you ask).

9. Be generous and share

This gets more difficult every time someone demands information or doesn’t bother to say thank you but I keep at it. Whether it’s writing a series of blog posts about selling on-demand, making free printables and zines or just taking a minute to answer a question on Instagram, I try to pay forward all the help and resources that made it easier to build my own business.

10. Have fun!

I’ve seen a lot of creative friends and bloggers shut up shop or move in a new direction over the last ten years and while it can be sad, it’s usually for the best. Working for yourself is hard and if you’re not having fun then what’s the point. You could be doing something else that you actually enjoy! Luckily, I’m still having an awesome time so you can expect me to be around for a while yet.


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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