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"I love owning a business because it's a breeze, and I've got everything figured out. All the money goes straight into my pocket, I make my hours, and everyone answers to me."
Said no real business owner. Ever.
Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions about my small business, a local antique store down here in Houston, Texas, called Village Antiques. I shared an earlier blog post detailing the behind-the-scenes of starting and growing my small business, but I breezed over a lesson that deserves far more attention.
The biggest takeaway in my journey as an entrepreneur is to: let yourself make mistakes.
In the spirit of accepting our faux pas and being authentic, I've put together a compilation of my bloopers while filming the videos you've seen over the past year, so you can see how making mistakes along the way is a critical part of the learning process in creating this content, but also in being a business owner.
Whether it's the furniture and decor at my shop, the Amitha Verma Chalk Finish Paint on the store shelves, the content I create for Instagram or YouTube, or television appearances, it always looks so polished and effortless on the outside —The behind the scenes is anything but!
Whenever someone comments on my YouTube videos or TV appearances telling me that I seem so "effortless" on camera, I have a good laugh.
There is a lot of effort that goes into filming this content.
The truth is, when I am preparing to be a guest on a TV show, I get up very early in the morning at 4:30am, have a quick cup of coffee, and practice what I'm about to say for the video until I walk on set and the camera director shouts, "action!"
There are week’s of coordination between me and the producer/videographer to brainstorm, script, schedule, and prep what we will shoot.
I do all of this to minimize the number of mistakes I make while filming, but if you're familiar with any of the videos I post to YouTube and Instagram, you’ve likely seen the bloopers at the end that reveal just how much I still fumble on my words and lose my train of thought mid-sentence.
Making mistakes like these used to leave me feeling defeated, leading me to question whether or not I should continue making videos.
I’ve found that the remedy to this is to laugh it off and try it again. There is grace in making those mistakes, so rather than getting yourself down, accept them as a part of becoming a better you.
The reason why it looks effortless now is that I've let myself mess up so many times, and guess what? The world never ended because I stumbled on a few words, nor were there any serious consequences.
I always say, “fail fast and move forwards.”
You have to allow yourself to make mistakes to understand your limitations.
Don't get me wrong—falling on your face sucks. It makes you feel like a failure, and all you want to do is quit, get under the covers of your bed, and lick your wounds.
The relentless pursuit of your passion is what thickens your skin and teaches you lessons that build success.
None of that would be possible without allowing yourself to mess up a little.
When I first opened my antique store in Houston, I naively jumped into this massive 10,000 square foot space — and it was sink or swim. My back was definitely against the wall, because I had committed big.
We managed to fill up the shop with beautiful antiques and collectibles, French country farmhouse furniture, antique reproductions, mid-century decor... you name it, we had it.
The point is that I had no idea how to select the right amount of inventory or how to replenish it once it was sold or manage a store of that size.
I dived in head-first and that meant I had to quickly learn how to gauge what people would love, what to invest in, and how to invest in more stock. I had to stop "shopping for myself" and fill up the shop with items my customers would love too.
To do this, I needed to do the research, hire people who knew more than me, and keep moving forward.
A few years after we opened the store, I launched a line of chalk finish paint. This type of paint has been around in Europe for centuries, but it wasn't very popular here in the United States.
When people kept asking me how to make their existing furniture look like the antiques in the store, I wondered if we were onto something with this new business venture.
Behind the closed doors of our corporate headquarters (AKA my desk at home with my laptop and my kiddos running around), I started dreaming up the perfect chalk paint line and brought my watercolor sketches, paint names, and label to a chemist to develop my furniture paint.
Reaching this point in the process was exhilarating.
The night before the paint launched, I reflected on how these canisters of paint started as ideas and product sketches in my notebook.
In all my excitement, I sent off an announcement email to the clients on the launch of my brand new chalk-finish furniture paint. I felt like my childhood dream of creating products to help people feel cozy and comfortable in their beautiful homes was just one step away.
Here's where I made a BIG mistake.
I forgot to check the weather report.
It just so happened to be one of those years that Houston gets a freak snow blizzard. This cold front stopped the whole city — no one could go to work because the roads shut down.
But the email was already sent, and customers were messaging me back excited about the launch — and I had to postpone it because I didn't check the weather report. I missed a BIG opportunity to invite my clients in and share the incredible news of how the products worked. I also missed out on sales and the excitement of this new product launch. I lost that first impression opportunity because the exciting moment of something new had passed.
Now anytime I announce a launch, I ALWAYS check the weather report.
Sure enough, after the storm ended, I got back on the horse and onto my mission of helping people create heart in their homes through decorating with my products.
I wanted to share this message with you today because while my shop, the inventory, my content, and my home may look beautiful on the outside, it only got to that point from learning to have grace with my mistakes and picking myself up when I’ve slipped.
I’ll admit, in the beginning I used to beat myself up and relive what I could have done differently. I’d often wish it didn’t take so many mistakes to get there or get good, until I realized that every mistake made me better by leaps and bounds.
Rather than wallowing in my failures or fearing the unknown, I instead learned to see these as opportunities for a positive redirection.
I encourage you to do the same with anything that doesn't go according to your initial plan. Use that redirection to make that initial plan better, and embrace your mistakes.
Aside from time and money, I hear this most frequently as the biggest obstacle as to why people don’t have their dream home — “I’m afraid I will make a mistake.”
Yes, you will. No one’s a master decorator or chalk painting expert on their first try. Give yourself permission to make not just one mistake, but dozens!
I hope you got a great laugh out of today’s video and my embarrassing business mistake stories. Let them be your inspiration to just go for it — mess up, laugh, and try again. If I accepted defeat every time I slipped up, my business wouldn't be where it is today.
I'd love to stay in touch, so be sure to sign up to receive our free design newsletter up at the right-hand corner of the page, and of course, if you're local to us then, please come by and visit my team and me over at Village Antiques in Houston, Texas. We are open Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. You can also reach us at (713) 468 - 3931.
And when you do, if you read our blog or watch our videos, please mention it to one of our sales associates! I love hearing from you and want to know how we can help serve you and any suggestions for what you would like to see next.
P.S. Here's a sneak peek of some of the new arrivals that you'll see at the shop:
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Amitha with Oprah Winfrey
I love the paint, it was so easy!
Just a quick note to say that I love your new paint line!! The colors are beautiful and it goes on so smooth and silky. The gray wax is fabulous. I'm getting some great new looks with your paint but most of all I'm having fun using them!! Hope all is well.
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