It's hard to believe that this month of January marks 3 Leaf Tea's fifth year in business. When I first began selling matcha online, I had no idea where the path would take me. I based my business idea on something I enjoyed - I wanted to share my love for this amazing beverage with others without having a clear goal or plan.
Over the course of five years, I've learned a lot. Since I had no previous background in business, I spent a lot of time reading and taking in as much free information as I could. If someone asked me what things I've learned over the course of 5 years, these are the top lessons I'd share.
1. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. When I first built the 3 Leaf Tea website, I was too focused on making sure everything was perfect. I thought I had to understand everything from day one. I'd read a lot of books on launching and marketing a website, and became too overwhelmed with info, causing myself to move backward, instead of forward. Now I realize that it's much better to dive right in and learn as you go. There's a LOT of information out there, and things will fall into place one step at a time. It's important to have patience and focus on individual parts, rather than the whole picture. Over time, things will get clearer, and you'll have a better understanding of what things are important - and what's not.
2. Use people's criticism as fuel, rather than negativity. When I told people I was planning to open a website selling tea, I got a ton of support. The moment I said I'm also planning on opening a physical location in my community, I had a lot of mixed responses. A lot of people told me I shouldn't take the risk - it's a lot of work, and a tea shop wouldn't work in our community. I couldn't understand why I got support with one idea, but not the other. In fact, it made me mad. Instead of feeling down about the criticism, I decided to use that criticism as fuel to help push my boundaries in order to prove that the idea could work. It helped me think more creatively and understand how it's possible to turn ANY idea into a successful one.
3. Help is always available. I had no idea how to open a storefront. The online business was "easier" to open in comparison - I didn't have to worry about an electrician, plumber, or following any local building codes. I also didn't have to leave the comfort of my computer screen. Once I dove into the brick and mortar process, I didn't understand how all of the pieces worked together. I quickly learned that help is always available, you just need to know to ask. Whenever I had a question, I'd publically ask for help. More often then not, people were much more helpful than I assumed. If I had tried to find all the answers myself, it would've caused me a lot more stress.
4. Don't be afraid of sharing your idea. So many people tell me that they have a great idea, but they don't want to tell anyone about it because they are afraid of someone copying it. If I didn't tell anyone my ideas, I wouldn't be where I am today. People offer a lot of suggestions and feedback that have helped me figure out where my strong and weak points are. They've helped me adapt to the constantly changing environment. This brings me to point number 5...
5. Be open to change. If you aren't willing to be flexible, you will stunt your growth. From the beginning until now, so many things have changed within my business. I find what works, and what doesn't. Making choices to cut things out and tweak your offerings is hard, but I learned you cannot be stubborn. The market will let you know what they want, and how you can alter what you do for maximum growth.
So there it is! Thank you all to have supported me along the way. I cannot wait for what the next 5 years have to offer.
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