Being an entrepreneur certainly isn’t easy. It took me many years to build my business into what it is today, and I’m still learning to manage it as I go along. People often ask me how I do it all on my own. While there are no hard and fast secrets to running a successful one-woman show, there are a few things that I have learned along the way.

Collaborate With Other Women

Clare Haxby Singapore skyline painting

I love to support other entrepreneurs who are on a similar path. We recently collaborated with Sophie @Wildforfowers for blooms for our events, and I love to invite other business owners to guest blog. For example, Lucy at Feng Shui Focus has written some really interesting posts on using Feng Shui Art in the home. I am also part of the Executive Lifestyle Singapore network which has been a great support in promoting my artwork and events. I feel it is really important to support your network, working with other creative women is a great to see things from a different angle and a great place to find support.

Find Freelancers to Support You

Who says you have to do absolutely everything by yourself? There are tons of freelancers out there who can help you build a website, design a logo, and develop your brand. And the best part is you can find many of them online, so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. Sites like Upwork and Elance are great places to find freelancers who can the get job done inexpensively. I regularly use Upwork for small jobs that I can't do myself and I have a graphic designer in England I use for more indepth projects.

Take on an Intern

Lots of colleges require students to do at least one work term, so depending on your business, you may be able to take on an intern from an art college or business school. Make sure you interview the potential candidates and choose someone who is a good fit. Even though it is inexpensive support, you still need to work well with the intern and they also need to learn. Keep in mind that their job is not just to make coffee, but to learn about your business, so it’s all about give and take. A word of warning though, you do need time to invest in an intern. I have been fortunate enough to have one amazing intern who I was very sad to see go.

Trade Your Product for Support

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably don’t have a lot of time or money to pay for support. But your product is valuable, so you might find that people will be willing to work out a barter arrangement with you. For example, that graphic designer you know may be happy to design a logo for you in exchange for a gorgeous piece of jewellery or a print. I have traded with photographers to build a professional library of studio photography to use to market my work.

Don't be afraid to ask

One of the biggest secrets to getting ahead is to simply reach out to the people around you when you need a hand. You’d be surprised how many times people extend their support if you just ask for it. And even if they can’t help you, they might know somebody who can. Other small businesses are often facing similar challenges and therefore can be a brilliant source of contacts. My family and friends have been an amazing support aswell whether its a sounding board for ideas or helping carry paintings in and out of a van for an exhibition or supporting me with coming to all my openings and art gallery events.

Don't be Afraid to Say No

This is a big one, if you can't do something or you feel like something is not right, then don’t do it. If you try to push yourself past your limits or go against your own morals, you’re only going to end up exhausting yourself and your business and I've definitely had time when I have taken on too much at once and I've learned from that. It's much healthier to just say no sometimes. Be honest and explain why. People will understand. I do have successful partnerships with other companies but only if it feels right and I now have a diary for painting commissions for example. I don't take on too many at once, I also work to realistic deadlines. Sometimes clients approach me about a bespoke commissioned painting but they want it quickly and I have to educate them that a large painting takes time, at least 8 weeks in some cases and rushing an original piece is not something I do. Once they see how much time and care goes into my studio work they understand the value of creating a bespoke piece and it all slots into place.

Only Continue to do What you see a Return On and Cut Out the Rest

Clare Haxby Paint Brush in Studio

As your business grows, you will start to get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Focus your energy on what is really working for you, and let go of everything else. After all, time is a precious resource, and you don’t want to waste it on things that are getting you nowhere. One thing that is vital to be an entrepreneur is don't be afraid to take chances and try new things, it is through exploring all opportunities and taking risks that you really develop and grow your business.

Look After Yourself

When you run your own business especially as it grows it can be easy to be consumed by a never ending list of tasks and I have suffered burn out in the past. Now I try and make time for looking after myself. Its the first thing that slips when things get busy but its really important to schedule in those personal appointments for yourself just as you would a business appointment, this is something a friend and life coach Yana Fry advised me to do, make your doctors , dentist , hair appointments as important as the business ones and that includes blocking out real time to spend with your family. I have moved recently but have joined a meditation class which helps me keeps things in perspective when things get chaotically busy in the business. Being a success is having a balanced life not spending every hour working.

Enjoy your journey, take a moment every now and then to appreciate how far you have come and don't take it for granted. Enjoy it!

Clare x