Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts and design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with AJ Epperson, Founder of Art Jeremiah, located in Logan, UT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I design, craft, and sell miniature scenery for tabletop gaming. This includes role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and wargames like Warhammer 40k. I also occasionally design scenery for the model railroad community.
Tell us about yourself
I am an artist by nature and have an entrepreneurial spirit. I've also always enjoyed playing tabletop games. I started my business as a way to make extra income on the side, and as it started taking off more, I realized I would either have to quit my day job (inventory in a warehouse) or let my side business fail. It was nearing the Christmas season, and I had more orders than I could fulfill while working a day job. So, naturally, I chose the high-risk option, quit my day job, and pursued my dreams. After a few years, my dream is still in the making, and my business continues to grow and expand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My business is more than just a side hustle. That's the biggest accomplishment. Being able to put the day job behind and start a successful full-time business really gives a person a lot of meaning in their life.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's hard to choose just one when there are hard things like managing your time efficiently, staying motivated, and taxes. Regardless, I think the hardest is not letting people affect you emotionally. I'm a super emotional person so it can be hard to deflect the negative nancy's in life. There always seem to be a lot of negative emotions in the world. There are a lot of people expecting you to fail. Or, they are jealous and say spiteful things because they are in a job they don't like, and you "get to do what you want." Some loved ones have even told me that I should rewrite my business plan because it's failing when I could provide obvious income statements and reports that would contradict that. I don't know everyone's intention, but it can feel like a stab in the heart. Regardless, I'm not just emotional, but I'm motivated, and I do my best to channel that energy into a sort of emotionally charged state where I can be more productive. I remind myself that their negativity is more of a reflection on their life struggles and less of a criticism of me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The obvious one is to actually get started. Even if you only have a little bit of a plan, get started and start learning how things work.
- Pursue something you would enjoy doing in your free time. If you would rather go lay in bed and watch TikTok for hours, you probably aren't in the right business. Find a business that works to cure your boredom, that you want to come home from a day job and start working on right away. Something that you can be interested in, whether that's a hobby you already have or something that you find interesting and want to do more of. Something you would be willing to do for free, and if money is made in the process, then it's a bonus for you.
- Don't listen to people; find your own way. Most of your family and friends have no idea how your business works. You can heed their advice if you want, but most likely, they don't know. Even online business influencers push their agendas for their personal gain and often don't know what they are talking about either. For example, using social media to sell stuff. They may say it's effective, but that's for their business. A lot of times, social media is better used to build relationships with your customers rather than peddle your goods. Most people on social media have a short fuse when it comes to ads and selling them stuff. That's just an example of what not to listen to, though it could work for you, so don't listen to me if that's your path.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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