Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jannie Lisonbee, founder of Burn Savvy, located in Show Low, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I teach woodburning online and offline. I have a YouTube channel, website, and pyrography courses and challenges, and I host woodburning retreats in person. My customers are mostly beginning woodburning hobbyists who are anxious to learn the basics and jump-start their pyrography journey.
Tell us about yourself
I've always loved arts and crafts, and I've always been a bit of a pyro. Years ago, I was trying to come up with a gift for my husband for our 5th wedding anniversary - the traditional gift is wood. My sister suggested I burn a design onto a piece of wood - so I bought a wooden box, borrowed her burner, and fell in love with a new hobby. A few years later, I borrowed another woodburning tool and made another burned gift, and then another, and then another. I bought my own beginner wood burner and started making all kinds of things. I wasn't good at it, and there weren't many resources online for true beginners, but I was still teaching myself and loving every hot moment. After breaking my burner (well, actually, I broke three burners), I decided I needed a better machine. To justify buying it, I decided to start selling my pyrography work on Etsy. But I also decided that once I knew what I was doing, I would come back for the beginners and teach them what I wish someone had taught me. And that's what I did. I sold my art to people from sea to shining sea in the United States and to people in other countries - from Canada and Australia to Spain and Finland. Then I started a YouTube channel to teach beginners how to get the clean, crisp burns and buttery smooth shading that they craved. And what keeps me going every day? My pyros - that's what I've nicknamed my audience. They love arts and crafts as I do. They love to burn things as I do. Their words of appreciation that come through comments, emails - and even sometimes through cards in the mail - all keep me going. Their growth and their achievements mean the world to me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would have to be the fact that I am reaching tens of thousands of new woodburning hobbyists and soon-to-be business owners every day. I'm helping them to get the kind of burns that they can be proud of and helping them get past hurdles that otherwise may have taken them years to overcome, as it did for me.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It comes down to this - you have to be willing to make mistakes. As a new business owner, you are going to do things that actually take you back a step or 2 or 10. Sometimes you may say things that may not be received well. You might get stuck trying to organize yourself, make a course even better, or beat yourself up for the things you think you should have done differently. But time management, letting go of perfectionism, and a growth mindset are not things that just magically appear when you run a business. A business is like a living, breathing thing. It will change. Directions will change. Plans will change. Mistakes will be made. And if you learn from those mistakes and then act on what you learned, you can still make it to success. But if you are not willing to make those mistakes, not willing to even chance it, your business is sunk before it even gets out of port. Be willing to make mistakes - willing to take chances and put yourself out there - and you will have amazing opportunities for growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Aside from being willing to make mistakes, I'd say my top 3 tips for businesses today are these:
- Consider your fears a personal challenge. If something that will propel you toward your goals sounds like an exciting step, but you're afraid to take it, look fear in the face and say, "challenge accepted." Actively work to overcome your fears, and you will become virtually fearless in the business arena.
- When you grow beyond what you can do alone, don't be afraid to hire someone. If you hire people that are excited about the growth of your business and who are willing to work with you when you make mistakes, then you invest in your growth. And if you hire someone who is not a good investment, it's also okay to let them go. You may not need an entire team right now, but when you do, make sure they are freeing you up to do the things that you love most in your business. Growing pains are normal - don't give up!
- Always enjoy it. Remember the reason that you started this business in the first place. If you need to adjust something, cut something out, or simply redirect yourself back to your original course to get back to loving what you do, then do it. You didn't start a business to create a job for yourself that you hate. You can work anywhere and get that result. Businesses are hard. You started a business for the freedom, excitement, income, and joy that it CAN bring. Hire out what you hate, and keep growing and doing more of what you love.
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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