Small Business Interview: Wendy Liu, With Wendy
Meet Wendy Liu, she owns and runs the amazing YouTube Channel - With Wendy - where she teaches people how to sew everyday clothing and currently has almost 100k subscribers - WOW. Wendy's business started out as a hobby but after only 2 years working in a corporate position and running her business part time, she decide to quit and go full time - the best decision ever. She creates and sells her clothing to customers all over the world and in her interview, she shares some valuable business advice based on what's she's learnt along the way. One of my favorite parts is this quote from Wendy - "It can feel embarrassing to be trying to start something and look like you're struggling in the public eye, but the ones who make it are the ones who stay fearless about their dreams". Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services and/or products do you offer?
I am Wendy and I run a Youtube channel called "Withwendy" that teaches how to sew everyday clothing, so you don't have to spend big on fashion or wear what everyone else has! In 2015 we reached over 95,000 subscribers, sold some of my personally hand-made products around the world, and I decided to quit my corporate job to run the channel full-time.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
Making videos about sewing tutorials was a hobby of mine during university and building the audience became a passion project while I learned about marketing and business. After two years of working full time in a corporate marketing position while watching my channel grow, I decided to focus completely on building my own business. It was a great privilege to be working at a stable company while nurturing a hobby, but I always felt like I was trying to run with one foot in each world (hard to feel like I was really gaining speed in either area!). I've set aside a year of concentrated effort on this business, and after that, we will see what the next chapter is.
Do you take any special training?
It was a bit of a coincidence that I loved making videos and had picked up some sewing skills from my mama. There was no special training in the traditional sense, just pure trial and error, soaking up information on the internet, and constantly seeking inspiration.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
I would say being approached by viewers in the public always has an exhilarating feeling, taking some time to look at key metrics on a graph to get perspective and motivation, and learning an uncomfortable amount of detail about my time-management skills and how to keep getting better. Being a business owner, beyond the accomplishments of the business, is such a huge journey in self-discovery and (as corny as it sounds) "believing in yourself".
What mistakes have you made with your business? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
The greatest fear is not even that I've made big mistakes, but that my biggest mistakes have gone unnoticed. Every day you have to prioritize what is the best thing to do today for the business, and the prospect of having the wrong priorities (or not even having the best option on the list!) is daunting. Knowing that this is a bit of an inescapable reality, the mistake I made, in the beginning, was doubting myself too often. It prevents you from just running hard in a direction to see what lies ahead, because you'll be stuck taking tiny steps to the left, to the right, and wondering... should I have gone left instead? I learned that if I care about the business and if I am working on it because I believe it has potential, I have to trust my instincts some more. Set the priorities, run hard, and take glances to the sides once in a while.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful small business?
I've noticed two facets that come up often, one being a plan to get cash flowing in the short term, and two being a big, bold, memorable vision. To have people also believe in what you're doing, proof of these two elements in your business is powerful.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Thinking back to when I struggled the most on investing more time in my own business, I recall feeling a bit paralyzed because there was a huge gap between my dream and how things would look in the early stages. My encouragement for anyone who feels they don't know where to start, is to swallow that big vision for a second and start on something, no matter how small. You will gain momentum as you go if it's working for you! It can feel embarrassing to be trying to start something and look like you're struggling in the public eye, but the ones who make it are the ones who stay fearless about their dreams.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
Do a checkup once a month (or every quarter if things are very consistent) and correct for the future if things need adjusting, but don't obsess about it every day.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
You have to actively set aside time for working out, seeing friends, taking breaks etc. They won't "just happen when you have a spare moment". Take them and don't feel guilty! On the other hand, just because you are self-employed, doesn't mean you should say yes to booking meetings, errands, and appointments at any odd spot in the day. Be strict with "work time" and "play time", because mixing too much will seriously damage productivity.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have no idea. My one goal will be that I will still be learning and trying new things... no idea about the rest!
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I'm currently wearing a face mask and look pretty scary.
Thank you so much for this amazing interview Wendy!
You can learn more about Wendy and watch her awesome videos on her YouTube Channel - www.youtube.com/withwendy