Fashion Business Owner Musings: Tips for Being Happy in Business, Even When it’s Tough

I think one big misconception about running a business is that the process of building it is really tough but that once it’s running smoothly and making money, everything is super and you’re happy all the time.

This isn’t even a little bit true.

Happiness in business is actually a conscious decision. A decision made even when things aren’t going as planned in your business.

The process of building my business was exhausting, full of fear, and constant concern. But I was happy. I was thrilled to be doing something I cared so much about. I made the decision to be happy even though I was worried about making money, failure, and disappointing others.

Then once the business was consistently profitable, I again made a decision to be happy because, though it seemed like this was the time to be happy by default, the reality is that “success” is a constant goal. There’s always more to accomplish and there’s pressure to not only continue the success you’ve found but increase it!

And it’s important to consciously decide to feel the happiness and excitement of what you’re doing in the moment.

Otherwise, you’re always thinking about how great things will be when . . . (fill in the blank).

Here are some things to do to help you stay positive and happy, during both the good times and the challenging times of running a business.

  • Make “making business friends” a priority. Connecting with others who are building businesses is so powerful for staying positive, motivated, and goal-oriented.
  • Say yes! We’re all really busy with family, running our business, and day-to-day life. This can mean defaulting to the “nope, can’t do that”  response to both business and personal opportunities. Try not to do this. Sometimes just saying “yes!” can lead to some amazing experiences.
  • But, you also don’t want to be afraid to say “no.” When you don’t feel like the opportunity is right for you at that moment in time. The trick here is to take a little time to think about these opportunities when they present themselves rather than allowing yourself to auto-respond within minutes.
  • Find the good in the bad- kind of a basic one here. Even the stuff that sucks the most has some sort of silver lining. Find it. Focus on it. And make that a habit as quickly as possible.
  • Keep educating yourself- don’t be a dinosaur. Keep on top of learning new things in your business. Like, here’s a free class you can watch to learn how to sell more on your website!
  • Support others. Making an effort to help others is one of the most fulfilling things you can do and brings a very distinct form of happiness to our lives. Find little ways or focus on one big way- whatever!- but find ways to encourage and support others through your work.
  • Don’t focus only on the money. I know this is a tough one because we have responsibilities and livelihoods and people are counting on us. But do whatever you have to do (a side gig, maybe) so that you don’t wake up every single day worried about the money. I continued to consult with fashion businesses on the side until StartUp FASHION was consistently profitable on its own. This helped to remove some of the pressure and really allowed me to be happy and enjoy the ride.

I know it doesn’t always seem easy, but finding ways to be happy during this journey is so important for building successful and thriving businesses.

Lots of love and encouragement,

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

  1. Tamara

    (Excuse if this is a repeat; I was having a problem getting this comment to post)

    Thank you for creating this support community for those of us crazy enough to dream big!

    I’m struggling with the “enjoy the process” part of all of this. I am working 3 “regular” jobs along with building my business. The custom orders that I get just aren’t enough to create a financial cushion for me. Gaining retail accounts is my major focus right now which leads to my continued manufacturer search. I’m on a tight schedule and yet, but yet I know I’m still not putting adequate amount of time to build a viable business. I just feel I’m spinning my wheels.

    Any advice or feedback you have would be so appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Nicole Giordano

      Hi Tamara,

      We have to approve comments before they post, that’s why you couldn’t see it. 🙂

      The first thing you have to do is take a deep breath and create a plan.

      If you are going to focus on wholesale as your revenue stream, then you need to make a list of everything that has to be done to reach that goal (production, photography, line sheets, buyer research, etc) and you need to work out how much money you’ll need to do each of these things.

      Once you know what your goal is and how much money you need, you can create a plan for how you’re going to get the money, which corresponds with time management. If you have to stop all custom orders for the next six months and work your “other” jobs to save enough money for your first collection, then do that.

      The goal is to create a detailed plan for what you want and how you’re going to get it. Be realistic in terms of cash flow and time. Don’t let other projects distract you.

      Remember that most of us started our independent businesses as a side gig, those of us who are now full time with our businesses are so because we planned and focused.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Vanessa

    Nicole spot on as always! I love this part “No, happiness is a conscious decision. A decision made even when things aren’t going as planned as well as a decision made when things are working well.” It’s so true. When you finally reach another level or goal, you are always looking up. The cycle of wanting to attain more never ends!

    Can definitely relate.



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