5 years of success in business - Interview with Eva Malawska

"Kleine Prints"-Gründerin Eva Malawska berichtet über ihre Erfahrungen mit ihrem seit über 5 Jahren erfolgreichen Business für Kinder-Fotoprodukte. In October 2019, Kleine Prints celebrated its 5th birthday, believe it or not. It's unbelievable what has happened in these years, how many small and large photo fans have now joined Photo love from Kleine Prints and what we have achieved as a team! We have taken the "semicircular" birthday that has just passed as an opportunity to meet our founder and managing director Eva Malawska to ask about their own personal experiences, Ahaz and lessons from the past five years with Kleine Prints:

Dear Eva, when you look back on the past five years with your company Kleine Prints - what were your big "aha moments" along the way?

Mhhh ... the biggest aha moment comes back every day: "Aha, it really works!" I just never thought of that my little private problem solving such a business that has actually been going well for five years now. It's just really great and sometimes still difficult for me to grasp. The whole success of Kleine Prints is ultimately based on gut instinct: I had a good idea and dared to listen to this gut feeling that it is really a GOOD idea. Of course, there is a lot of hard work and diligence in the implementation. But without this first feeling and the courage to follow it, I would still be working as a graphic designer in an agency and designing graphics for products that do not touch my heart. "Kleine Prints"-Gründerin Eva Malawska berichtet über ihre Erfahrungen mit ihrem seit über 5 Jahren erfolgreichen Business für Kinder-Fotoprodukte. I am totally grateful that everything turned out like this. So my most important aha: These "crazy" gut feelings can lead you to really good places in life!

Exciting! And what would you consider your greatest lessons from the past five years?

Oh, I actually learned a lot! The greatest learning from the years with my own business is still that such a business is a rollercoaster ride - and that this is completely normal. Things can go great today and look completely different tomorrow, next week or next month. You have to learn to adjust to something like that and deal with it in a relaxed manner, especially when you reach your customers online. We are a bit dependent on Google, Instagram and Co., because this is how the vast majority of our dear customers come to us. And then - bang - an algorithm is changed and we have to regroup and adjust accordingly. This is just one of many examples of how volatile such a business can be. But you learn to deal with it and you can also see it as a challenge in a playful way. Another great lesson that I have personally learned in recent years: that as the boss I HAVE to set my own pace. Yes, I can and I am grateful for it - but I HAVE to! Nobody tells me what to do and what not to do. However, no one is telling me "now finally call it a day". With the perfectionist streak that I have in me like many others, you can quickly reach and exceed your limits. That is why I was allowed to learn to simply stay calm, to continue working on things in a relaxed but constant manner and above all: to define myself what success means for me and to align my work with it; not other people's definitions of success. For me, success means that I have a great job and a lot of free time, while being totally flexible at the same time. I'm also glad that I don't have any investors and that I don't have to hold anyone accountable. I am really, really my own boss. Maybe I could generate even more sales with more work or investors on board. But having the thickest bank account of them all isn't what would make me happy. I had to learn that over the years: more profit is not always the highest and most important goal!
"Kleine Prints"-Gründerin Eva Malawska berichtet über ihre Erfahrungen mit ihrem seit über 5 Jahren erfolgreichen Business für Kinder-Fotoprodukte. The Kleine Prints core team in summer 2019

"You have to get support!"

I also learned that if you want the business to grow, you absolutely have to get support! At first I thought, "I'll just keep doing everything" - but at some point I realized very, very clearly: It doesn't work that way! As a single person, I cannot handle all the tasks that arise in a growing business. It became very clear to me personally when I had to write texts for my website. It felt like I was sitting on one sentence for three weeks. Didn't work at all. So you should definitely get support as soon as possible for those areas that are not among your own great talents. If you don't have any money at the beginning to pay people, you just have to offer barter deals, that's what I did in the beginning. I just offered something that I was good at in return for the performance I needed. To be honest, I've muddled through half of my business life with deals like this. At some point you should then find the jump from the model, but in the often tight start-up phase of a fully self-financed company, it is really worth gold! Another lesson for me is that it is so, so, so important not to look too much left and right, but to do exactly what you deeply believe in in your own business. That doesn't mean that you should be resistant to advice, haha, on the contrary: I have wonderful advisors by my side. But especially when it comes to the subject of competitors, I find a healthy tunnel vision very helpful. I do what I believe in with my team and don't look so much at what others are doing. I've done very well with it over the years. If you do something with passion and at the same time are ready to learn and develop yourself, you will always be somehow successful. I am convinced of that. Fotoprodukte für Kinder von Kleine PrintsFotoprodukte für Familien von Kleine Prints

Speaking of further development. It is said that having your own business is the best tool of all for personal development. How did you personally grow in your business?

A couple of aspects have already been mentioned. So I actually learned the relatively hard way that as your own boss you absolutely have to take a break. Precisely because this regulation by superiors or contractually agreed working hours as with employees does not exist at all and of course you are usually very motivated to do something for your business! It's easy to be tempted to take on too much, and that really doesn't do any good in the long run. In the end, the stress that I put on my company at times made me much more relaxed. You have to learn to relax in a targeted manner and to think "If it doesn't finish today, it will finish tomorrow". After all, I'm not a heart surgeon, this is not a matter of life and death. I had to develop this inner attitude, otherwise I would have ended up in burnout long ago. In connection with this, I was also able to learn to celebrate my work and my / our successes properly from time to time. Many of us, especially women, tend to have exaggerated expectations of ourselves. And when we achieve good results and achieve a lot, we don't even give ourselves the appropriate recognition. That was and is a big growth area for me: To know when it is enough, and to really recognize what has been achieved again and again and to celebrate it appropriately.

"Suddenly CEO"

In addition, I personally developed from graphic designer to managing director! And that was a pretty tough learning curve, you can believe that. In the beginning I did everything myself, mainly graphics. When such a company then grows, you suddenly have completely different tasks and have to deal with many other topics that do not all correspond to your original expertise. I then had to deal with contracts relatively soon, with personnel and leadership, finances and, and, and. Messestand von Kleine Prints In this context and in this new role, I also learned to jump over my own shadow and approach people much more openly than before. Actually, I'm not that big of a bitch;) But a successful business means connecting and exchanging ideas. In the meantime, I've had the privilege of speaking about small prints to larger groups a few times. It was a huge challenge every time, but I also get better every time and that in turn gives me great pleasure! The path was often very challenging, but of course I also learned an incredible amount along the way, and learning never really stops.

We come to the end of this conversation. Finally, do you have a few tips for other women considering starting a business?

Clear! My number 1 tip for years has been: just do it! It sounds so simple, but as I said at the beginning, my business would never have come about if I hadn't had the courage to just get started with my idea. Tip no. 2: stand out! Of course, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, but your product / service must have a unique selling point somewhere. What makes your offer different from everyone else? It is important to be clear about this in the beginning, because a lot builds on that! Tip # 3: make a plan. Yes, the word "plan" alone may sound boring to one or the other, but in order to work purposefully, you should be a bit strategic in your own business. There are different possibilities. I like to work with the simple Business model canvas, from which the TO DOs then result quite logically. Tip No. 4: Be gracious to yourself and keep an eye on your perfectionism! It always applies: Better done than perfect! Better to finish things "ok" and tick them off than do nothing for months. You can always fine-tune it later! Tip no. 5: Network and get targeted support. You can't do everything by yourself! See above.

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Image sources: 1) Holy Moly children's photography 2) Alica Pfister 3, 4, 5 and 6) Team Kleine Prints 7) Team Kleine Prints using an image from unsplash.com

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