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Lessons Learned from Nine Years in Business, Quilting Podcast Episode 71

Hello my quilting friends! This week I realized it was the ninth anniversary of the Free Motion quilting Project blog. This seemed like the perfect time to reflect on everything I've learned from being in business for nine years and overcoming many challenges and hardships along the way.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and seeing what I am working on in the introduction:

Listen to the podcast or download it to your computer using this player:


Quick links to things mentioned in this podcast:

Machine quilting design gallery

Machine Quilting Design Gallery

Free Motion Quilting Project

Free Motion Quilting Project

Hello My Quilting Friends Podcast

More Podcast Episodes 

Nine Things I've Learned from Nine Years in Business

Day familyIt's hard to believe it's been nine years already! But all I have to do is look at my little boy to see just how fast time has flown by. James was only two when I started the Free Motion Quilting Project. A lot has changed over the years, but these nine things are the most important guiding principles of my business today.

1. It's Your Business.

There are a lot of different ways to run a quilting business and I chose to run mine in a way that's different from most. I don't travel and teach, I don't usually attend quilt market, and I don't design fabric or write many quilt patterns for quilt shops.

Running my business my own way has been a long process of trying different things and deciding if it works or not. It's very hard not to judge and compare myself to others. Look what so-and-so is doing! She seems so successful. Shouldn’t you do that too?

But the only person I need to compare myself to is my past self. So long as I’m moving in the right direction and steadily pushing myself to overcome challenges and grow, I’m doing the right thing. Running this business has been a continual process of learning and growth, and how other people are successful or run their businesses has nothing to do with mine.

2. I Don't Sign Contracts.

This one is pretty self explanatory I don't like signing my name to things and having it come back to bite me later.

I am a self publisher, mostly to retain my rights to my books and photos and diagrams. All the hard work that I put into my projects is mine and I refuse to see any book or project go out of print because of a lopsided contract I signed months or years before. I do see a lot of new quilters and designers willingly signing contracts without even reading them. Please don't do that.

3. Stay out of Debt.

This is a guiding principle of my life, and I think it's very important to stay out of debt and be sure you can cover all expenses at the end of every month. The difficult years we've been through have taught me repeatedly if I veer away from this simple rule, I always end up regretting it.

4.Organization Is Key!

Even today I am working on a new system with Josh so he can help me organize posts and photos and videos so I can spend more time quilting, and less time on my computer. I am continually searching for new organization methods that will work and help me work faster and with less stress, confusion, and distraction. But it's a continual working process and I don't expect I'll ever stop working on organization.

5.Don't Fear Making the Tough Call.

There have been many times that I've had to make a hard call whether to go somewhere, do something, or stop doing something and sometimes a lot of money and reputation has been on the line.

But I've learned it's much better to make the tough call rather than try to avoid it. Being president of my business means I must be willing to make the hard decision and be able to live with the consequences.

6. Be in Sync with Yourself and Your Business Partner.

I wanted to run a business since I was around eight years old, but it was always with the idea that I would call all the shots. But having Josh's help with my business has been invaluable and I honestly couldn't have run it without him. Over the years I've learned when we are not in sync usually something bad is going to happen. We always have to be on the same page or at least steering the ship in the same direction.

7. Don't Hold onto Regrets or Resentment.

This goes back to making the tough calls. I've been wrong before. I've made decisions that ultimately didn't pan out and hurt our business.

But thankfully Josh doesn't hold those mistakes against me and I worked continually to not hold resentment against Josh either. Resentment is a toxic emotion and can easily kill relationships, businesses, and everything in your life. It's hard not to regret when things get tough and mistakes are made, but you have to start each day fresh and be ready to hustle if needed. Instead of wallowing in resentment or anger, pull on your big girl pants and get on with it!

8. Take the Time to Know What You Really Want and Need to Share to Fulfill Yourself.

It's very easy to just go through the motions. It's easy to share the simple things, but that might not be what really fills your soul.

I love sharing this podcast every week because I'm able to talk about more than just quilting, but also my life and what I'm working on behind the scenes. Even though the podcast takes extra time and effort, it's still something I value and do for myself because it fulfills my soul. If I was just making tutorials that ranked the best in Google and YouTube, I'd probably be a lot more successful, but I wouldn't be any happier.

9. Running Your Business Is Going to Be Tough, Stop Expecting it to Be Easy.

Sometimes I get caught in the idea that making a certain decision or setting up a new organization method or trying some new thing will be easy, only to be quickly reminded that everything is more complicated and more time-consuming than I expect.

While I think it's bad to expect running a business to be easy, it's good to expect that things will get faster over time. My videos were very time-consuming and challenging to produce nine years ago, but now I find it relatively easy to shoot and share multiple tutorials per week. The more you do, the easier it gets.

I absolutely don't think I've learned everything at this stage. I know I still have a lot to learn and even more mistakes to make! I'm just so happy and thankful to be able to share this journey.

And that's my final bonus tip:

Always foster gratitude. No matter how great things are or how bad things are, being thankful for what you have is the most important thing to foster.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast! Here's to another nine years in business!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day



That is wonderful Carol! I’m so happy to hear you’ve been with us for so long!

Leah Day,

I found your site right after you started, can’t believe it has been 9 years already. I have learned a lot from you, and wish you many more wonderful years of quilting success!


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