Every time I see a graph of the “Life of an Entrepreneur,” I laugh. Literally LOL because I’ve felt ALL the highs and lows in a 24-hour span. As I’m typing this out right now, we’ve finished our most successful week in sales and marketing for 2018, and last night, I was crying because I felt like Mercy Creates was going through a business identity crisis. A high high and low low.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about creating a victory list, and it’s not a joke when I say I wish I could tattoo that list to my eyelids.
The Victories List I keep isn’t just to pat myself on the back; it’s there to record all the moments God has shown up in Mercy Creates. As I look back on the 2018 Victories List, there’s one that I just keep going back to, one that still stirs emotion in my spirit, and I still thank God for: when He showed up and gave me a printer.
In January of 2018, I had a lot of inventory. The pieces I had, though popular, weren’t going to get me “further” in the market. I had to keep painting and creating, and I was stressed: I didn’t have a means to print. I wanted to keep creating, but I didn’t want to create, post a piece, and then be unable to sell it. In my mind: if it’s on the internet, then someone can go to the Etsy shop and buy it.
I researched national printing companies. I researched local printing companies. I researched art prints. I researched photo prints. I had papers with company names, their pricing, and paper samples.
Even if I sold one print, it would not make a dent in the initial print order, and I couldn’t do it. The 2017 fourth quarter was good but not great. There wasn’t enough in the bank to place a print order for even one piece.
Maybe I could DIY until more money came in for a bulk order?
So I researched printers. And inks. Do I want a printer/scanner? And what would be better: a CMYK printer or a photo printer or a laser jet printer? Purchasing a printer would honestly be the same amount if I placed bulk print order, and we didn’t even talk about ink…
I needed money to purchase a printer to make more pieces. But I couldn’t make more pieces until I purchased a printer to print them.
I felt so defeated.
Mercy Creates had a great six months. We broke even in January. Everyone loved what I was posting online. People bought art. There were great reviews on Etsy…
I committed that Mercy Creates would run debt free, but I had absolutely no idea how we could move forward without solving this printing problem.
I truly felt, deep deep down in my gut, that God wanted me to lead Mercy Creates. That I found my “Sweet Spot” of combing a passion (encouraging people and sharing truth) with talent (painting).
Why would God give me this passion then leave me with frustrations and unsolvable problems?
I felt like I exhausted my research and possibilities, and there was no solution.
So I started praying.
I felt like Gideon and the fleece: “K, God, You wanted me to do this… So… Make this blanket wet. JK. Make it dry. JK. Let me really know it’s You and make everything else wet EXCEPT this blanket.”
“K, God, You wanted me to do this… So… Make the money happen. Or make the printer happen. Really, please, make something happen, so I can figure out what to do because I’m stressed about this problem, but I want to move forward, but I don’t know how because I have nothing. Or just show me what to do. I just need something, God, because I’m literally out of everything.”
Did I feel dumb about praying for a printer? A little.
Was this something really important to me and consuming my thoughts? Yes and yes.
Did the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth listen to my request for a machine? Of course! BECAUSE HE GAVE ME THIS PASSION AND WANTS ME TO PURSUE IT.
I spoke with several friends about the dilemma I was facing, and one friend even asked how much the printer would cost: $200. Pennies for equipment to a successful business, right? If God wanted me to keep moving forward with Mercy Creates, He would provide the way. That’s what I resolved myself to, and really what other choice did I have? It was going to be God or nothing.
Days later (but in “Entrepreneur World,” it felt like thousands of years and missed opportunities), a friend asked me over to their apartment, handed me an envelope and directed me to open it when I left. Inside the envelope was $200 cash and a card that said “We believe in you. We love you and your impact on the world. Thanks for inspiring us all.”
I sat at the stop light and Kim Kardashian ugly cried because this was not how I was expecting God to appear: through my friends in financially providing for my business. It never crossed my mind that the people closest to me would be helping me, and all I could do was send a slew of crying emojis and thank you’s to this person.
It’s now November, ten months since I received the printer, and I’ve just now replaced the ink cartridges. In 2018, this printer helped print encouragement cards for the partnership with Heartbeat to Hope, new pieces, contracts for The Song of Songs Project, and vendor show and market contracts. Costs are kept low and the quality has been maintained because everything is done in-house. I can’t help but thank God every time I look at that printer in my office.
Ultimately, my prayer in January wasn’t “please provide this solution,” but “God, please affirm this is what You want me to do.” And He answered it with a printer: “Yes, I want you to keep leading Mercy Creates, and here is a machine that will help you do it.”