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The One Concept that is Changing the Way I Run my Business: Accepting Outside Help





A year and a half ago my company, Penguin & Fish, and I went on a crazy roller coaster ride called, writing my first craft book.

During the process of writing Sew & Stitch Embroidery, I went through several lows, like dealing with the stress of a 4 month deadline, and having 5 completed (and photographed) projects dropped due to space issues. I also had amazing highs, like getting to come up with and make so many fun projects, working with a dream photographer, and holding the finished book in my hands. Surprisingly though, the most eye opening part of the whole process happened after all of this. It was during the book’s blog tour.

It was during the blog tour that I realized I was working on my business all wrong.

I realized that I had been trying to push my business along from the inside out, instead of accepting the generosity of others and allowing them to pull my business along from the outside.

I was busy rowing upstream by myself, when others could be my sails. Lots and lots of beautiful sails.

A big block for me has always been asking others to use their valuable time on me for seemingly nothing in return. This obviously was going to be a problem if I was going to ask bloggers to participate in our blog tour. And on top of that, they weren’t just bloggers, they were people I consider superstars.

The decision to do the blog tour for Sew & Stitch Embroidery forced me to get out of my introverted way and contact them. Gah, FEAR! But, I figured the worst that could happen is they say “no”, or I don’t get a response at all.

To my heart opening excitement, most everyone said “yes”.

Not only that, they had great ideas on how they wanted to participate. And as the blog tour progressed, I was continually overwhelmed by the bloggers’ praise and generosity.

Then the moment came when I realised that my usual way of working was flawed.

During the tour, one of the bloggers posted a pic on Instagram of her and her daughter cross stitching the elephant from our Racing Sac project. Within a half hour I got 300 new Instagram followers! People that were following her clicked on her mention of @penguinandfish, and 300 of those people decided to follow me.

Holy cow!

I don’t know about you, but I was working hard to get just 3 new followers a day. I was doing all the things they say to do, like posting often and engaging with others – pushing, pushing, rowing, rowing. But all of a sudden I had 100 times the followers I could get on my own. And with none of my own effort. Her sail pulled me 100 times faster than all my rowing.

I learned in that moment that if I really wanted my company to grow, I would need the help of outside people to pull it ahead.

And it’s OK for me to ask for that help.

In fact, what I originally thought about taking up other’s time is flawed. Bloggers actually need content for their blogs. And our Sew & Stitch Embroidery blog tour was providing that to them. It was a trade that helped out both parties. It was something to feel good about.

So I’m working on running my business differently this year. I’m going to do more reaching out to people. More collaborating. More content sharing. And, with any luck, adding more full and beautiful sails to Penguin & Fish.


Alyssa has written 1 posts in this blog.

Alyssa is the sewing genius and artist behind Penguin and Fish. Her new book, Sew & Stitch Embroidery, will show you how easy it is to get your stitch on.



Wow…a bit of a light bulb moment!!! I have been struggling with how to continue my business, I felt like I had hit a brick wall! The brain is whirling now with some ideas on how to ask for help. Thank you
Sue xox

Chrissy Foreman Cranitch

Ohhh – Thank You for this beautiful post! Squee! So much love in this one article! I needed this today!! Xx

Abby Glassenberg

I loved being a part of the blog tour for your gorgeous book, Alyssa! One of the things I missed about it, though, was being able to actually talk with you! Because your assistant sends and replies to your emails I felt like I missed really being in contact with you.

What say you?