Part of the reason I left was to help my family in their various businesses and start my own. I have found my family to be a wonderful source of information as they have over 150 years of collective business experience. Half of which comes from two women who we're stay-at-home moms turned CEO's of their own businesses. These businesses are not Fourtune 500, but they allow for living the dream of having a business and a life.
Today, for example, I'm sitting at the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds as my mother, sets up shop (I'm helping, can't you tell?). She has owned a gift/jewelry business for almost 20 years and travels about 10-20+ weekends a year to sell her heavily curated accessories. Her setup is incredibly elaborate-so much so, I worry about her doing it without help. But she loves to do it while meeting so many people from all over the country.
I apologize for the photo quality-still getting used to my iPad. But there's my mom fussing over one of the purse displays!
A business developed from a hobby of jewelry making after her last child went off to school is a fairly typical story of the mom that wanted to stay home with her children. Through her experiences living on a single income she developed the savvy skills (like many moms) required to stay in 'the black' and work frugally.
As I'm sitting here 'helping' today I started asking her about what kind of advice she would give a woman looking to go into business for themselves. And this is what she had to say:
1. Do something you love.
Quilt shows and jewelry were never apart of my upbringing, but after mom had a chance meeting with an artist who was willing to show her how to make earrings-beads and wire began infiltrating the dining room during the days.
'I wasn't hooked right away, but then I started showing people what I was doing and the reaction was overwhelming. So I started doing research and trying new things until I had enough product to set up a display at a show.'
2. Find mentor(s) in the same field
A mentor will give the advice you can't find or is hard to find. They will guide you in the right direction and explain things you may not think about such as, which is a trend vs fad in your business and how to recognize them. This saving you a lot of time and money.
3. Do your research
'Take baby steps. I started making earring first, it's what I was comfortable with and what I felt good about. My research was around earrings and eventually as I got my skills in place-the next natural move was necklaces.'
4. 'Don't get too big too fast.'
Starting out, go with what you can afford. 'My initial investment into my business was $50. It's what I could reasonable gamble at the time and not lose sleep if it didn't work.'
Fifty dollars isn't reasonable for everyone, but having an honest conversation with yourself about what you can invest is always a good idea. Increasing as you can afford to, without going into the negative is a good sign you're going in the right direction. Too often we invest expecting to get the money back-that's not always how it works and being but is one of the least advised practices, because those advising it are often the ones wanting your money. Go with your gut.
5. 'Sometimes you just have to put on your big-girl business pants.'
Running your own business can give some people the illusion you're various things: rolling in money-is often one of them. Friends and strangers can try to take advantage of your good nature or generosity and your most frequent clients may not be your best clients.
Establish rules and business practices for your business. Allow yourself to bend if the situation calls for it, but remember to stand up for yourself in the end or you will go broke being nice.
Vicky Shaffer owns Crystal Mountain Jewelry and Gifts and can be found on Facebook and at quilt shows all over Central Illinois.