They say there’s no teacher like experience. No matter how many books you read or how many successful business owners you talk to, you truly won’t know what it’s like to run a business until you get your hands dirty and… well, run a business. We asked our small business experts what they’ve learned since opening their businesses. Here’s a list of our favorite answers… (more…)
It’s the last week of our entrepreneurs by the ages series here on the MyCorp blog! From teen entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, our final post celebrates entrepreneurs in their 60s and beyond as they share with us their stories about starting up a small business, the obstacles they’ve encountered, and the rewards that being an entrepreneur has given them.
1) “I began my professional career as manager of a Coronary Care unit and a Non- Invasive Cardiology Unit Supervisor in local area hospitals. In my free time I developed an interest in the science and art of chocolate. Gaining chocolate making skills through a blend of personal exploration and formal education I attended a Master Chocolatier certificate program that enabling me to learn techniques with Master Chocolatiers of the Tuscany region of Italy. My journey to becoming a Chocolatier led to my founding Donna & Company in 2005 and establishing my own chocolate brands, CocoaBee® Honey Caramels and Donna Toscana® Tuscan Style® Chocolates and Fundamental. My chocolates have appeared on the NBC TODAY Show, in the New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Dessert Professional, Park Place Magazine and numerous other media outlets. I was named Best Chocolatier by NJ Monthly magazine and Local Hero, Food Artisan of 2010 by Edible NJ magazine.”
– Diane Pinder, 61, Chocolatier/Founder, Donna & Company
2) “I’m an entrepreneur who is 74. I started my business at 55. After a long career in management in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I was working as a consultant in a small firm. After several years I realized I had learned the “business” and was actually good at product development, marketing, and sales. My younger sister who had started her own business a few years before was my inspiration. So, as we say, ‘I stepped off the cliff and grew wings on the way.’ Over the past 19 years, I’ve reinvented my business several times as the needs of my markets have changed. I’ve added professional speaking, writing books, webinars, and digital products to my mix of face-to-face consulting. The best parts of being an entrepreneur at my age are: being able to use my creativity to craft new products and services for my customers and wider market, thus staying mentally active; creating my own work schedule to accommodate lots of physical activity including yoga, Tai Chi, and walking to stay physically and mentally fit; and living a life that is fulfilling on every level. I have cut back on my road warrior travel and allowed technology to help me communicate around the world more. I will never be isolated because I have made friends around the world and I keep up business and personal relationships with them. I have no plans to retire. I’ll just keep innovating, reinventing, and tapping into my imagination until it’s time to go.”
– Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D., 74, President, Advantage Leadership, Inc.
3) “Most of my career, I worked in administration. I am almost 70, and have now become a designer. I designed a protective bag, BORSAbag. I am in an unknown environment. The way I describe it is I feel as though I’m in a vast field of tall grass with a machete. I just keep whacking away to find my path.
At this stage of my life, I have accumulated some savings and am in a better position to finance my design. I feel secure in taking that risk, mainly because I am married, and know that if I lose my investment, I will still be okay. I have more peace of mind to take the necessary risks. I constantly think about my product, how to improve it, additional uses for various sizes, and how to introduce BORSAbag to everyone. The downside of being my age is I can’t afford to take too much time to make decisions. I must think about it, address it, and decide, and then move on to the next step. I have made sure that my infrastructure is strong, I have my inventory, and now I must make an announcement from the highest mountain to get my word out there. Time is of the essence.
BORSAbag is a simple, yet very unique product. It can be used to protect anything. The key is: Always Inside Out. The small pouch stays clean and dry, and can be stored safely in pocket or purse even though the large protective bag is wet or dirty. The Bag For All Seasons; The Bag For All Reasons®”
– Diane Piper, 69+, President/Designer, BORSAbag LLC
After spending three weeks with teen entrepreneurs, twentysomething ‘treps, and entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s, we’re taking a look at savvy entrepreneurs in their 50s! Our 30 professionals profiled today have plenty of pearls of wisdom that come with being in business including opting for triads over partnerships and that there is no glass ceiling when you work for yourself.
1) “So I’ve done a LOT! I’ve worked for companies, I’ve owned companies. The best part about being an entrepreneur at age 53 is that I’m in control of my destiny. Many of my friends are worried about their retirement accounts, for me, being an entrepreneur is like early retirement with a cash faucet! I can work as much or as little as I want or need. I don’t plan to retire, I do what I love and plan to keep on doing it.”
– Karen Yankovch, 53, Owner, Social Media Brand Strategist
2) “The best part of being an entrepreneur in my 50s is that I’ve already made a WHOLE LOT OF mistakes. I also have learned that nothing is quite as good or quite as bad as it seems, so I’m less panicked and more stable in my thinking. I’m also much more focused on working smart not hard, but often still do some of both!
Many people require structure and need to be told what to do and have goals set for them. The biggest challenge with being an entrepreneur is time management and making sure I get the stuff done that I don’t like doing, before I get into the fun stuff. It’s a scheduling thing, but here again, I’ve been doing it for quite a while, so I know when I need to just hunker down and clear off the desk.
One last word of advice for entrepreneurs – think triads, not just partnerships. While partnering with like minded and complementary businesses is great, developing triads is even better. If I can get two people together that can help each other, it’s easy for me to tag along, because if it’s helpful, they both have a reason to include me where appropriate. Win-Win-Win is better than Win-Win.”
– John Schaefer, 59, Founder and President, Schaefer Recognition Group
3) “After receiving my MBA in Finance I worked on Wall Street for about 20 years as a fixed income trader and proprietary equity trader before leaving to open up a company that originated commercial mortgage loans and then sold them to banks who turned them into bonds. When Lehman Brothers failed and the market seized I had the opportunity to open a title insurance firm which I jumped on. Six years later and we are doing great.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur at 50+ is the autonomy it provides to do and run things the way that you think best. The issue with being an entrepreneur at 50+ is the fact that if for some unforeseen reason the business does not work out, prospects for getting hired in the conventional job market are dicey. For that reason I just have to make sure that we succeed!”
– Mike Haltman, 54, Owner, Hallmark Abstract Service
If you could go back and change anything about the way your business got its start, would you do it? It’s totally okay to admit you would – whether it was a logo design, hiring sooner rather than later (and vice versa), or focus on marketing strategy tactics, even the most successful brand has a few moments that might have been done differently if they knew then what they know now. Today, we have a panel of 48 small business experts on board to tell us what they wish they could go back and change about their business in the beginning.
1. “I think I’d have learned to be a manager before I made myself one. I only now am starting to realize how much better I could have been as a manager instead of thrusting myself into the position as a know-it-all. I’ve been running my firm for 23 years and I really only have one regret that is not getting trained in the sensitive art of managing human capital.”
– Richard Laermer, CEO, RLM PR
2. “The transition from a full-time employee to a full-time entrepreneur has been a combination of many accomplishments, but also challenges. The flexibility of working from my home has been phenomenal, but after working almost 20 years for someone else, I realize that an office environment works well for me, even if using co-working space. While I can work virtually anywhere, I am more productive outside of my home and it allows me to maintain a divider between home and work life. If I had to do it all over again, I would have invested in some sort of shared or office space after developing proof of concept in order to maintain the boundary and be able to turn completely off at times.”
– Kimberly O’Neil, Founder/CEO, The Giving Blueprint
3. “If I were to start MyFairyTaleBooks all over again I would have chosen a different brand name. When we started in 2009 we were exclusively selling books. Now we offer many personalized gift items including puzzles, placemats and bookmarks with plans to expand into even further categories. We have such strong brand recognition with our customers that we are hesitant to make too many bold changes to our identity, but we’ve taken subtle steps to share the news that we’re no longer just books!”
– Kelly Mistry, Owner, MyFairyTaleBooks
Last week, we asked 75 entrepreneurs to tell us what they loved about running their own businesses. The feedback we got was so overwhelming, today we have 76 more small business owners on deck telling us what drives and motivates them to be their own boss!
1. “I love being an entrepreneur because I am able to work from home and make money doing something incredibly fun for me. I get paid to drink tea, paint with watercolors, and watch Sherlock!”
– Anna White, Artist and Business Coach, 2dayIchoose
2. “What I love most about being an entrepreneur is being able to work every day with my wife. I know it sounds corny, especially at Valentine’s Day, but it’s true. My wife always says ‘I don’t want to be Batman, I like being Robin.’ When I was a kid, I was always Batman. That translates to an awesome working relationship. People ask us how we could stand being together all day at work and then at home again and we respond, we couldn’t stand to not be working together every day. We have a ton of fun working together and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
– Buck Smolow, Co-Founder, JustPoppin.com
3. “My story-based content marketing company stems from my passion for creative writing, and a refusal to settle for anything less than success. While in university I had come to believe that I would never be hired by a company based merely on my writing skills. I was told that I must learn a variety of additional skills such as Photoshop, etc. Things that I had zero interest in. Rather than settling for an apparent reality I chose to create my own. Here’s to finding a passion and following it without fear. If you strive for excellence in your interest, the money will always follow. Believe me! #BeYourOwnBoss”
– Sarah Walker, CEO | Cursive Remedy Media
What do you love about being an entrepreneur? Here at MyCorp, we find that asking this kind of question to small business owners is a little like the children’s book When You Give a Mouse a Cookie. They may not immediately ask for a glass of milk afterward, but they’ll definitely have plenty to share about what drives and motivates them when it comes to their businesses!
Today is part one of our two-part series polling our network of small business owners on what they love about their business. We’ve got 75 entrepreneurs in the house, discussing all the different hats they wear, the creative energy that comes with the role, and how every day is a new adventure.
1. “It may sound selfish, but I love the fact that I get to choose all the folks that I employ. I spent so many years in the corporate world having to work with a lot of personalities that did not share my work ethic or passion for whatever task was at hand. It’s such a great feeling to be able to work with individuals who are all dedicated to their craft, committed to excellence in all that they do and who genuinely care about the well-being of the team above all else. I keep telling myself that as the business grows, it may not always stay this way – but at this moment I am definitely loving it!”
– Kristy McCarley, CEO/Founder, Shazzy Fitness LLC
2. “The best part about being self employed for me is having the flexibility to be more active with my family. Though we’re always hustling as an entrepreneur looking for business growth, having that opportunity to get my kids on or off the bus and see their smiles is what true wealth is to me.”
– Mike Kawula, Self Employed King
3. “I love being an entrepreneur because of the freedom I have to call the shots, work when I want and control every aspect which gives me the knowledge to make the right decisions for my company.”
– Tanya L. See, Owner, Team See Marketing
4. “I love the fact that while my friends are complaining about their jobs every waking minute of the day, I can smile and react with a wry grin, knowing I’m in control of my own destiny. I know that every second of work I put in goes towards benefiting me not a fat cat boss or faceless corporation. I love being an entrepreneur because essentially I enjoy every day I’m also in complete control!”
– Nick Whitmore, Managing Director, ContentWriting.org
From secret supper clubs to the first all clean comedy club in the United States, we recently polled 52 brand new small business owners about the kinds of businesses they were starting in 2014, what makes their start-up so special, and where they plan on taking their company in its first year and beyond!
1. “My name is Corecia and my sister and I are starting a unique business of a secret supper club. The premise is to announce the dinners, open them to 10 couples and its first come, first served by invite only. We already have a growing mailing list and will launch on February 2nd. Shirley’s Diner is named after my grandmother who passed away from cancer 5 years ago on February 2nd. We will be featuring many of her recipes.”
2. “I have recently started a new business in the speed countermeasure niche. This niche covers anything that can help you avoid getting a speeding ticket including smartphones, CB radios, radar detectors, scanners, and airplane detectors which we cover in our developing blog.”
– Chad Antill, Speed CounterMeasures
3. “Leaving kids in stitches is not so bad if you’re at La Sewing Café! The ultimate fashion design and sewing cafe for kids located in Delray Beach, FL is turning heads across South Florida and also turning 1 year old this month! They say sewing is a dying art but it’s not true. At La Sewing Café, kids get to learn how to sew and bring their fashion designs to life. Who knows – the next Coco Chanel or Gianni Versace might be in the room making popular American Girl doll dresses and using old clothes to create new fashion finds!”
– Alicia Sanchez, La Sewing Café