workday wednesdays: an interview... with me!

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a friend from college is pursuing her masters degree and asked if she could interview me for a school assignment.  i figured that the little interview would make for a good blog post.. here's part of what she emailed me:

Yes, this assignment is for school.  I've been working for corporate America for almost ten years and I realize that corporate America is not for me.  I've been doing a lot of soul searching and if I'm going to work for someone, I'd want it to be me! 

Here are my questions for you in random order:

1. When did you know that you wanted to start your own business?

2.  How was the transition from working for "the man" to working for yourself? 

3. What challenges did you face as a start up?

4.  What sacrifices did you make to pursue your goals?

5.  Any advice for a newbie looking to start their own business?

 That's all the questions I have for now...I know I will have more later if that's ok. =)

1. When did you know that you wanted to start your own business?

i'd like to say i've always had an entrepreneurial spirit.  in junior high, my friends and i started our own babysitters club; we made fliers, made mass copies, and stuffed the neighborhood mailboxes with them.  in high school, i would buy chocolate candy bars at the wholesale membership club, stuff my school bag with them, and sell them to my classmates for quadruple the amount {i would tell them that it was for a school fundraiser for my younger brother, ha!}  as i got older, i got crafty and went nuts over rubber stamps.  my friends and i would chat about how we should start our own stamp company.  i would drop hints to my sister that she should draw for me and i would do all the back end legwork and create our own stamp company.    i think the seed has always been there... i just needed a little shove and a handful of confidence.  {i talk a little more about it at a previous interview over at oh my! handmade goodness, click here to read the interview}

2.  How was the transition from working for "the man" to working for yourself?

i think my transition was easier than most folks that plunge right into it.  before starting penelope's press, i was an independent contractor for 5 years as a real estate agent for baird and warner in lincoln park.  at the time, my office was the number one sales office so we had an excellent managing broker, intense sales training, and a full time, in house trainer.  just like a business owner, you wear many hats as a real estate agent, so i learned a lot.  since i was an independent contractor, i had to itemize my taxes, keep excellent record keeping, be self motivated, etc, etc. etc.  you had the choice to either not go into the office and wait for the clients to come to you or you could go be a go-getter, get the clients, and make the sale.  i was pregnant with my second born when i decided to leave real estate.  a  few months later i decided to launch penelope's press and the transition was fairly smooth.

3. What challenges did you face as a start up?

i think the question should be re-phased to "what challenges didn't you face as a start-up?"  there's a lot of challenges i faced when i first got started.... what should i name my business?  what tax structure should i choose?  how do i register my business?  what should my pricing be?  should i use blogger or wordpress?  etsy or big cartel?  how should i package my orders?   i had many, many questions {and still do}.  the biggest questions though, lied within myself... i was my biggest challenge.  i blogged silently to myself for many posts before i finally made my blog public... i was afraid of being "exposed", afraid of putting my products out there and not getting any bites, afraid of failing... so then i guess the answer is fear.  fear that i created for myself was my biggest challenge.  you know what?  you get over it... quickly. {well, at least i did}.  my fear was replaced with eagerness, excitement, and drive to hone my letterpress skills, to become organized and efficient, to create quality products that i was proud of...

 

4.  What sacrifices did you make to pursue your goals?

my number one sacrifice? SLEEP.  i'm a wife and mother before anything else.  i put my family before my business so sometimes {a lot of the time} i sacrifice my time, which is in the form of sleep.  late night or early morning is when i print, package, blog, edit photos, load products, etc, etc, etc.  the second sacrifice:  a home as clean as i want it, ha!  let's be honest.. some times, some things got to give... when you're a mother to 3 children, 2 that are school age and 1 that's under 1, the dishes don't get washed as soon as soon as they're used and the laundry sits for days {and etc, etc, etc.}

 

5.  Any advice for a newbie looking to start their own business?

well, i'm answering these questions late at night, so i'm probably a little incoherent and can't think right now, but here's a few...

 

--be ready to work hard.  being your own boss is a lot of work... you'll be your worst critic and your toughest boss

--do not get so wrapped up in the competition.  i used to be so consumed with what my competition was doing... what they were selling, how much they were selling, how frequently they were blogging... i got over it quickly... i became my worst competition

--grow your business slowly... at a letterpress conference i recently attended, this was echoed many times and i believe it

--if you have a family or significant other, it helps tremendously if they support you and believe in you and your business endeavor.  i wouldn't be where i am today without the support, help, and understanding of my husband, family, and good friends.

so there you have it... a little interview with me!  if you're looking to start your own business... do it!  like the great, late steve jobs put it:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

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