After my first son, Ethan, was born, I was sad to see just how quickly he was growing out of his super cute, still-really-nice clothing. Knowing other moms were also dealing with adorable “gently-worn” but outgrown clothing piling up, I created a “pop-up shop” in Alexandria where moms like me could buy and sell great items they could no longer use. The demand and following grew so great that I was able to open a brick and mortar store in historic Old Town.
That was 2012, and five years later 529 Kids Consign is the culmination of who I am and what I have learned through my extensive corporate retail career. I saw a need so combined my love of retail and my obsession with dressing Ethan to make a solution that would work for us and many other families. As I mark my fifth year this spring, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for other aspiring momtrepreneurs.
(And don’t miss our 5th birthday party! Join us Friday, April 21, for popcorn and 10 percent off full-price items all day, with giveaways, balloon animal art, photo booth fun, and more from 3-6pm. See invitation below and visit our website for more details.)
Choose a business endeavor that really makes your heart tick. As an entrepreneur you will be working a lot, a lot, A LOT of hours. There will be hurdles, set-backs, and hard choices. When it gets tough, your passion is what will continue to drive you. So before anything else, make sure your business is something you really feel strongly about. This will also make it more fun!
Your business plan will be your guiding light. The plan should include your mission, an executive summary, a company description, products/services offerings, market analysis, strategy and implementation, organization and management team and financial plan and projections. This is tedious work, but it is necessary to assure that you are on the right foot. The U.S. Small Business Association offers a great business plan guide.
As the saying goes “Your network is your net worth” so be sure to get plugged into some great connections. Get a mentor (or two), join your local business association, find other current and past business owners you can discuss ideas with, research industry classes and seminars, attend networking events, and really get involved. You will find people are often very willing to help you, but they have to know you first.
In addition to your external network, be sure you surround yourself with great people in your inner circle. Having the right employee team can make all the difference. You’ll be hard-pressed to find employees that share your same drive and hustle, but do make sure your employees share your same vision. This idea goes for your contracted workers as well, think your accountant, lawyer, publicist, etc. You have to recognize that you can’t do it all so let other professionals work with you to handle other areas of your business so you can focus on the core of your business.
Just like having a family, having your own business is a big commitment. Many people think that having your own business means you won’t have to work the traditional 9-5 schedule, but then they discover being an entrepreneur means you can easily slip into working around clock instead. Avoid this by separating work and family time. Appreciate the flexibility but recognize that those boundaries will help you keep work to certain times, so you can be engaged in other parts of your life when it is time to do so.
Also, create a separate work space. This is especially important for moms with at-home offices. It’s hard to focus on payroll when your daughter’s toys are cluttering your desk. Carve out a space that is just for your work.
Finally create me-time. You are a mom, you are an entrepreneur, but you also are just you. Be sure to make time for yourself! This will help you recharge and come back even better.