I think it’s safe to say that you can’t plan to be an entrepreneur and I say that because every entrepreneur is so different and always evolving.
Rustic Rose started like many businesses do; a solution to a problem. I never planned to run my own business, although I never had ruled it out. The timing was great for me as I was (and still am) in school for Business. I am able to apply the things I am learning in class to my business and suck valuable wisdom out of my instructors (shameless plug: the instructors at Medicine Hat College are phenomenal). I will say though, I didn’t pay enough attention in my Accounting classes and that one has definitely bit me in the butt.
Last spring I had the opportunity to take part in my college’s pitch competition. I pitched my idea (expanding into apparel) to judges in 5 minutes and competed against other entrepreneurs for cash prizes. It was extremely nerve wracking but I was able to gain feedback from industry professionals and make really great connections to people in the business community. The most important thing I learned throughout the entire process is that entrepreneurship is exactly what you make it. Making connections, asking for help, constantly researching, and working really long hours are a big part of what it's all about and that doesn’t even touch on making a product, marketing it or getting it to your customer.
So if you have an idea and you don’t know what to do next, talk to someone. Find a place that offers supports to entrepreneurs or connect with someone in the business community. I think people often are blind to the resources around them. Ask a few people who you should talk to and you be will be amazed at the supports around you.
While being an entrepreneur is remarkable and rewarding, I will offer you some cautions about entrepreneurship that you might take into consideration before signing up for Dragon’s Den:
-Not everyone will like your idea, and that’s okay!! I once had a lady come into my booth at a market, look around, grab a necklace and pronounce “umm yeah this is all really ugly”. Regardless of what I wanted to say to her, I smiled... and secretly put a hex on her.
-It takes a lot more than having a nice logo to run a business, but I recommend investing in getting one professionally done- brand image accounts for a lot.
-Make sure to keep all of your receipts. Trust me on this one. My mom told me to and I didn’t listen.
-Prepare to be EXHAUSTED. It is of course what you make it but during busy times especially, it can be so overwhelming. I personally find that social media takes up alot of my energy, but I have had to make a conscious effort to delegate my time and make sure to plan posts ahead of time. Customer service is another area that can be challenging at times, but always remember that without customers you have nothing, so it is always worth it!
-Once you slave over making your product, packaging it, marketing it etc., the best part is selling it to a customer that loves it! And then you do it alllll over again. And again. And again.
-Being your own boss is seriously the best thing ever. Do I make jewelry while watching Grey’s Anatomy in my pajamas with a glass of pinot? You bet I do!!
-You have to be different. This is something I struggle with when brainstorming ideas for t-shirts. It is so easy to see someone else who is successful and copy their ideas, but in the long-term that won’t help you out. Make sure your business idea is creatively sustainable. And maybe instead of copying the entrepreneur you really admire; reach out to them because you never know who your next mentor will be.
Well that may not be the 10 Steps to Starting a Million Dollar Business, but it's a few nuggets that you can do with what you will. The biggest advice I can give to anyone with an idea is to ask questions. Don’t invest your life savings without doing your research, but don’t let people that can’t see your big vision stop you from doing something remarkable.
So like I said earlier, I have managed to become an entrepreneur. Here I am. Beth Lewis, Entrepreneur. Even though I have my own business, I am still in college so people are always asking me what I want to do when I graduate. When I was little, I wanted to be a professional dog walker. I love dogs so it honestly just seemed like the best option for me at the time. If you asked me right now what I want to do when I am done college, as much as I want to say Dog Walker, I probably wouldn’t because bills. I actually don’t really know, I am loving where Rustic Rose is right now and I have lots of ideas to make it a full time gig. Being an entrepreneur allows me to do things like make jewelry in my pajamas and do fun photoshoots with my friends, but more importantly it has taught me a lot of valuable life skills. For example, I have always hated accounting and in all of my accounting classes I would say “I don’t need to know this because I will just hire someone to do it for me”. Well, here I am and Rustic Rose is a one woman show so that unfortunately leaves me to take care of all accounting. Anyways, I will wrap up my rambling with saying that I love being an entrepreneur and I would highly recommend it to others. I am constantly learning new things, running with cool ideas, connecting with other boss babes and doing things I never imagined. Speaking of boss babes, we gotta stick together so if you ever need advice or want to collaborate or whatever, don’t hesitate to reach out!