I remember where I was sitting and I remember crying as I watched episode after episode of small business owners sharing their barriers, their passion and their goals in small town America. This was my story. I remember the day The Small Business Revolution Season 1 changed my life.
I was so excited to have finally wrote the business plan, won a start up business award, signed the lease and secured the vision for my dream to be a business owner.
I had attended Profit Mastery, I had worked with a SBA Consultant, I had joined the Chamber of Commerce, I attended Rotary, I had data of babies born in central Minnesota, we were writing blogs and posting to social media, we had met so many local people and still I wasn't financially doing well. This story ends with another entrepreneur buying the business, moving it to a larger community and re-branding it. Thankfully we didn't have to have a funeral.
The Small Business Revolution, which is a movement, has demonstrated that communities MUST be engaged and together for small town Main Streets to survive. Small businesses need support from city council, nonprofits, economic development leaders, residents and other businesses to thrive. Stories are coming in of communities being inspired by The Small Business Revolution show. They are being inspired to get together and choose to make decisions to allow their communities to survive.
TODAY I MET THE SMALL BUSINESS REVOLUTION
Meeting Amanda Brinkman, Host, The Small Business Revolution has been a dream of mine because of the energy she brings inspires you to be more. Earlier this fall I wasn't able to attend her keynote at the 2019 Connecting Rural Entrepreneurs Conference and was so disappointed. I am so thankful for the community-based Village Bank who sponsored the event today at ModernWell and the co-presenters of Amanda Brinkman, Aleesha Webb and Erin Newkirk for their wisdom. This is the first event in a series of events to help small business owners. Check out Village Bank Facebook Page.
Nuggets from today:
Please let me know your story in the comments below or send me an email to email@example.com. Happy Entrepreneuring!
Today is the day to wake up grateful.
Today is the day to finish the unfinished project(s).
Today is the day to say "Hi" to everyone you see.
Today is the day that you will make it to the gym.
Today is the day to start an inspiration blog.
Today is the day to reconcile with family and friends.
Today is the day to make decisions that will create your dreams.
Today is the day to start a hobby.
Today is the day to prioritize your time on the weekends.
Today is the day to call someone you are missing.
Today is the day to let everyone in your family know you love them.
Today is the day you will read "God Loves You!".
Growing up I always wanted to be someone important. Someone big. My expectations as a child were to a princess but with age came the realization that wouldn’t happen. However, it never crushed my dreams to do something amazing. As I worked through high school jobs the idea of being my own boss was appealing. Many people share this dream as well. It is often assumed that if someone is a business owner, that they make good money and have it easy being the boss. Although, the idea and reality of being a business owner are two VERY different things. It is A LOT of work.
I started up my first business at the age of 25 years old in birth work. I had a simple two year degree under my belt and had started training in the field I was extremely passionate about. I thought it would be easy. My biggest focus went into marketing and finding clients. I spent way too much time on a website that would change frequently and that I wasn’t 100% happy with. Although I had success in finding clients and making a little money, had completed an internship and raised my prices I still had no idea what I was doing.
I had a basic idea of my business and marketing plan but had so many ideas to improve my business with no real direction. It wasn’t until I met Faith (while trying to network/market my doula business) that I learned a few things. For a time, I actually worked at one of her shops as the manager. It gave me an opportunity to take a look at business functions a little closer as well as the importance of a solid business plan, financial plan and marketing plan. This drove me to go back to school and finish my bachelors. I had a hard time on a major before, but this time was determined to finish with a business degree. My plan was to apply it to my business. That is exactly what I did.
I am happy to say that my degree was one of the best things I did for myself and my business. I learned so much on how to run a business on top of what things I need to outsource. What do I mean by this? Well, even though cutting costs is important for any good business model, I know that spending money on an accountant is key for me. I hate math - with a passion. In addition, sometimes my ideas get too big and I have no plan in place, so having a consultant help narrow down the ideas and steps is worth every penny.
So, if you run a business or are thinking of starting one - budget in Faith with Goenner Consulting, LLC. Start out on the right foot. A solid foundation of your business will save you time, money and frustration.
Entrepreneur, Doula, Marketing Director
This mama artist said she has always been an artist in black and white, but her children inspired her to paint color. An inspired mama is a great mama!
To check out all the styles go to LS Studios Facebook. Commissioned work is also available. Choose your own colors.
Faith Goenner, Entrepreneur, Visionary
Mama Gracie's Pregnancy Shop was birthed on Labor Day 2015. It was a dream of mine to own my own business since I was a teenager. Everything was going great implementing the business plan and getting it set up and then life happened. There are five things that I didn't hear anyone say as I prepared this journey and I hope they will help you on yours.
1. Down-Size your Life
It is crazy that I thought leaving my 6-figure salary to start my own business would just flow. Our family has two cars, a rental property, a house, and bills. As the loans that we used to start the business started coming due and there were no sales at the shop, our cash flow was severely decreased. Later on, our renters gave their notice and our financial situation worsened. We down-sized so that we had the capacity to keep things afloat, be able to eat, and not lose everything. Being forced to down-size was probably the best way for me to handle the situation, but I wouldn't recommend it. After this season of financial hardship, I am leaner in my spending. It is fun now to see how much we are able to save because of our thriftiness.
2. Study your Customer
To study your customer, you need to know your customer. The Small Business Development Consultant suggested to collect data about my potential customers. The data I collected about my customer base supported the claim that there were expectant moms in the Princeton area. But the data didn't answer many important questions. Where were these expectant moms going? What were they doing day-to-day? Were they shopping in the local city or going to larger cities where they could find more shops? At my shop's opening, there was only one customer base I had counted for (pregnant women). I wasn't getting the customer base I had written about in the business plan. Afterwards, I realized there were a lot more customers I hadn't taken into account like dads, grandparents and friends.
3. Get to know the City Ordinances
My business was supported by winning a local business competition and so I assumed the city was supportive of small businesses. It wasn't until real-life happened that I saw that there were so many city ordinances that were not supportive of local small businesses. Examples include signage, parking and collaborative opportunities. We had a great sandwich sign at the end of our street that let people know about us. I received a note from the city that it was in violation of the city sign ordinance which required that the sign be only outside our shop. They couldn't allow everyone to just put signs up. Customers and people in the community asked what happened to our sign.
4. Know Perseverance
Webster defines perseverance as steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Work had always been easy to me but it was different when I had no colleagues or boss. It was up to me everyday to be inspired to love our products, our services and implement the vision that was in me. As personal and financial pressures worsened, I found the perseverance to keep going instead of implementing my plan to close the shop. My motto is that "I'm going to work this until it works.". We tried various ideas to kick start the shop and these ideas did keep the shop going. In 2017, we did need to downsize on some services (e.g., massages, yoga) and bring it back to being a pregnancy shop. Perseverance will win!!!!
5. Choose your Measure of Success
Recently as Mama Gracie's has changed in her 2nd year, many friends, family and loyal customers have said " I'm so sorry it didn't work out." My answer is "Mama Gracie's is successful." She is a brand that is known across the country, maybe the world via Shoptiques. She has been featured in many local pregnancy stories when yoga and massage were part of the shop. We have mamas and babies using the products we sell and she is still young. There are many things that I didn't know when I started my business and have had to learn on the job. My vision for Mama Gracie's is that she will grow bigger than what we see today!
Faith Goenner, Entrepreneur, Visionary
Written by Faith Goenner, Goenner Consulting, LLC