Small Business Experiences-The Early Days


Going from stay-at-home-mom to, "I want to start my own business" was a life changing event for me. I had earned a BS in Social Science, and Psychology, and worked as a counselor to kids with mental illness, and was, at the time, learning the ropes of motherhood with my first daughter along for the ride. I had always had a creative edge (I even started off as an Art major in college), but had never thought of turning my passion for design into a business. My other love has always been children, but I had never thought further than combining the two...teaching art, or art therapy!

Since my decision to become a momtrepreneur, I have realized that a lot of what you need to know can quickly be learned from experience. That said, if you can learn from others' experiences...even better! Which is why I have decided to begin posting some of my own experiences. I have also found that it is scary to start your own business, to put yourself out there. It is especially scary when you are going into a business that is a somewhat unique.

When I started out, I wanted to refinish sand, paint, and distress furniture. I saw the prices on pieces in the local vintage shops, and loved the idea that I could get a piece of furniture for cheap, work my wonders on it, and sell it for a profit....the best part-the buyer was getting a good deal too! The furniture at vintage shops are not only cheaper than buying new furniture, they are typically higher quality than a lot of the press-board stuff out there these days. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information out there on the shabby chic furniture business. If I wanted to do this, I was going to have to figure it out on my own.

I started by visiting the local library and some book stores. What I found was a lot of information on how most people start a business. The problem here, is that I am not like most people. I am lucky enough to have a family of entrepreneurs, that have taught me some very basic, but very valuable lessons. My grandparents owned a successful tole painting shop out of the first floor of their 3 story home for many years. Their business model was much more simple than anything proposed in the pages of any Business books out there these days, but believe it or not...it worked!

It went a little something like this...you save your money until you have enough to buy something. Once you have made a profit, you pay yourself back, put some into savings, and some gets reinvested in the company ie. another purchase for the business. You build slowly, with patience, and only borrow what you can pay back at the end of the month. By doing this, my grandparents grew their business to be a successful one. It employed and supported both of them, and at times, a few others as well. They stressed the importance of minimizing overhead, which I believe to be another key factor in their success. All of these are things that I have attempted to mimic in my own adventures.

My first realization: 

Just because the literature out there repetitively tells you that you need a formal business plan, and a hefty bank loan, does not mean it is the only way or the right way.