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The Life of A Young Entrepreneur

Jul 2, 2009

It’s 9:30 at night and my cell phone is ringing, it’s my grandfather on the phone.  He asks me how things are, if I can take  tomorrow off to visit, and where I am.

“I’m still in the office editing products.  I can’t make it tomorrow, I have alot of work to do, but I’ll try to make it over on Saturday [the 4th of July] after we close up the store.”

I hang up the phone.  Ten minutes later my cell phone rings again, “Hey hunnie, what time are you leaving? It’s almost 10.”

That would be my husband who is battling with a severe head cold.  I’ve left him all day alone so I could tinker in the office.

This particular blog isn’t about wedding favors, but in a way, it is – it is my job, my career, my baby.  And what I am about to say isn’t necessarily about my business but it’s for any person who wants to be an Entrepreneur.

When I worked a full time 9-5 job, I looked forward to the end of the day.  I looked forward to the weekends and paid holidays.  I liked having sick time and personal time and all the goodies and benefits of working for someone.  But I also longed to be my own boss and create an environment which would allow me the flexibility to take my son to work with me or take the day off if I needed it.

However, being your own boss isn’t easy.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen a 40 hour work week since I quit my full time job back in 2003.  That’s right, no 40 hour work weeks – they are more like 80 or 120. There are no holidays, no sick time, no personal days off. I work almost 7 days a week. It’s been one of the hardest – but most rewarding – job I have ever worked.  Perhaps with the exception of being a mom, that’s hard work too.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I adore what I do, I adore weddings, wedding favors and I am in love with the concept of love.  But for all those young entrepreneur’s who think it’s easy starting a business, or running one – it’s not.  It’s a labor of love.

Just like a baby, you create it, nurture it, and hope it does well.  But you need alot more than a string of hope and a bit of luck to make a business a success.  You need the tenancity to plow on no matter what you face, the belief that you will be successful and some toothpicks to keep your eyes open during it all.  It’s exhausting, exhilarating and consuming. Do you have what it takes?

I wear many hats around Little Things.  How many jobs do I have?   Well that depends on the day:

1) Buyer – I travel to the trade shows, scour the web for new products, make contacts, and look for leads.  I decide on what to bring in, what to keep out and what lines we should carry.  I also decide which areas need expansion and which need to be condensed.

2) Webmaster – that’s correct, about 90% of the wedding favors and accessories you see on the site have been input by me, manually by hand.  That includes the product descriptions, price points, and all the other junk which needs to go into the backend for you to make a purchase.  I also design the categories, subdivide them and move products.

3) Copy editor & Writer – I write the copy, the articles, the section pages, the meat and potatoes  of the site – it’s what makes a site rank. I also write the blogs, outside articles, etc… I even have some articles being published in an upcoming wedding book.

4) Marketing & Advertising – whether it be SEO, SEM, affiliate marketing, linking, purchasing advertising space – that’s me too.  I also design the graphics when I have to produce newsletters. You’ll find my twitter account managed by me.  Our facebook and myspace pages too are handled in house.

5) SEO & Analytics – falls into a category all by itself.  Any entrepreneur who is venturing on the web today should know some basic SEO.  Even if you’re going to outsource this, you should know what your seo company is doing for you.  I can’t tell you the countless numbers of hours I’ve poured into research.

6) Administrative work – the faxes, the bills, the payroll, the monthly sales tax.  There is always paperwork to be handled.

7) Sales – yes, you may ocassionally get me on the phone when you call.  This usually only happens when all my employees are occupied with other customers. Or if you venture into my store on a Saturday, you’ll see me there working, on the floor.

I wear many other hats including Human Resources, Mom, Hiring, training, developing, IT, software development, etc.  Yesterday I had to deal with open season for our health insurance for our employees while trying to deal with networking a laser printer, updating drivers and editing hang tag options on 638 products.

Being an entreprenuer requires you (unless you have a ton of capital behind you to hire department heads) to know a little bit of everything, and figure out all the right answers when you have little knowledge of the  subject.  It requires extensive hours, hands on training, learning and developing.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I really don’t mind working until 4 am (which I did last night) or putting in 18 hour days.  One day, I know we’ll be large enough to alleviate some of the workload.  But until then, I plow on.

In the essence of Independence, I’ve created mine.  How about you?  I’d love to hear your stories as well.  Happy 4th of July!  If you’re in the Sayreville NJ area be sure to swing by our store – 137 Main Street Sayreville, NJ 08872 (732) 654-5262.  Or visit us on the web at www.littlethingsfavors.com

:) Erica

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2 Responses to “The Life of A Young Entrepreneur”

  1. Theresa - August 26th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your passion and commitment to your “job”, your baby and your life. Usually anything worthwhile takes alot of work – sweat equity.

    Keep up the great work! You haven’t posted on the blog in awhile, I hope you that means you are on vacation or too busy to write here!

  2. Thomas - September 30th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I just love your article and it really puts in perspective. We are also a retailer for weddings who sell a variety of wedding acceessories including favors. We definitly understanding the hours and devotion put forth to run the show.