The path to entrepreneurship is one wrought with blood, sweat and tears–stories of trials and tribulations no doubt. Some say starting your own buisness isn’t for everyone, while it’s still an ambition for many, whether it’s a loud declaration or a silent, whisper of a dream you keep to yourself.
No matter what stage you’re in, on that journey to entrepreneurship there are some tried and true practices, including some important foundational rules that will help you achieve success. I had the honor or speaking with Sarah Faison, owner of New Jersey based company, Bibs Plus. She has a successful buisness, with products that are not only infectious through word of mouth marketing, but elecite an amazing response online as well. She’s owned her own business for over two decades, and shares her story and insightful discoveries she’s learne along the way.
What was the hardest obstacle you faced when starting your business, as a first time, prospective entrepreneur AND being a woman of color?
BibsPlus is my third business since starting my first business about 20 years ago. As a full time professional working in Corporate America, wife, and mother my hardest obstacle was BALANCE. As a first time entrepreneur I had to learn to NOT let setbacks hold me back. My first business idea was rejected several times before I landed the opportunity to forge ahead with it. I honestly don’t know if being a woman of color was an obstacle in starting my business. If so, I was unaware of it. After several years as a first time entrepreneur, with a business that was steadily growing, the demand of my time was overwhelming and I decided to dissolve the business and redirect in participating more significantly as mother to my daughter. However, I always knew that I would venture down the road of entrepreneurship again.
Doors of opportunity will surely begin to open up if they STAY FOCUSED and forge ahead in the direction of their dream
My second business was birthed during my daughter’s high school years. It was a handcrafted jewelry business that existed for about 8 years. What a great experience! I had the opportunity to sell my pieces in boutiques, experienced partnering with a fashion designer and created the accessories to pair with his designs that showed during NYC Fashion Week, engaged a multitude of customers, and wrote for a magazine, just to name a few achievements.
About four years ago the birth of my great-niece changed my world. I noticed that after enjoying her adorable little face, the bib was the next FOCAL POINT and I personally wasn’t always happy with the choice. It was then that I realized the BIB was an important baby accessory! I began to recognize that not all bibs are equal☺. Some have Velcro and closure in the back of the neck while others have snaps; some have plastic backing; and some are only a single layer of fabric. This concerned me because the drool of a teething baby could easily soak the bib. I began purchasing a variety of bibs to capture what I liked and did not like. Something within me leaped and I desired to create handcrafted, quality, fashion forward BIBS. Not a big transition from my handcrafted jewelry business. I was able to utilize many of my existing skills that I had developed. One awesome change with business venture three is that we are a family business (all on the same page) working collectively, growing the business and sharing in the success together.
As we approach a New Year, do you have any words of advice to inspire women who are thinking of starting a business, but are possibly second guessing themselves?
Yes, my advice is to create a vision board/box and put their intentions and desires further out into the universe. Next, spend as much time as they can moving in the direction they want to go. It is important that they JUST GET STARTED. Doors of opportunity will surely begin to open up if they STAY FOCUSED and forge ahead in the direction of their dream(s) and further develop meaningful relationships with people who can help them with their success journey (as they give back to others). I recommend LOTS of FAITH AND POSITIVE SELF TALK☺.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve found about being an entrepreneur?
What a great question! I have many and will share my top three☺.
- Entrepreneurs can only be successful if they have large funding backing them.
Often times you can start small and grow your business. Think creatively in exchanging skills that you have for product(s) and services. Utilize the talent of people who are willing to share (family & friends) as a start.
- Entrepreneurs have to do everything themselves.
There are many opportunities to delegate tasks/assignments and these should be taken advantage of to build a team. It can be with interns, family, friends and part-time team members just to name a few. This is imperative for long-term growth and what a stress reliever in the long run.
- Entrepreneurs have to take huge risks.
You are the driver of the ship and you can choose the risks that best suit you.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
Why do you think entrepreneurship is so important, specifically for women?
Entrepreneurship is important for many reasons, and my top reason is that we create innovative products and services that contribute to the success of the economy and society as a whole. We have to engage and interact with many other businesses in order to grow our business (purchasing materials, products, and services). We often create new jobs as we grow. With more disposal dollars we tend to spend more, thus further helping the economy.
Entrepreneurship is an awesome opportunity for women because it allows the development of many diverse key skills like Decision Making, Relationship Building, and Team Building to name a few. I appreciate that entrepreneurship has enabled me to further develop in the areas of embracing change, and thinking strategically. These skills enable women to have more meaningful relationships; both business and personal.
They say the most accomplished and successful people are also some of the most organized–what are some of you best practices for staying organized?
My best practice for staying organized is finding systems that work and then repeating them until they become habit.
Example: Carving out an hour daily to follow-up on my TO DO LIST and updating it appropriately. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
To stay organized it is imperative for me to write things down. I use Stephen Convey’s Time Management Matrix/System – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I write down my many items (each on a different poster sticker) and place them in the appropriate Time Management Matrix quadrant. I have a hard copy of the matrix on a large board that I reference on a regular basis. Using the poster stickers I am able to quickly move an item from one quadrant to another with ease. This is working nicely for me because as an entrepreneur life can be extremely busy and I find that it is imperative that you stay focused on the overall progress of your business.
Do you have any additional words of advice or inspiration for women who are looking to start their own business?
Yes, set goals, set both long term and short term priorities, maintain your focus, encourage yourself and forge ahead!