My Business Journey
Today I am sharing a little bit about my personal business journey. I say a little bit because there's absolutely no way to fit the whole story into a blog post. Maybe someday a novel. In fact, there were many times on the journey I gave my experience chapter titles--like Chapter 1: How to start a business while practicing law full time; or Chapter 37: What do you do when your customer's dog ruins your display or Chapter 217: How to handle a movie star walking into your shop".
You see, I've been through all of those things and more in my life as the owner of a business called The Sugar Path. Back in 2011 my sister and I---both logical, rational and respected professionals (or so we thought) decided to do something different and followed a passion to own a food business. We started a bakery that grew from a hobby to a shop very quickly. We opened a retail space, got involved in the wedding industry and developed a product we could sell and ship nationwide. We grew a staff, our brand, our customer base and most of all, our knowledge of business.
It's hard to start at zero. Especially when you have no experience. I mean I was a lawyer and she was a counselor---it's not like we had any experience at being pastry chefs or bakery owners or shop proprietors or wedding vendors. They don't teach business in law school and you don't learn how to run a product based, retail, or creative business by simply advising your clients on the law.
So how did we do it?
Well, we almost failed. The first two years we were failing and didn't even realize it because we were just too caught up in the creative part of the business that we didn't realize the business part was not going so well. That's what happens to cause most businesses to fail within the first three years of starting. You go to a lawyer, you start a business and then you get excited to "create". But there's this whole other part of the business you need to pay attention to. You need to put systems into place. You need to work on sales. You need to figure out the marketing. You need to learn how to scale.
Luckily, we got our stuff together and started to learn about business. Everything from creating customer experiences to social media to marketing to operations to optimizing. We lived in the trenches. We threw cares to the wind. We just did what it took. We learned the numbers and how to make a profit. We took classes. We got mentors. We took massive action to grow our business and become successful.
All of the work paid off. We got recognized as a leader in our industry. We won a contest sponsored by Barbara Corcoran and won $10,000 for our business including flying to New York to consult with her for the product we ship nationwide. Our reputation earned us catering jobs with Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy, Henry Winkler (The Fonz!), Greg Louganis, Ed Asner and more. We grew a team and were able to provide people with jobs. We grew a customer base and were able to change peoples' lives with experiences. We grew a business that donates and gives back to its community.
Moreover, we did it all by ourselves. We did not hire anyone to design our beautiful website that everyone compliments us on. We did it ourselves by learning everything we needed to know about website and graphic design. We did not hire anyone to bring us customers and we didn't even pay for ads. We didn't have a budget for ads so we figured out other ways to get our customers. We taught ourselves everything we needed to know about marketing and advertising. We didn't hire anyone to create our brand. We created it by teaching ourselves everything we needed to know about branding. We taught ourselves all about ecommerce and how to ship a product. This is what entrepreneurs do---it's what we did to create a successful business with a successful brand that gets thousands of website visitors every month.
One of my favorite parts of the business is still the creative process. Lawyers don't get the chance to be too creative when they practice law. I guess that's why I loved trial law so much. While I had to follow the procedural rules I could be creative with how I structured the trial, gave an opening and swayed the jury in closing. I discovered I could be creative in business too. Not just with the pretty products, but the other parts too: the website, the graphic design, the marketing, the customer experiences. The possibilities to grow a business are endless.
There is no amount of studying that could ever replace the real experiences I have gotten from starting and growing a business like The Sugar Path. It was a lot of hard work but I will be forever grateful that I took a chance on chasing a dream. The people----oh my goodness the people! I have met thousands of people in this business---customers, fellow vendors, professionals. Life long friendships have been forged.
Now I help others live their dreams and grow their own businesses. I love bringing my creative passion into my consulting business and my clients know that I understand exactly what they are feeling and experiencing on their journey.
If you'd like to know more about my journey, just shoot me an email and let's connect! Or if you want to meet for coffee and cake, I know just the place. . .