When I told my father I would be writing a small-business startup column/blog for PROFIT, he asked me, "Why you? What do you know about running a business?" He wasn't being mean; he was just genuinely confused about what expertise I—an editor and writer turned gift wrapping consultant—could possibly have, what advice could I offer after roughly only a year in business for myself?
"Dad," I said, "how long did you run your own company? Thirty years, right? And did you know everything there was to know about running a business when you retired?"
"No. I never figured it out."
That's the thing about entrepreneurship— it's an ongoing learning process. Whether you have 30 years of experience or just one, there's always some new challenge to tackle. (Or at least that's what I've heard.) And most of us have to do it on our own, as companies of one.
That's where this column/blog comes in. Every two weeks I will share with you the challenges I face, the solutions I find and the results I get as I steer my home-based business through the startup phase.
So what is my story? Well, this chapter starts about a year and a half ago.
After nearly a decade as an editor for magazines such as Style at Home and Cottage Life, I was working in PR. I had spent a year as the operations manager of a boutique agency, then switched roles to handle client accounts; I was then promptly fired six weeks later.
With still-gushing wounds from losing my job, I was desperately wondering what the hell I was going to do next.
I happened to mention my gift wrapping blog—a small, creative side project of mine—to a family friend. She's the owner of an international fine-paper wholesaler, and she pointed out that I could make a living by turning my blog into an online store, selling papers, ribbons and other gift wrapping supplies.
It was like all of a sudden things made sense. I wasn't going to look for full-time work in PR or magazines again—I was going to start my own business! (My current plan isn't exactly as I thought those first days, but more on that another time.)
I've always imagined that I'd be my own boss someday. I grew up in a household where my parents worked for themselves—business owners of the creative persuasion (Mom an illustrator, Dad doing set construction for film). I guess that "not wanting to work for other people" is in my DNA.
My dream is to turn my paper obsession into my career and run a successful creative gift wrapping and packaging company, providing corporate wrapping services, consulting and, eventually, products. I don't know anything about starting a business, yet here I am, venturing out on my own, trying my hand at being an entrepreneur. We'll see how it goes.
Just like you—like most small business owners—I face a new hurdle every day. And I'm doing it all alone, without a board or management team to consult. Just like you.
This blog will tell the story of that journey. Along the way, I'll share my experiences and lessons learned, and I hope you'll to the same by posting comments or contacting me directly. I hope we can build beautiful businesses together.
Corinna vanGerwen is a creative gift-wrapping consultant, sole owner and only employee of her eponymous home-based startup, which provides gift-wrapping services, training and workshops, as well as packaging services for marketing and events.