Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Sunday Motivation

12 Jul


Ten Rules For Working With Your Spouse

22 Jun

When my husband and I told people he was leaving his job to help me with my business full time they looked at us like we both had three eyes. I think part of it was them being worried about a lack of steady income when we had two small children to feed (they were 4 and 5 at the time). I think another reason they were worried is because working with a spouse can be hard. Really hard. He had been helping me with my business for a few years, but only part time. Working together full time requires a lot of work and commitment to both your marriage and your business both. We have learned along the way and I am happy to say we are still as in love as ever. Here are a few of the things we have learned:

1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. You would be crazy to just assume things are going to fall into place. Before you take the jump you need to sit down and talk about how you both want things to go before you start working together. The last thing you want is to assume you are on the same page with duties just to find out later on that you are reading from entirely different books.

2. Assign tasks. During your sit down write a list of all tasks that need to be done. Do your very best to assign tasks to each partner. The goal is to make both people happy and give each person things to be in charge of.

3. Be prepared to revise tasks as needed. Over time you will figure out that there are some tasks one person enjoys more and some they are just better at. It is important to create a balance between what each partner enjoys doing and what they are better at doing. You are running a business. In a dream world you would love every minute task, but you live in reality. What if neither of you enjoy the accounting aspect? Well, either you need to outsource that task or one of you needs to suck it up and get it done.

4. Keep a schedule. This is important whether you work for yourself or with your spouse. When you work from home it is easy to get lost on Facebook or wake up at noon. Try to create a basic schedule and stick to it. It helps each partner to see what the other is doing and eliminates a bit of work at home anxiety.

5. Keep work at work. Go back to your schedule. It should have a “closing time” somewhere on it or you will work 24 hours a day. When 5 o’clock rolls around we are no longer coworkers. We are a married couple. The work stuff gets put away and we spend our time trying our best to talk about anything BUT work. Easier said than done, but we still make a big effort to keep those two worlds separate.

6. Understand that your feelings will get hurt. I remember a time where my husband misplaced an item that we needed to ship. I probably wasn’t as nice and understanding as I could have been. It can be tough to be the boss when your employee sleeps next to you each night. You have to have the understanding that one spouse is likely the “boss” and you have to be OK with it. Don’t let your feelings get hurt. And if you are the boss don’t take those work resentments home with you at the end of the day.

7. Have some alone time. It can be really hard spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with someone. I love my husband to death, but sometimes I just want to be by myself. We have to consciously schedule alone time or time out with friends and family. A couple of nights a week I will watch junk TV while he is in another room playing his video games.

8. Think about the financial impact. This is a more boring rule, but still important. Before you take the plunge you need to speak with an accountant and/or tax adviser to discuss the financial structure of your business. Sole proprietorship? Corporation? LLC? Do you each get a paycheck? Is the business in both of your names? etc. All of these questions are ones that need to be answered before you go into business together.

9. Ignore the negative Nancys. Lets face it. People will tell you how STUPID you are for working together. They will tell you it will ruin your marriage. They will tell you it will NEVER work. Ignore them! Only you and your spouse know what is best for you. Let the haters hate.

10. If it isn’t working then change. Working together isn’t for everyone. If you get six months in and want to kill one another then change your plans. Your marriage should always be your number one priority. Either you need to change the structure of your work from home plans or you just need to stop working together. Don’t go through life hating each other just because you are stubborn and want to prove people wrong.

Ten Quotes That Inspire Me

17 Jun

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Go Big or Go Home

15 Jun

Texas Sunflower

The Start of Our Normal

9 Apr


May of 2011


I sat in the sterile community college classroom watching yet another movie as the professor sat there, likely on her Facebook page liking posts about kittens and browsing Buzzfeed. What made this Tuesday morning even more unbearable was the fact that my three year old son and two year old daughter were sick and at the sitters. If I missed another psychology class this semester I would fail it due to attendance. I could watch the movie from HOME with my sick babies by my side instead of with someone who WASN’T their mom. But, alas, I was here paying thousands of dollars for this class and hundreds of dollars on a textbook I had yet to open.

I am a pretty even mannered person. A stereotypical Libra. But, something inside me that day, call it a mothers instinct, caused me to stand up and walk right out of that classroom without a word to anyone. I could feel the burning stares in the back of my head as I walked out and let the door slam behind me. I walked down the hall, picked up pace across the courtyard and took a deep breath as I entered the bookstore’s building. I wanted to sell back the $250 book that had been serving as a literal weight on my shoulders the past few months.

I took the book out of my backpack with shaking hands and asked how much they would give me for this brand new book that I had paid $250 for mere months before. Their response? NOTHING. They could give me NOTHING for that brick that had been weighing my life down…and they could give me $15 for the other $650 in books I got that semester. I was baffled and speechless. I was counting on that money back. I had two kids in diapers. My husband made minimum wage. I had just dropped out of college in an instant impulsive way. I NEEDED that money.

I walked to my car with the gas tank dangerously close to that dreaded red line. I had no money to fill it so I was praying I would make it home. I tossed the apparent fire kindling into the backseat and I cried….and cried…and cried.

When I got home I felt like a kid confessing doing something really stupid to their parents. My husband listened to me with odd composure. To this day I don’t know why he remained so calm. I told him I would figure it all out. I would find some way to make us some money so we could pay the bills that month and the next month I would figure out a way again. I hugged my kids tight and went to the car to get those heavy books, the bitter reminder of my failures at school. The reminders that I was clearly going to become another teen mom statistic.

I brought the books inside, dropped them onto the kitchen table and, I am not sure why, but I decided to look up those books on Amazon. I don’t remember if I was angry and wanted to somehow prove to myself that they had value. Maybe I wanted to torture myself. I don’t know. But, as I looked up the books I slowly began to calm down. A few were worth nearly what I paid for them. But I had no clue how to sell anything online and it was probably well above my skill level.

I sat up the entire night reading every single free resource I could find about selling on Amazon. I joined Facebook groups, I watched YouTube videos, I read the Amazon Sellers Handbook cover to cover. As the sun rose the next morning I had bags under my eyes, but I had also listed sixteen books for sale on Amazon. And by the time the world had woken up I had two sales totaling $35 dollars. Enough to fill my gas tank.

Fast forward two weeks.

I had read even more blogs and had even learned how to ship the items I sold. I made a grand total of $650 off those textbooks and a few books we had at home. I was starting to wonder if I could make this an actual business. We used that $650 to purchase some bookshelves and a huge lot of books we found on Craigslist. We were still very clueless, but decided we were going to go all in and try to make this work. I spent weeks in our dusty garage looking up every last book we got. I spent another week listing them and organizing them by title on the shelving in our basement.

It was working. I was starting to make money. At the age of 22 I was telling people I owned my very first business, Lizzy’s Learning Corner.

That was almost three years ago.

In those three years I changed my business name, moved out of the garage and into a warehouse space. I don’t even sell books anymore. Selling books was boring to me. I eventually branched out into brand new toys and games and much of my inventory is now stored at Amazon’s warehouses. I branched out to start selling on eBay and eventually Etsy.

This business that started out as a desperate attempt to fill my gas tank and restore some pride has turned into my life, and in February of 2013 my husband left his nearly minimum wage job and made the business his life, too. At the age of 25 I can now confidently say I work for myself.

And, the biggest perk? When my kids are sick I get to be at home with them and don’t run the risk of failing a class or getting fired from a minimum wage job.

This is my barely vintage life, and I am excited to share my journey.

Horrible Bosses, Horrible Customers and Horrible Luck

9 Nov

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. At least that’s true according to Winston Churchill. I hope he is right.

You learn a lot about yourself and others when you run a business. For example, I have learned that I am a terrible boss. And I mean TERRIBLE. I am the controlling, overbearing, micro managing, perfectionist boss that people have nightmares about. If something isn’t done my way then it isn’t done right. My poor, poor husband.

I have also learned that I am a fantastic customer. I give businesses the benefit of the doubt. I give them chances to fix things and make them right. I am a very patient customer. When you are on the business end of things you appreciate customers like me. I’m tired of rude customers. They have a tendency to be on power trips and take their life’s anger out on poor, unsuspecting businesses. Me.

Today is one of the days where I wonder if I am crazy or if I am just going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Between a crazy eBay customer, a very unforgiving Amazon customer, stupid feedback rules and one mistake that was admittedly 100 percent my fault I am starting to think I am crazy, not successful.

To shamelessly quote Mr Churchill again, he would sit me down right now and tell me “If you are going to go through hell, keep going.” and I would nod my head in silence because I would be starstruck that he was giving me advice.

Tomorrow is a new day of challenges and a new day of failures. I’m going to consider failure as life tuition. Failure gives me strength and it teaches me what not to do….right? Right!

Later days blog world.

Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Time

31 Oct

The beauty of working for yourself is that the possibilities are endless. In the past couple of years I have learned that it is smart to not have all your eggs in one basket. Crucial even. When all of your eggs are in one basket you are setting yourself up for stress and likely even failure. What if your basket gets knocked over or raided by egg eating dinosaurs? Your business will fail.

It is a huge stress relief to not have to rely on just one stream of income. Currently Tom and I have four sources of income that will hopefully grow in the next twelve months to more like ten sources of income. It is such a relief to know that if, god forbid, Amazon we’re to close our account we would still be able to put food on the table for our family.

Amazon is currently our largest source of income and that is because it is the most viable option given our time constraints. The kids are only at the sitter two days a week which severely impacts our ability to expand. Tom working 48 hours a week at his primary job definitely doesn’t help the time issue.

It has been an incredibly difficult balancing act for us. We want to give every business the time and energy that they deserve, that they need, but time is the big killer for us. It is a work in progress and hopefully something that we learn to adapt to. Working for yourself is just that, WORK. It often involves 16 hour days and 7 day work weeks. It involves organization, accountability and the ability to wear 100 different hats at the same time. Accountant, secretary, sales, tech, customer service, and in my case wife, mommy, maid and chef too.

There is no magic formula as to which venues you should go into. People have varying success in all of them. Look at all of your options and figure out which of them fits in with your business plan. I have been brainstorming future arbitrage opportunities:

My own website
An ebook
Traditional employment
Craft fairs

To name a few.

What are your strengths? Where do you see your business going? What will make you happy at the end of the day? What will be worth your time to do?

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