Have an idea you’re itching to implement? Lay the groundwork first before becoming an entrepreneur.
Parenting seems to be full of problems and challenges that are just begging to be addressed with the next clever invention. I don’t know a parent out there who hasn’t thought (or said), “If only this existed … ” Personally, I struggled with getting my daughter to transition off a baby bottle to a sippy cup, and that’s why I created the Lollacup.
When my daughter was 9 months old, my pediatrician suggested weaning her directly to a straw instead of a traditional sippy cup. I purchased several toddler straw cups but realized my daughter couldn’t get a sip out of any of them because of the spill-proof valves. Inspired, I set out to create a stylish, U.S.-made sippy cup with a valve-free straw and weighted end so that children could drink [with ease] from the straw at any angle—and Lollacup was born.
It’s now been five years since my husband and I sold and shipped our first Lollacup, and we’ve made so many mistakes, had many victories (we appeared on Shark Tank and received funding from Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec!), and still encounter what seem to be insurmountable challenges almost weekly. However, launching a business has been one of the most gratifying and rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Whether you plan to launch a business in consumer products or a service-related business, these are some crucial steps to take before becoming an entrepreneur.
1. Talk to as many people as you can and take copious notes. One thing I didn’t do enough of before I launched my business was reach out to other mompreneurs and entrepreneurs. You’d be surprised how generous people can be about sharing advice and wisdom. Don’t forget to take copious notes during or after any pithy conversations. As a mompreneur, you may have to take phone calls while changing diapers or fixing a snack. You don’t want to forget any important advice, because of mommy brain or simply being pulled in too many directions. I like to email myself a recap of every conversation so I have important notes recorded on a platform that is searchable.
2. Write a business plan or something like one. When you’re trying to hustle and get your business up and running, sitting down to write a business plan can seem counter-productive. For me, writing a solid business plan in the early stages saved me time and energy in the long run. It gave me focus and helped me outline my goals and timelines, and it opened many doors. One of the factories I had visited early on told me that they get “inventors” walking through their doors on a daily basis. The only reason they decided to take on manufacturing my project was because I was the only “inventor” to walk through their doors with a solid business plan. Also, having a business plan in place helped secure my first business loan.
3. Secure more funding than you think you’ll need. This is easier said than done, but make sure you have plenty of money prior to launching your business. Understanding how much you’ll need is challenging, but whatever number you come up with, try and secure a lot more. For me, the most painful setback was getting to market, creating a demand and then not being able to fund and capitalize on that demand, simply because we had run out of money.
4. Forget multitasking and segment your time instead. Juggling motherhood and a business is extremely challenging. Know your limits and don’t try and do it all, especially all at the same time. For years, I would “help” my daughters with their homework while cooking dinner and posting on Lollaland’s Instagram page. It wasn’t until I saw their grades slipping that I realized multitasking wasn’t working anymore. Now, I try my hardest to focus on one task at a time. Making this change has made a positive difference for my children and me. When I was multitasking every minute of the day, I was feeling like a terrible mother with a failing business, but segmenting my days has helped me feel less frenzied and more accomplished.
5. Be ready to persevere. Has anyone ever told you that you don’t know the meaning of sleep deprivation until you’ve had a child? Well, you won’t know the definition of perseverance until you’ve become an entrepreneur. During our first year of business, one of the steel molds required to manufacture our flagship product broke and required six months of repair time. I was almost certain that not being able to sell one Lollacup for half a year was going to be the end of the business, but only through perseverance did we survive that major setback. It seems like an exaggeration, but entrepreneurship is truly filled with challenges of that size all the time. Being prepared for the worst and having the will to persevere will help you succeed.
Courtesy of Hanna Lim
_ Hanna Lim is the mother of three daughters and co-founder and president of Lollaland. Prior to creating the Lollacup, Hanna received her master’s degree in education at UCLA and worked as a high school chemistry teacher. In her spare time, she is active in several parenting groups, serves on the board of the Wellesley College Club of Pasadena and is a volunteer board member of Kidspace Museum’s Circle of Friends._
Written by Hanna Lim for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.