How many times do we start out down a path in life, only to discover it isn’t the true path we wanted in the first place?
I’ve done that a number of times. I went to college and got a degree in business not because I wanted it, but because it would put me on the right track for a good job. I fell into a banking job, a government job, and finally an auditing job not because I liked the work and enjoyed the concepts, but because after dozens of applications and a few “pulled strings”, they paid well and had great benefits.
“Who leaves a job like that?” was the only thing I heard over and over again when I finally handed in my two weeks notice and decided to forge my own way.
Because I realized something at the age of 33 that very few people realize at any point in their lives: it isn’t a dream job unless its YOUR dream.
When I was first introduced to Julie Busha’s concept, I knew I found a kindred soul when I read her comment:
“As much as I loved my job and clients, I just wasn’t fulfilled and I knew I could be doing something more.”
Before taking the leap of faith to become an entrepreneur, I worked in marketing for over a decade in the male-dominated NASCAR industry. In my late-20’s, I was charged with building the company for and serving as Director of Marketing for a sports marketing agency owned by one of the professional drivers in the sport.
As much as I loved my job and clients, I just wasn’t fulfilled and I knew I could be doing something more. Plus, even though I was happily married for 12 years, I’d made sacrifices when it came to family. I knew had could never continue to spend 20 weekends a year on the road; such a life wouldn’t be conducive to starting a family later in life.
In late 2011, I decided to change gears, and I launched an innovative product called Slawsa (a primarily cabbage-based relish) to the mainstream grocery market. Within two years of launch, we earned placement in over 5,000 retailers, from the likes of Kroger & Walmart, all the way to gourmet stores and butcher shops.
In an industry based on low margins and high volumes, most food businesses fail, and the ones that do survive usually take many years to turn a profit. It’s a high risk proposition to launch an unknown product, working solely off of profits, and fight for shelf space among the major manufacturers that spend millions annually on marketing.
Julie’s a-Ha Moment:
I think I receive that a-ha moment in little ways on a daily basis that invigorates my drive that much more.
- It could be an email from a total stranger who took time out of his day to write in and tell us how much he loves Slawsa.
- It could be a surprise tweet or post from an influencer in the industry (like Hungry Girl’s Lisa Lillien) professing her love for our product.
Every time I sit down with a buyer and they want to carry Slawsa, it makes me pinch myself. I haven’t had the big a-ha moment … just all the little ones that have really added up.
Takeaways For You To Follow:
If I could share one piece of advice to other women considering a move into the entrepreneurial world it would be to tell women to take that leap of faith; dive into the deep end. You may be afraid that you don’t have all of the answers in this new industry, but you learn to tread water quickly out of necessity. And before you know it, you’re swimming.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of those who have been in your shoes. I often find that entrepreneurs genuinely want to help each other, and every answered question could help you avoid some costly mistakes early on.
Finally, do everything you can now to financially prepare yourself to make those sacrifices down the road as you are in startup phase. We lived below our means for many years; that gave me my safety net when I knew it was time to take that leap. You’ll never grow your new business as quickly as you think you will in those first several years, so being prepared financially will allow you to focus on the business, not the money.