The story of the origin of my business will be familiar to many entrepreneurs: I was tired of my full-time job and had an idea I couldn’t let go of. At the time, I was working for a design company and I was frustrated because everything we sold was so expensive. I had a glimpse of luxury quality home items at a more affordable price and the spark of Inglenook Marketplace was born.
I created a website and started filling it with products, sending handmade candles from my Brooklyn apartment and sending a select selection of products that I bought wholesale from other brands. I got to a point where I wanted to quit my current job because I wasn’t paid enough, but I wasn’t ready to pursue my business, so I was interviewed for a new full-time position. My brand started to grow side by side, and each week I received more orders than I would fulfill on nights and weekends. Once again, I quit my current job for lack of growth opportunities, but started another for fear of losing the stability of a salary. Meanwhile, my vision of my business was growing, and I had my first store in a small town in New York State, I only opened it on the weekends and went during the week to my full-time job in the city.
Finally, almost five years after starting my next company, I chose to stop working for other people and give it my all in 2019. And I’m so glad I did. Today we are doing better than ever, with a new store in a bigger city, a thriving e-commerce and white label wholesale business and a brand so beloved that we have recently been voted the best candle maker in the world. Hudson Valley.
Somehow, I think that time spent slowly developing my business side by side was critical to today’s success. But I often wish I had believed in my idea and made the leap before. Here are some of the ways it helped me build my business alongside, and some of the ways I held back along the way.
How to build my business side by side helped me succeed
I got my income at a stable point
The biggest advantage of building my business next door was getting my finances to a more stable place.
When I started Inglenook Marketplace, my life (and my bank account) seemed very different. I lived in Brooklyn, where the cost of living was extremely high, and I was relatively young in my career, so I had no savings to rely on. If I had gone full time from the beginning, I would have needed my business to start making significant money immediately (which is a challenge for any company that needs to grow a customer base, but especially for one with as much overhead as a product-based company), I had to compromise my vision to do it sooner, or I was stressed by finances all the time and probably quickly gave up my dream.
In just a few years of growing my business side by side, all that changed drastically. I had moved to a smaller (cheaper) city in upstate New York and was shuffling as much of my salary in savings as possible so I had a nest to lean on in case of financial surprises. . During this time, the company also had time to grow organically to the point that it had enough sales each week for the company to pay for itself, giving me space to spend my energy building my brand instead of stress me out to pass.
I got clients to reinforce my vision
If money was the main indicator that my business was ready for my full attention, customers were my main motivator to make it a reality.
If I hadn’t received the response I had when I opened my store, maybe I’m still working full time to this day. Instead, hearing customers come in and say the store smelled amazing validated that he was making a good product. Comments like “this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen” made me feel like I was giving joy to people’s lives. And regular customers made it clear that I was covering a need in this small town where there were almost no other shops.
Obviously, having customers who love what you do is an important aspect of an economically stable business. But more than that, the positive reinforcement kept me going when things got tough. Not everything about running a business is fun, but even when I’m placing orders or filing my taxes, I don’t care because I know who I’m doing it for. When COVID arrived and most stores had to close, I turned our stock over to provide essential products, both so that the business could survive, and so that I could be there for those customers who cared so much about me. . If I had gone full time to my business without existing clients, I don’t know what would have taken me to the ups and downs.
I had time to refine the product and the customer experience
Developing my business slowly also helped me refine the product and the customer experience so I could feel confident that people would keep coming back. Of course, I could have perfected the customer experience even if I had gone to my business immediately full time. But doing so takes time, and I had time by my side thanks to my salaried jobs.
I was able to try things out, see what the answer was, and adjust my focus until I did well without feeling too stressed to perfect things quickly. I could start developing relationships with my clients and get information about what they want. I took classes and spent time researching all the business knowledge I needed to get things up and running. I even gained a lot of knowledge from my full time job: working for design companies taught me so much about branding and marketing that I went back to my business.
When I got into everything, I really knew my client and what I wanted, I had simplified processes and was constantly getting and creating beautiful, high quality products.
Why I wish I had done everything before
In short, all these things were true well before taking the leap and leaving my job full time. Even when I was interviewing for my last position, I had dedicated clients who loved my product, and I was contributing enough of my business to support myself and myself.
At the time, fear and lack of self-confidence were the only barriers that prevented me from fully investing in my business. There was the fear of leaving behind a stable salary; I had a hard time believing that I could really keep up with my company, even though the numbers said otherwise. There was the fear of believing in my own vision, even though so many clients had reinforced it. And there was the lack of belief that he could build a thriving business, even though he had already achieved so much success.
So I took another full-time job, which was difficult for me and the business. Juggling my daily work and my ever-growing business made me miss customer calls and prevented me from receiving orders on time. These are customers who will probably never return because they had such a strange experience in the beginning. It was also frustrating to have such limited hours in my physical store, reducing the chances that new customers would have to discover the store. But more than anything, my heart was in my business, and it was emotionally difficult to deal with the frustrations in my daily work.
I wish I had been more pragmatic in figuring out what the company needed to do to meet my needs (with a bit of leeway) and quit my job as soon as I got to that threshold. Instead, I had to wait until I grew my own confidence.
A few things have helped me turn the script upside down there. One was that I started dating my partner, who was my big fan. I have never had anyone support me like him. Finding just one person who believes in you can mean so much to the whole world.
By that time, my dad also died at a relatively young age and lit something up for me. I thought about much of their lives that my parents spent being unhappy working for other people and how I was currently trapped in the same pattern. In the meantime, I continued to face obstacles when trying to advance or share my ideas in my full-time role.
Finally, one day I woke up and thought, “I don’t do it anymore. No one will control my future and tell me I can’t be something else, and it will put a limit on my career. ”And I decided to start believing in myself.
And since that day, I’ve been there.
Finally, one day I woke up and thought, “I don’t do it anymore. No one will control my future and tell me I can’t be anything else, and it will put a limit on my career. “And I decided to start believing in myself. Heatherlyn Nelson, founder of Inglenook Marketplace