Here is a taste of what this post will be...
My 3rd business was "The Capelli Club".
It was the first business that required a professional commercial location.
That was a lot to take on as a 26 year old (in 2010/2011). So it makes a lot of sense that my first big project was based within the Beauty/Salon world. My experience within the industry and the unique aspects I was bringing to the industry is what secured the funding for the start-up!
But, that is when the commercial property and City of Ottawa education began! Had it not been for my industry experience, resilience and quickly developed lady-balls of steal - - my doors would have been close by the 6th month! No Joke!
Some people choose to start a small business to fulfill their passions, some just can't do the 9-5 for one more day and others may even contemplate the idea out of necessity because they’ve gotta do something to make extra money to help the family. Then there are the ones who want to do more than just make their own money. They are the ones we call entrepreneurs, and those ones are driven by a special internal desire to build a legacy. Entrepreneurs focus on building processes, procedures and automation.
Whatever your reasons are, it is important to take a good hard look at the realities and what it REALLY means to start a business and to run a business. There is a very ugly side to business and you'll most likely age a bit over your first 5 years. Yikes!(TIP: Sileca Gel, Trust me!)
Those same people who want to "Be My Own Boss" and buy cups and binders with "GirlBoss" or “Entrepreneur Life” written all over them (you know those ones, the passion-driven, freedom-seeking ones that started their journey filled with courage and optimism) often become some of the most rushed, busy, stressed and financially burdened people out there.
Yes you get to create your own wealth, and yes many days you have some flexibility with your schedule, but the other side is that you are also solely responsible for creating your own wealth, and flexibly in schedule can often sound like this --"Yes I can work from 6:00am to 1:00pm, get in my car and pick up our sick kid from school, make them some soup and put them to bed for the afternoon, but then I'm back at work from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am...only to start all over the very next morning. Did I eat today, I can't remember".
The self-employed and especially the entrepreneurs out there, live for the flexibility and forfeit the entitled scheduled breaks and 2 weeks vacation each year.
(Chew on that for a minute).
That’s right. With flexibility comes great responsibility...and longer hours, and everyone else thinking you are available at the drop of a hat, etc etc. You just gave up working 37.5 hours for someone else, to work 80 hours for yourself (and all with very little regard from others who just don't get it).
While you are starting a small business you may feel as though you are hitting roadblock after roadblock. Your mind and your time will be occupied with things like: taxes and regulations, employee hiring and firing, labour board compliance and many other human resource items, often little or no working capital, permits, city and province/state regulations, bookkeeping, inventory issues, low revenues, increases in the cost of living, etc. When people say to you, just do this on your “free time” or why not over “the weekend?", you may look at them as though they have two heads. "I don't have free time" you may just yell out one day. And the term "weekend" will no longer apply.
And with all this going on, you must find it in yourself to ensure your cash-flow is being managed and your customers are being given the golden treatment. You may find yourself becoming, as Tony Soprano puts it, "The sad clown". Laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside.
Oh ya, then there is the emotional turmoil that comes with modern day extortion and the many poorly regulated "review" platforms. Oh my.
So by this point you are saying, "Wow thanks Cris for all the doom and gloom, why on earth would I want to start my own business now?"
Just remember, I said to you it is important to take a good hard look at the realities and what it REALLY means to start a business and to run a business. This is just an exercise, not a scare tactic. This exercise is laying out all types of problems, stresses and challenges so you can prepare and make a strategic plan to conquer and win! When you know what challenges lay before you, you can prepare yourself and succeed.
Can you imagine if the first time Tom Brady played as a quarterback, he dropped the ball and ran off the field because a linebacker was making their way for him. Sounds absolutely ridiculous right? Because it is. Yes a linebacker is big and strong, and if he hits Brady, he could really cause some damage. But Brady knows this. He has planned for this. He gets out there on the field and executes his mission. Has he had some bruises? Did he blow out his left knee in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs? He sure did. But overall, he has been an NFL Ironman because he works with his team and strategies the heck out of their games. Now you may not always agree with his "alleged strategies" but that’s a topic for another time. The point here is Plan, Protect and Play!
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so talk to local business owners. Reach out to some within similar industries on social media. Read. Read. Then read some more. Draw out your playing field and strategize how you will prepare for and deal with the inevitable things that regularly happen in business. Because once you do, all you have to worry about is playing the game. And playing this game is so much fun, not to mention it can come with all kinds of rewards for both you and your family.
I was no more than 9 years old when I first started sketching dress ideas. I still remember the first "dress" I made. It was constructed from a red and white checker quilting fabric (think traditional Italian restaurant) with a few pineapple images in every other checker box. I had found the fabric for a few dollars and was determined to turn it into my favourite Sunday dress.
I wasn't quite comfortable yet with our sewing machine, so I stitched it by hand. A waist band was fashioned and the fabric was gathered to create the flow of a skirt. Due to the simplicity of the design, I decided a white t-shirt under the "dress" would be best.
I do not recall if I wore this "masterpiece" more than once, but I clearly remember feeling proud and fabulous on one special Sunday occasion. My mother and grandmother entertained the idea and let me wear this craft of a dress! Could you ask for better support?!
Paris Hart Designs
By the time I was 15 years of age, my skills improved greatly and I was receiving contract inquiries. We didn't have a computer at home, so this was just another time I used the local library resources. There I made my very first letterhead. At that time I thought "Paris Hart Designs" would be an amazing name! Little did I know a different "Paris" was soon to explode all over the tabloids!
Paris Hart Designs officially started in January of 2002, was with me throughout high-school and was the name on my receipts when I issued invoices to my clients from school and from my part-time employment connections.
I entered the business fair at school and won second place during the business fair for my branding and business plan. I had launched a slipper collection with customizable options for my pretend clients.
When I reached University and was well into my first semester, an Italian professor insisted on calling me "Cristella".
My mother's maiden name is Bumbacco (Calabrese) and I was raised in a small Italian community. I didn't appreciate my heritage growing up, you just grow up surrounded by people, no one tells you they are Italian. No one says you are eating Italian food, it's just food.
It wasn't until I was an adolescent and began researching my hometown and grandparents, that I began to embrace my roots. When people asked me what I was, I rhymed off "French, Italian, Irish and Dutch, a quarter of each".
When it came to the arts, food and rich culture, the Italian part of me, yes that full-quarter, grew and grew and grew. Who knew an Italian class could hit me so hard.
Crystal Jean, became, "Cristella Gina". The name was founded in 2003 (replacing Paris Hart Designs) and it remains a special part of me, still showing up and influencing my branding today, Cristella Mac and Cristella Betty Ray.
I entered the workforce at the early age of 13, when my family faced a few financial set-backs after a big move to a new city.
I, like other girls my age, babysat and did odd jobs in the neighbourhood growing up. Like many young kids, our first jobs are usually for family members. You know how it goes, you babysit your younger cousins or wash dishes in your uncle's restaurant as soon as you are tall enough to reach the sink.
Grade eight, however, was a little different for me when compared to my peers. When I say I entered the workforce, I'm tempted to say "the real workforce" - - but I wouldn't want to belittle daycare and working for family as a kid--learning to work is important no matter how it comes to you. What I'm referring to is having to apply and convince a stranger to take a chance on you.
I reached my full height at 13 and even though I didn't wear makeup yet, I looked a bit older than my peers. When I spoke, this also caused people to believe I was older than I was for some reason as well. (I still remember, during my first month at the new elementary school, being scolded for not being in a teacher's meeting while I walked down the hall. No joke.) I never understood that since it is hard to hear yourself, but all this combined, I was given the opportunity to prove I had a solid work ethic and that I didn't have to be asked or shown twice. I was hired as a hostess at a local restaurant and was given a regular weekend shift. Yes that is right. That meant elementary school Monday to Friday and work both Saturday and Sunday ... at 13 years of age.
My mother, Jeannie, involved me in the family budget early on, we were a team! (Actually we still are a team). Debit and credit statements were a part of my day-to-day life. So it was easy for me, at the age of 13 to realize more deposits were needed in order for their family to make it through this transition period. Even though it was an odd schedule for an eighth grader, you do what you gotta do for the family.
I proudly contributed and saved my money. My mother constantly encouraged me to keep as much money as I could in the bank. I will never forget however, that December of 1998, when I surpassed $1000.00 in my Royal Bank Leo statement booklet (yes, it was a kid's account) and my mom said it would be a nice treat for me to buy myself something really special. I had been working hard and keeping this schedule for four months by that point and had only been spending money on family needed and school related items.
That navy blue designer turtleneck sweater will always hold a special place with me. Got it on an amazing sale too!".
Little side note. Today that $1000 dollars saved making minimum wage would be more like $2500 to give you an idea.