(Photo Courtesy of Santresa L. Glass)
What are some obstacles you have faced as an entrepreneur?
Money. Working in the food industry, specifically specializing in cheesecakes, and having a non-profit based on food, is not inexpensive. It takes money. One of the things I started doing was to attend wedding/bridal shows, inquiring with local events planners about being added to their preferred vendors’ list, going to small businesses (including gas stations) with samples of my baked confections to discuss potential wholesale contracts.
Support from the people I know. Believe it or not, some of those closest to me in kinship and former friendships were not the biggest supporters, and it hurt tremendously having the support of complete strangers as opposed to those I’ve know forever.
Revamping my business. Deciding to revamp my business structure in 2008 was extremely scary, but it is one of the best things I could have done for my brand. Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC will turn 11 years old next month (February), and it has become a go-to premier delivery-only bakery that specializes in cheesecakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, boozy berries, wine-infused and traditional flavored cupcakes, dessert tables as well as candy buffets. All of the aforementioned would not have been possible if I had not discontinued offering everything under the sun available for baked goods. I found my niche and I’ve benefited greatly from it.
Time. Time management is important to entrepreneurs because we often wear many hats (owner, human resources, public relations, and accountant). It is alright to schedule most things and create a healthy balance socially and professionally.
How did you overcome the barriers you have faced as an entrepreneur?
Different things work for different people, but without a doubt prayer and faith serve as the foundation of resolving any of the barriers I have overcome. Another way in which I have bulldozed barriers is learning how to take breaks . . . just to breathe. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we are so driven with a dogged determination we forget to just, well . . . be. I say this because I am extremely tough on myself; more than the normal “I’m my toughest critic” cliché.
What advice can you offer to current and future entrepreneurs about confronting challenges as an entrepreneur?
One of the first things I would like to say is NO success is EVER an individualistic act. No matter how “Type A” my dominant personality is and how creatively affluent I’ve become, I cannot and will not continue building an entrepreneurial empire by myself. In the areas where I can improve my strengths, I seek the advice of experts and professionals in said industries. In the areas where I excel, I have learned to delegate some of the responsibility to interns who are willing to learn and be students of their passions.
Another piece of advice I would give to entrepreneurs is learning to discern between genuine support and convenient support. All of us should have that small Cheerio circle of personal and professional people we can call on to seek advice or just rant. DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL! You will fail. We all need help and must be receptive to not only asking for it, but also progress through all of the nos—they will come.
Finally, work your asparagus off! Create opportunities for yourself, be a student of your passion, and fall in constant love every day with exactly what you love to do.
Many entrepreneurs’ dreams and aspirations are often doubted by numerous people. What advice can you offer to current and future entrepreneurs about dealing with naysayers?
*laughing boisterously* Would you like a response from Dr. Glass or San? Listen carefully, an entrepreneur cannot allow unsupportive individuals, whether it be family, friends, or associates, to deter him or her from doing EPIC things. It all starts with you, the individual. Tenacity, a tough skin, reception to constructive criticism, and hard work should stem from the motivation of what naysayers have to say about another’s dreams and aspirations.
Stay Connected to Dr. Glass . . .
Facebook: Magnolia’s Sweet Haven
Facebook: Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison