Entrepreneur

Fridays with Dr. Glass: Overcoming Obstacles as an Entrepreneur

Santresa L. Glass

(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

Instagram: @magnoliassweethaven

Twitter: @magsweethaven

Facebook: Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc.

Instagram: @cheesecakeforthecure

Twitter: @cheesecake4cure

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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What Makes an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur

How do you know if you’re fit to become an entrepreneur? Do you see sparks of creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility and leadership in yourself? More importantly, do others see those things inside of you? Those are some of the common qualities seen in the best entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Insights

Successful business people who started as entrepreneurs arrive at their aha moment at various moments in their career. Some are young, others are older, and they differ in income levels, gender, race and many more facets. Entrepreneurs may have different levels of education and business experience. Having self-confidence, determination, leadership and passion can make all the difference in a startup.

Maybe you’ve been working in business for a while and are feeling ready to branch out on your own. You’ve got a few teammates to join you, the work space is available and the team already has a few clients eager to see work. What’s next?

Get Mobile

You might consider equipping your team with synched mobile devices for contact, coordination and collaboration. An increasing number of great things are being written about the new cell phones from BlackBerry. The company’s Q10 and Z10 models offer NFC purchasing compatibility, thanks to an agreement with Visa earlier in the year. Plus, the two models offer tailored keypad options for users. The Q10 offers the traditional exterior keypad for heavy typers and texters, while the Z10 model’s keypad is built into the software.

Recognizing Inner Talent

Some of the world’s most effective entrepreneurs may not have recognized the traits that would hold them in good stead later. At the early stage of a new business, entrepreneurs need to wear many hats, including chief organizer, top producer, best salesperson and most excellent marketer.

Experts have studied what separates entrepreneurs from common working professionals.  The following is a glimpse of their findings.

  • Self-confidence: This characteristic of business and life isn’t just something that comes naturally. It’s a by-product of thorough planning, which experts say reduces risk and uncertainty for decision-making. Having great knowledge or zeal for a topic also helps to increase self-confidence for entrepreneurs.
  • Passion: This quality called passion is what spurs everyone forward toward a common goal. Can a team grab hold of an entrepreneur’s excitement and find the ability to follow its path and vision? Great passion helps a team get focused and stay there.
  • Great instincts: Entrepreneurial leaders all seem to possess great instincts. Using common sense, matching it with knowledge and passion, and experience gained along the way via school, friendships and work stints can all help build great instincts.
  • Leadership: Hundreds of books have been written about leadership over the years. Resolving an exact definition of leadership for entrepreneurs isn’t easy. Forbes tries to offer a strong definition, but this definition may not satisfy all entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to make rules, stick to them, and follow through to reach goals. That’s leadership.
  • Determination: Achieving success comes naturally to many entrepreneurs. What gives them the drive to succeed is determination. Combining persistence, vision, money and determination ultimately leads to success.

Every entrepreneur has one or more of these qualities; he or she uses them in different degrees to achieve diverse goals.  In America, we must do what it takes to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Women and Business Challenges

Women in Leadership

You can launch 1,000 clichés about women in business, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re hardwired to be caretakers. Does that mean they cannot be great leaders? Of course not! Women have to properly navigate the fine line between mothering and smothering. There’s mothering: teaching skills, setting up the company for success, being tough when it’s necessary. Then, there’s smothering: doing it all yourself, wrapping everyone else in proverbial bubble-wrap and taking all the stress and all the consequences upon yourself.

You don’t want to devolve into a caveman, using brute force and intimidation, but you also cannot be soft as a marshmallow. If you’re a successful and benevolent leader, when you do exercise tough love, it will be all the more powerful and effective.

Contractors

It’s probably in your nature to hear problems or excuses and respond with soothing encouragement. If you’re working with a contractor, don’t fall prey to this instinct. Enter into projects with clear expectations and deadlines. Hold service providers responsible for their end of the bargain. Never (okay, almost never) pay in full up front. If you have an issue with the work, document it in writing. If construction or contractor services go wrong, even just off-schedule, it can cost your business time, energy, stress and money. Unless you’ve thoroughly documented everything, it will be hard to seek damages or any other sort of reparation. When it comes to contractors assume the worst — that if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile — so you can achieve the best possible outcome.

Business Partners

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with service providers and business partners, especially if you have a significant amount of purchasing power. Keeping good records, making concise requests and paying your bills on time (or early) will keep you in their good graces. By being a good customer, you’ll earn the credibility to ask for a rush shipment or special favors from time to time. If something isn’t as promised, give them the chance to correct it. If it’s a one-shot deal, like a rush printing job for a major meeting, tell your provider that it’s a high-stakes job. Give the provider an opportunity to wow you. If you’re using a Plum Card from American Express to pay vendors, you’ll have the added benefit of purchase protection, just like a personal card, which can take a big load off your plate.

Customers

It’s a catchy saying: “The customer is always right.” It’s less catchy to say, “Most customers are right, but some customers are users and not worth having at all.” The latter, however, is closer to the truth. In every industry there will be customers who take you for granted. They’ll want to take advantage of a tiny misprint in an ad or return an item that’s been used until it’s nearly unrecognizable. Customers that are leeches are generally not worth having, but it’ll be up to you (the leader) to identify and deal with them. Asking your entry or lower level associates to do so could end in disaster.  

Employees

No great leader I can think of wakes up saying, “Wow, if I can scream at someone it would really make today fantastic.” Likewise, no employee walks into work thinking, “Gee, getting a verbal lashing today would really improve my morale.” Identify what is non-negotiable in your office and have clear job descriptions. Find areas where there’s a little room for interpretation or flexibility. Be clear with employees on firm and soft rules. When someone transgresses on a hard and fast rule, correct it immediately. If it isn’t addressed quickly, the employee might think it’s not such a big deal and escalate the behavior.

Women should never feel they are any less prepared and suited to be business leaders than men.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Georgia’s New Cottage Food Regulation: An Interview from the Field

Georgia Cottage Food Law

Revolutionary Paideia had the pleasure of interviewing Santresa Glass, owner of Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC, about Georgia’s new Cottage Food Regulation.  She was asked questions about her small business and how the new Cottage Food Regulation impacts her small business.  Below you will find the details of this interview.

1.      Please describe your small business and what goods and/or services you offer.

Sure, and let me first start by saying thank you for the extension of an opportunity to shed a little more light on small business, specifically in the dessert industry as well as the currently implemented (as of September 2012) Cottage Food Regulation.  I am the owner of Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC, a small, delivery only sweets boutique in Atlanta, GA that encompasses the “farm to batter approach.”  I specialize in individual portioned cheesecakes, chocolate covered strawberries, traditional and wine infused cupcakes as well as dessert tables and candy buffets.  We are committed to environmentally friendly business practices, from our natural brown boxes/packaging that are uncoated with fibers used from the Sustainable Forestry Initiatives lumber to our eco-friendly labels, printer ink, office supplies and more.  Baking “green” affects more than just the cost of our scratch made goods.  Our cupcakes and cheesecakes have a deeper, more defined flavor because of the use of local, fresh, and organic ingredients (when available).  Our vessels and displays on our dessert tables are also purchased locally and offer a variety of recycled and upcyled jars, bottles, cake stands, and the like.

2.      What is your understanding of what the Cottage Food Regulation does?

First, let me give credit to home baker, Sara Rylander, for pioneering and advocating for a Cottage Food Regulation in the state of Georgia.  There IS power in social media.  The Cottage Food Regulation allows for individuals to make baked goods such as cakes, pastries, jams, breads, and other confections (please reference links below for specific goods) inside of their home kitchens.  Upon review of the registration application and passing of a preoperational inspection, individuals will then be licensed for food sales operations only.  There are some variances from county to county in the state of Georgia; however, everyone must submit an application for review as well as pass the inspection of their home kitchen.

3.      What impact, if any, will the Cottage Food Regulation have on your small business?

The Cottage Food Regulation has a profound impact on my small, delivery only sweets boutique.  First, let me start with the bottom line.  Renting commercial kitchen space is expensive overhead, yet necessary for business licensing as well as food and safety hazards for my clients.  I have to continue to rent commercial kitchen space because I sell individual portioned cheesecakes and chocolate covered strawberries; however, one of the benefits of the Cottage Food Regulation is the ability for the home baker to become an entrepreneur or for the individuals that are always preparing the baked goods for family and school functions to become small business owners.  Outgoing funds that were formerly delegated towards rental fees can be dedicated towards the purchase of more ingredients for recipe testing and home kitchen equipment that enhances their baking needs.

4.      What advice can you give to those wishing to start a small business and those who have existing small businesses about becoming successful and staying successful?

Passion and education are essential elements in starting a small business within any respective industry.  Yes, one is to do what he or she loves; however, in wanting the money to follow, hard work, consistency, and growth become necessary.  Being successful is an ultimate goal of small business entrepreneurs.  I have coined an R & B approach to business.  R- Refresh old clients with new and innovative flavors and/or dessert table construction and B- Build relationships with old clients and seek others with new consumers, build your entrepreneurial empire, build up other small business owners with support, and build through the local community by giving back.

Santresa Glass can be found below at the listed social media locations, and be sure to gain more knowledge about Georgia’s new Cottage Food Regulation from the links listed after her social media locations:

www.twitter.com/magsweethaven

www.facebook.com/magnoliassweethaven

www.pamperedsweettooth.com

Resourceful Links on Cottage Food Regulation in Georgia

Georgia’s Pioneer Sara Rylander

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/stay-home-mom-gets-law-changed-start-cake-business/nSGgX/

Sara Rylander’s Story

http://www.change.org/petitions/georgia-state-legislature-enact-a-cottage-food-law-in-the-state-of-georgia

Starting a Cottage Food Business

http://agr.georgia.gov//Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/startingacottagefoodbusinessbrochure.pdf

Rules of Cottage Food Regulations

http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodregulations.pdf

Cottage Food: Frequently Asked Question

http://agr.georgia.gov//Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodsfaq.pdf

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Take Some Risks

At some point in your life, you have to take some risks.  It is important to understand that we are all going to experience failure—it’s an inevitable and valuable dimension of life.  Your focus should not be on failure but on the lessons learned from failure.  One cannot allow his or her mind to become so consumed with a fear of failure that he or she never is unwilling to muster the courage to take a risk.  In no way am I advocating for you to take risks each day.  I am, however, encouraging you to be willing to step out of your comfort zone from time to time and have an openness to try something new, try something that you cannot be certain is going to turn out to be successful.

If you want to move to the next level of success in your life, then you cannot simply sit around and allow doubt to dominate your psyche.  You will not be able to experience the fullness of life by simply playing it safe.  Life has much more to offer you when experience some things you would not normally do.  Many people miss out on life-changing opportunities because they approach most things from “I cannot do it” and “it won’t work” mindsets.  You will never be able to be as successful as you can be when you approach most things with little faith.  When you give yourself more opportunities to experience success, even if you fail in the process, you increase your confidence in your ability to execute tasks successfully; that is, you increase your self-efficacy.

We can all learn from the examples that entrepreneurs provide us each day.  Entrepreneurs take risks every day—they have to take them.  All of our great national and international corporations started from a strong belief in the power of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Prominent national and international corporations were founded by individuals who had enough courage to not allow a fear of failure to stop them from walking into what is possible.  Many lesser known small business owners have just as much or more faith in themselves to take risks than the more well-known entrepreneurs that founded major corporations.  These people understand that having a successful business in a capitalist system requires you to take some risks.  If you are to be truly successful in a capitalist system, you are going to have to realize that from time to time you must take risks.

Even if you characterize yourself as “not a risk-taker,” don’t allow labels to prevent you from making moves that can significantly benefit you and your family.  We often use labels as vehicles for hiding our fear of failure.  As we strive to grow into more successful and wiser people, we have to confront our fear of failure more directly.  Having a strong fear of failure can cause you to coast through life instead of truly experiencing it.

I am going to be honest with you and tell you that confronting your fear of failure can be quite unsettling.  When you begin to wrestle critically with your fear of failure, you begin to understand some ugly truths about yourself that you would rather bury than bring them to the surface to work to improve them.  Don’t be afraid of your ugly truths—work to ameliorate the ugly truths that emerge from your critical self-examination of your fear of failure.  As long as you continue to live, you are going to fail.  Therefore, you should not allow a fear of failure to hinder you from experiencing the success you can enjoy in life.  Muster the courage to be the best you can be.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison