Since I was a little girl, I wanted to start my own business. I grew up hearing stories about the various business ventures my Grandfathers had embarked upon and always admired the risks they took starting their own businesses. After spending almost a decade in the corporate world, the constant travel and pressure to succeed in corporate America really wore on me. I loved my job, but I did not feel quite fulfilled or that the career would be possible to maintain while also starting a family. I spent over a year concepting Mylkbar after looking at different franchise businesses (spas, fitness centers, etc) that just did not seem to be a good fit. Nobody was broadly offering a nontoxic approach to nails and self care, so I decided to start Mylkbar.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Recruiting employees and establishing processes were both huge hurdles. The job market in Charleston is very competitive and I work really hard to recruit, and maintain, talent. Coming from a background where I sold Human Capital Management software for Oracle, I understand that employees are your biggest asset and expense. Finding passionate, capable, and reliable people is critical to success. It also took about 180 days to streamline our processes within the business. The first few months, quite frankly, were really tough. It takes a lot of trial and error to establish processes that can be learned, and correctly executed, by everyone on the team.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Of course I did! When we started the build out of Mylkbar, I had given birth just four days prior. My friends and family thought I was absolutely nuts for starting the business during that time frame, but I was still working and wanted to take advantage of my maternity leave as a time to focus on opening the business. We also were in the process of finishing up building our home during early 2017, so things were very stressful and I did not get much sleep.
In hindsight, I would not have started a business during a time period with this much change in my life. I do not regret it because it all worked out, but I certainly missed out on that quiet time most mothers get the first few months after the birth of a baby. Thankfully I have an awesome, and supportive, husband who cheers me on every step of the way.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My career experience working for several Fortune 500 companies and a couple Silicon Valley start-ups. The work weeks in my past jobs were a grind and I would often have to leave town for a week at a time. Being accustomed to long work weeks, and the demands of constantly being in touch with customers, teammates, and superiors, helped prepare me.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I really wore myself out in the beginning trying to do "all the things"... When you start a business, the most important thing is that you are focused on sustainable growth of your brand, nurturing your team, and getting enough sleep for yourself! Those things alone take up inordinate amounts of time. I wish I had been more respectful of my own time and not wasted so much of it going to events that did not really nurture me personally or professionally.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
It is never too late to pursue something you love! If you have an idea, poll your friends, do a survey monkey, see what other people think -- then, run with it if it is a good one! If you don't execute your great idea, guranteed someone else will. Oh, and pursue licensing, trademarks, logos, websites, and taglines WELL BEFORE you even think about opening your doors. Many people make the mistake of doing things backwards and lack of preparedness is preparing to fail.