As crazy as it sounds, I never set out to start a company or to be a business owner at all. I never thought that doing what I loved would bring in the income it does to be able to call this my career. It all started with me making things for my wedding and for people I know as a gift and posting photos online. As I posted, strangers or followers began to ask me to make them these things as well... next thing you know - POOF, I have my very first business. We brand your events with the use of vinyl decals, laser cut wood and laser cut acrylic all done in house as well as paper product printing. Ten23 Designs is a mom-owned, family ran business. Everyone has their own special job to help bring you all the pretties. I, Lauren Sarnoff Atwaters, the owner, creates all of the custom designs and complete most of the decals and laser cut items. My son (19), has now joined the Air Force but still helps with production and shipping when he is home. He is also learning how to do design work so he can help out while stationed elsewhere. My husband also works in production and cuts many of the laser cut orders. Our daughter (7) puts those bright neon "Do Not Crush" stickers on the boxes and has now started to help with some of the production. Those who get a pretty drawings on your box, that would be her art as well. When you support Ten23 Designs, you are supporting a family... and helping to make dreams come true.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
While I have always been a creative at heart and have loved to make things, understanding all of the back office requirements and fundamentals of running a business didn't come to me easily. I have spent a lot of time with consultants and mentors... going to classes... watching webinars... and still do! Continuing education is key!
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I am in between books right now and would love some recommendations from the readers. What are you favs and why? One of my personal favorites has been "Worth Every Penny" by Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. I have read it a few times over the years and always go back to it for a refresher.
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?
Someone I wanted to make proud so badly did not seem to think it was a "real" profitable business. They often suggested I look for a "real" job with security and benefits. Honestly, it would hurt that they didn't take it serious and even more so because I wanted nothing more than to make them proud. But, I continued on despite it and eventually, they changed their opinion... unfortunately, by the time they came around, I no longer cared like I once did. It's amazing just how much entrepreneurship forces you to grow.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I knew the true benefits of hiring BEFORE you actually needed or could afford it. I heard it so many times but still seemed to have to learn the hard way.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
There is a difference between a dream, a goal and something you are determined to accomplish. With the business itself and every single task, obstacle or desire along the way, know which is which and act accordingly.