One of our favorite parts of working at Volusion is that we get to connect with incredible entrepreneurs of all types. We can provide professional guidance when it’s needed, and the lessons they teach us in return are rooted in essential hands-on experience and a practical understanding of the grit it takes to run an online business. One group that consistently has a lot to teach us is our large cadre of powerful women business owners. These savvy entrepreneurs don’t just have business know-how; they also understand how to leap over hurdles, push back against stereotypes, and weave their online store into a life full of competing obligations and values.
So in honor of International Women’s Day, we’re going to give a few of these women the floor. We reached out to some of our favorite Volusion merchants and asked them to provide words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are our favorite responses:
Reinvent the Rules
Life with kids can be unpredictable, with surprise phone calls from teachers or an unpleasant case of the chicken pox leaving working parents scrambling to reschedule meetings and burning through their paid time off. So for Jo Burkhalter of Certainly Southern, running an online store means rewriting rigid corporate rules to include the flexibility she needs. This allows her to excel in business while keeping her family life central:
Women-owned businesses have taken off in the last decade due to corporations not meeting their needs. Many of us need something that will allow for less travel and working from home. The beauty of owning your own business is that you establish whatever practices that you need to meet family obligations. I would say go for it, and certainly if you can do it part-time while you keep your day job…even better.
Never stop writing down your ideas. I was 51 before I started my business, so it is never too late. I had always been one to come up with niche ideas that would make a fantastic business, but I was too afraid of failure to pull the trigger. I think with age, you don’t fear as much.
Certainly Southern sells home decor and lifestyle items that infuse a southern flair into even the most ordinary objects. Whether you have down-home roots yourself or just love the south’s signature rustic-chic style, you’re sure to find something charming, on-trend and personal at this heartfelt store.
Take Time for Self-Care
Nancy Daiutolo considers herself an “accidental entrepreneur” whose passion for skincare merged with her aptitude for business to form Organic Soak, an all-natural bath and body store. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that Nancy’s advice helps us remember that no matter how hard we’re working, self-care is a vital way to stay refreshed and inspired:
My biggest advice to anyone starting out on their own (particularly women) would be that self care is important. Doing what you love every day is important. And if I can impart any wisdom from the journey I've been on, it's to never give up on your dreams, don't take no for an answer, and always give back when you can (it comes right back to you every time).
Featuring scrumptious scents and skin-loving oils, Organic Soak sells all-natural soaps, candles, bath bombs and more. Special care and attention is given to each ingredient, so you won’t find a lot of preservatives or parabens here but you will find all-natural luxuries like Shea butter, olive oil, hemp oil and more. These nourishing products are destined to brighten your skin and your day with their cleansing properties and invigorating fragrances.
Stop Chasing Perfection
Carmen Brandt Wolf of Serenity Stitchworks is another entrepreneur who finds that running an ecommerce business, busy as it is, gives her the flexibility she needs to spend time with her family. In fact, Serenity Stitchworks is a family affair in a few different ways: the co-founder of the company is Carmen’s mother, Swanie. This unstoppable mother/daughter duo are a model for blending your talents with your passions: Carmen is a licensed attorney with a love of art history and a value set that includes being present for her twin boys. Swanie has a business degree but has always wished she’d followed her passion for art and design. Together, they’re now running a business that that puts creativity front and center:
I have found work/life/family balance to be the most difficult part of being a female entrepreneur. There is so much guilt around not being the “perfect” mother. It is important to realize there are no “perfect” mothers, no matter what it looks like on social media. I think the best mothers are the ones that haven’t lost their identity and are fulfilled in their life. It’s so much easier to be present and nurturing with your children when you have taken care of your own needs. And, valuing your life as a person/woman/entrepreneur is a great thing to model for children.
Serenity Stitchworks sells an enormous variety of cross-stitch patterns that allow experts and casual hobbyists alike to recreate their favorite works of art. This unique shop curates patterns that are hard to find anywhere else, allowing cross-stitchers to dive into artistic movements and cultural history as they create their own masterpieces. Patterns are affordable and downloadable, which means experimenting with a new style has never been easier.
Remember What’s Important
Entrepreneurs need to be agile and adaptive, responding to market trends and customer behavior in a way that allows their business to meet customer needs. One person who understands adaptability on many levels is Tammy Andersson, founder of Got-Special KIDS. After Tammy’s son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 2005, Tammy started to realize that it was hard to find a comprehensive place for adaptive toys and technology. She decided to fill that void herself, and her business now sell over 1,000 expertly-selected products ranging from calming aids to auditory and visual processing tools. Tammy’s advice for entrepreneurs is the best “all-around” advice we’ve heard, distilling business down to the really important things:
Be brave, dream big, spread light, work hard, stay humble. Surround yourself with strong (and secure) men and women who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves!
Got-Special KIDs provides affordable, engaging and functional therapeutic tools for children and teens. Their products are also designed for parents, educators and therapists, and include special needs toys and games, therapy aids, learning tools and calming sensory solutions. This business’s care for the special needs community is reflected not just in their product line but in their desire to give back: 10% of every purchase is donated to awareness, advocacy, family service and therapy organizations.
So, what are you waiting for? Join the ranks of these fearless women and start your own online store today!