On November 12, The Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at the Walter F. and Virginia Johnson School of Business hosted the Women’s Entrepreneurship Celebration.
The panel presentation featured four entrepreneurs: Casye Fowler of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes; Addie Helms a professor and owner of Addie’s Boutique; Anahi Martinez of Jumps & Tents for Events; and Aspin Santos of Curbside Cuts and Dad’s Ice Cream.
These four women discussed their experiences running their businesses, the challenges they’ve faced when attaining their goals, and advice they would offer aspiring entrepreneurs. They discussed the factors that contribute to a business’ success including hiring good employees, community involvement, effective marketing, and hard work.
Casye Fowler, owner of Mooyah, stated that before COVID, she had a quick interview process. Now she takes more time to interview potential employees in depth to see if they are the right fit for her business.
Addie Helms, owner of Addie’s boutique, discussed the importance of advertising and promoting her business.
“The public needs to hear your brand at least seven times,” Helms said. “It takes five years to become a part of the community. You never stop running.”
The other panelists expressed the same sentiment.
Helms said that although it can be discouraging to find customers that have not heard of your brand despite your best efforts, you can still take those instances and find opportunities to meet your potential customers where they are.
“Why am I not meeting you out in the world? I’ll make sure to come to you.”
Anahi Martinez, owner of Jumps & Tents for Events, stated that when running a business, online resources are a great tool to learn from other entrepreneurs.
“There’s a broad network of people online who will show you what to do,” Martinez said.
When asked how they defined success, the entrepreneurs were all in agreement—it’s not the money. It’s about finding something you’re passionate about and eventually seeing the business run itself.
“You have to dream big, but hustle harder,” Martinez said.
When asked how aspiring entrepreneurs can work towards their goals, they summed up the following steps.
Number one: Research. Find who is going to use you.
Cayse Fowler said in an interview before the panel, “You have to do your research and can’t just get into something thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just going to fall into my lap, it’s going to be easy.’ No, it’s a lot of a lot of work. It’s just it’s not handed to you. So, if you’re willing to put in the work and the long hours, your rewards will be greater in the end, but you have to put in the work. Research and then have a support team. If it wasn’t for my business partner and then my family, it would definitely be a lot harder.”
Number two: Learn from others. There is nothing wrong with working under someone that inspires you. Ask professors about internship opportunities to gain experience.
Number three: Be willing to do the work. Go to networking events and make connections; don’t be afraid to be exposed and stand out.
Number four: Seek learning opportunities and know the basics. Seek out small business development centers. Know your forms and I.R.S. terms.
All in all, when starting out, listen more than you speak. Listen to what mentors have to say about the industry you work in. Don’t assume you have all the answers.
This panel taught me that to run a successful business, or find success in your field, you need to put yourself out there, have a strategy, and work hard. Trust that the hard work you are putting in will pay off and that you have the capability of being successful.
In an interview before the panel, Aspin Santos, owner of Curbside Cuts and Dad’s Ice Cream, offered this advice, “You definitely have to trust yourself. I listen to a lot of outside influences on things, and I had a ton of people say ‘That’s not going to work. It’s not going to be successful.’ But I’ve continuously grown. So, it is believing in yourself, not believing what other people say. There’s going to be a lot of outside influences that are going to say ‘Don’t do that. It’s going to fail.’ You have to definitely believe in yourself.”