I never planned on being a startup business entrepreneur. It happened by accident. But after suffering unbearable pain, numerous medical misdiagnoses, and ineffective surgeries, there was no choice.
For four long years, I suffered from vulvodynia, experiencing sharp, stabbing, burning pain in my pelvic area, making it impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy with my future husband. The pain, both physical, emotional and mental, was agonizing and impacted my quality of life. After undergoing several surgeries and even having a doctor suggest she drink wine before trying sex with her husband, I had enough.
From my previous positive experience using magnets to reduce back and neck nerve pain after a car accident, I had an entrepreneurial “lightbulb moment” to add neodymium magnets into a vaginal dilator. With the help of medical experts and advisors, I turned my idea into a nonprescription device that is clinically proven to help women relieve pelvic pain and sexual discomfort. From my “lightbulb moment” to my successful startup business today, I’ve learned a lot of entrepreneurial lessons along the way:
Being organized is key. Running a small business is like being a circus ringmaster. It’s normal to have dozens of things happening at once. So, I have a daily task list, things that I need to do. And I list them by their priority. It’s sounds simple, but it works, and makes me far more productive.
Check the market
When you start a business, the most important thing you must do is check your potential market size. You must do market research to measure competition. Your product or service must be different if you want to hit a home run. Even after doing these things, there will still always be a huge risk. There are so many crucial variables to opening a new business, dedication being the most important.
Share your startup story with anyone who will listen. You never know who will be sitting next to you that you could help, or could help you. Many times, I have mentioned my device in a group setting, while out to dinner or at a party. I have made lasting business relationships that have helped grow my business tremendously.
Prepare to sacrifice personal time
I would work 24 hours a day if I could during the first three years of business. Anytime my eyes were open I was working. Now that the business is successful, I have made more time for my husband and family. The hard work was worth it though, I feel like those were my college years and now I am done studying.
Marketing is crucial
Marketing is a necessary and crucial expense, whether you hire a PR or marketing pro or depend entirely on social media. When done effectively it can make your profits soar. With this in mind, it is ever important to monitor the yield of each attempt you make, embodying your existing customer base and leveraging them as much as possible is critical. Putting systems in place to ensure that you measure what is working will allow you to invest your time and money, in the activities that get you a genuine return and profitability.
Grow at the right pace
I have had a lot of people who want to invest in my company. One of the biggest mistakes you can do is partner with someone just because of the money. The investor is more important than the money. You need to pick someone that shares your vision and morals. It is okay to be picky when it comes to an investor.
The toughest lesson I’ve learned is always show contracts to an attorney. We had hired a company that was going to help us market our magnetic pelvic pain dilators to physicians and physical therapists. We mistakenly did not send it to our lawyer to review. The potential partner agreed on commission for sales but made a drastic change in the contract one month later. At that point, we informed our attorney and he sent a termination letter immediately. But the situation could have been avoided if we had sent it initially to our attorney to review. Going forward, we now have our attorney review all contracts and business agreements in advance.
Being an entrepreneur allows me to explore and pursue all of my ideas and goals. When you work a 9-5 job for another person or corporation, it sometimes can be hard to voice your opinion for the fear of rejection. When you are an entrepreneur, you can entertain and pursue all your ideas and learn, first hand, if they were good or bad. Another plus is you can create your own destiny with no cap on how successful you can become, or how much money you can make. It is all up to you, and that is what’s so special about being an entrepreneur.
Finally, you might fail, and that’s okay. It’s okay to throw in the towel. Do not waste money keeping a dream alive that you feel will never be successful. This is very important because every mistake you made the first time around will help you create something more successful in the next time.
I have seen many entrepreneurs that define success by how much money they have in the bank, the car they drive and the house they own. I think differently. I define success by how many women I can help. Anything monetary is a bonus.