R. Riveter, along with many other Military Spouse owned companies, believes in supporting the growth and advancement of those pursuing careers in entrepreneurship. When our company was created, we knew from the very beginning that we were on a mission to make the lives of Military Spouses a little bit easier.
And so, when we were asked by Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC to volunteer a speaker for a recent lecture, it was our co-founders Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley (who were recently seen on ABC's hit show Shark Tank) who took to the podium. Their topic...
5 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
- It's the WHY not the WHAT that matters most. In our case, it was designing our business model (providing mobile income for Military Spouses) before choosing our product. Handbags have paved the way for us to complete our mission, much like the iPod paved Steve Jobs' way to putting "a dent in the universe."
- Don't wait. In the beginning, all entrepreneurs are fearful of the unknown and they want to see their vision appear immediately. But, that's like wanting Disney World and snapping your fingers and somehow appearing in the center of the Magic Kingdom. There are plans to be made, roads to be traveled and, in truth, things can be chaotic and messy in the beginning. Today, we are a network of Military Spouse Riveters stationed coast-to-coast but we started as something much smaller.
- Don't fear start-up costs. Financing your business should not be a hurdle. It has been our experience that there is always a way for a company to pay for itself. How? Start small and make changes to your business model slowly. Our first investment was a 1950's era industrial sewing machine and some raw material. Once we started turning a profit, we put money into insulating the attic we were working in. (Because trust us: it got CHILLY up there!) The bottom line is: we knew growth would come in time. 5-years later, we manufacture in a flow system out of a large warehouse. Imagine that!
- Persistance. Persistance. Persistance. The road to success doesn't make pit stops at hot yoga or coffee shops. It's all uphill and reaching the top takes long hours, sweat and tears. You'll work a lot in the beginning. You'll work way more than you ever imagined! Entrepreneurship may be trendy right now, but that's not because its easy -- it's because it's worth it... but only the persistent will find success!
- Some of the best decisions aren’t always the most glamorous. If we only had a nickel every time someone didn't agree with the decision we made... starting with our partnership! We were warned time and time again that our partnership would fail, but we always knew we were stronger as a team. We knew we were going to change the face of at-home work for Military Spouses, and we were going to do it together. We made the decision to work countless hours hunched over a sewing machine, perfecting our handbag styles. Then, a few years later we made the decision to hunch over the numbers, going over every little detail again and again in preparation for Shark Tank. Glamorous decisions? Heck no! But, when we walked through those Shark Tank doors... we were ready.
Choosing to become an entrepreneur is not a decision to be taken lightly, as our fearless Shark Tank survivors have learned. In a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, Lisa talked about how to make entrepreneurship and family work hand-in-hand, saying, “Making the business fit the family is the best advice. For example, my husband is great about helping with daily things like making dinner, so that allows me to work a full business schedule." Read more here.
If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, be sure to subscribe to our blog for more tips, success stories and/or events where you can meet Lisa and Cameron. You will also receive a 10% coupon code for our Signature Collection handbags with your subscription. Subscribe here.
Blog by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Abi Ray