What was the best compliment you have ever received about your business or your business efforts?
My best compliments have been from readers who have written in to tell me that something I wrote changed their lives in a tangible way. One reader, for example, wrote me that she was frustrated with her career path: things were going fine, and she didn’t hate her life, exactly…but it also didn’t excite her. She said that her true passions were in the lifestyle sphere (cooking, entertaining, etc). I advised her to write guest posts for some blogs that she enjoyed, and offered to let her write the very first post for the Ramshackle Glam Community. She came up with two fantastic posts, and a few weeks ago she wrote me again to tell me that she’s decided to start her own dessert catering business. No better compliment than that.
I was also psyched that the Daily Beast recently called Ramshackle Glam “a single girl’s survival guide for those who don’t have a clue how to be domestic”. When I first moved back to New York to get a job in journalism I couldn’t have gotten myself hired by the Daily Beast if my life had depended on it, so to get such a positive review from them was pretty exciting.
What is the best lesson you could give a young woman who wants to start her own business?
If you’re looking to start your own business, you need two things: 1) passion, and 2) the ability, or at least the potential, to excel. I think that it’s vital that you pursue something that you love with all your heart – for me, that’s writing and hosting – but there also has to be an element of realism involved. Lots of people want to act: if you’re going to become an actress, you better love it…but you also better be pretty damn good at it. A great way to see whether you’ll truly be able to succeed in your chosen career field is to test the waters a bit: if you want to start your own catering business, try catering a few friends’ parties first and get some feedback. If you want to be a blogger, try writing guest posts for some sites that you admire. Imagine doing that every day for years: does the idea make you happy? Think about the businesses that already exist in your chosen field: what would you do differently, and what would you do better than anyone else?
What do you wish you had known when you started your own business?
I think that one mistake I made when I started was relying a lot on my faith that things would work out. I’ve been extremely lucky in that regard, and have been presented with amazing opportunities, but I think that I could have benefited from seeking out some more concrete advice from established colleagues. I also wish that I had been more savvy about my business practices: I have a habit of trusting people without getting to know them first, and while I think that openness and congeniality is important, you also have to take care to protect yourself. If you’re starting your own business, go over your plans with a lawyer and an accountant, and get everything – everything – in writing. Keep careful records (especially when it comes to your finances; receipts for everything!), including hard copies of important documents.
Describe a moment when you might have said, “I can’t believe I am getting paid for this?”
I recently flew to Charleston, South Carolina, to cover the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament for BetterTV. I woke up early on the morning of our first shoot and went to a nearby café, where I wrote out the day’s scripts while eating some fantastic grits, and then strolled around town for an hour or so while I went over my lines in my head. Later that day, I got to interview locals on their thoughts about the weekend’s activities while checking out some of the world’s best tennis players. So that was pretty amazing.
But really, every single day I feel lucky beyond words to be doing something that I love so much. Every day brings something completely different – and, more often than not, completely wonderful.
How do you think the current economy affected your entrepreneurial choices?
In some ways, I think the economy made me feel freer to pursue what I really wanted to do. A few years ago, when my friends and I graduated from college, most of them catapulted into (extremely high-paying) careers in finance, and I’ve definitely had my moments where I’ve felt “behind the curve,” or have questioned my decision to take a less conventional path. Today, though, high-paid jobs are no longer as secure or as available, and I think that’s made a lot of people reconsider their values, perhaps realizing that an enormous paycheck doesn’t necessarily equal stability – or happiness.