Discipline, Motivation, Mentors
I was lucky to have entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, and community-minded socialites in my family. Their example started me on my path to entrepreneurship. To me, the three most important factors in being an entrepreneur are: discipline, motivation, and mentors.
My first business was doing commissioned art during high school. Somehow, I also worked 40 hrs. a week at the local pharmacy and graduated 2nd in my class. I had skipped a grade, so I was 16 at the time. Little did I know that this would set my pace for life: work, study, art. Life sent me through many businesses with themes: science, art, cooking, business. Each time I ran my own business, a lesson was learned. The calling to be an entrepreneur is about seeing what needs to be done and doing it before anyone else asks. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” Einstein.
1983 UMMC Nuclear Med Massachusetts
Lesson: If you did most of the work - fight to get your name on the papers.
1986 Music Reviews (aka Tipper Gore campaign) Connecticut
Experience: Be careful doing business with your family.
1987 Cynthia Skarlatos: Artist and Framer Connecticut
Lesson: Be more integrated into the community you want to present to.
1988 Enviroaudit (a friend’s startup, I was the first employee) Connecticut
Lesson: Stay long enough to reap the rewards of your efforts.
1991-2000 Cindy’s Baking Cakes- Athens, Greece
Lesson: Bring in a professional accountant and find out what government assistance/venture capital you may be eligible for.
2000 Renaissance Woman San Diego, CA
Lesson: Start advertising early on and register your business.
2004 Designertastes.com San Diego, CA
Lesson: There is a higher value in having an online presence.
2007 Designer Tastes Gallery San Diego, CA
Lesson: Do a forecast early on what a reasonable expectation may be for profits. Having done this, I was able to be out as 2008 rolled around, and the economy tanked.
Lesson: Make sure the design and business plan works for everyone.
2012 Kastania Olive Oil
Lesson: Find your target market: Retail or Wholesale?
Lesson: Make clear and constant communication a part of the process.
My path at times took me through many places as either owner, consultant, employee, or manager and either full-time, part or virtual. There are many ways to work on your success.
The most important tools you can have on the entrepreneurial highway I have found:
Discipline to do all the things you need to do, especially the difficult ones.
Motivation implores you to find the reason why, see the big picture, and figure the milestones you need to get there.
Mentors have many benefits. Find experts in the areas you need help with and don’t be afraid to ask for more help. Belong to groups and network with those who can help connect you with people, products, and services your business requires. The wisdom of your mentors usually puts you way beyond the competition.
I took the less traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast.