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Starting a Business 101: Be Worth the Risk

Well, I had planned on sharing a dresser makeover and my new hand painted signs, but I forgot to bring my camera to the shop, so I don’t have pictures of them!  Darn it!  So, I decided to write another post in my series on starting a business.
As I’ve been enjoying a lot of success in recent months, it’s made me think about the people who took a chance on me. I think in every business, the owner has to ask someone to take a chance on them. It can be an investor, a spouse, a business partner, a retailer… You have to sell yourself and then prove that you are worth the risk.

My husband allowed me to take over a room in our house, part of the basement, our kitchen counter, and letter our van. He gives me time to do my work and watches the kids for events, meetings, auctions, and shopping trips. He believed that my time pecking away at a keyboard and working on my blog late into the night, would eventually pay off. He allows me to risk my time, trusting that it will be worth it.

My parents were my financial investors. They bought supplies, a computer, tools, paint, furniture, marketing materials and everything else needed to start a business. I was a weepy mom of a three-month-old and a 22-month-old, who was tired of feeling helpless when it came to contributing financially to my family. They saw past all of that…right to my creativity, resourcefulness and determination. They saw what I didn’t and took a chance that I would figure it out.

Denise, the owner of the shop that became my very first retailer, took a chance on a slightly manic blonde in a hooded UVA sweatshirt with hand painted wooden ornaments only two weeks before Christmas.  She accepted them on the spot (while my mom waited in the car for over an hour with my two boys) and allowed me to put anything I wanted into the shop.  She even moved to a larger space to accommodate my furniture.  The shop is closing now, but I will always be grateful for the boost it gave me.  It allowed me to feel out the market and discover myself as a designer, retailer and creator.  It also gave me the confidence to branch out on my own.

Lynette, the owner of Wild Rose and my booth-mate at Chartreuse, asked someone she only knew as Miss Mustard Seed to be a part of her dream.  She had no idea if I was really a nice person or if I only pretended to be on the blog.  She took a huge risk asking me into her space and so far it’s paying off well for both of us.

So, how can this translate to you and your budding business or the itch you’re feeling to start something?  Are you worth the risk?  Here are some things you can do to make sure you are…

Have goals.
You need to know where you’re heading, so you can communicate it to others.  It’s OK if your goals are small, just have goals.

Have a plan.
How are you going to reach those goals?  What materials and manpower do you need?  How are you going to market yourself?  Write out your plan and put it into action.

Be serious.
If this is just a passing whim, don’t ask other people to invest their time and money in it.  Make sure that you are willing to work hard and follow through.

Be determined.
People are going to say “no” to you.  Your product or services may not be for everyone, so don’t be offended.  You cannot be deterred when doors close.

Be appreciative.
Don’t ever, EVER forget the people who helped you get where you are.  Be thankful, humble, and pay it forward.

Don’t forget that you’re making an investment, too.  Multiply that investment for yourself and those who believe in you.

Before I sign off, I just have to show off my zinc chalkboard on display in the Lucketts Design House.  I’ll never get tired of getting a sneak peek of one of my creations pictured on their blog.  I’m such a groupie.  And a dork.

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  1. I'm honored to be considered your "blog friend" and overjoyed at your growing successes as a businesswoman. You are an inspiration to me as you are to so many others out there. Thanks for helping spread the word on the projector giveaway! :)

  2. Thanks so much for this! So encouraging, for a girl who's had a very discouraging day with her baby business.

  3. thank you for this post. it was just what i needed to read tonight. your story is truly inspirational and just wonderful in ten million thousand gazillion ways!

  4. Well deserved! You are talented and driven. Success doesn't happen in a day…your words will speak to many who need a lift and those of us who have a dream….waiting to come true.

  5. What an awesome post, Marian! I am so thrilled for your recent successes and I know that you have worked hard and totally deserve it. I just love the way you write, I can really relate to what you say and how you say it, and your words have a way of assuring me that I am on the right track, so thanks for that :) Things are taking off for me right now too, I have had a couple of good sales weeks and while I haven't done any actual paid advertising, people are starting to find me and I am pretty busy right now. While I know that the big $ don't and won't come in every week, after doing this for a year, I am finally getting the confidence that I have a 'real' business and could make some 'real' money here! This was never a whim for me, it is a total passion and it continues to be….yay!

    xx Karen

  6. That was so encouraging! My little business putters and spurts and I sometimes feel lost. I work so hard at it and it gets discouraging. Thanks for the boost. This was a great post! Lisa~

  7. Thanks for this post. I am a new business owner and some days I wonder if I'm crazy to be have taken this risk. It's so encouraging to hear from others who are taking this journey as well. Great post…Heidi

  8. Wow, after the week I had, I think this Post was Meant for Me ~ Thank You for Sharing your Words & Wisdom….

  9. Thank you! I needed this! A reminder that I need a plan and this is the perfect time of year to draft one out!

  10. We asked Marian what she needed to be able to start a business and she did some research and came up with a detailed list and an amount for each item needed. The investment was small and we KNEW what we were investing in as Marian has great determination and drive. She also learns from her mistakes and is willing to shift course a bit to make it work. (lessons learned from all those musical theater auditions) The business has been a journey – as she worked on finding her style and niche, but it is coming together and continues to evolve each day. Most importantly it allows her to be a stay at home Mom and be involved in something that is so much fun for her. The friendships she has made in the process have been a huge added bonus. Her Dad and I are having a blast watching her and cheering her on and doing what we can to help her. She has a great husband who supports her in this work and she is also part of his work. They make a great team each bringing different strengths. Are we proud parents?? You bet!!! Thanks bloggers – just like an actress draws energy from the audience – Marian draws energy from all of you and your comments. You are her audience and you cheering her on in this journey has been a huge part of the success she is having. MOM

  11. Please thank your husband, parents, Denise and Lynette for their contributions in bringing you to us. We appreciate them! We adore you and that you are living your passion.

    Your Friend,

  12. What a fantastic post – so relatable.
    – Danielle
    other-option AT hotmail DOT com

  13. I'm sure that this post will be an inspiration/wake up call to many out there who are dreaming of starting their own business. Your clarity and honesty would make this a great side bar for a text book for fledgling entrepreneurs.

  14. ..Thanks for your inspiration…I am starting our small home business in another direction and its always great to read others stories!…Thanks for journaling your journey!

  15. I just wanted to stop by and say hellp. My name is Ali and I just sterted my own blog dedicated to my crafts and DIY projects. I've had a private family blog for years, but thought it would be a good time to branch out in this social world that I love so much. You truly are an inspiration to me and I really love everything that you create. Thank you for sharing your insight and for doing what you do best. I'm impressed daily by you and can't wait to see what's next.
    Bye for now, Ali

  16. I am in the midst of starting my own little business. You have been such an inspiration over the last few months. Thank you for sharing this part of your life… it is such a blessing to come see what you've been up to and to read all about it.
    If ya get a minute come see me at I painted a little seat with SW's sea salt… HEART 😀

  17. I love so much how you always make a point to reach back TO lift someone else up. You are one who I look to as a integral and thoughtful business owner. BRAVO!

  18. I love so much how you always make a point to reach back TO lift someone else up. You are one who I look to as a integral and thoughtful business owner. BRAVO!

  19. Love your blog and you are right on with the business advice. Started my own shop in Gresham Oregon with a friend and loving it! I am Maria's (Dreamy Whites) Aunt Mickie and am living my dream!!

  20. Thank you for inspiring us all- and for giving us an insight in what it takes to keep going!!I have started my blog because of you and your inspiring posts !!!( and am so happy I did it!!!

  21. I'm so happy for your success and for paying it forward to all of us with your enthusiasm!

    I am always inspired by you.


  22. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain (1835–1910)

    Fitting quote from my hometown author. Thank you, Marian.

    The comment that your mother wrote is precious.


  23. Nutbird says:

    Musical theater!! How about some musical video tutorials? Your comment about Wild Rose is very telling. You can't pretend to be a nice person on a blog. Blogs seem to emphasize a person's character traits. We knew your worth from the beginning and it is only reinforced with every blog you write and every comment from your lovely mother. So, as the Aussies say, "Good on you, Marion!" Ann

  24. Marion,
    Thanks so much for this post. I have loved the whole series, and really, your whole blog. It is truly my favorite blog, and always teh one I check first. I love how honest and real you are. Thank you for sharing your talent and so many inspiration ideas! You're the best!

  25. This is such a nice post. I've just started my blog and hope to turn it into a business at some point – so this really speaks to me! Thanks for posting. liz

  26. This is such a great start to a helpful series. I love your blog more than any other that I follow and find you so inspirational. You do what I love as a hobby and wish I could be better at. My coworker and I are starting a small side "business" and plan to sell our stuff at local craft fairs for fun. This series will be exactly what I need! Thank you so much for helping fuel my creativity!

  27. Your blog is such a blessing to me! I just found you this summer, as my sister and I were turning our hobby into a little business. Your generous sharing and tutorials have inspired us. We jumped into the Nashville, TN flea market on a whim last month and were blessed beyond belief. Now, we are opening our first booth in an antique store the end of this month. Six months ago none of this had even entered my mind. I look forward to reading your every post and am so grateful for you sharing your stories. Thanks so much!

  28. Thanks so much for your inspiring and helpful post. Your posts are so encouraging and a reminder to not only work our businesses, but also be kind to ourselves and others.

  29. Keep up the good work! You are so inspiring to those who are just starting out like myself. I look forward to your posts everyday. I can only hope someone believes in me and my passion as much as I do!

  30. This story is very inspiring for a lot of women especially those moms who would like to financially help their families. I would say my wife is a risk-taker so when she had a crazy but awesome business idea, nothing stopped her from making it happen. She was also lucky that she got approved for unsecured financing to fund her business. This financing company was highly recommended by my friends who have gotten receivable financing from them. We are fortunate that my wife's shop is very successful in our little hometown.

  31. So inspiring!!!! I can totally relate to the manic blonde with 2 small children….wanting to contribute to the family but feed a creative soul at the same time. You seem to have done it my dear. Congrats on all the success. And I LOVE your blog, just found it (drop cloth search:) –Gretchen O.

  32. Great inspiring post. I love reading behind the scenes of the success of someone I admire and love your advice. :)


  33. I had the pleasure to attend a workshop in Santa Monica, CA March 2011 hosted by Annie Sloan herself. She had come to the US for the first time and held classes from East to West coast. I have booked a Holland America cruise to the Caribbean for Jan. 2012 and Annie Sloan will be there. Check out my blog for the details.

  34. This is such an encouraging post, thank you! I needed this tonight.

    *I am a new follower, I found you through a google search. :)

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