06 Dec The 5 Most Defining Moments in My Business
“How did you do it?” , this is the number one question I get about my company I started at the age of 23, Glam Seamless. It all went so fast (and still is going at the speed of lightning) that I had to stop and truly reflect, how did I build an 8 figure brand, doing over 18 million dollar per year with no money and no business experience? In life and in business we have defining moments, and while this is not a blog of “how I built my business” this does entail the 5 most important things I did in my business to get it where it is today. Life will present defining moments and making the right choice and taking action is key to the success of your business. Here are 5 things I did that took my business from a small brand read out of my home with 3 people to an 8 figure brand in less than 4 years without any outside funding or co-founders.
1-Hiring a proper CPA
When I started selling 6 figures I hired an accountant. He was good, but a little unorganized and shady. He was recommended by a friend and he was good for the time being. However, as the business started to get bigger, it was clear that this tiny accounting firm could not help my multi million dollar business get our finances in order. I ended up finding an accounting firm in NYC that had several CPAs and well over 40 employees. I got lucky enough that one of the co-owners, also a CPA, took on my account and helped me in so many ways. From getting our books in order, to helping me get financing, to even helping me sell my company, this accounting firm and the owner helped me create a solid financial foundation to keep running the business. I remember when I first hired them, I was still running my business out of my home. Looking back, if I never left the small accounting firm without a proper CPA, I would have never been able to secure funding, sell my company, or even have the proper support needed to run the company. Finances dictate everything in the business and understanding the revenue vs profits and where your cash is actually going makes all the difference for true success. Do not settle for “Family friend or family accountant”. Make sure you have someone you trust, respect and can learn from when it comes to them overseeing or advising on your company finances. Having a strong CPA I personally liked to work with, where we both had mutual respect, and he actually wanted to see me win, not just take my money, made all the difference. You need a CPA that is strong, smart, connected, and invested in you and your business for you to take it to the next level. I interviewed 2-3 CPAs before going with a firm too, do not settle, go with someone you trust, like and this person will 100% help you take your business to the next level.
2-Opening an office
I ran my business out of my home until I had a baby. If it weren’t for my baby, I probably would have kept running the business from home. With all the we works and rent an office I felt no need to get an office. However, I searched and found a really nice centrally located office and decided to take the leap and do a 2 year lease. I built it out and designed it really nicely – a place I could escape to and work that was just for the brand. This made a huge difference in how I worked and I actually started taking myself and my business more seriously. Although you can work from home and then just rent a wework type of office, having your own office with freedom, privacy, and a true sense of responsibility of a 2 year lease you cannot just back out of truly helps you get your priorities in order to continue to grow your business.
3-Expanding my team
As an introvert and a strong independent person (grew up as an only child) people skills have not always been my strength. However, people are the heartbeat of any business. Sure, if you want to be a small business owner and have 1 – 2 people and never grow, keep your team lean and small. However, if you want to create a sustainable business and be the top within your industry, you will need people. I started hiring way too late in the game. I always thought of people as an expense, but the reality is people are an asset. Hiring people so that you can keep doing what you do best in the business is critical to your success as an entrepreneur The sooner you invest in the right talent, and take the time to help them grow, the sooner you will be on your way to successfully owning a business that thrives.
4-Moving in to a 3PL
I was shipping everything from home as most start up brands do, and the orders steadily increased month over month and it started to get overwhelming relying on one employee to come in and ship orders. Also, the amount of inventory we had quickly grew and my 2 bedroom apartment was pretty small at the time. I did research on a 3rd party shipping logistics company and thought – no way will I send my expensive inventory to a warehouse.
I fought the idea of a 3PL for a while because I was comfortable with my set up of seeing my products daily and seeing them go out. But that is the thing in business, you have to give up control and trust the right people to go out and keep scaling your brand. I interviewed several companies (never go with the first one!) and I ended up finding an amazing 3PL called Rakuten. The transition was not easy, we had challenges moving all of that product out of my home, but a few months in, having the 3PL take over daily shipping and housing the inventory made my life so easy! There was a moment when I thought, how did I go so long shipping in house? 3PLs are amazing and if you find the right one, can really help you focus on building your business. Now, trust me, there are NIGTH MARES out there about some 3PLs, and I even experienced a bad time where I had to move my product from another stated to get a better warehouse within my 3PL…but allowing someone else to house our products really allowed us to scale and get hair out to our customers. 3PLs have amazing business model where they have people to ship your product daily, its not reliant on 1-2 employees. You have to be willing to take the risk and give up control so you can focus on growing your brand and being #1 in your industry!
5-Selling my company
When I started Glam, I did not even think I was starting a business. In my mind this was a side hustle. Then, once we reached 2 million per year in revenue, I quit my job and focused on it full time. Now, I never in a million years thought I would sell my company. NEWS FLASH: this was one of the most naive things I ever did in business (not planning to sell it from day one). ALL companies must be “Built to Sell”. Whether you plan on selling or not, you will always need to prepare to sell so that you can walk away at any point – whether selling or having someone be your successor. You will not be able to hold on to your business forever. Not preparing to sell my business from the beginning was one of the greatest lessons I learned – and I read a book called Exit Big that really shows you why your exit plan in business is equally important as your business plan. Now, that being said, I got lucky because my industry was doing a consolidation, and I was approached by someone to sell my company, I did not seek out for my company to be sold. In certain industries, mergers and acquisitions happen because a group of brands are stronger together than as competitors. It’s a long story, however, I highly encourage you to see what recent acquisitions were done in your industry or start to think down the line, who could acquire your company. Long story short, I was approached to sell and I said no – for 6 months! I said no way I will not sell…Then I had a hard look within and realized I would be stronger with a larger organization and learn so much more than I would alone for the next year – and I agreed to sell the company. I did not want to let go, so I held on pretty long even when I had offers on the table. However, you learn so much about how to truly run a company when you sell it. The due diligence process shows you what you did really well and then what you failed at within your business. Selling was the best thing I did because it taught me a lot about the areas that we were weak in so that in the future when I go to start another company I do not repeat those mistakes again. Not to mention, I got really lucky with the group that acquired my company, they are a wonderful group of people who helped me grow professionally and learn so much more. I wanted to hold on out of ego and fear of loss of control, but letting your baby (the business) grow up is very crucial the your journey as an entrepreneur – whether that is selling it or hiring a President to run it…Letting go is key in the journey as an entrepreneur.
Bonus Defining Moment: Not getting investors
If you are consumed in startup life or watch a lot of media around Entrepreneurs, funding and investment seems to always be the part of the entrepreneurial start up journey. However, I feel like not raising money and not having investors was a defining moment for my brand. The amount of pressure I would have felt from investors would have made it feel way more corporate and serious than I wanted. I wanted the fun and flexible start up life so I could create my vision they way I saw fit without outside opinions on requirements. Looking back, I am happy I turned down investment opportunities that came my way when it came to my first business.
So, these are the moments that I look back now and say wow, these moves were really smart and strategic and lead to the great success of Glam Seamless. While building the company I never got comfortable nor content with the sales or any way that the brand was ran. I approached every quarter, every year as if we needed to improve and upgrade everything. This was part of my nature, things never being “good enough” – but personally and professionally – advancement and growth is something that I highly value. This underlying constant need to improve along with the following defining moments truly helped me scale a brand fast without any investors or co-founders. If you are wanting to start a business or have one, be sure to trust your intuition and make sound business decisions so that in 3-5 years you can have your position in the exact position you want it (And visualizing that is key!). I hope this helped any entrepreneur out there, comment below if it did!