"A lot of the support I've needed has come from my father," says D.J. Waldow, 21, who's been running a dry-cleaning service from the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor since January. "He owns his own business, so when I've found myself in need of advice, I've usually turned to him.
"Because my father is a children's dentist and runs his own practice, he relates to many of the business realities I face, and I can talk to him about anything. There was a day on the job when I had absolutely no customers. I went from one day when 20 customers dropped off clothing for cleaning to the next, when nobody did. I was really confused about the situation and a bit down. My father reminded me that when you own your own business, you're always going to have ups and downs. There will be times when everything is going great and times when things won't be going so great. His advice to me was to stay positive, keep pushing ahead and have faith that everything would work out in the end." Waldow heeded this advice and persevered.
Waldow is also grateful for pointers shared by fellow students. "I've met a handful of master's students through our school's entrepreneur club who ran their own businesses when they were undergraduates, and they've provided advice on everything from marketing to bookkeeping," he says.
Perhaps the most central support of all has come from Waldow's business partner, Matt Campbell. "The tricky thing about running your own business is that it's virtually impossible to dodge an unpleasant task, take a day off when you're not feeling well or come up with solutions to various challenges entirely on your own," Waldow says. "Having a partner who shares in the responsibilities takes a good deal of the pressure off. As things come up, Matt and I put our heads together and discuss the possibilities until we come up with a mutually agreeable solution. We work very well as a team."