What would you do if years into your business, you found out you needed to change your business name because of a possible trademark infringement? This happened to Gwen Willhite, owner of Cookies By Design, and she still turned her venture in to a multimillion-dollar business.
What would you do if your husband, who also was your business partner, died and you were told that the business model you created could never work and that you didn't have the money to start the company? That happened to Mary Kay Asch, and she built the country's largest direct-selling cosmetic company.
What would you do if you were turned down multiple times for the financing you needed for your business? This happened to Lisa Hammond of Femail Creations, who is now the owner of a thriving direct-mail gift business and the author of a book.
Here's the point: No business exists without obstacles. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If you speak to any successful entrepreneur, you'll find that they all have one thing in common. They are unstoppable. Give them an obstacle and they will go around it, dig under it or climb over it.
Does that mean if you're fearful of these challenges that you shouldn't move forward with your business? Not at all. We all have fear.
Fear is probably the biggest thing that holds people back from starting their own business. Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of not knowing what to do. For a mom entrepreneur, the fear factor is probably heightened since we're even more concerned about the impact of the business on our family. The only thing that separates those who become entrepreneurs from those who don't is moving forward despite any fear.
Over the years, I have found that learning how other entrepreneurs have tackled various challenges gives me the strength to keep pursuing my own goals. When you realize the amazing challenges that some entrepreneurs have overcome, it makes you feel like you can do anything.
First, examine your fear and figure out if there's an accurate base for it. For instance, if you're afraid of failure, ask yourself, What would be so bad if I failed? Many hopeful entrepreneurs are fearful about losing a steady income. It's certainly understandable. One way to overcome this fear is to have a plan. Maybe you'll need to put some savings together first or reorganize your finances.
If you focus on your fear, then you will probably never launch your business. Instead, change your attitude so that failure is not an option. When you feel like it just can't get any worse, read about women who have overcome much greater obstacles. Here are some of my favorite books for energizing my spirit:
Business As Usual (Anita Roddicks, Founder of The Body Shop)
Miracles Happen (Mary Kay Asch, Founder of Mary Kay)
Dream Big (Lisa Hammond, Founder of Femail Creations)
Secrets of Millionaire Moms (Tamara Monosoff, Founder of Mom Inventors, Inc.)
If you need even more inspiration, here are the stories of a few mom entrepreneurs who overcame big challenges.
Chub Rub, organic Chub Rub lotion for women and babies; founders Aneisha Howard and Brandi Glaske
Howard and Glaske are the founders of Chub Rub, which you may have seen recently on Good Morning America. They turned a $100 investment into a booming new business. Their biggest obstacle was trying to figure out how to get started on a nonexistent budget. They had quite a hurdle to overcome since their idea for a liquid powder product had never been executed before.
They consulted with anyone they could find and did a ton of research online. They talked with scientists at universities and local pharmacists, and everyone they found told them that it couldn't be done. Although discouraged, they kept trying to create the best concoction they could.
In the meantime, both women were raising three kids and holding full-time jobs. They would meet nightly until about 2:00 a.m. trying different ideas in the kitchen. They both wanted to show their children through example that if you believe in something and you work hard enough, anything is possible.
Barefoot Books, illustrated children's books; founder Nancy Traversy
Traversy is the CEO and founder of today's very successful Barefoot Books. She has accomplished dramatic growth in the company recently, mainly selling books, gifts and the Barefoot Lifestyle directly to consumers and retail partners, and through a grassroots but global community of more than 1,200 members.
But this growth didn't happen overnight, nor was it easy. Traversy has had to overcome many obstacles to make Barefoot Books what it is today. When Barefoot began in 1993 in the U.K. homes of co-founders Traversy and Tessa Strickland, things were a little simpler. As the company grew and they began to hire staff, the women realized that the U.S. would be a wonderful market for their books so they set up shop in New York in 1998. With four children under the age of six, and while still managing a growing U.K. business, Traversy struggled with the transatlantic commutes.
That decision marked the beginning of a traumatic 6-year phase in Barefoot's journey. On Traversy's 40th birthday and 10th wedding anniversary, her husband surprised the family with a trip to Kenya. However, on the British Airways flight from London to Nairobi, a deranged passenger broke into the cockpit and attempted to take control of the plane. In the struggle that ensued, the plane stalled, fell 12,000 feet and nearly crashed, before an American basketball player and the pilot managed to restrain the hijacker and get the plane back under control.
On Traversy's return to London, she found a letter from the receivers letting her know that her U.K. warehouse had gone bankrupt. The doors were locked with hundreds of thousands of books and a similar amount of money inside. Traversy eventually got her books back but lost all of the collections, which represented about four months of holiday sales. However, with a pending move to the U.S., she didn't have the resources to enter into expensive and uncertain litigation to get her money back.
Around the same time in early 2001, Traversy's right-hand person in New York resigned. It was at this point that she began to doubt her mission and her ability to make the company succeed. She knew she needed either to throw in the towel or give Barefoot one more chance with her move to the U.S. In July 2001, Nancy moved her four children, husband and entire life from London to Concord, Massachusetts.
During the early part of 2001, Traversy sold her house in London and found a new U.S. home and schools for her children. She moved her New York office to Cambridge, hired a new team and relocated her U.K. team to new premises in Bath. She also designed a new flagship store in Cambridge, which opened in November 2001, and decided to mail 100,000 catalogs directly to U.S. parents and teachers. Unfortunately, this mailing occurred at the same time as the post office anthrax scare, so she got almost no orders and incurred a significant financial loss.
With all of the global turmoil and economic uncertainty, Traversy once again questioned the wisdom of her decision to move to the U.S. and carry on with Barefoot. But she also knew that Barefoot's values and mission would resonate with parents and teachers around the globe and that her books needed to be published. For the next few years, she focused on cutting costs, building a dedicated and talented team, putting in place innovative new programs and raising awareness for her company.
By summer 2005, just when things were beginning to look brighter with business growth of nearly 40 percent that year, Katrina hit and the growth tapered off. Then came inspiration. During the holiday season that year, co-founder and close friend Strickland sent Traversy a deck of "52 ways to simplify your life" cards. Many of the messages in the deck inspired Traversy to rethink the way she was living her life and running Barefoot. She knew she needed to continue to produce beautiful and inspiring books for children and focus wholeheartedly on finding partners around the globe. With an unstoppable determination, Traversy continued to move her company forward.