(Above: Panel of female entrepreneurs share tips at the Women's Success Summit in Miami)
Ginny Simon, mother of four boys, saw an empty nest in her future. So, she became an entrepreneur.
It didn’t exactly happen overnight. But it happened in a big way. Ginny makes organic, gluton-free baked goods. She has landed her products on the shelves of massive retailers such as Fresh Market and Whole Foods. Her volume is so large that she has had to build a 8,500-square-foot commercial kitchen. The idea for Ginny Bakes sprouted from Ginny's consulting business. She started out as a holistic nutritionist and self-professed “health nut” and came up with the idea for her company when she was unable to find baked goods for her clients.
On Tuesday, Ginny and other successful entrepreneurs shared the stage and offered advice at the Women’s Success Summit in Miami. I learned a lot from them as they shared pearls of wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs:
- “It takes passion and believing in your product to overcome challenges,” Ginny said. She has reinvested all profits back into the business as it grows, but she remains confident the investment will pay off. She says she’s careful to listen to the feedback and tailor her products to what people want. “Creative people are not brilliant but they listen well,” she said.
- “Know your purpose and how your business fulfills that purpose,” said Susie Taylor, President & Head of Product Development, Bibbitec. Susie says her purpose is staying passionately ethical as she builds her business, a unique baby bib. She had an opportunity to sell her Bibbitec to a company that planned to take the manufacturing to China. She chose to keep it and have her unique bibs made locally in Hialeah. She is about to appear on ABC's "Shark Tank."
- “Founding a company may be your passion, but if you can’t make money, it’s not a business,” said Carol Fenster, Co-Founder, Baby Abuelita, which has had major success marketing bilingual dolls. She recently licensed her toy products and is developing an assortment of new products.
- “You cannot be an expert in everything, which is why I surround myself with experts. As you grow, you have to visualize the business working without you. Take the time to mentor people who can take the work load off you," said Leila Chang Ripich, CEO, Florida Dental Benefits, Founder & President, Ideal Lifestyle Concierge.
- “You have to ask yourself, ‘are you building a business or creating a job for yourself?’ ” said founder of the Women’s Success Summit, Michelle Villalobos. “If you are interested in building a business, look around for a mentor, someone who has had success with what you’re trying to do.”
All of the women said that when you are married, it’s important to get your spouse’s support – and that’s something that may take time. Ginny and Susie revealed their husbands, both lawyers, were reluctant about their ventures, particularly about reinvesting profits. But with success came approval. Both spouses now work for their wives businesses.