Janqui Rosshandler founded Eatwhatever in 2008 in Manhattan.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
We make and sell an amazing new concept in breath freshening called "eatwhatever."
How did you come up with your business idea?
My husband used to cook with a lot of garlic and I hate smelling like it. I'd brush my teeth and chew gum but realized that these actions didn't help as the bad breath was coming from my stomach. So I decided to create a breath freshener that actually eliminated bad breath at its source (the stomach) and that's how I came up with eatwhatever.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I was in-house counsel for an event and interior designer. This is my first business.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Yes I did. It was an effective tool. It gave me time to really think through what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. It gave me focus and it's good to look back on and change and build upon.
Who did you hire to help you?
I hired a lawyer to help me register the business and the trademarks. I hired and accountant to help me set up Quickbooks and to file my taxes. Beyond that, I have pretty much done everything else myself.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Yes. I like being able to work my own hours and there is no time wasted on a commute, but you need to get out otherwise you can find yourself alone all day and this can sometimes make you a little crazy. On the flip side, being alone all day makes you a very efficient worker as you don't have any distractions like office gossip to contend with!
Did you have a partner when you started your business?
My partner is my husband. He was extremely helpful in the beginning stages especially on the website and with creative development but he has a full time job so I am basically running the show on my own. The benefits of working with my husband is that I can work at any time. The challenges are, you can work at any time! It's hard to switch off when you can discuss work 24/7.
Have you hired additional staff?
I have hired a few girls to help me hand out samples at times. It is hard to find people who are responsible and trustworthy and care as much as you do about your brand.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur?
It's wonderful to own your own business. Every success is your own, however every failure is too. You need to really believe in yourself, be a self-motivator, have a tough skin and be able to take knocks and get back up.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Don't spend on PR. Network and do your own. Use free services like HARO.com to get people writing about your product/services. Cut back on travel – use skype if you can.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
Yes it has. It's a good way to let a large group of people know about new products you are offering, discounts and show them you are receiving press. Retailers like to see that you are using social marketing as a way of supporting sales.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Yes. It's taken far longer to make money then I expected. You need to give a lot of product away for free and I didn't think of that before I began.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
If you're not a self motivator, don't bother and if you think you are going to get rich quick, you probably aren't, so don't go into it just for the money either.
Thank you for your refreshing interview, Jacqui. Best wishes for a successful year.