Nicki Donley started a cost saving, recyclable card company in her home in Twinsburg, Ohio.
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Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Move Over Cards is providing an environmentally responsible way for consumers to give gifts. We have designed 6 lines of gift enclosure tags made from 100% post consumer paper to provide organization and cost savings when giving a gift.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
For 12 years prior, I was an Account Manager for a Corporate Relocation Company.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
You may have a fantastic idea but do your research to determine how it differs from what is currently available.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I am a mother of 6 year old triplet girls. When my daughters started pre-school we attended 17 birthday parties in their first year. As soon as the gifts were opened the wasteful paper from the envelopes went right in the trash and I knew the non-recyclable greeting cards were not far behind. Also sometimes I'm a last minute shopper. The thought of spending $4.00 on 1 card did not appeal to me.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Yes, I did write a plan. It really helped me identify what my strengths were and the goals I wanted for my company
Who did you hire to help you?
For new businesses, I believe an accountant is crucial. I manage the additional details on my own.
What outside resources were helpful for you?
I have been working with number of mom inventor websites, it's nice to have a forum where you can find out about new contests and read about other like minded individuals. I do like Mommy Millionaire and Mom Inventors.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Yes, I operate from home. I find the challenge is to walk away from my office. When you work from home it's so easy to "just run in and check a few emails" and that can turn into 2 hours later. When my daughters come home from school I do try my best to dedicate myself to them.
Did you have a partner when you started your business?
No partner, just the support of my family.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
Determine what will be most beneficial for the money. Everyday I receive emails for marketing and PR assistance. I have to ask what will that $100.00 an hour really get me? Can I do some of the work on my own? Above all network. Every present I give has one of my tags on them. I give my enclosure sets out as stocking stuffers to the PTA moms at my daughters' school. You have to get your name out.
Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?
Yes, I pride myself on using no wasteful envelopes and post consumer paper. I try and let consumers know it's all the small steps that make a big difference.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
I still find word of mouth to work the best for me. Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate how nice a product is until it is seen in person. I have yet to experience a great response with social media with actual products.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I targeted a specialty toy store which uses my gift enclosures on each of their gifts. This has driven a lot of traffic to MOC.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
It is a slower process then I expected. I feel like the tree in the forest sometimes. I have a great product but how do I get consumers to find out about it.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Started sooner, I waited until my company had filed for bankruptcy and was laid off before I started my own business.
Thank you Nicki for taking time out of your busy work and home life to share with us your story about becoming an entrepreneur.