Starting a side business ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Why? Because I am in it 20 years later and going strong.
In fact, I can see it from another side now. Back then I was a young mother faced with the dilemma of going back to work. Now, on the other side of that, I can see starting a small business as a way to stay active and vital.
There was no way I could’ve lived the life I’ve had being chained to a desk. Thank goodness I chose well.
Get all the help, training and support that is available. It pays off.
You can see only so far down the road, so the better prepared you are the better off you will be if you hit some bumps.
Be grateful when you get what you want
That decision to go into business set the stage for a life I wouldn’t trade because it has resulted in exactly what I wanted. It was an opportunity to work, be creative, be happy in a job, contribute income, and take part in my kid’s lives as they grew up, not after the fact.
You can always want for more, but for me, it was more than a blessing.
Many women experience what I did. You're young, enjoying life and a challenging job, then you have a child and all of a sudden all your priorities turn upside down. Actually, right side up.
With that in mind, here are some reflections on my 20 years in the Dress Up Princess Tea Party business:
It’s OK to stay at home
First, I have no regrets about staying at home with the kids when they were young.
The beauty of how it turned out was that I actually remained a stay at home mom because when I re-entered the workforce it was in my own weekend business. I set the schedule to leave plenty of time for a home life.
I hardly ever missed out on important times with the kids.
Nobody else’s business
No one should persuade you otherwise.
As my business really got going after about 8 months, it provided increasing family support and developed into a fulfilling, happy professional life.
What more can you really ask for?
I looked at franchises, and while you get name recognition and start-up support, they were rigid, difficult to qualify for, expensive, and full-time commitments. None of that worked for me.
I knew that I could do it on my own because I had a picture in mind of what I wanted and the desire to create it.
A name recognition franchise isn’t necessarily the road to flexibility
Neither is it the panacea for financial freedom. It may not lead to financial independence at all. You’re practically married to whatever business you buy into and a some them could bore you silly.
It sounded like a recipe for despair or worse, like a trip to divorce court.
With a small investment, a lot of leg work, a pile of mistakes that would fill a laundry basket, and a little help from family and friends, I opened my own place.
By sticking to a tight budget to create and run the business, I proved to anyone watching that it’s unnecessary to go overboard in order to succeed.
Be creative, but don’t get fancy
The Princess Tea Party business is a high-profit margin business. It won’t be if you spend beyond what is necessary.
You don’t need a high-class space
My business revolves around young kids. They want to have fun and get lost in their dream of being a princess for a couple of hours. They aren’t checking out the space to see if it is Class A or C, or whether you have custom Ralph Lauren paint on the walls.
As long as your space is convenient, safe, clean, and a happy atmosphere, that’s all you need to do. It will take on an identity of its own over time.
Customers will find you, as the power of word of mouth advertising goes a long way if you deliver on your promise.
Since every day is a little girls’ birthday, you actually have a wonderful, self- sustaining pool of customers if you handle with care.
It is very evident that parents and grandparents are spending increasing amounts of money on birthdays. It’s not only about the child either.
The parent seeks and derives pleasure in providing a unique experience for their child.
Little girls love to be princesses
In fact, they like it so much, they often choose a Princess Party several times for their birthdays between ages 4 and 9.
This is a success equation. Don’t lose sight of it.
With that in mind, the best route to take is to define your niche and deliver a stress-free, all-inclusive package.
Never underestimate the value of quality and service, resulting in a lot of free referral business. Children at pre-K and elementary school are your advertising executives!
The bottom line for success is a happy customer
When your customer feels that the value they received is more than the price they paid, you have succeeded!
Finally, in a small business, especially a Princess Party venue, your personal touch is what establishes trust between you and the customer. There is no substitute for your smiling face.
These are some reflections upon 20 years of wearing the glasss slipper in this happy business.
Hope to read about yours one day soon!
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LISA ZAKAR is a wife and mother of 3. She is the owner/founder of Lisa Rose, a popular Princess Tea Party venue. She has a 20-year track record in the Princess Tea Party business. Lisa Rose is an award-winning Princess Tea Party venue with Best of Honolulu/children’s parties/Honolulu Magazine, and, Winner of Best Children’s Parties/Island Parent Magazine. Lisa Rose is located in Honolulu. http://www.PrincessTeaPartyBusiness.com
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