“If Starting a Company Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Their Own Boss”

September 28, 2017 Rieva Lesonsky

While there are some universal tenets of success, entrepreneurs wouldn’t be entrepreneurs if they didn’t march to the beat of their own inner drummer. Many successful small business owners have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that help them achieve success.

Here some of today’s smartest, most innovative, highly successful business owners share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Nell Lindquist (above, left), cofounder of Hi Little One. When Nell and Maggie Allen’s (her sister and fellow cofounder, above, right) friends and family members started having babies, the sisters found it difficult to find newborn gifts they actually liked. They wanted something cute—but not cutesy—personal and fun. So, they joined forces (Nell is a trained graphic designer; Maggie is a merchandising specialist) and started producing their own personalized gifts. Hi Little One officially launched in 2015, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. 

Now, Hi Little One is a modern, design-driven personalization shop for kids. It was created to shake up the traditional monogrammed baby gift industry and give people a fresh new option for personalizing onesies, kids’ T-shirts, newborn gift sets and totes. Their products are hand-printed in the U.S., and 10 percent of profits are donated to organizations that support the treatment and research of pediatric cancers, a cause very close to their family’s heart.

You can find them on Twitter @hilittleone.

Rieva Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Nell Lindquist: I have always wanted to run my own company, but was never quite sure what type of company or industry. The idea for modern, personalized baby gifts really came about organically. My friends started having babies, and I started making them gifts! I received such positive responses on everything, I started looking into if this was a viable business idea. Then we ran a test store on Etsy, then a Kickstarter, and voila! We’re in business. 

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Lindquist: Reaching our Kickstarter goal was a huge moment for us. We chose Kickstarter as our fundraising platform because we wanted to use it as a test market as well. Did people want this product enough to support this campaign? Reaching our goal not only gave us the ability to produce [by purchasing our printer], but it was also proof of our concept and gave us a jumpstart on marketing. 

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Lindquist: The best advice I have received, and continue to receive, is from my husband, who started his own company 10 years ago: “If starting a company was easy, everyone would be their own boss. Success takes time.” It's easy to get frustrated with the seemingly small return on your efforts, especially in the early stages of starting a business. I remind myself to keep working, keep my chin up, and the traction will come. 

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Lindquist: Take yourself out of the company. We’re in the process of making our first hires now, and separating myself from the production process is not easy! Two people can only do so much, and we need the company to operate seamlessly without the two of us in order to grow. I am not saying hire before you’re ready, but as you develop your processes, make sure you are doing it mindfully so they are easy to hand off. 

Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?

Lindquist: It's so clichéd to say, but I truly think small business is the way of the future. The internet makes it so easy to set up your own shop and start selling to virtually the entire world within minutes. Consumers are used to having more and more options, and their tastes are becoming more refined. More small businesses mean more options, and I think that is here to stay. Plus, Uber-style freelance marketplaces make getting assistance as your company grows easier than ever. 

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Lindquist: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Lindquist: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”—Sheryl Sandberg

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