Submitted by Maryna Shkvorets of marsandstarsbaby.com on March 31st
Have you ever had an idea of pop in your mind and you just had to run with it? An idea that you just couldn’t shake? That’s exactly what spurred my brand.
The founder and the business.
Let’s back up. My name is Maryna Shkvorets, and I’m the founder of Mars and Stars baby and the inventor of the Breezy Wrap.
Shortly after having my first baby, I knew I didn’t want to return to my old career. I was miserable, and I didn’t want to come home to my family in such a low mood. I wanted to give them my all. I was researching different training programs and new diplomas to upgrade my skills and get a different job, but nothing seemed quite right.
It was on a hike with my husband and baby that the business idea came to life. We were both obsessed with babywearing, but my husband and I got hot and sweaty from carrying the baby in a conventional carrier. It dawned on me that I could be the one who brings a lightweight and breathable baby carrier to the market.
Even though I know nothing about business, I came home and started learning, learning, learning. It’s amazing what opens up to you once you’re motivated enough to see it. Within weeks I was talking to textile suppliers, and learning web design, market research, and logistics.
It turned out there really was a demand for a lightweight baby carrier, but even more importantly, it turned out I had what it takes to run a business.
You can do all the market research you want, but you can’t foresee the little challenges that will come along the way.
In our case, all the excitement led me to expand too fast without a clear purpose or direction. I tried to have a “something for everyone” kind of brand which of course only diluted its main purpose. It also left me a little scatter-brained. All the multitasking made me lose focus on what matters to me. Losing focus means losing motivation, and when you’re the boss that can mean losing business.
And of course, all businesses are facing challenges in the uncertainty of current times. Shipping delays, material backlogs, price increases, and new spending habits make old business models unpredictable. Every business owner has had to pivot, and mine was no exception.
It took a bit of a mindset shift, but I had to narrow my focus and figure out my business’s values. I’ve always connected with adventurous families who value being fully present with their kids. The breezy wrap is the perfect product to drive that purpose, and I don’t need much more.
While narrowing my business focus, my site has also become a bit of a hub for parents who share my values: mindful parenting, being present, enjoying the little things. It has been such a pleasure to connect with others on a deeper level. These deeper connections are continuing to drive my business as I take time to figure out next steps.
While nothing beats true in-person relationships, in the current world, there’s something to be said about meeting another person online who shares your purpose and wants to geek out with you. The world of online connections definitely leads to new opportunities in business.
Business advice to new entrepreneurs
While there is no clear-cut guide on how to approach entrepreneurship, there are some tips that can be quite useful. I’ll be honest, you won’t always know what you’re doing, and you may doubt yourself more often than you should, but entrepreneurship is often such a fulfilling journey. So, I’ve jotted down a few key things that I’ve realized along the way.
1 – Don’t forget to set goals
This is one thing I can’t stress enough. Setting goals is a great starting point for pretty much anything. I often liken it to putting your GPS on before leaving the house. The goals you set become your destination. If you have a clear picture of where you’re headed, you’re better able to identify any deviations and then reroute accordingly. The same applies in business.
Setting goals is a never-ending process. Once you’ve achieved one goal, there’s always another one to chase. I guess you could say that goals provide an indication of how well your business is doing, ultimately allowing you to track progress and growth over time.
2 – Always refer back to your “why”
To quote Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do or how you do it, they buy why you do it.” I love this quote. Understanding the greater purpose and reason for why you do what you do is important. On those low days, your “why” will be what keeps you going and motivated – even when you don’t feel like it. It can also be what draws people to your business.
Your “why” is the foundation that guides the business decisions that you take. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be faced with a purpose versus money situation. While an investor or typical business person would prioritise the bottom line, entrepreneurs tend to be more attached to their businesses and ideas.
If something doesn’t quite align with your mission, values and core purpose, don’t be afraid to walk away (yes, even if it’s a million-dollar deal). I discovered my “why” on that hike with my husband and baby.
3 – Connect with people with the same values
I enjoy engaging with people that share similar values and interests. This is something that’s very important to me personally and in my business. In a way, it ties back to knowing why you do what you do. I like to think of it as having a support group of some sort, where you’re able to teach and grow from each other’s lived experiences.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can be beneficial in so many ways. Not only do they become your personal cheerleaders and accountability partners, but they can also remind you of the importance of what you do.
Having a business that actually makes money is great, but having a business that fulfils you is even better. Although, the ultimate prize is having a business that’s fulfilling AND makes money.
4 – Put yourself out there
We can’t deny that the digital age that we live in has made it easier for introverts to remain in their shells and avoid in-person connections. However, that can only get you so far. As an entrepreneur, you need to be intentional about networking. Ideally, you should be engaging with like-minded people online and in-person.
Just by effectively using online resources and tools, you can connect with people from anywhere in the world. Naturally, this will widen your reach and impact, and allow you to have a network that extends beyond just your immediate surroundings.
5 – Talk about your business
I know, talking about your business can be a bit daunting at times. This is especially true if you’re still figuring things out yourself. Imposter syndrome may pop up, or you might feel like you don’t quite have anything meaningful to say.
When you think about it, though, talking about your business should be like telling people about yourself. Nobody else knows you better than you do, so there is no right or wrong answer. In fact, it should become second nature. Most entrepreneurs are familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch, but for some, it may be a bit unnatural.
Whatever you decide, it’s crucial to be willing to talk about your business and get comfortable with being asked questions about it. You need to talk about your business to have a business, and for other people to know about it too. Also, it can be a really great way to attract new customers and loyal supporters.
6 – Take the risk and don’t be afraid to fail
Some failure is inevitable, and all entrepreneurs face rejection at some point. Think about Thomas Edison, for example, imagine failing about 10,000 times! That’s enough to demotivate even the most optimistic entrepreneur, but that didn’t deter him. If anything, it pushed him to change his mindset and not view it as failures, but rather, 10,000 reasons to improve.
Do your research and tap into a recession-proof business if you want to hedge your bets, but don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled either.
Entrepreneurship is a mental game, so train yourself to be mentally strong. Being able to take risks may prove to be the most beneficial thing you could do for your business, but ideally, it should be calculated risks.
Sometimes success means narrowing your focus
Even to the over-preparer, running a business can be unpredictable. There’s nothing wrong with figuring it out as you go.
If your business is overwhelming or you feel like you can’t reach “the next level” it may be that you’ve cast too wide a net. Try narrowing your focus, remember your values and whom you serve. You really don’t have to give something to everyone.
Maryna Shkvorets is a mindful mom, entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and the founder of Mars and Stars baby.