Latin Business Today: Finances are important to a business. Please share with us your experience and thoughts on financing.
What types of financing did you consider to fund your business? What criteria did you use to assess available funding options?
The company was funded through a nice little deal almost at its inception and included the sale of stock from my last employment. Later on I secured a second mortgage on my home. In addition, dictated by need I also secured loans from family members and angel investors. My criteria was urgency and access. I was pretty much willing to do anything to secure the necessary funds. This included paying very high interest rates in a couple of instances.
Latin Business Today: Did you research and anticipate start-up costs?
Again, I did something I don’t recommend. That is, flying by the seat of my pants. There was little to no planning. I really didn’t know what I was doing.
My business was started not because I planned to start a business. It came into existence because after I resigned from my corporate job I thought I could do “a little recruiting” while I secured my next employment. It was meant to be temporary. It was something to keep me entertained while I hit the pavement interviewing for jobs.
I really wanted to start a business but I didn’t think I had what it takes, so I just dipped my big toe into the lake and kept testing the water until I was in chest deep and there was no turning back. I learned as I went, made lots of mistakes, experienced terror, and finally came out on the other end almost unscathed.
Latin Business Today: Tell us about the factors and people who have influenced the growth of your business.
Did you have a ‘trusted’ advisor/mentor whom you have worked with, consulted or confided in? How has their input been useful?
None of these early on. But I did have a loving boyfriend who believed in me to no end. He donated an Apple computer which I set up on my kitchen table and launched and officially launched my business. He encouraged me and told me I was brilliant and could “do this thing.”
I also had two very smart and supportive teenage sons who inspired me to keep going. As the business involved I did build excellent relationships with professionals that in an “unofficial” capacity gave me all sorts of tips that were helpful.
In addition, I was a member of numerous professional organizations, many of which I joined as a board member. These organizations always brought in experts to speak and I learned almost everything about business from them. At one point I belonged to over 15 professional organizations, many of them focused on women entrepreneurs.
Latin Business Today: Although you didn’t start off with a business plan in retrospect what would you say are the essential elements of a business plan?
Understanding your market, your audience and how your product or service can meet a demand thereof. Of course knowing the precedents of your industry and possible challenges, including what you’re up against with your competition and how you will differentiate your business.
Being clear about the financial aspects of the business is very important. Having a solid sense of your budget and how you will market and promote your business is critical. When I got started I didn’t have disposable monies to spend on marketing so I had to come up with creative ways to promote my business, such as joining boards and offering motivational talks to corporations. I built intrinsic value around my brand through my personal skills.
Latin Business Today: What is the future plan for your business?
My sons are very interested in taking the company to the next level, and they are doing it!
This includes adding staff, building a rock-star sales team and expanding our portfolio lines including our contract division. A sale of the company in the future is certainly a possibility as well.
In part three Lily will focus on the importance of a work-life balance.
Part one: The Anatomy of a Latina Entrepreneur