We hosted our first-ever webinar series: Entrepreneur Boot Camp. These online events took place June 23-25, with sessions that included speaking with real entrepreneurs, learning how to create a website, and market your business. In case you missed a session, you can watch all three webinars on our YouTube channel, but here’s the rundown of Session 1: Stories From The Entrepreneurs.
Read about Session 2: Creating Your Website
Read about Session 3: Marketing Your Business
Part 1 of the webinar featured stories from two very successful entrepreneurs with very different stories. We spoke with Nataliya Lalor, owner of N. Lalor Photography, and Chris Meade, co-founder of CROSSNET.
From Side Hustle to Six Figures - Nataliya Lalor
Nataliya’s entrepreneur story began in 2013 when she started her side hustle. She took photos part-time, as it was her hobby, and grew her following at a slow pace while still working at her agency job. After getting laid-off for a second time in 2015, she decided to take a leap of faith and start her own full-time photography business.
Starting her own business allowed her to do what she loves, and create her own schedule and prioritize what is most important – raising her two sons. Nataliya, who specializes in studio portraits, set achievable goals for herself throughout the process of building her business. One goal was to earn six figures, which she reached in 2018 when she hit $100,000 in revenue.
In a profession with little barrier for entry, she stands out by the quality of the service she provides, which includes styling her clients, reviewing photos right after they are taken, and giving a physical product, not just digital copies. While charging a premium is important for staying afloat while working for yourself, it’s important that your products and services are just as premium.
Nataliya has not stopped learning since she started photography and encourages inspiring entrepreneurs to set goals, whether it is a financial goal or a business-specific goal.
A Backyard Dream to the Shelves of Walmart
Chris Meade created the first four-way volleyball game, which combines four square and volleyball. Chris, his brother, and their childhood friend came up with the idea at home, researched it, and discovered that this amazing idea they had did not exist yet. They went to the store, created a prototype that day, and played the game for six hours with their friends. That’s when they knew they had to make this a business. If your product is something you and your friends love, there has to be other people out there that think the same.
They gathered $10,000 between the three of them, moved to Miami, and started selling on the beach. Their sales created a snowball effect. CROSSNET, which officially launched in 2017, went from selling 100 units every few weeks to 35,000 units every few weeks, on pace to make $15 million in revenue for 2020.
Today, just a few years later, the game is played in over 5,000 schools and sold in major retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. CROSSNET can be played indoors, outdoors, and even in the pool.
Chris’s top advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to believe in your business – have your business be something you love and would use. Negotiate, be comfortable talking about money (but don’t break the bank), get the best offer for your products, don’t just take the first deal you are given. Mitigate your risks, CROSSNET had over $40,000 locked for 180 days because they only used one payment processor. Always look for ways to save cash, go through your bills and see what you don’t need or if you’re paying for more than you need to be. Finally, network with everyone – while now might not be the right time, the time will come for a connection to turn into a business deal, this is how CROSSNET got into retail stores and even made an appearance on the Today Show.
We can learn a lot of lessons from Nataliya and Chris. Being an entrepreneur is not always easy, you will face challenges and may even want to give up. You never know when the right door will open for you and your business can take off. You need to love and believe in what you are trying to start-up. 9-5 jobs will always be there for you if you fail, but you won’t know how successful you can be unless you put yourself out there and try.