In a time where people need to stay home, I’ve seen so much creativity and small shops pop up but there was one business that caught my boba loving eye -- Strawmates™.
I had a virtual meeting with the sisters behind Strawmates™ to discuss their entrepreneurial journey. Though they shy away from their boss status, they definitely put in the work when it came to all the effort and research behind the scenes that go into a startup.
Meli with a technical background in Interior Design and My graduating with a Bachelors in Science, they shared some tips stemming from their own personal experiences.
Tips for Starting your own Business:
Identify your pain points -- One of the jobs Meli and My found themselves working was in a bubble tea shop. They witnessed the hundreds of single use plastic straws being used while understanding the negative impacts it had on the environment. When the impending single use plastic ban in Canada was in discussion, shops began to test out and make the switch to paper straws. They first hand heard the complaints and pain points of the customers. Even when reusable straws were introduced, there were issues that sparked their idea of a constructable, reusable, metal + silicone straw.
Protect your Brand - I asked why they patented and trade marked their product right from the beginning and they shared some insight on how sometimes people may collect domains for websites just for the sake of knowing that someone will want to pay to own the name later down the road. Working with suppliers in China, one of the firsts tasks they accomplished was getting an international patent to ensure that suppliers could not take their idea and bring it to another customer. This protected their idea and brand moving forward as they began to bring others into their business plan.
Know your resources! (Futureprenurers + YouTube) - Without a Business Degree, I was impressed with their knowledge regarding the steps needed for starting a business and of course they said, RESEARCH! A lot of research is put into learning what your next steps are but while researching ways to get funded, they came across Futureprenur. Futurpreneur Canada is a great FREE resource for aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-39. They provide a full guide on how to make your business plan and boot camps where you have the opportunity to have your business plan reviewed as if you're presenting to an investor. They also provide tools to understand your cash flow and forecasting when it came to making decisions about money and in turn help you predict how much you'd initially need financially to get started. Once you're approved for funding, you have the opportunity to interview and fill the role of your mentor (experienced mentor, yes please!!). This is someone who you'll have access to for questions and present your progress to.
Trust your gut - Looking for mentorship, investors and partners when it comes to suppliers, it was really important to trust their gut. My and Meli reflected on a time where a potential mentor didn't see their vision and were not on the same page as them and also came across a supplier who wanted to change their design! In those moments, you need to be able to stand your ground if their voices don't align with what you're trying to accomplish.
ADVICE FOR MAKING THE LEAP OF FAITH
Quotes from Strawmates, Meli & My
Coming from a corporate job, having a salary and moving up in the company, it was really hard to make the switch and I didn't want to tell anyone (...) it was hard changing career paths but I feel so much more fulfilled now and corporate isn't for everyone but it's something I had to learn. - Meli
If this is something you want to do, don't be discouraged and take it one step at a time. If you think of the next 20 steps, it's easy to be intimidated to get started. There's a lot of battling your anxiety but you have to get out of your of your own head.
You have to have the right frame of mindset that you're not going to fail. Obviously you're going to have setbacks along this road but your mindset cannot be you're going to fail, you're in this to succeed and make money from your investment. - My
Working odd jobs and trying to sell, you develop a thick skin because you learn to hear no and I understand that I was working towards something bigger and I'm going through this process to get to where I am now.
Think of 5 ideas and narrow them down, that's what we initially did, we wrote out the pros and cons and what was more relevant with the time and go with that.
For high school students: Volunteer as much as you can, watch YouTube, do different things, soul search, what are your strengths or what skills do you want to develop and don't care what people think. Do what you want to do and what you're passionate about.
It's easier said than done, especially in high school, but it all starts with your mindset and the sooner you work on that, the sooner you can start facing what you really want.