Lisa Gold has, well, struck gold with Likewear, the licensed clothing company she founded in 2007. What began as a hobby for this New Jersey-based mother of three quickly turned into a part-time job, then a full-time job, and then, as Gold says, "It became an all-the-time job."
I talked with Lisa recently about her business and why she believes she has been successful. At the bottom of this blog she offers tips for other women business owners, but first, some background on Likewear.
Lisa Gold wanted something of her own - a desire that has launched many woman-owned businesses, especially among mothers. Her licensed apparel business started as a hobby.
"I was just playing around," Gold said. "And before I knew it, I had this nice little craft business."
Then she got two phone calls - each from women who were given her products as gifts and who wanted to order more. Lots more. The women wanted to buy her designs wholesale so they could resell them. That was the beginning.
Gold realized that she had something people wanted and so she decided to attend the big "licensing" show in New York. There she negotiated licenses for logos and graphics for all sorts of companies that she would use on her apparel. Then she made the important decision to enter the world of direct selling - similar to the business models of Mary Kay, Tupperware and Cookie Lee. Gold's Likewear became the only licensed apparel company in the direct sales channel and it remains so today.
So what's the finanical structure for creating a licensed product? According to Gold, you can plan on shelling out 10% of your sales to the licensor - the company granting you permission to use their design or logo. And then there is the cut that the rep gets for making the sale.
"The margins are thin," Gold acknowledges. "But we make up for it in volume." Likewear now boasts some 50 reps who are selling its products.
Gold's vision for Likewear goes beyond making money and running her own show.
"I also wanted to provide moms with an easy and profitable business opportunity," she says.
The company's website attests to the fact that the name is really the merger of Lisa and her partner in business and in life, her husband Ken. The "Li" in Likewear is for Lisa and the "ke" is for Ken. L-I-K-E wear. I like that.
Here are Gold's tips for other women business owners:
Success Tips for a Home-Based Business
Setting up and maintaining a home-based business isn't an easy task, but it can be a very rewarding experience. I created my home-based business, LikeWear®, with my husband Ken in 2006. LikeWear is the first and only company to focus on selling licensed apparel and accessories via the Direct Sales channel. It's a modern day fusion of a fun, boutique children’s clothing line and a more traditional party plan direct sales company. I’ve learned a lot in the four years I’ve been running a business out of our home, and I know what it takes for someone to create their own home-based business. Here are 6 easy tips to get you started:
- Be organized and treat your business like a business!
It can be very easy to let your home life interfere with your business when it's all taking place under one roof. It is imperative that you set boundaries for yourself and your family. Create your work schedule and share it with everyone in the house. Just because you're at home does not mean that you're available to mediate every situation that arises. Decide on what your working hours will be and stick to them! Remember that it’s just as important not to work when you should be spending time with your family. It’s all about balance.
- Hire an accountant
If you don't already have an accountant - find one. Taxes are completely different for business owners than they are for regular employees. If you are not very familiar with tax laws, then save yourself the headaches and hire a reputable accountant. Your accountant will help you find deductions and make sure you are doing everything right with your taxes.
- Organize your finances
Keep business income and expenses separate from your personal expenses. I suggest setting up a separate bank account and getting a business credit card. Remember to save all of your receipts for business expenses! It’s best to create a good filing system and stick with it. You can never be too organized when it comes to your home-based business. Get organized early on and you will save yourself from frustration later. All of these things will make life easier for you and your accountant come tax time!
- Record important information
If you are in sales, make a database with key customer information. It is easiest to keep your customer information recorded on the computer. You can use Outlook, Excel, or any other database program. Remember to back up your digital files often! I also find it helpful to use a digital calendar to track events, meetings, appointments, follow-ups, etc. Google Calendar is a wonderful resource and will even send you daily text alerts with your appointments for the day!
- Get Online
Access to e-mail and the internet is essential for business today. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection (preferably one with good bandwidth.) Create, or hire someone to make, a website for your company. There is no excuse for not having a web presence in today’s world. Along with your website, you should join some of the more popular social networks if you are not already a member. Get familiar with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and start interacting with your friends. Once you are comfortable on each of these platforms, start inviting your customers to join you and begin interacting with them. You may also want to consider starting a blog. It’s a great way to not only drive traffic to your website, and create a personal connection with your customers; but it can also be a way to document the evolution of your business.
- Stay Positive
Remember that your home-based business is an actual business. And like all businesses, your business will experience good times and bad times. It is important to stay focused on your goals and to remain positive. You are not the first person to go through the trials and tribulations of starting a business and you definitely won’t be the last. There are a lot of resources and communities online for people like us. You are not alone!
There’s obviously much more involved than just this to get a new business going and keeping it going. However, it’s important to build on solid framework and these quick tips are a good starting point for any home-based business. On a personal note, I have learned exactly how busy my life as a wife, mother and entrepreneur can be. I have also realized that I am capable of more than I ever thought I could be. I’ve learned that life goes fast – even faster when you live a full and busy existence. And I have had to readjust my thinking and my preconceived ideas of what it means to be happy and at “peace.” While I can’t say I always subscribe to this, below is a quote that resonates so much with me at this time in my life:
“Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
The best thing I have learned along the way is to recognize all that has been accomplished as opposed to what hasn’t gotten done – or has yet to happen. Good luck with your home-based business and feel free to keep in touch with me about the process on Twitter: @LikeWearChick.
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