Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Grace Aldridge Foster, Co-Founder of Bold Type LLC., located in Goldsboro, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My company Bold Type LLC is a writing skill training company. We teach professionals at Fortune 500s, government agencies, associations and foundations, and non-profits to improve their workplace writing. For example, in a couple of our recent workshops, we taught marketing professionals at a pharmaceutical company to write better emails and international businessmen and women to write better networking messages. Bold Type is a WBENC-certified women-owned small business, something we take great pride in.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career working in college writing centers. We provided one-on-one and small-group writing consultations for students, and as I started doing writing and editing freelance work for companies, I realized that professionals in the workplace would benefit from that service too. I enjoy my work and the satisfaction I feel from having created a successful and unexpected career from my training in the humanities. (I majored in English in college and went on to get an M.A. in English!)
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
What I’m most proud of is our vision and tenacity! My business partner and I had no training in “business” before we started ours. We hadn’t taken business classes; we didn’t have friends who had started businesses and didn’t know what we were doing. But we researched the heck out of our options and treated every networking conversation as a learning opportunity; we kept our overhead really low and didn’t spend money we didn’t have. Four years later, our company has weathered a pandemic, we’ve grown from a team of two to five, our team is spread across five states and two time zones, and business is booming.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being a business owner. It’s definitely a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. And with the high stakes, it was really easy to second guess myself in the beginning. Now, I’m a lot more confident about my decisions, but it still feels like there’s a lot riding on each of them. Sometimes that pressure gets to me. This is one of the many reasons I’m so glad I have a business partner! We get to share responsibility, be a sounding board for each other, and swap pep talks.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just get started. Don’t wait until you have all the answers, or you’ll never start. Start small and don’t overpromise.
- Nothing is un-find-out-able. Research, research, research until you figure things out.
- Treat every decision or new initiative like an experiment. If it’s an experiment, there’s no such thing as failure, only data.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I’ve seen new businesses stall because the founders assume they need a custom website, branded swag, and expert socials to create a successful brand. You don’t. You need credibility, products or services, clients or customers, and revenue. Keep things simple in the beginning and focus on building those core pillars.
Remember that you can have a killer website and sleek branding even if you don’t have extensive expertise, a lot of money, or a big team. During our first month in business, we created our logo (for free!) on Squarespace’s logo builder, made a simple Squarespace website ourselves, and ordered nice business cards from Moo. We still use that free logo, a simple Squarespace site, and those business cards four years later—and have gotten compliments on them continuously! Simple, clean, and professional are good for you, and it’s good for business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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