Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sharon Kevil, Founder and CEO of Forti Goods Inc., located in Milwaukee, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Forti Goods makes app-controlled lockable furniture to help you store your things discreetly and privately. Most of our customers are parents with kids living in their homes, but we also have Airbnb hosts that want to keep a few things secure at their rentals and a few that have our furniture in their offices. We've even had a few customers who have purchased it for their aging parents - to keep documents or medications from being lost or misplaced.
Tell us about yourself
About 5 years ago, when my daughter was three, we had a scary close call. Something I thought was safely up and hidden away from her, was not. I immediately began searching the internet for something lockable. I am an interior and furniture designer with more than two decades of experience, and I couldn't find something that I would faithfully use in my own home. I kept wondering why I couldn't find a piece of furniture with a locking drawer that didn't look like an afterthought. So, Forti Goods was born! I'm motivated by keeping my own family safe and helping other people do the same.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a non-technical founder, bringing a tech product to life is undoubtedly my biggest accomplishment. It's not for the faint of heart, either. If you don't have that technical language, having a good team that works with non-technical founders or hiring a good CTO is an absolute must!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There are so many hard things when it comes to being a business owner, but I think solitude is the toughest. You can have a lot of people working within your company, but unless you have a co-founder, you're alone in your decisions. It's a good thing for moving quickly when you know what the answer is, but harder when you have tough decisions to make.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It depends so much on what kind of business you're looking to start, but knowing what I know now, I'd say:
- Start as a side hustle while currently employed - unless it's a conflict of interest with your current employer. But essentially, get income for as long as you can so you can incubate your business with less (financial) stress.
- Remember that failure is feedback, and it won't be easy. You have to be comfortable with some things not working out and still be willing to try new things. If entrepreneurship was an easy and sure thing, everyone would be doing it.
- Have a strong network. You can be a solo founder, but doing it all alone is not going to get you as far as you could get with some assists along the way.
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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