Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jane Dunnewold, owner of Jane Dunnewold Studios, located in Kyle, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We offer online courses and books related to art, creativity, and community. Our customers are artists and those interested in the creative process, and our demographic is primarily female and of a range of ages.
Tell us about yourself
I got started because I was bankrupted by a restaurant business and wanted to move in a totally different direction into something I loved. I had been working to please others, and I wanted to please myself. That was 20+ years ago, and now I do what I love, and it pleases others, which is what gets me up in the morning. I love changing people's lives and watching them grow by sharing art practices and ideas.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Getting through the pandemic and pivoting to working entirely online instead of traveling and teaching on the road. I could not have done it without my business partner, and daughter, Zenna James, who is the tech whiz behind what we do. She is incredibly creative, in addition to being top-notch when it comes to customer service. We make a good team, and working together is a wonderful accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Discipline. I work every day – not long, terrible hours, but almost every day nonetheless. I couldn't do it if I didn't love it. We are a family business, and my husband designs all of our books and handles shipping. He's also dedicated to customer service and is just NICE. But he also works almost every day. So, on the one hand, it's a challenge to embrace discipline, but it's a joy to be able to set the hours we want to work and run things on our own schedule. It pays off because people know this about us, and it cultivates a dedicated and loyal following. Of course, there are trade-offs. We don't spend time lounging on a beach! But this is what we wanted, and it is rewarding, so we don't think about what's hard. We focus on what is good and right for us.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't get in over your head financially. Be willing to start small and grow it organically. For example, we self-publish, and we always start with a pre-order period. That helps us know how many books to print, so they are paid for before we ever order them. Then we move the book to Amazon, where it can be available to people all over the world.
- In order to sell a course or a product, you have to have an audience. So knowing a lot about your subject or your product and becoming an "expert" where it is concerned is helpful. You have to be willing to put in the time, and then you have to be willing to learn skills you may not have - like simple filming on Zoom or Youtube - so you can share your knowledge. I've been in my field for a long time, but developing videos you Youtube introduced me to a new set of eyes, and that has been very helpful.
- Be honest, don't gouge, and offer quality customer service because small companies like ours can't compete with the giants like Amazon. People appreciate personal attention and service, and that's the key to finding your niche and doing well in it.
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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