Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marlynn Schotland, Owner of Urban Bliss, LLC., located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run UrbanBlissLife.com, a food, wine, and travel blog, and I am also a cookbook author. My readers are mostly women ages 25-65 who love to travel for food and wine and are looking for easy, fast, family-friendly recipes they can cook and bake at home.
Tell us about yourself
I worked as a broadcast journalist and public relations director for years, and then after having my first child, I decided I'd rather work those 60 hours a week for myself rather than for someone else. So I launched my first two companies, a custom stationery business, and a PR business. During that time, I started blogging. As a writer, I craved that outlet, and blogging was a great way to share and connect with others around the world. That blog eventually morphed into what is now UrbanBlissLife.com, focused on three areas I am personally passionate about: food, wine, and travel. I take culinary classes and wine courses constantly to create better content for my audience, and I hold a WSET Level 2 with Distinction wine certification.
Over the years, the blog has attracted a loyal audience and supportive community, and they are my motivation each and every day. I absolutely love waking up to create new recipes that will help busy moms not stress about dinner and get dinner on the table on even the busiest weeknights. I adore sharing new wine and winery finds, wine-tasting guides for those who are new to wine tasting, and travel guides to help women around the world and their families find the best places to eat, drink, stay, and play. Getting their DMs, emails, and comments saying their families loved a recipe they tried for the first time or they had a great trip based on some of our travel suggestions — that feedback is a huge motivation and keeps me doing what I love!
Also, my kids are a big motivation. Their entire lives have been growing up with me building businesses I love — they've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I work hard to help model what it means to not just build a business that pays the bills but one that feeds your soul and brings you and others joy each and every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to do what I love for work for almost 19 years is my biggest accomplishment. Blogging has become a highly competitive industry, and I am proud to say I am still in it, and I still get excited about the work each and every day.
Recently, my family was featured in an episode of the TV show Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern. I got to share my version of our family's Filipino recipes and pay homage to my great-grandmother, who is one of my cooking inspirations. It was an accomplishment for the business, but it meant even more so to my family to have that show sharing our family's history and culture through food.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The biggest challenges change with each season in life. The challenges I faced as a business owner when my kids were babies and toddlers aren't necessarily the same as they are today, running a business with teenagers in the house. But I think overall, one challenge that has been consistent is learning to stay true to the brand and saying no, even when everyone else is doing whatever shiny new thing is happening in business. I have a tendency to say yes because I get excited about new opportunities, and sometimes I have to say no because they just don't serve my particular audience or they don't make sense for the business financially.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do it now. Just start — don't wait! You will never be 100% ready, and done is always better than perfect.
- Stay true to your core values and learn to say no when opportunities do not align with your vision for the business.
- If you're a business owner, surround yourself with others who truly understand and support what you are doing. Very few people will truly get what you go through day in and day out, and those people are gold. No business owner can build a successful business alone; we all need each other.
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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