This is “Featured Soloist,” a feature that is published on Tuesdays at The Solopreneur Life.
The purpose of “Featured Soloist” is to give all of us a glimpse at how other solopreneurs operate their small businesses. This week we meet Cari Redondo, who is based in Marion, Iowa. If you would like to be the “Featured Soloist,” please send me an e-mail, Larry@TheSolopreneurLife.com.
Name of solopreneur:
Name of business and city:
A Work of Heart By Cari; Marion, Iowa
Web site address:
Type of business:
invitations, specializing in wedding invitations, and graphic design for small businesses, professionals, and organizations
When did you officially go into business?
Why did you start your own business?
I originally was just making baby afghans for craft shows, and I had made myself some business cards with my computer and inkjet printer. I shared a business card with my hair stylist who said, “Hey, can you make me some business cards?” From there, the business evolved from a craft business to designing business cards and brochures for small businesses, professionals, and organizations. When I left my “real job” because I couldn’t deal with corporate culture and decisions, I had the opportunity to grow. One January, I had two clients completely unrelated to each other tell two different friends to contact me about making their wedding invitations—even though I had never breathed the phrase “wedding invitations.” Those two clients turned into a half dozen more clients, and I was officially in the wedding invitation business!
What was the best thing you did when you were starting up your business?
I did not go into debt, and kept my overhead low—I never had to worry about hitting a minimum, so I was very focused on giving customers what they needed with a lot of personal attention.
What is a mistake that you made that you have learned from?
Check once, check twice, check everything that you can imagine, multiple times, and especially before hitting “print” or “send.” That goes from checking work on a product to checking estimates to checking wording in an email!
What is your biggest current challenge in the business and what are doing to try to solve it?
My biggest business challenge is how to keep improving the value that I provide to my clients within the structure of my business.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
In a year, I would like to see that my business has continued to provide excellent value, while allowing myself to find a better work-life balance.
Where do you want to be with the business in five years?
In 5 years, perhaps I will be able to make a substantial equipment upgrade that will allow me to produce higher volumes of top-quality products, thereby being able to serve more clients.
What are your main software programs?
MS Publisher, Adobe Illustrator, MS Excel, Quicken
What lifestyle choices have you had to make to stay in business?
The biggest thing is that it is extraordinarily hard for me to disengage completely from work for more than a few hours at at time—when we travel for leisure, the laptop comes with!
What are your strategies for staying competitive?
I do a lot of research by monitoring dozens of blogs; I also focus on my service and personal attention as being the differential between myself and the competition.
Do you need a second household income to support your lifestyle?
Fortunately, it is a supplemental income!
If your business should fail, what is your fall back position?
If I no longer wanted to be in the business, I would contact other local professionals to take on clients and sell equipment, then move on to another career.
If you could start your career all over again, with that you know now, what might you have done differently? Why?
I would have loved to take some graphic design courses in college, considering that is such a huge part of what I do now!
What’s your advice for aspiring solopreneurs?
Invest yourself in your customers—focus on providing them with the best value you can provide, along with personal service.
Are you glad you became a solopreneur? Why or why not?
I am glad that I did because it has allowed me a lot of flexibility in regard to staying at home with our son; also, it has allowed me to stay true to my core values and treat people the way I want to treat them, not compromising my personal integrity.