I was blow-drying my hair one morning, in 2004, when an idea popped into my head. I decided that I was going to write a proposal to the editors at O, The Oprah Magazine, to create a section called “Natural Alternatives” in their magazine. I was subscribed to the magazine and always loved reading it from cover to cover; however, I felt it lacked a full representation of the natural health industry at the time.
Later that day, I wrote a four-page article titled, “Are Organic and All-Natural products REALLY healthier for you?” I hired a graphic designer to put my vision on paper and then on June 22nd, 2004, I mailed out five copies of my proposal via registered mail to five people at the magazine. On June 30th, I received this letter:
Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of material we have at hand, we are unable to incorporate your concept. We wish you much success in placing your idea elsewhere, and thank you for your interest in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Although I appreciated the response, I was disappointed. I knew in my heart and soul that the concept was a good one, although perhaps ahead of its time.
Three years later, in October of 2007, I met a man who would ultimately change my career focus. Dr. David Katz, a nutrition columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, was the keynote speaker at an event my company was sponsoring. I asked him if he would be open to providing me with some feedback on my proposal, and he graciously agreed. He not only provided me feedback on my proposal, but on my business in general (note: I already had a company which I started with my business partner Randy Boyer in 1999 called The Healthy Shopper Coupon Book, which publishes coupons for natural and organic products). He told me he liked what we were doing but said that we were too niche – too focused on those people who were already knowledgeable and buying natural and organic products.
He recommended we spread our wings and reach out to people who were just beginning to learn about it, since it was a growing industry. We agreed with him and so NaturallySavvy.com was born.
Our goal was to create a platform that would educate people on the benefits of living a natural, organic and green lifestyle. I often say it’s “our life online.” We launched NaturallySavvy.com in just three months using the same four-page article I had created three years earlier, along with material from Lisa Tsakos, a Holistic Nutritionist and Naturally Savvy’s Chief Nutrition Officer.
Now in its fourth year, Naturally Savvy is thriving. We are blessed to have writers/contributors who are passionate about healthy living, and sponsors who feel our passion.
I believe if you have an idea or a dream, you should never be afraid to implement it – you really don’t know where it will take you. When I wrote the magazine proposal, I had no idea it would eventually be the platform for a successful business model years later.
I have learned a lot over the past thirteen years from being a mom and a business owner. Here are some of my favorite entrepreneurial rules to live by:
Dare to dream big. No dream is too big. Think it, feel it, speak it – as if it is happening right now.
Build a support system. I truly believe a solid support team is an important key to success. Whether it’s a spouse, sibling, friend or therapist, you must surround yourself with people who believe in you, provide objective feedback and stay focused on the positive.
Take responsibility for your actions. If you make a mistake — admit to it and fix it. The hardest part is admitting to the error; luckily the easiest part is making it right. Your clients may not appreciate it at the time, but in the end they will always respect you for it.
Roll with the punches. As an entrepreneur, being flexible is crucial. I am continuously monitoring processes, and when I notice something isn’t running smoothly or the way I would like to see it run, I immediately change directions and improve upon it. For example, when Randy and I first launched The Healthy Shopper coupon book, our concept was to charge very little for advertising in the book and to sell them for $10 each to consumers. We felt it merited the cost to consumers, since there was over $1400 in savings inside. However, when we saw that the books weren’t selling the way we wanted them to, we tweaked the concept by increasing our ad rates and giving away the books for free. We were confident we had an excellent concept — we just had to find a way to make it work.
Celebrate little successes along the way. Throughout my first year of business, I rejoiced every time I made a sale. I always tried to stay positive and focused on the sales that I did make and not on the ones I didn’t.
I believe ‘dreams ARE the reality of our future’ – what are YOU dreaming about right now?