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Nine Little Months Wins the “Recession Busters” Category
Congratulations to Nine Little Months, located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, for being named in the Top 10 for 2014 Home-Based 100 Business Winners. Nine Little Months won the top spot in the “Recession Busters Category”! We caught up with business owner and entrepreneur Amber Trevaskis-Bloomer and asked her to answer some questions and share some words of advice and inspiration with our StartupNation audience.
Tell Us About Your Journey
StartupNation: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Amber: I love the freedom that it allows me – both in terms of time and creative direction. As a business woman who is also a mom, it’s vitally important to me that I have a flexible schedule. I like to be able to put work away and be there for my kids to help with their homework, and pick them up from school. Having online businesses supports this level of flexibility. As an executive/life coach it’s important to me to live by example wherever possible. So if work/family balance is important to me (which it isn’t for some people) I need to structure my life accordingly.
StartupNation: To what do you attribute your success as an entrepreneur and business owner?
Amber: I attribute some of my success as an entrepreneur and business owner to my perseverance, strong work ethic (it’s not easy to have three kids under 5yrs old while creating/running a business), and adaptability. In addition, I think I have also been open to opportunities and have been willing to take chances. For example, I was offered the opportunity to talk at the OC Business Summit last year and I said yes without knowing much about it. When I eventually learned that I would be speaking to so many people, it was daunting and scary but I had faith in myself that I could thrive in that environment and do well. As an entrepreneur, I have also learned to have a tolerance for uncomfortableness – it’s not all roses and sometimes you have to take chances, and not feel 100% confident in them. And, of course sometimes you make mistakes. It’s been important for me to learn to not beat myself up over my mistakes and instead to use them as learning opportunities.
StartupNation: What ignited the spark in you to start/select your particular business as an entrepreneur?
Amber: When I created Nine Little Months I had gone through two pregnancies and spent a fortune on maternity clothes. Imagine, you effectively have to buy an entire new wardrobe to last you for just a few months. I was irritated that everything had cost so much and after my pregnancies, everything was now useless to me. I figured that a lot of moms-to-be would be in the same situation and I wanted to provide a store where we could pass on clothes to others at great prices. The idea of selling gently-used apparel also appealed to my ‘green’ side – the side of me that wants to do something about climate change. Nine Little Kidlets came out of this also, it’s just a natural progression. The workshops and the coaching business that I run came out of my lifelong passion for working with others. Ever since I was young and growing up in England, friends have joked about how they thought I should be a therapist, because that’s just who I was. It has taken a long time for me to actualize my passion. I have worked for a government contractor, a biotech company and in the high tech semiconductor industry, plus of course I’ve become a mom and entrepreneur – and all of this happened before I became a Co-Active Coach and Workshop Facilitator. But having gone down a windy road myself, helps me work with others. I am now a Co-Active Coach and I love working with others to actualize their dreams.
StartupNation: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Amber: In addition to the skills I mentioned in Question 2…
- I think it’s vitally important to be self-motivated. As an entrepreneur you often have no-one else pushing you to succeed – or pushing you to even sit down at your computer and do something productive. Along with this is a belief in yourself – if you don’t believe in your capacity, capabilities and your product/service, no-one else will.
- Being organized and decisive is important. You have to know when to cut the creative process so you can make it happen. You need to know how to stay on task and avoid distraction.
- Knowing when you need to delegate and ask for help are skills that entrepreneurs needs to have. Collaborating with someone like a coach can help immensely as you go through the process of growing a business. A coach can help you identify your strengths, your weaknesses, where you need outside help and coaches also keep you accountable.
Words of Wisdom – Inspiration for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
StartupNation: If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Amber: Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go the way you want them to on the first try. It’s hard to keep going when it all seems to be going sideways, but as an entrepreneur you have to keep going and figure it out. If you have someone that can be a cheerleader for you (whether it’s a coach, a friend or a relative), be sure to lean on them when you need to. And if you don’t have a cheerleader then find one or hire a coach, you need support!
StartupNation: Where do you find your greatest inspiration?
Amber: I find my greatest inspiration in nature. Wherever we are, we can find many things that are just amazingly beautiful in nature – even if it’s the cloud formation in the sky; the intricate grain in the wood table. I like to meditate mindfully (though don’t do it as much as I would like) and this also brings inspiration.
StartupNation: What is your favorite motivational/business quote as an entrepreneur?
Amber: I have so many that it’s hard to pick. Here are two that I like: “Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.” — Tony Hsieh And “The glassblower knows: while in the heat of beginning, any shape is possible. Once hardened, the only way to change is to break.” ― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.
StartupNation: A motto you live by?
Amber: I have two: “Live With Intention” and “In the blink of an eye, everything can change.”
Tell Us About Your Business, Experiences & Funding Your Startup
StartupNation: How did you get funding for your startup?
Amber: Online businesses have a relatively lower start up cost than stores with physical locations, so funding hasn’t been a big issue for me.
StartupNation: Recommendations for others starting out?
Amber: Have a business plan and know what it says. You will obviously need to change things within the business as you go along and you’ll need to know how that will impact your business plan. If creating a business plan is not something you can do, then find someone to do it for you. Without a clear business plan, costs can run away. Always be sure to get quotes/bids from other professionals that you need to work with and be clear about what it is you need them to do (be sure you are clear for yourself before you speak with them).
Marketing and Building Their Customer Base
StartupNation: How do you market and build your customer base?
Amber: For the online clothing stores I have advertised in national maternity magazines and I also have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and a Pinterest page. On social media I don’t necessarily plug my products, but rather I try to provide information to moms-to-be that might be useful. Also, on a local basis I am around moms a lot just by the nature of being one. Word travels fast within the mom network. Local moms know they can sell clothes to me and they recommend my stores to other local moms. Marketing for Workshops and Coaching is about networking and reaching out to people so that they have a direct experience of you. Whether that experience is via video or in person it gives potential clients an idea of who you are and what you have to offer. I obviously have a web presence and I am currently working on creating a video series that I’ll be offering shortly.
StartupNation: Recommendations for others starting out?
Amber: Know the market you are targeting and then think like that audience. I think it helps to be a part of the target audience as then you know things about the audience like which publications they might read or what they might like more information about.
Changes in the Business Market
StartupNation: What changes have you seen in your business market since starting?
Amber: The online business has changed dramatically just in the last few years with a change in the way Google does business. Google has changed the way it’s algorithms work over the last couple of years. It’s harder and harder as a small business to keep your products visible on Google without paying substantial amounts of money in advertising.
StartupNation: What do you see coming that will impact your business?
Amber: The internet will continue to change and it seems that large companies with large dollars for ad revenue will continue to have a bigger and bigger presence in online searches, while smaller companies will have to find different opportunities online and different avenues. On a different note, I see an increasing awareness that gently used clothing is cost effective and supports a healthy planet. In addition I have been working to help people understand the level of quality they can expect when purchasing gently used clothing, by ensuring that my standards are off the chart. My stores are designed to re-assure people that quality is integral to the items that I sell. Impact is about positive changes as well as negative changes and right now in coaching I only see positive changes for that side my business. As awareness grows that I am now offering coaching and workshops, my coaching business can only get stronger. Success in coaching is about being confident and clear in your strengths and abilities, while at the same time being relatable, transparent and humble. I do my best to walk that path, let’s see how it goes!
StartupNation: Have a funny story about a client or business transaction that you want to share along with a key lesson learned?
Amber: I have to think more about this. If I think of one I’ll let you know. Nothing is coming to mind right now.
Learn more about Amber and other businesses that entered and placed in the competition by clicking here for the top ten and a full list 2014 Home-Based 100 Business Winners and entrants.
Do you have a startup? Are you a passionate entrepreneur with an idea that has taken off and want to share your success with others? Would you like your business to receive priceless exposure in the media and be positioned to take your business to the next level? Then join us this fall for the 8th Annual StartupNation Home-Based 100 Competition which ranks outstanding home-based businesses and the amazing people behind them! Watch for your change to enter! In the meantime, be sure to visit us daily for new content to support and grow your business!