In September, two small business owners won a three-month mentorship with expert advisers Marsha Collier and Brian Moran, through a contest sponsored by Pitney Bowes Small Business. Julie Wiley, owner of Second I Do’s, a Wisconsin-based eCommerce bridal and gifts business, won the contest, and she was desperately in need of someone to help her navigate the many aspects of her business. She needed help in prioritizing her sales platforms, updating her website and reframing her business niche. Most importantly, she needed to set herself up for success and generate a steady income.
As it happened, the pairing of mentor Marsha Collier with Julie was a perfect match. In fewer than 90 days, Julie’s business was transformed – and it continues to evolve today. So inspired by the mentorship, Julie shares her story for other small businesses in a similar place.
Guest Post by Julie Wiley
When you are lucky enough to find a mentor who totally gets you and understands exactly where you want to go, you have no choice but to grab the wheel with both hands and drive yourself to success. Marsha Collier was my mentor, won through the generosity of a mentorship contest sponsored by Pitney Bowes Small Business and I had hit the jackpot!
After making a choice to end one career as a MRO buyer and start another as a full-time business owner, I had been just three months into my “new” career when the opportunity to win a mentorship through Pitney Bowes happened to pop up on a Facebook message. I decided to enter and pursued my friends relentlessly to vote for my business so I would have a chance to win this – I needed a mentor to get me on the right course!
When you make the decision to become a full-time business owner, you know where you want to go but not necessarily the best way to get there. That was why I felt so lucky to win Marsha Collier as my business mentor. I had heard of her through eBay – where I still sell to this day and knew she understood eCommerce. I had a retail store and closed it to pursue eCommerce exclusively and knew as a sole proprietor, I could not handle both. So, in deciding to go the route of strictly eCommerce, I thought I had it pretty well planned out until I actually “hit” the road to start the journey. I found out pretty quickly, I needed someone to navigate.
Marsha turned out to be a well-organized co-pilot. She was my AAA TripTik – a planned-out road map with a few scenic trips along the way. The journey with Marsha had me speeding along on a road to future success in no time at all.
She took a look at my product mix and decided the inventory from the retail store needed to get put on eBay to help whittle it down as quickly as possible, while the new direction I had decided to go with my own personalized line of products dictated I open an Etsy shop as soon as possible with at least 50 items in it.
She took a look at my current website and analyzed it and I had mentioned I was looking to switch selling platforms anyway, so I started the task of switching it over to Shopify after finding my old website was not mobile-friendly at all. I have a long way to go and it will always be a work in process, but without Marsha helping guide the way, I would still be using the old shopping cart, dreading the change and wondering if the one I ultimately chose would be the right one for me.
Marsha took me on a few side roads to take the time to show me some ways to maximize my social media time, better ways to do things to minimize the work load for the websites and provided clarity for some of the issues I did not understand. She was also my biggest cheerleader when I felt overwhelmed.
After all, building your own business is a journey – not a destination. Thank you, Marsha for getting in the car with me … and while I know the rest of the journey will not be without obstacles, I know I am better prepared to deal with them.
Thank you Pitney Bowes for presenting me with this wonderful opportunity. The timing could not have been better!