Real Business Owner: Diane Phillips, DK Designs
Q. What’s the name of your business?
A. DK Designs
Q. What business/industry are you in?
Q. What made you want to launch your own company?
A. A dear friend of mine convinced me to open my own company when I was making handmade cards. She helped me come up with my company name. From there DK Designs grew into a company specializing in handcrafted clay flowers and wedding stationery.
Q. What was your biggest hurdle you discovered when launching your business?
A. At the time I started DK Designs in 2003, I was still working full time, so it was something I did on the side. I think the biggest hurdle was how to get my name out there and get people in the industry to take interest in clay flowers as an option for weddings.
Q. What was easier than you expected?
A. It’s what I enjoy. For 10 years, I worked in high tech and I didn’t enjoy it. A VP of Marketing at SanDisk who I met on a business trip told me, “You should find something that makes you say every morning, “I love my job and I can’t wait to get up and go to work.” I never felt that way until I started my company. I LOVE what I do. Of course, every job has it’s challenges and I’ve had my fair share, but I honestly love what I do and people recognize the skill, quality of workmanship and art that goes into my flowers and wedding stationery. It’s not for everyone, but I’m very fortunate to have gained a lot of exposure through viral marketing and social media!
Q. Did you write a business plan? Why or why not?
A. Although I have a MBA in International Management and our thesis was to create a business plan, I never created one. I suppose if I was trying to get funding or a loan a business plan would have been ideal, but it’s truly grassroots and I only grow with what financial means I have. What I do with the clay flowers is an art form so I don’t want it to become something that is mass produced just to make millions.
Q. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your business?
A. Networking – At the time I started my business, I didn’t really know about various networking associations in my industry. I also wish that as a working mother with no childcare, I had the ability to attend these events to gain more visibility in the industry.
Q. What services would you highly recommend outsourcing?
A. Definitely accounting. It’s the one job I absolutely hate doing. Outsource the small things that you can entrust to someone that has the same attention to detail. I learned after getting really busy with the flowers and invitations that I couldn’t do it all. I hired my aunt who I trust and know she’ll do a good job, to do things that I didn’t necessarily need to be doing. That gave me the time to focus on designing and creating the flowers and doing the things I that require my expertise. Delegate what you can.
Q. What tasks do you think every business owner should do for themselves?
A. Run your business as a one person corporation. Do all aspects initially because the company is what you make of it.
Q. Which books did you found helpful while getting started? Why?
A. I didn’t use any resource books to get my business off the ground. A friend of mine simply helped me with finding the agencies I needed to contact to get my business license, DBA and reseller’s permit.
Q. What online resources did you find helpful?
A. Not sure I really used any online resources. Reading industry blogs to give me inspiration, seeing what colors are popular, etc. I honestly, just follow what I know best how to do and while I’ve made some mistakes, they were all good lessons to learn and grow from.
Q. What piece of advice would you like share with someone looking to start a business today?
A. Speaking solely from a wedding/artistic field – define what you do, be unique and different. Your company should be an extension of who you are. Grow within your means if you have no outside funding and make sure you can be successful in your growth. Learn to say “no” when you feel it’s getting to be too much. I never said the words, “no” until I became so busy and just seemed overwhelmed. I also learned how to manage my clients better and was able to give them my expert advice on what I felt would work best for their wedding and the items they ordered.Written by