There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Lynn Lilly, the CEO and founder of CraftBoxGirls.com. After Lynn was laid off from her corporate marketing job she took decided to follow her passion of crafting and entertaining and used her savings to launch Craft Box Girls in 2014. The website is the perfect place for craft enthusiasts to discover DIY recipes and party craft ideas made simple.
Now, two years later, Craft Box Girls does more than just provide DIYs. Lynn encourages her readers that living a creative lifestyle is affordably obtainable. She’s expanded her business, launching an ecommerce store where readers can purchase craft kits, party supplies and handcrafted goods; created a mobile and television DIY app; and released a book, Screen-Free Crafts Kids Will Love, dedicated to the art of simple and easily obtainable crafting ideas.
Lynn’s mission is to empower and inspire women and young people to follow their dreams—whether that’s “turning a hobby into a business, being the best mom they can or climbing the corporate ladder.”
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Lynn Lilly: Even as a child I was a creative at heart. I wanted to try and do everything, so my dream job would change constantly. I went from wanting to be a doctor to Martha Stewart to a television anchor—the course of life is an interesting thing. Through it all, and through my passion of creativity, I aspire to build a successful “do-it-yourself” brand and hope to one day become as well respected as Martha Stewart, but geared towards a younger generation.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Lilly: I started my own business because I wanted the freedom to inspire [others] and follow my dreams on my own terms. I wanted the chance to step outside the box and turn my passion for do-it-yourself and inspiring creativity into my everyday gig. I wanted to be the director of my story, and the only way to do that was follow my dreams and start my own company from the ground up.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Lilly: I think success is a journey that involves many pivotal moments. My turning moment was when I believed in myself enough to take the plunge and invest everything, both financially and emotionally, to launch Craft Box Girls. I spent a year researching the DIY movement, developing the core messaging for our brand and working with developers to build the website. When the time finally came to launch, it was a leap of faith, but once I committed I was locked in for the ride of a lifetime.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Lilly: The most valuable piece of advice I have received is to fail fast. With any new or small business, funds are tight and you can’t afford to hold onto an idea or a product/process when it just isn’t working—it could lead to the downfall of the company. Figure out what you are doing wrong and pivot quickly. It is OK to fail as long as you do it quickly and keep moving forward with positive changes.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Lilly: I believe one of the best practices an entrepreneur should embrace is to figure out their strengths and weakness as quickly as possible. Once you figure out your weaknesses, work to find employees, advisors and consultants that can make up for those areas where you may have less expertise. Once I realized that I could not be master of everything, I started bringing in individuals that supplemented my weakness with their greatness. It was a game changer for my business.
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
Lilly: With more and more emerging technology, efficient practices and low barriers to entry, small business have started popping up at an accelerated growth rate, which will in turn challenge corporations. I believe small businesses and startups will be the leaders introducing the technologies and products that improve our everyday lives and connect people across the globe. Small business will continue to shape and enhance the way we live, communicate and work.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Lilly: The Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Lilly: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” —Steve Martin
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