Owning a popular boutique in a charming beach town sounds like a dream job to many, and it’s one that my wonderful friend Danielle O’Hara is living. As owner of Boutique Bellissima, Danielle juggles being a mom and wife with running a seasonal business that is booming during the busy summer months.
Her small boutique in Avalon, NJ sells “anything you’d want when you’re at the beach” – gifts, absolutely adorable kids clothes and shoes, beach coverups, handbags, shoes, jewelry – and it’s one of my favorite stores.
Here’s an inside look at her job and what fuels her success:
Monika Jansen: What is the most rewarding thing about owning your own business?
Danielle O’Hara: Having control over the creativity of what I do. I don’t have to run anything by anyone else, and I can create what I want for each season based on my inspiration. The store is a reflection of me and what I want it to look like.
MJ: What’s hardest about owning your own business?
DO: People don’t realize that you do more than sell on the floor. The hardest part is handling everything yourself. You have to know every facet of the business, from accounting to the products you’re selling.
MJ: What aspect of the business do you like least, and how do you tackle it?
DO: All the financial stuff! I tackle it with an inventory consultant. I’ve been with them for a year, and they do all the budgeting, inventory planning, and analysis for me so I can focus on the creative end.
MJ: Which is what you’re good at.
DO: Exactly. All the analytical stuff – it’s nice to have help with that.
MJ: What do you wish you’d known before starting your business?
DO: The time commitment. So much goes into running a small business. Balancing a family and the business is a lot harder than I could ever have imagined. As women, we want it all, and it’s hard to have it all. One part of me wishes the business was not seasonal so I could make more money, and the other part of me is glad it is so I can spend more time with my kids and balance my life out.
MJ: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
DO: I got really good advice specific to being a business owner: structure your business so you’re not the one selling all the time and so you have time to do the backend stuff that has to get done. The business cannot be dependent on just me; everyone needs to sell as well as I do.
MJ: What do you look for in employees from a sales perspective?
DO: It comes down to being friendly, personable, and approachable. You can’t give that snobby retail store vibe.
MJ: What do you attribute your success to?
DO: It’s the merchandise – it really fits into a beach community. And, my new location is awesome, too. I get so much more foot traffic and visibility. Since moving from a side street to the main shopping street in Avalon earlier this year, my business is up 96%.
MJ: Wow, that is awesome! Congratulations! What advice do you have for other small business owners?
DO: Continue to be inspired and figure out creative ways to grow your business using social media, your website, your blog, whatever. Make sure your business stands apart from the rest and change around the merchandise so the store looks new and fresh.
Looking for your own business success? Get started with Groupon today!
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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.