“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And everyone’s experience starting a business is different. And so this idea that you need to be able to quit your job and be totally full-time in your business, and that it’s going to be super seamless. Maybe it’s the case for some people, but it certainly wasn’t the case for me.”
Babe Crafted is a Tampa-based membership and development club for women entrepreneurs. With over 155 members, their small but mighty group of passionate business owners doesn’t only extend to Tampa Bay members. It also “has members and other states and countries across all different industries.”
“I help women entrepreneurs to build their confidence, build their network, and add tools to their toolkit so they can be the face of their business and reach their dream clients online. It’s also a really amazing space to feel supported in your day-to-day experience as an entrepreneur,” says Gina DeFord, the founder and leader of Babe Crafted.
DeFord hasn’t always been an entrepreneur. She started out in the marketing and communications world, working for companies like the alternative weekly newspaper, Creative Loafing, and Datz Restaurant Group. And because of her accomplishments with those companies, she was able to hone her skills as an entrepreneur.
“I was able to build my network, my professional network, and really try a lot of new things that I was able to package up and then create the membership,” says DeFord.
She shares that she was very resourceful as a young adult and encourages other aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of every opportunity.
“I’ve always been a really scrappy, resourceful person. So, even before I landed these professional roles, I was hosting my own events. I was running Xen in college, you know, I did multiple internships,” says DeFord.
Although there are perks of being your own boss, it also comes with challenges. The not-so-obvious downside of being an entrepreneur is breaking the perfectionism cycle.
“You can become like a perfectionist, especially if you’re a business owner; you want it to go this way because you’re in control,” says DeFord. “So you feel like, you know, you want to be that perfectionist, so it’s good to take a step back and see that you’ve done a lot of stuff.”
And even with all the known challenges of becoming an entrepreneur, she kept her faith in becoming her own boss.
“So one of my biggest inspirations was really thinking about what kind of life I wanted to have in the long term, and thinking about how I wanted to spend my time, how I wanted to use and enjoy my own creative energy,” says Deford. “And I just realized that if I wanted to be able to have more autonomy over the projects I took on, over who I worked with, over when I took a vacation, how long my vacations were – all of those things, I was going to have to be an entrepreneur.”
She notes that the growth wasn’t overnight and came “organically” over time. DeFord lives by the notion that you have to trust the process and let your business create its own path. And with all the highs and lows of being a business owner, she shares more tips and motivation for aspiring young entrepreneurs who looking to break out into the business world.
News Bosses: What is one piece of advice you want to give to startup people who want to be entrepreneurs and start a business?
Babe Crafted: For someone who is looking to start their first business, to start a new business, I would say to do market research, figure out who they’re looking to target, what they’re looking to offer, survey people are their ideal client or dream client, to do as much as you can – cross your t’s dot your i’s, but also just get started. Because you’re not going to be able to build that business, you’re not going to be able to get better at that business until you start. So just get ready to do as much prep as you can, then roll with the punches and adapt as you go.
News Bosses: How do you stay motivated through all the woes of being a business owner?
Babe Crafted: Something that I love to see is – like when my members are building like relationships with each other, and they’re collaborating on events, they’re collaborating on content, they’re referring one another, they work with one another. When one is having a tough day they rally and share words of support and encouragement, you know, like seeing the membership and the network like work in the way it was intended to work is so motivating and beautiful.
And then something else I have in my toolkit is – so every year, I have a wins notebook, which is a notebook that is dedicated to documenting and celebrating my wins. Sometimes I write in it every day. Sometimes I write once a week. I mean, it varies, but then I can go back, and I can check out what’s happened in the business because we tend to forget, you know, all of the awesome things that have happened on a day-to-day basis. So, looking back at earlier this year or last year is a real gift. And that also keeps me motivated because I can see all of the really great progress.
News Bosses: What do you say to people that are scared to take the leap of faith and become a business owner?
Babe Crafted: Well, something I want to say is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And everyone’s experience, you know, of starting the business is different. And so this idea that you need to be able to quit your job and be totally full-time in your business, and that it’s going to be super seamless – maybe it’s the case for some people, but it certainly wasn’t the case for me. So I started my business with no savings; I did not intend to step full-time into being a business owner at the time that it happened. But I took on some freelance PR opportunities. I worked part-time in a bakery. I temped for a co-working space. Like there were lots of jobs that I stitched together to pay my bills while I navigated being a business owner.
So, I just wanted to say for anyone who is maybe feeling a little afraid to start – become a business owner; you don’t have to jump in the deep end of the pool. You can take on part-time jobs and freelance jobs to stitch together an income while you’re building your business. Because it’s a big learning curve, in the first year, two years. I know this is kind of a long answer, but I just want to emphasize not to compare how you’re doing it to the way someone else is doing it. Take feedback and hear what others are doing, but do what works for you. And what worked for me was I took on freelance jobs, and I worked part-time in a bakery and just took my time with it until I was fully ready and had the income to truly support myself fully before letting go of any other jobs or freelance opportunities.