The Drive: What challenges have you overcome?
I am originally from Bolivia, South America, so a native Spanish speaker. For My Vita Bag I have to speak with so many people, presenting my idea, sharing my vision, putting myself out there in a foreign language, with the fear that people will focus more on my accent or where I come from instead of getting what I am trying to tell. So it took a lot of time to overcome that fear and I had to remind myself over and over that my mission is bigger than myself and just go for it.
Business-wise, we have had a few challenges, but I guess it has to happen especially in new business. Business needs to be evolving all the time and that will bring challenges. For example, when we were starting to supply stores, we found that our packaging was not perfect – the bags were getting detached from the labels and falling. So I had to come up with a new label design in about 24 hours to ensure stores would keep stocking us. Or when we were piloting the fundraising, we had so much interest that we ran out of stock so fast, it felt like the end of the world to me as I did not want to disappoint anyone. But at the end we were just open and honest and started taking pre-orders with a wait time of 45 days and it worked! Something I learned from this first year in operation is that to keep business going and growing you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. There are new challenges that will push you to the limits all the time.
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
Work on your passion, on the things that matter to you, being able to align your work with your values is super rewarding.
Have the opportunity to get super creative, multitask, and get to know yourself, your limits and capabilities way faster than you would have done it if working for someone else.
Chip in the local economy and influence positive values in others, have the opportunity to use business as a force to do good.
Being able to manage your own time – you have the flexibility to decide when to do things. Super helpful in school holidays or when kids get sick.
You will likely work long hours every day. If you are not doing what you love, this could be totally exhausting.
You will have to take some unpleasant tasks, like letting somebody go when they are not what the business needs.
It could be quite scary at times knowing that at the end of the day it is all on your shoulders, plenty of decisions to make and infinite outcomes to consider.
It could feel very lonely at times. As the owner, you run the business 24/7, especially in the initial stages. The support or work of others has a start and finish time.
Hopes and dreams: What next?
I am hoping to continue growing so I can also grow the social impact that My Vita Bag can create. I am hoping to support our overseas workers with healthcare and education in the near future.