Who will be the next entrepreneur to make millions? I think it could be Alison Prince and I'm happy to share with you what makes her so incredible. First, let's look at her background and then the time-tested business principles she's following.
Alison is founder of the e-commerce company PickYourPlum.com. It specialize in crafting and baking supplies, home decor, clothing and true daily deals where you have to "get it before your neighbor." She is also co-founder of the HowDoesShe.com blog.
PickYourPlum.com is one of the companies I've invested in through my Island Park Investments angel fund. Alison, 34, has four children and -- she proudly notes -- a wonderful husband.
Alison's university degree and prior career was in teaching math and science. She got the business bug while teaching and trying to figure out a way to make ends meet because her husband was still in school.
After a few business starts, she and some friends launched HowDoesShe.com. After the success of HowDoesShe.com, she launched PickYourPlum.com. From its beginnings in Alison's garage two years ago, PickYourPlum.com has progressed to a warehouse of more than 6,800 square feet, with 60-plus team members.
What does Alison like about being an entrepreneur, and what are the principles that have helped PickYourPlum.com succeed?
* Build rock star communities. Alison believes the key to building a strong community is to get involved with your customers.
"Find out what they want, what they need. Enjoy them and celebrate them. For example, each month our team sends 19 to 21 'Winner Winner Chicken Dinner' gifts to random customers as a thank-you gift for their support. Our focus is on building strong relationships and keeping a friendly touch while growing quickly. We laugh and smile every day, so as a signature touch, we put a LaffyTaffy in every package we ship. We've given out 279,405 LaffyTaffys so far."
* Work together in your niche. Alison has a true desire to work as a team with others. "There is a whole world of millions of amazing women who blog and who follow blogs."
As a mommy blogger (on HowDoesShe.com), Alison knows firsthand the power of a huge online support system. She says sharing traffic and ideas creates win-win situations for everyone involved. "Social media is powerful. Bloggers have a powerful voice and we support each other," she says.
* Tap into your unlimited potential. "When building a business I love the fact that there is no ceiling on my potential," Alison says. "I know there are risks in entrepreneurship and that there will be long hours. But the opportunities are endless."
* Build a team. "Find your cheerleaders. Find dreamers that 'do' and hire them. Create jobs and change lives. That has been the biggest paradigm shift with owning a successful business. Jobs change lives. Positive, happy jobs make better, stronger workers and a better company. A smart team makes a company successful. Build a smart team (that) is willing to learn."
* Be prepared to be scared. "Investing in expensive equipment, new products, surviving crashed servers, payroll checks, stress when kids were crying and dinner was burning were so hard in the beginning. This is about taking educated risks, having family support and now and then eating burnt pancakes."
* The value of mentors. "Mentors have been a huge key to my success. I studied math and science, not Web servers and warehouse production. Key mentors have helped me look beyond the daily grind. They have helped me lead and grow. I have too many to name."
* Business competitions as a source of publicity. "One of the reasons I entered the Grow America competitions is because of the learning experience.
"Is it hard? Scary? Yes, it is, but it's worth it. The competition helped me direct my ideas, think about the big picture and put things into order. This experience helped me find out more about my business and learn ways I can take it to the next level."
There are currently 11 million U.S. entrepreneurs. They create the jobs and the revenue our economy needs to improve and recover.
In every sense, Alison exemplifies the spirit of a successful entrepreneur. Thank you, Alison, for your sacrifice and courage and for the tremendous business skills you exemplify.
You can reach Alison Prince in person via PickYourPlum.com. Here's to America's next successful entrepreneurs.
Contact me at www.AlanEHall.com or @AskAlanEHall.