DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been in business for about a year and have a unique product I have been selling with some success. I have been working hard at setting up events where I can sell my product, and so far, so good. That is, until something odd happened. Another product designer asked if he could piggyback on my holiday sale right after he received an invitation for it. He offered to send out the online invitation to his mailing list in exchange.
I didn't do it, and I thought it was weird. I have worked so hard to build all of these relationships. Was I wrong to feel uncomfortable about him trying to ride my coattails? -- Not a Pushover, Silver Spring, Md.
DEAR NOT A PUSHOVER: Partnering for collective sales events often works to each vendor's benefit because such sales have the potential to attract a broader buying audience. So, no, your acquaintance wasn't inappropriate in making the recommendation.
That said, this person may have approached you in an uncomfortable way. Suggesting at the last minute that the two of you team up suggests that he realized this was an opportunity for him to make some sales. I can see how that might rub you the wrong way.
Why not explore with him the possibility of collaborating in the future?
DEAR HARRIETTE: You gave excellent and sound advice to the reader who was considering becoming an entrepreneur. May I add: Talk to any and all small-business owners about what it's like. I've found they're willing to share their experiences.
Though owning a small business can be rewarding, the costs, responsibilities and risks are enormous, and it may not be worth giving up the rewards of a steady job at which you are obviously valued. Also to be considered are the costs to your family. If you have children, essentially you already have a small business. Being an entrepreneur takes time away from them that can't be replaced. -- Taste of Heaven, Chicago
DEAR TASTE OF HEAVEN: Thank you for your wisdom on what it means to become an entrepreneur. It reminds me of the meeting I had when I started my business. Audrey Smaltz, a longtime entrepreneur and dear friend, sat me down and said I should count on the business costing more than I could ever imagine, especially in the beginning. She told me to save my money because I would likely need those extra coins for electricity and staff. She also talked about how much time it takes to get a business going and the inherent requirement that you remain committed in order to be successful.
That was back in 1995. I can't say that I always followed her advice, but I can say that I'm sure it was sound.
Your point about how to balance a family is a real issue for many business owners. What I do is write lists and make schedules that include everything I need to do, including what I do with my family. In that way, I am less apt to blow off an important meeting, recital, dinner or phone call. I highly recommend it!