Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Inexperienced Business Owner Wants Networking Tips

DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to start a business selling body-care products. I have already made some creams and lotions and tested them at street fairs in my neighborhood.

I want to take it to the next level, and I understand that networking is essential. What are some ways that I can start meeting new people and getting my products out there? -- Becoming an Entrepreneur

DEAR BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR: Testing the market is good, and that’s what you have been doing in your neighborhood. You should know that many small businesses start in that way. In fact, the beauty company Carol’s Daughter was started by Lisa Price more than 20 years ago in her kitchen. She built her brand by first selling at street fairs and slowly making her way into stores. Ultimately, she got investors and sold to L’Oreal. The goal of an entrepreneur who gets financial backing is to sell and turn a profit. It happened for her, and, if you work hard and have a wise strategy, it may happen for you, too.

What can you do to get further along your path? First, make sure that your product line is replicable and unique. There are many beauty products on the market. Why do you think people should choose yours over the others that are already out there? You need to be able to answer that question clearly.

In terms of networking, join your local chamber of commerce. Contact the local office of the Small Business Administration to see what support is available for you as you grow. Find online sites where you can promote your product. Go to community board meetings and introduce yourself to local government and business leaders. Identify community bulletin boards online and elsewhere, and post dates and locations for your sales. As summer is approaching, sign up to sell your products at as many local fairs as possible. This is a smart first step for raising awareness.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 4-year-old niece is becoming more mature and is very smart and aware of her actions. She does not always listen and chooses to do wrong things for attention. Discipline is essential for young kids, but how much is too far? Do you believe we should spank our kids, or should we simply talk it out with them? My sister keeps asking me what I think she should do, but I don’t have kids. -- Theories of Discipline

DEAR THEORIES OF DISCIPLINE: Though I grew up with the occasional spanking, I am not a believer in that form of discipline. This is primarily because I do not think that violence begets positive behavior. Instead, it inspires fear, anger and disillusionment.

Sometimes “talking it out” doesn’t work, either. I recommend that a child who is not listening well and is misbehaving should have privileges taken away. Often that means no electronics, no TV, no video games, etc. It could mean using a timeout, where a child has to be quiet and isolated for a set period. With a child as young as 4, five minutes is often long enough for a child to have to be quiet.

Your sister needs to develop a consistent strategy. If her daughter behaves in a manner that is inappropriate and belligerent, she needs to be reprimanded and then shown that there are consequences to her actions. If there are consistent consequences to bad behavior, she will learn to stop doing those things.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)