Heather Smith has a knack for the startup life. Her resume is a laundry list of entrepreneurial endeavors, including opening and owning Eggshells Kitchen Co. for five years before leaving Arkansas, only to return and open another shop next door in The Heights.
She launched Domestic Domestic in 2014 with a focus on American-made products that are purposefully built and curated, everything from books to housewares to camping gear. The shop was an instant hit and has grown in the years since, including an expansion earlier this year that doubled the storefront in size.
Below, she breaks down the lessons she's most eager to share with new business owners (and the ones she wishes she'd known on day one). Take it away, Heather.
1. Prepare to be three times as big.
Stifling growth can cause failure. I'm not saying bite off more than you can chew, but do allow for a plan of success. Will your store have enough square feet if you need to expand? Can your equipment handle more of the load? Can your cash flow support a seasonal "pop?"
2. Be your own boss, but hold yourself accountable.
Sure, working for yourself has its perks, and a huge one is the flexibility to come and go without answering to anyone. Family obligations? No problem. Prefer to sleep in? Sure. But setting boundaries and workload expectations is vital, and sticking to it equals success.
3. Count on friends and family for support, not for customers.
Your family will certainly be your first customers, and most likely consistent customers, but they will not pay the bills. Let's be honest, unless you are a famous celebrity, there is no way you have enough friends and family to keep you afloat. Certainly lean in when you need help, and share your struggles and wins. And if they offer to provide a bit of labor here and there, take it! Gift wrapping with my mom during the holiday season is a great memory.
4. Never compare your business to another.
Face it, this is true in every aspect of life, not just business. Your competition's success can be celebrated and admired, but don't stack it against yours. You don't know if they are paying their bills. You don't know if some rich uncle left them a small fortune. You don't know if they are happy or satisfied.
5. Always have an exit plan.
This is 100% the most important thing I could teach you. If times get too tough, get out. If you dislike the job, get out. If the game changes beyond your skill set, get out. But what does "get out" mean? In retail, sell it all and shut the door. Or if you have adequate time, contact a business broker and list it for sale. Just don't get in so deep that you feel stuck.
Domestic Domestic is located at 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock. Shop in person or online on the store's website.