By Jordyn Grzelewski Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) For National Small Business Week, Embroidery entrepreneur Tracy Petrekovich shares her business journey while offering tips to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Looking for a way to secure her and her husband's future, Tracy Petrekovich of Warren decided to take a skill she learned as a child and turn it into a business.
Six years later, Hoop and Stitch, Petrekovich's custom embroidery business, has grown to the point where she recently had to purchase a second home to accommodate her inventory and equipment.
For National Small Business Week, Petrekovich is sharing her story and offering tips to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Each month, her one-woman operation fills hundreds of orders to embroider items such as hats, bags and stuffed animals.
Right now, the best way to find her products is on Etsy, at www.etsy.com/shop/HoopandStitch. In the near future, she hopes to expand beyond filling online orders to selling her products in the local market.
Although now a success, it wasn't easy getting to this point. Here's what she's learned:
Lesson No. 1: "It's much harder than I thought it was going to be," she said.
At the beginning, she spent countless hours researching how to acquire a vendor license, how to form an LLC, what brands to carry and how to develop relationships with vendors.
"You learn by mistakes," Petrekovich said.
Although she opened her business on her own, Petrekovich found some local resources that have helped her. Among them is SCORE, a nonprofit association affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The volunteer organization provides free assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
Locally, SCORE is based out of Youngstown State University's Williamson College of Business. To receive assistance, visit score.org to be linked with a mentor. All you need is an idea.
"We'll look at their business plans, make suggestions, and they can come back and visit us as often as they like," said Janet Moy, SCORE Youngstown chapter president.
SCORE mentors will walk an individual through topics such as registering a business name and paying sales tax.
Moy explained that volunteers in the business community serve as mentors. SCORE also offers a slew of free programs on different business topics, such as how to write a business plan or how to advertise on social media.
For those who are more advanced in their business, assistance is available via the Small Business Development Center. For example, SBDC can help a business looking to begin exporting its products.
Another resource Moy pointed to is the SBA's website, www.sba.gov.
The Youngstown Business Incubator also offers programs for entrepreneurs, such as its Women in Entrepreneurship program. Visit ybi.org/entrepreneurs for more information.
Moy said the most important thing an aspiring business owner can do is come up with a business plan.
"People really need to plan. They need to research," she said. "Enthusiasm is great, but to pair that with research and planning, and to do the business plan is essential."
For Petrekovich, both planning and enthusiasm have been essential. She's done her due diligence, but she wouldn't be successful if she didn't love what she does, she said.
"You have to really self-evaluate and decide, 'Am I willing to work so much harder for myself than at my normal job?'" she said.
For her, that means getting off work at her other job and working at her business. It means working 12 to 15 hours per day on her days off, using her vacation time during Hoop and Stitch's busy weeks, and the occasional all-nighter.
"Its about really loving what you're doing and being able to work hard at it," she said.