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"We wanted to see if our cakes would sell, so for months we held tasting parties for friends and family. We asked guests to write comments anonymously on cards. Mostly, people said nice things, but they also said 'too moist,' 'too sweet,' and 'needs to be more pineapple-y'—which sort of got my mom's back up. My mom worked on the recipes until people thought the cakes had just the right amount of moistness, sweetness, and flavor."
—Norrinda Brown, Co-Owner, Brown Betty Dessert Boutique
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Build a Network "I've participated in a number of stationery shows, and along the way I've struck up informal relationships with other entrepreneurs. We compare notes across the aisle; it's good to talk to others who are going through the same thing, and together you can brainstorm ways to partner on future projects."
—Kim See, Founder, Kemse & Company, which specializes in multicultural stationery design

Follow Your Customers
My taste wasn't completely resonating with my suburban customers. My sales weren't as good as they could be, and the people who were buying had come up from the city. Obviously, I needed to move downtown, but rents aren't cheap. Still, in 2005, I did it. My sales went right up."
—Chandra Greer, Owner, Greer, a Chicago stationery store
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Mentor Others
"I didn't have a lot of money to pay assistants, so I called the youth employment service at my son's high school and advertised for art students. They sent me two great girls."
—Pam Older, Founder of the jewelry firm Pam Older Designs"

Toot Your Own Horn
"Women, especially Southern women, are taught to be demure. When I first opened, I didn't want to be a show-off and name my company after myself. Instead I called it WSG (Wilson Services Group) Consulting. Huge mistake. No one could remember it. Plus, my expertise and talent are what clients are buying. We rebranded this year as Robin Wilson Home. Business is booming."
—Robin Wilson, Renovation and Design Manager, Robin Wilson Home
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