My name is Nora Kerr and in 2015, I founded Memoir for Me, a life storybook company, after capturing my father’s life story. It was a powerful experience that I wanted to replicate and share with others. Going into this, I knew I was a strong writer and I also have some photography chops. But the finer details of launching and running a business was all foreign territory for me, which is why I clung to Jill Salzman and the Founding Moms for dear life, and still do today.
I have learned many lessons in my first five years of business, and I’m sure I will learn many more. The first lesson has been one in patience. While I may have many things going for me, having patience is not one of them. I am reminded of this fact every day when I find myself in the slowest lane in traffic or when I have to wait for children to put their shoes on in the morning. Seriously, how does this take 10 minutes?
No successful company was built overnight. It is a long game. Leads that you think are a sure thing might not come back to you for years. Advertising campaigns that you feel deep in your heart deliver the most compelling buy-now messaging might deliver, but you’ll have to show someone that message approximately 143 times before someone actually buys it from you.
Here’s a perfect example: In my first year of business, I was a vendor at a popular local street fair, nestled among the tables selling $5 corndogs and $10 hairbows. I knew it would be an uphill battle selling a more premium (read: pricier) product. And yet people approached our table and ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over our concept, swore up and down that they were buying this experience for Mom and Dad this year, took all our brochures (and our candy, of course) and I came home thinking, I’m going to be set for the year with new business! Then I waited for my email to blow up. Nothing. Not one conversion. That was my first big slice of humble pie that I would continue to feast on in my first year of business.
But I kept on, growing the brand slowly but surely. Two years later, I heard from a woman who had joined my mailing list that hot summer day in 2015. She said she enjoyed our monthly emails and had been waiting for just the right time to buy a life storybook for her mom. A two-year sales cycle? It makes me laugh and groan at the same time.
So, my advice to anyone starting out in business is to be patient. You’ll also need fortitude, because you will make countless mistakes but you must adjust and move on. When your spirits lag, tap into that founding hope that propelled you to start your business in the first place, what people call the WHY behind your company. That hope and faith cannot be doused by failure or even the harshest criticism. Ever.
I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that story can make a beautiful family keepsake. I now have my dad’s story and my kids love to look through his life storybook. This is my founding hope. What’s yours? And are you being patient enough with your messaging to keep serving it up even if it sounds like nobody is listening? If you are persistent and patient, people will listen. Keep the faith, my fellow entrepreneurs, and keep on. –
Nora Kerr is the founder of Memoir for Me (memoirforme.com), a life storybook company. Memoir for Me captures the stories worth saving through personal interviews and turns them into keepsake books. She is immensely grateful for the advice and humor Jill has shared through the years!