For nine years, Kim Shanahan, owner of Bookbouquet.com , kept her business rather small out of choice. The mother of two children, Shanahan felt the best way to juggle both a business from home and a family was to keep the business end a manageable size while her children were younger and, therefore, needed more attention and time.
Last year, though, Shanahan became involved with Make Mine a Million. “It got me thinking I could take this to the next level, and that was honestly the first time I thought that big for my business.”
Book Bouquet began as an idea Shanahan had after a friend was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemo treatments. “I knew she liked to read romance novels so I thought I would send her some romance novels.” The problem? The mother of a two-year-old, Shanahan knew how difficult it would be to find parking and then shop for books with a toddler in tow. “I thought there should be an 800 number for this,” she adds, and the idea began to brew in her head.
By the time she got home, Shanahan realized she wanted not just a way to easily find books as gifts but she wanted an attractive means for sending them as well. “I wanted it to be as pretty as giving flowers.”
Shanahan was not a total stranger to the idea of opening a business. “I had been taking classes through the chamber on how to start a business,” she says, because as a graphic designer she had been considering starting a company in that trade. Through the use of the chamber and SCORE, Shanahan got her start; not only did these resources come in handy at the start up, but Shanahan attributes her lasting success to finding and using a variety of resources for business owners. “I think that is why I could stay around so long.”
Right now, all work is done out of Shanahan’s home – and she is the one shipping, bookkeeping, packing, and handling customer service calls. “When (business) declined last year I had two other employees,” she says, but sadly Shanahan had to let them go. When business picks up, she feels her biggest need will be warehouse workers who can help with packing and shipping. The problem, though, is the high cost of workmen’s comp – something that some people going into business for themselves don’t think about at the forefront of ownership.
Though Shanahan hopes to push her company to the next level, she does say that her industry has been hit by the recent recession. In fact, Shanahan’s sales were down 30% in 2008 from the previous year and, if things remain as they are up to this point in 2009, she feels she will maintain what she did last year – not doing worse, but not pulling up from that 30% loss, either. Shanahan admits, though, as many women have over the course of these series of interviews, that she is seeing signs of better times ahead.