Rachel and Kelley Williams, founders of The Honey Bee Co. and publishers of the Paige & Paxton book series, have executed a successful Kickstarter campaign, introduced three subject products, developed distribution channels, secured a partnership with Chicago Public Schools (the third largest school system in the nation), and more.
In part two of their interview, the mother-daughter entrepreneurs talk business strategy, working together as a team and success with crowdfunding. Check it out:
BlackEnterprise.com: As mother and daughter running a company together, it can be an adventure in itself. What have been a few life lessons that you’ve both learned from one another that you can share with the readers?
Rachel: One of the most difficult aspects of delving into a business venture with someone is trust—being certain that the other person has your best interest at heart. That is a key advantage that we bring to the table in this partnership. With that said, we have our “moments,” but our mutual love and respect always prevail. I would say that we’re doing really well in that we have only fired one another twice during this entire venture [laughs]!
But seriously, we’ve discovered a great deal about each other that has strengthened our relationship and our business. In terms of life lessons, I think the hardest thing for a parent can be to defer to your child. That’s something that I’ve learned to do and our business has benefited from it. For example, Kelley directs all of our digital marketing. When she has an idea, I’ll provide input and ask questions, but in the end I defer to her because it’s one of her core competencies, as evidenced by her success at JP Morgan Chase and American Express.
Another thing that we learned from this experience is how much we are alike. It’s kind of frightening. Kelley and I are philosophically aligned in terms of our values and our vision for our stakeholders and our company. That translates into a great deal of synergy and positive energy that will enable us to scale this enterprise and take it to the next level.
In 2013, the company announced a Kickstarter for Paxton Finds His Perfect Fit. With so many others utilizing crowdfunding as a means of getting their projects out, what advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs who hope to accomplish their goals?
Kelley: Crowdfunding is a great way to not only raise capital, but also to develop a supportive community of advocates who will stay with you long after your campaign is over. I have several recommendations for business owners who are considering this type of fundraising tool. First, do your homework so that you know which crowdfunding platform is best for your goals. For example, with Indiegogo, you can keep whatever amount you raise. While Kickstarter is more like “Jeopardy!” With Kickstarter, you must reach your fundraising goal in order to receive the funds. So if you establish a fundraising goal of $10,000 and you only raise $9,997, you’re out of luck. Second, you can’t set your crowd-funding campaign on “autopilot.” Once it begins, it requires time, energy and resources to tell your story, send updates and reminders and rally the troops. You also have to follow through with promises to your donors, so be sure to take into account the cost of acquiring and delivering donor gifts.
Check out more on how to overcome startup challenges on the next page …