Today, we are kicking off our blog series on Older Entrepreneurs.
Our first video features Regina Mason, 54, founder and owner of Virago Baking Company in Lansdale, Penn. that specializes in natural and organic, gluten free and vegan foods. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Regina’s working career has been spent in the food services industry. After coping with several layoffs, Regina knew that she wanted to open her own business. With the help of the StartSmart program offered by WORC (Women’s Opportunities Resource Center) in Philadelphia, Penn., she launched her bakery and café three years ago. In her video interview, Regina talks about her passion for baking healthy foods and entrepreneurship.
Regina has also shared her Top Tips for prospective new business founders with us. She writes:
Starting your own business can be very exciting. It also can be very overwhelming.
You ask yourself:
• Where will I get the money to make it happen?
• Who will help with all the work?
• How can I afford to market the business?
I know I had all of these questions, and some days I still do. Here’s my advice:
• Utilize every resource available from government, personal, friends and family for the financial part. I used equity in my home, credit cards and savings. It’s scary, but you need to trust yourself. I also have been fortunate to have people who just wanted to help.
• Staffing without having the finances is also possible with the help of interns. Students have contacted me because they want to learn what we do at our bakery, and they need work hours for graduation. They volunteer to work for free for a set time in exchange for the opportunity to learn from us. When the job market is slow, it is very hard for these students to find paying jobs to complete their education. You give them internships to get experience, and they help you get the
• Everyone knows that you need to market your business, and marketing is not just about advertising. Social media and the Internet allow a business to market without spending much money. A good Web site is a must, but after that it’s all about driving traffic to your site and your place of business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many more give you a way to communicate with potential customers in a fun, casual way. If you are not familiar with how these work, ask your kids, remember those interns, they will show you! Search the Internet for your type of businesses and see where other similar businesses are listed. There are many free directories where you can post your business information. Upload photos, but don’t forget your logo!
• Most important — go for it with passion and you will find success!