The thought of taking your career in a direction of self-employment can be an exciting one, though leaving your well-paid corporate gig to start your own business can be a daunting proposition. It means not having a regular pay check and the very real possibility of burning through copious amounts of your saved-up cash before your business begins to generate an income – however, Kimberley Bueno took the risk anyway!
Starting The Cuddly Cottage was never part of any plan Kimberley had. While she was working in finance, she was already helping out a few neighbors who had horrible experiences with prior pet sitters. When Kimberley made the decision to leave her corporate job, she picked up a few more pet sitting jobs – and when she realized she could make it into a business, she did.
The day Kimberley decided to file an LLC and start a business, she felt incredibly motivated and suddenly inspired to build something new. But she also remember having some anxiety, self-doubt, and fear. She think it’s helpful at times to feel some fear when starting new projects, because it usually means you’ll learn something and grow as an individual.
While Kimberley was building her pet care business, she wanted to meet with other women entrepreneurs to get some more insight and advice on how to build a business from ground up.This sparked her idea of creating a non-profit organization, called Women Entrepreneurs of Hudson County (WE of Hudson County), specifically dedicated to providing resources to women entrepreneurs looking to grow their business and building a supportive community.
Did you start The Cuddly Cottage by yourself?
Technically speaking I did and although I may be the “face” of the Company, I’d give a lot of credit to my fiance, Tom, and say we started it together. Without his support and help throughout the process, The Cuddly Cottage wouldn’t exist.
What sacrifices have you had to make during life as an entrepreneur?
Most of my sacrifices in the beginning involved giving most of my time to my clients, and being more careful with money since my income is inconsistent. In the beginning stages of building a business, I found I didn’t have much time – to work on other priorities, hang out with my friends, or even to take care of errands. I think in my case, because of what I do, it requires me to constantly be on the move – so I may be a special case. This also kind of ties with money management. I really had to do whatever I could to make sure I was spending wisely and efficiently – making sure bills, rent were paid on time, etc, – even though I didn’t initially know how much the business would earn.
What advice would you want to give women who are starting a new business besides their own business?
I’d say – It’s important to surround yourself with people that truly and honestly support you. With the highs and lows of building a business, it’s incredibly helpful and critical to your well-being to have a good close knit group of people that support you.
What is your favorite aspect of becoming an entrepreneur?
What I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur is when a client provides feedback! I love knowing that a service I provided – on my own terms – is making people happy and making their lives less stressful! And I love talking to our customers to understand what they’re looking for, and to get feedback on how our service can be even better.
You reached out to a few local businesses for sponsorship, which helped with the success of the event [for WE of Hudson County]. Can you give our readers 3 tips on how to find sponsorship for an event to host?
I’ve found that businesses really do want to help and support, but it’s a matter of how you approach them. Businesses are trying to run their operation smoothly day-to-day and sometimes management doesn’t have time to respond to emails right away. It’s important to keep that in mind.
My approach when asking for sponsorship is:
- Get straight to the point of what I’m asking for, why, how it would benefit the business by participating, and what type of sponsorship I’m specifically looking for. It may take some time to hone in your approach and viewing my request from the perspective of the business helps.
- Following up. Sometimes businesses look at an email, mark it as important or highlight it but then forget it. Politely following up is always helpful and doesn’t hurt!
- Cast a wide net. You may be looking forward to working with a particular company, but they either didn’t respond or you received a rejection. Reach out to multiple businesses that you’d think would be a great collaboration. Don’t be stuck on just one. There are a ton of businesses out there that do want to connect and partner with you!
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
No! I never thought it was even a possibility for me.
How do you manage your work at The Cuddly Cottage, while managing WE of Hudson County?
Time management is important and when you are managing multiple projects, it’s critical to get a handle on your time. I have several physical calendars that I keep up-to-date, and of course my Google calendar. I make sure to double-check my schedules and ensure that I have sufficient time for everything. If I make a mistake, I immediately own up to it and find a solution.
How do you want to improve yourselves in the next year?
I am making more time for self-care, since I don’t have the usual weekends and holidays off from working. I’ve dedicated certain days where most of the day (if not all) is focused on relaxing and enjoying my day. I think starting a business and a non-profit had caused me to neglect self-care so in the new year, it is one of my priorities.