Lessons learned starting an unplanned business

I never planned on being a startup business entrepreneur. It happened by accident. But after
suffering unbearable pain, numerous medical misdiagnoses, and ineffective surgeries, there was
no choice.

For four long years, I suffered from vulvodynia, experiencing sharp, stabbing, burning pain in
my pelvic area, making it impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy with my future husband. The pain,
both physical, emotional and mental, was agonizing and impacted my quality of life. After
undergoing several surgeries and even having a doctor suggest she drink wine before trying sex
with her husband, I had enough.

From my previous positive experience using magnets to reduce back and neck nerve pain after a
car accident, I had an entrepreneurial “lightbulb moment” to add neodymium magnets into a
vaginal dilator. With the help of medical experts and advisers, I turned my idea into a
nonprescription device that is clinically proven to help women relieve pelvic pain and sexual
discomfort. From my “lightbulb moment” to my successful startup business today, I’ve learned a
lot of entrepreneurial lessons along the way:


Get organized

Being organized is key if you are going to start a business.

Running a small business is like being a circus ringmaster. It’s normal to have dozens of things happening at once. So, I have a daily task list, things that I need to do. AndI list them as their priority. It sounds simple, but it works and makes me far more productive.


Check the market

When you start a business, the most important thing you must do is check your potential market
size. You must do market research to measure competition. Your product or service must be
different if you want to hit a home run. Even after doing these things, there will still always be a
huge risk. There are so many crucial variables to opening a new business, dedication being the
most important.


Tell people

Share your startup story with anyone who will listen. You never know who will be sitting next to
you that you could help, or could help you. Many times, I have mentioned my device in a group
setting, while out to dinner or at a party. I have made lasting business relationships that have
helped grow my business tremendously.


Prepare to sacrifice personal time

I would work 24 hours a day if I could during the first three years of business. Anytime my eyes
were open I was working. Now that the business is successful, I have made more time for my
husband and family. The hard work was worth it though, I feel like those were my college years
and now I am done studying.


Marketing is crucial 

Marketing is a necessary and crucial expense, whether you hire a PR or marketing pro or depend
entirely on social media. When done effectively it can make your profits soar. With this in mind,
it is ever important to monitor the yield of each attempt you make, embodying your existing
customer base and leveraging them as much as possible is critical. Putting systems in place to
ensure that you measure what is working will allow you to invest your time and money, in the
activities that get you a genuine return and profitability.


Grow at the right pace

I have had a lot of people who want to invest in my company. One of the biggest mistakes you
can do is a partner with someone just because of the money. The investor is more important that
the money. You need to pick someone that shares your vision and morals. It is okay to be picky
when it comes to an investor.


Legal advice

The toughest lesson I’ve learned is always shown contracts to an attorney. We had hired a
company that was going to help us market our magnetic pelvic pain dilators to physicians and
physical therapists. We mistakenly did not send it to our lawyer to review. The potential partner
agreed to commission for sales but made a drastic change in the contract one month later. At
that point, we informed our attorney and he sent a termination letter immediately. But the
situation could have been avoided if we had sent it initially to our attorney to review. Going
forward, we now have our attorney review all contracts and business agreements in advance.


Being an entrepreneur allows me to explore and pursue all of my ideas and goals.

When you work a 9-5 job for another person or corporation, it sometimes can be hard to voice your opinion for the fear of rejection. When you are an entrepreneur, you can entertain and pursue all your
ideas and learn, first hand, if they were good or bad. Another plus is you can create your own
destiny with no cap on how successful you can become, or how much money you can make. It is
all up to you, and that is what’s so special about being an entrepreneur.


Finally, you might fail, and that’s okay.

It’s okay to throw in the towel. Do not waste money keeping a dream alive that you feel will never be successful. This is very important because every mistake you made the first time around will help you create something more successful in the next time.

I have seen many entrepreneurs that define success by how much money they have in the bank,
the car they drive and the house they own. I think differently. I define success by how many
women I can help. Anything monetary is a bonus.

Tara Langdale-Schmidt is the founder of VuVatech in Sarasota, FL. http://www.vuvatech.com
a medical device company that helps women suffering from pelvic pain.

By Tara Langdale-Schmidt


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