Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!
Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!
I'm Tara Noel Martin from Big Sky Photo Booth. We are a boutique photo booth company offering interactive, custom experiences for social events and corporate brands. Our booths are portable - we bring them to venues, ranches, and private homes all over SW Montana. Anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, not-for-profit fundraisers, school carnivals - really any social event is a good fit for our booth entertainment. The booths provide studio-grade photo-strips printed in one minute, endless laughter, and social sharing for your brand.
How did you start your boss lady journey?
Matt and I traveled to Duluth, MN for a dear friend's wedding. We were THOSE people....we couldn't stop using the photo booth (we didn't do anything indecent though)! On our roadtrip back to MT, we brainstormed how to bring the idea back to our community. A couple years of research, and we launched in the Spring of 2011 (Yes, it has been five years)!
Have you gone full-time with your business?
It feels like it! When you wear so many hats as a business owner (bookkeeper, HR manager, event workerbee, event coordinator, marketer, social media manager, and secretary, etc) it is hard not to put in a full week. I probably work 25+ hours per week in our slow season, and 50+ in the busy season.
Okay, let's talk about the DNA behind Big Sky Photo Booth. Were you one of those women with entrepreneurship basically in your blood that we always hear about?
(Wow, that's a cute question.)
Yes, I guess I have it in my DNA. When I was 19, I started a fiber arts company in Missoula called "Marigold's Garden" - I spun my own yarn out of predator-friendly, hand-sourced lambswool or alpaca, and organically-raised plant fibers (cotton, hemp, linen). I crocheted hats, bikini tops, baby sweaters, etc and hand-made dresses and shirts out of thrift-sourced fabrics.
When I was 24, I started a petsitting business in Bozeman called "Montana Pet Lovin' ". Both were successful, but neither very profitable. When I crunched the numbers, both were only paying about $9 or $10 per hour.
As a little kid #boss lady, I dreamt up ways to make money--taking orders door-to-door for wrapping paper, small toys, & gift bags that I marked up from the retail price I paid. I was constantly negotiating with my Mom and Dad for higher allowance wages.
I have always been an "idea" person (though I often don't have the working capital to move those ideas to action). I am always dreaming of my next business thing. I guess they call that being a "serial entrepreneur."
How do you build an income and a life through your business?
I work my "regular" job in health care. It provides the stability and health insurance I need for my family. My business generates approximately 40% of my monthly income.
What was your most expensive mistake?
Getting a Master's degree in a nonsalable field before getting into healthcare.
What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?
First, don't overthink things and think they are too hard. For example, you can start an LLC without hiring an attorney. Google is your friend. Almost everything can be researched ad nauseam with good results without consulting the big wigs.
Second, in a market like Bozeman with very low unemployment (<2%), you WILL struggle to find good help if your business is growing. That is a reality. Plan for that, and maybe the recruitment/retention struggles won't be as disappointing, or you can thwart it with some professional HR or recruiting help.
Or, just be prepared for a training process that is streamlined.....
Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?
I would like to work less. I'm not sure if that will be working less with the business, or working less with my "regular" job. In the next five years, I want to own more real estate and work even less. Pipedream? Maybe.
How would you define a Boss Lady?
She is fervid. Always pushing the envelope, always hustlin', always staying current. But, she's funny too, and makes herself laugh.
What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?
Year 1 - be prepared for a lot of disappointment but stay goal-oriented.
Year 3 - the struggle is real but isn't it getting easier? Look where you've come baby! STAY GOAL-ORIENTED!
Want to get in touch with Tara? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)
(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)