The Daily Reporter 3/10/06.
Eight years ago in August, Cathy Daum was quilting as a hobby and buying supplies at Columbus' three quilting specialty stores when she suddenly found that her choices of stores had dwindled to one.
One of the stores converted to a gift store, the second one closed because the owner decided to retire and Daum said she found the third and only remaining store 'too unpleasant to deal with.'
Within 24 hours of recognizing the problem and the possibilities, Daum decided to open her own quilting store and she began business the following April. The U.S. Small Business Administration's 504 loan program helped Daum purchase her first store on Broad Street, and expand the size of the building from 2,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet.
Being a systems engineer by profession, owning a store was quite a change for the aspiring entrepreneur. However, from day one, the store made a profit, said Daum.
Business was so good, in fact, that last year she opened a second location. Daum now employs 22 people and has exceeded $1 million in sales. The company has experienced an annual growth rate of 20 percent overall, and last year had a growth rate of 40 percent.
Not only does Quilt Beginnings Inc. sell sewing machines and sewing and quilting supplies, it also offers quilting classes. The store typically offers 40 classes per quarter, according to Daum.
Daum, who made her hobby her career, said enjoying the job is essential to a business owner's success.
'Small business owners live the business 24/7,' said Daum. 'Owning a business is so much more than you think it will be. You have to love what you are doing. The rewards can be great, but if things aren't going well, you have to live with it. No going home at the end of the day and forgetting about the job.'
She said she would remind a potential business owner that basic business knowledge and a mentor to use as a sounding board are vital ingredients to success. Daum said her mentor isher father, and although he resides in California, rarely does a week pass that the two do not talk about her business.
In addition to these two elements of success, she says there are a few personality traits that come in handy for entrepreneurs.
'You have to be a risk taker and be goal oriented. You need to love what you do and have a high energy level. You cannot do it all yourself. You need good staff and you need to show your appreciation for what they do for you. If you treat people right, it comes back to you,' she said.
There have been minor obstructions in her business path, but they have been overcome.
'Cash flow has been a problem from time to time,' Daum said, adding that staffing issues also can be headaches for a business owner. She said she is fortunate to have a very good, stable staff, but this has not always been the case. The most painful thing she has had to do, according to Daum, 'was to let employees go who were not working out.'
As to future plans, Daum is looking at the short-range goal of operating her new location, opened in November 2005, at a maximum level.
"This article and the accompanying photograph do not constitute or imply an endorsement by SBA of any opinions, products or services of any private individual or entity."