Alist Nation / Woman-Owned
We are doing a highlight series on Women Owned Businesses
Each issue will highlight 5 woman-owned businesses. We will give you an exclusive interview with each of these inspiriting women and help you connect with their businesses. It’s time to put our money where our mouths are and support local businesses that are Woman Owned.
Interview with Angie Stocklin, Co-founder of Readers.com
Tell us a little about yourself and your childhood.
I grew up on a farm in Paoli, Indiana. A small town of about 2,500 people. My high school class graduated 117 people. I have a younger brother and a younger sister. My dad was a farmer. Mom and step-dad are high school teachers. For several years, my mom made baskets and wood crafts and traveled to festivals and shows to sell her goods. My dad and his brothers owned an implement dealership when I was younger.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
My business partner was the one who really drove the business starting process, he is full of entrepreneurship genes and when we realized that we worked well together, a business was born.
Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
Readers.com is my happy accident. I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur, but fell into it by accident and loved it. I loved building a business from scratch, watching our metrics improve, and coaching and developing our team.
After you made the decisions, what steps did you take?
When Randy and I started our business, we made the decision to keep our full time jobs so that we could test and iterate on our idea before we needed to rely on an income generated from revenue. We read and researched each area of our business, and taught ourselves everything we didn’t know (examples: photoshop, email marketing, quickbooks, product selection, etc)
How did you fund this project?
The project was fully funded from our personal savings account.
What advice do you wish someone would have given you? It is important to surround yourself with an impactful network of people that you can count on for guidance and support. We learned the power of this network over time, but I believe our business could have grown faster if we’d been seeking advice earlier.
What were the hardest hurdles?
Hurdles are something you get very used to when you own your own business, but the beginning hurdles can be some of the hardest (because you don’t yet have the skills required to jump them or the confidence in yourself). Making the decision to move the business out of our home was one of our earliest hurdles. Moving meant we’d have more space for growth, but signing a lease for building space was scary. Hiring was another hurdle that we faced early on in our business. It is sometimes difficult to decide when to hire and which position to hire first, and then you have to determine how you want to run your hiring process and decide who you want to hire. As the company grows, individual hires become less of a risk, but adding person #3 and #4 can make or break your team.
Did you have a mentor? Yes! In fact, I have more than one mentor and seek out personal and business advice from these individuals as needed.
At any point did you want to give up? Nope. There were times that I wondered what we were doing or what we’d gotten ourselves into, but at no point did I consider giving up.
What made you keep going?
As we grew, it was always the commitment to our team that kept me going. Early on it was probably the fear of failure and my unfailing optimism.
Angie Stocklin, Co-founder of Readers.com
How long did it take to become profitable?
Because we didn’t need to pay our own salaries and we had low overhead, we became profitable very quickly. We were then able to take our profit and reinvest it into the growth of the business.
What was the best thing you did to grow your business?
The best thing we did to grow our business was focus early on customer acquisition. We poured hours of research and practice into learning how to acquire customers in a profitable way.
Do you feel it was more difficult because you are a women?
There are times in my business journey that I have felt overlooked or disregarded because I am a female, but I don’t believe this made it more difficult to start, run, or grow our business.
Do you think social media is important?
Of course! Social media has become a huge driver of revenue and brand recognition for brands of every shape and size. As time has gone on, it’s only become more and more important. I don’t see that going away anytime soon.
Were there any life lessons you learned along the way?
Be vulnerable with your team. It’s important for your team to see you as a person so you can connect with them on an emotional level. This doesn’t necessarily mean sharing personal or company secrets with your team members, but being open and honest with your team creates a level of trust and understanding that is important. Surround yourself with people that care about you and lean on them when you need them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when people have your back.
What is the happiest memory from this journey?
I have too many happy memories to list from my 13 years as an entrepreneur, but every single happy memory has to do with our team. Some of the memories involve launching a time intensive project and others include celebrating wins, but some of my happiest memories revolve around the fun we shared in meetings and doing everyday tasks. Readers.com wouldn’t be what it is today without the amazing team we’ve had building and refining the brand.