Tammira Lucas and Jasmine Simms | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tammira Lucas and Jasmine Simms

Background:  

Tammira Lucas and Jasmine Simms founded Baltimore-based Moms as Entrepreneurs in 2014 after launching their own individual businesses — The Cube Cowork and Scrub Nail Boutique, respectively. Their Moms as Entrepreneurs Academy trains participants how to start, operate and grow a business through an eight-week course.

The Mistake:

Jasmine Simms: In my personal business, one of the biggest mistakes I made was thinking that all of my business could come from the saying, “If you build it they will come.” That was not the case at all.

My space has no street level appeal, no real street signage or anything like that. When I chose my space I chose it because I got beat out for a lot of storefront spaces, but also because I really liked the lighting in the space. I knew it was something I could work with and it would give me the feeling that I wanted.

Once I got into the space I realized my ultimate challenge was being able to market my space. I knew customers wouldn't come from street traffic, and wouldn’t come because someone drove past and saw bright lights and a huge sign. I had to learn ways to put my business out there. It gave me the opportunity to really hone in on who my customers were and the best way to reach them. Initially I really underestimated the power of social media for my business, but once I found what works for my company I began to see it flourish.

Tammira Lucas: For me, I didn’t underestimate social media, I underestimated guerrilla marketing and how it important it is for my business. Together with Moms as Entrepreneurs, one of our biggest mistakes that we made was understanding that our personal brands, as far as our separate businesses, definitely ties into the business that we have together.

We’re so focused on building up the Moms as Entrepreneurs brand that we’re not really thinking about ourselves. We may lack skills in two totally different areas within our personal businesses, but the skills that I lack, Jasmine can probably help with, and vice versa. Knowing that and keeping that in mind is something that we didn’t do in the beginning because we were totally focused on building Moms as Entrepreneurs.

It’s not impossible to be a mom and to be an entrepreneur.

The Lesson:

JS: Some people can just post pictures of products, or a new dress and customer reviews and get a response that way. I had to learn that using social media in my business came from my customers posting about their experience.

All of the challenges that I’ve had in my business and that Tammira has had, we use those as a huge part of the instruction that we teach in Moms as Entrepreneurs. All of the challenges that we’ve faced, we’ve learned lessons from, and we’re able to bring those to the moms. As they’re running and growing their businesses, if they run into the same obstacles that we have, they know they have someone they can come to and talk to and help navigate those issues.

As far as what Tammira said about balancing each other out, we can’t be experts in every aspect of business. You can’t be the marketing expert, plus the social media expert, plus the expert in law, and the expert in real estate. We have access to a network with experts that can help our students to make sure they’re well-rounded when they open their businesses.

TL: The main lesson I want our students to understand is that it’s not impossible to be a mom and to be an entrepreneur. It’s really how you navigate through your resources and your network that will help you grow and sustain as a mom and as an entrepreneur.

JS: Becoming an entrepreneur is the same as becoming a mom. Anyone can tell you their experience with running a business, or their experience being a parent. Everyone wants to give you advice and tell you the best way to run your business and raise your kids. Ultimately it comes down to instinct.

It’s all a learning experience — once you go through it and come across those challenges you’ll learn from your errors and you’ll grow from there.

TL: As a mom I’m just making it up as I go. Every child is totally different, and it’s the same thing with business. If I opened a nail salon my experience would be different from Jasmine’s. I can learn from her mistakes and learn from the things she’s done correctly and vice versa.

Moms as Entrepreneurs is on Twitter at @MAEentrepreneur.

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email cberman@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's.