I recently had the pleasure of interviewing several young and successful entrepreneurs for an article for AllBusiness.com. One of them I was truly struck by was Susan Vernicek, 29. Vernicek is the founder of Identity Magazine, an online magazine that empowers women to “Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.” ™
“My two driving forces in life from a young age have been to run my own business and to have a positive influence on others,” says Vernicek. She studied fine arts, graphic design and photography in college. Her first job out of school brought her face-to-face with the forces that drive women to criticize and compare themselves to others. Seeking an alternative to the vapid articles about diet fads, fashion trends, and celebrity gossip she found in other women’s magazines, Vernicek envisioned Identity as a positive place to turn for the information, inspiration, and support that help women embrace their inner selves and achieve their potential.
I asked Vernicek more about her business startup and she shared some of what she’s learned.
How did you first come up with the idea for your business/product/service? Imagine spending every day looking at photos of your own face [and others’ faces], using computer techniques to add and minimize wrinkles, lip volume, or crows’ feet lines according to a scale. That was the work I did for five years. Part of my job was to develop “rating scales” doctors use to determine the progressive stages that a patient was in before and after plastic surgery procedures. The [work] made me feel insecure and very critical of my skin and body. I found myself judging every man and woman I met. The end result was Identity.
Do you think you’re a “born” entrepreneur? I have always felt “different.” My father was a business owner (in the restaurant industry) and I have two siblings who are business owners. My first job [was] at a family-owned business where I learned to work hard and perfect my customer service.
What was the scariest moment in your life as a business owner? When I left my job to [become a] full-time entrepreneur, setting [my own] goals and deadlines.
Do you think it’s possible to change the world? Anything is possible with hard work and teamwork.
Any startup advice you want to share? Make a list of what you need, what you want, and questions you have. Then tackle it one by one. I gave myself homework every day and just checked it off. If you try to dive in without any direction, you’ll go crazy.
Almost all of us need direction at some time. Having a SCORE mentor can help, of course. However, if you’re like Vernicek, you might prefer to get mentored online. No problem—visit SCORE’s site to find an online mentor and start working through your own list.