Bridgett Hurst admits she’s always thinking creatively. In fact, she drew a specific outline of what she wanted the kitchen in her home to look like before it was built. With so many ideas bouncing around in her mind, she decided it was time to find a creative platform to express them by starting a business.
In July 2014, Hurst proudly became the CEO of Branded Creations Custom Engraving, LLC in Rosie, Arkansas. The home-based business offers custom laser engravings.
“I design and create engraving items, natural stone trivets, glasses, picture frames, and other custom designs,” Hurst explains. “I can do laser engravings on wood, leather, and other materials.”
She uses a variety of computer programs to specifically customize each engraving she creates. This software allows her to design the exact layout a customer requests, and she can use different visual effects to add to its overall appearance.
Entrepreneurs cite various reasons as to what ultimately pushes them toward starting a business and the desire to achieve startup success. For Hurst, it was a passion and sudden change in her life…
“I’ve always been kind of detail- and decorative-oriented,” she says. “What ultimately prompted me to get into this was getting divorced after 23 years and needing to support myself and do something I would enjoy at the same time.”
In addition to the engraving company, Hurst has a day job at BF Smith & Son Saddlery, a leather and saddle company in nearby Pleasant Plains. This position is very flexible, so it gives her the time she needs to devote to the small business.
“I have to be doing something all the time,” she says.
She talks about what she believes will ultimately make her venture prosper over the long haul.
“It’s all about creating things that customers look at and just love,” she says. “The ability to take those designs and customize them to what the customer wants is challenging yet fun.”
She says it’s the creative outlet that really makes this type of work enjoyable for her.
“I’m constantly looking at things and saying, ‘Oh, wow. I could do this or do that to make it better and more interesting.’ I have so many ideas in my head. Trying to get them all out is the hardest part.”
Hurst primarily sells her unique engravings online through her company’s Facebook page. A customer can send her a message indicating what type of engraving they want. She then writes back with some questions and sends a basic layout. Once both parties agree on the design, Hurst creates the item and ships it to the customer. The transaction can be done entirely through PayPal. In addition to the Internet, she also sells her creations to local consignment shops.
“I’ve shipped things to Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio, and other states,” she says. “Once someone sees a picture of an engraving I post on Facebook, they are hooked.”
Accounting for Small Business Competition
To find startup success, entrepreneurs must always be accounting for their competition. Hurst says she feels like she’s established a unique niche in her industry.
“I haven’t heard of any other companies putting out the type of stuff I make,” she says. “I try to make unique things. The customization aspect really separates my company from others. I’ve even gone back later to add things to items that customers want after the fact.”
To get the word out about Branded Creations Custom Engraving, Hurst has used social media and is planning to run ads in relevant publications like Horseman’s Roundup and Mules and More. She also plans to create a website to simplify the purchase process.
Tips for Entrepreneurs
Thanks to her own experience, Hurst provides some helpful tips for entrepreneurs about the keys to starting a business.
“First off, you really need to research what you want to get into,” she says. “I did research for at least 6 months before officially starting this. You have to see what your competition out there really is and how you will fit into the big picture. Scope out what your client base may want before you even start. Also, make sure someone clues you in on your IRS tax liabilities, bookkeeping, payroll, and all of the backend business requirements.”
While Hurst loves being one of the millions of small business owners across America who drive the nation’s economy, she admits self-employment can come with ups and downs at times.
“You can set your own hours, and you have lots of flexibility with that,” she says. “The disadvantage is that you are your own boss, so you’re responsible for getting your product out there and sold. It’s not like working for someone else where you show up, do the work, and get paid.”
1-800Accountant Client Testimonial
Hurst is a satisfied client of 1-800Accountant and speaks highly of the national accounting and business consulting firm.
“Having that step-by-step assistance and someone to hold my hand as I venture off into my future is so important to me,” Hurst says. “Having someone I can talk to at 1-800Accountant 24/7 and ask questions to is huge. I know the accountants are looking out for my best interests.”
Photo credit: The photograph included in this article was provided by Branded Creations Custom Engraving, LLC and is used with permission.