Monique Simon, a native of Antigua, has studied the Caribbean culture her entire life. To help spread the word about its unique aspects of language and cuisine, she realized that starting a business would be her best outlet for this.
Simon, who is a 1-800Accountant client, formally launched her own startup called True Home Enterprises, LLC. But the company does business under the name TheIslandWorld.net. Simon registered the company in October 2013, and she has several subcontractors who assist her. She works out of an office attached to her home in Jersey City, New Jersey with hopes of future expansion.
Simon’s mission is to inform, educate, and make people chuckle about the interwoven cultures of the Caribbean islands.
“We sell a variety of unique items that celebrate this culture,” Simon explains. “These include e-books, wisdom cards with little sayings, and souvenirs. We’re even working on some language-learning mobile apps. We also offer travel services for those looking to visit the islands.”
Simon talks about the true inspirations of why she decided to start the company.
“As a Caribbean national living abroad, you find yourself a little lonely and isolated at times,” she says. “I wanted to create a home for people who are Caribbean nationals wherever they are in the world. I realized I could do this via technology.”
She talks about what she thinks has made her small business a success.
“The ability we have to help people connect if they’re feeling stressed by giving them a Caribbean feel through our products is what it’s all about. People feel like they really come home through what we offer.”
The company’s customer base mainly includes Caribbean natives and those who are interested in the Caribbean culture. However, anyone can enjoy these books and items, from 3-year-olds on up.
Accounting for competition is a big part of starting a business that has a great chance of prospering. However, in Simon’s case, she feels like her small business is different from those that sell similar items and go head-to-head with each other.
“We have more collaborators than competitors,” she explains. “We take a more educational approach with what we sell. We also have a charitable mission in which we donate a percentage of our profits to charitable organizations.”
Like so many startup companies these days, Simon has relied heavily on the Internet to get the word out about her business. Along with a website, the startup has pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. (Also, check out The Caribbean Folklore Project page and The Skinny Carib page.)
Challenges to Starting a Small Business
Just like other entrepreneurs, Simon admits she’s had to overcome her fair share of challenges.
“Capital is always a challenge, even though I personally invested money in this endeavor,” she says. “But my biggest challenge is that my timeline and the public’s timeline are different in terms of progressing with the business. There is more of a demand for the uniqueness of the Caribbean culture than I’ve been able to fully cover.”
Tips for Small Business Owners
Simon offers a few pieces of advice for aspiring small business owners.
“Do a lot of what I did – study for a very long time what you are interested in doing. You have to start with a passion for something. Even when I’m exhausted, I always think about my passion for doing this type of work. Also, research everything. You don’t want to discover you should have done something that you failed to do before getting started.”
While business ownership has its ups and downs, Simon recommends always focusing on the positive reasons why entrepreneurs get into something.
“Having a business requires lots of courage, tenacity, and ability. You have to be able to ride a rollercoaster and scream, but hopefully with a few people screaming alongside you. Those moments when you can share a passion you’ve held so near and dear to your heart with others is the real rewarding part.”
Small business accounting and taxes can be complicated compared to personal taxes. Simon says she’s been quite satisfied with the assistance 1-800Accountant has given to her in this area.
“There is a high level of confidence knowing that when I give 1-800Accountant all of my receipts, you guys will know what to do with them. I know I’m in good hands, and I’d definitely recommend the accounting firm to others for anyone looking for good small business accounting support.”
Photo credit: The photographs included with this blog post were provided by True Home Enterprises, LLC and are used with permission.