How to get smart

Interview with Amy Swift Crosby – founder of Smarty, a resource for women entrepreneurs to connect with other women to nurture and grow their business and community.

Q: What is your name? Amy Swift Crosby

Q: Company name and website? Smarty /

Q: We launched in: February 2009

Q: What is your business or what do you sell? We are a community and resource for entrepreneurial women. We provide information in the form of workshops and events that bring women together to share resources and to provide education on building a successful business.

Q: Who or what was the inspiration behind your company? I was a freelance writer who always struggled to find a community around being a free agent. There wasn’t much. I helped create many programs within Ladies Who Launch which inspired me to go deeper into serving entrepreneurial women.

Q: How did you get started? I co-wrote a book on women and launching and brought programs to LA from New York and got addicted to seeing peoples dreams come true.

Q: How long before your business was profitable, or when is it projected to become profitable? My business was profitable very quickly but my cash flow is always in question. The business requires human capital and venue costs – neither of which is inexpensive.

Q: What significant obstacles (if any) have you faced & how did you overcome them? There are always obstacles. One of them was trying to determine what I should be doing myself vs. what staff people should do and what I should hire. It’s always hard to give up control over your company, even though you know its what it needs to grow. You can’t do it all after a while. If you want your “baby” to grow big and strong, then it usually needs fuel from different areas and you can’t fill all those needs.

Q: Do you ever feel like giving up at times? If so, what keeps you going? I think sometimes because I work in customer service essentially I get taxed by all the human contact. It’s also what I love. But, as i said, it can be trying. When I send out an email and people write me back asking the very question I just answered it can make me feel like “do they even read it?” and so there are small moments when I feel like it’s a big pain. But mostly, I work with amazing, truly inspiring women who are committed to their dreams and ideas and that is very motivating.

Q: What qualities (i.e., family support, discipline, time management) do you think are necessary for a women entrepreneur? Women do very well in communities. Without them, they don’t always have the support and shared resources that women naturally give to one another. You also need ongoing education. Your evolution as an entrepreneur never, ever ends. You have to constantly innovate, learn, keep your finger on the pulse, figure things out. This is why I started my company; to be that resource.

Q: What is the one thing (book, website, coach, mentor, tool, blog, service, etc) that you value and can say has contributed to your success?
One person I always think of is this restaurant owner in New York City. He’s a cantankerous, opinionated ex-hippie with great taste in food and low tolerance for special requests. The way he runs his restaurant and the point of view he shares in his cook book “eat me” by Kenny Shopsin has been really inspiring to me. It sounds crazy because they guy isn’t a good business owner in the professional sense of the word, but he’s my muse because he’s doing what he loves exactly how he wants to do it. I love that.

Q: What was the worst advice someone gave you? You have to have a business plan or you can’ t be successful and you don’t build businesses one person at a time. The truth is a business plan can be great but it isn’t always a must, and you do build business one person at a time at the beginning.

Q: What are your business or personal goals for the next year? I’d like to bring my membership to 800 and then 1,000 women in LA and Orange County in the next year.

Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in business or thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
Get connected to a great, supportive, smart community and be a sponge for everything you can learn. Spend time with people who have businesses you admire. Ask them a ton of questions. Listen. Listen. Listen. Don’t talk. Listen. Then you can talk (:

Q: is there anything else you wish I had asked? I think you covered it!

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

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