“Don’t wait… It’s so easy to think someone is going to do it better, that you don’t have what it takes, but don’t worry about being perfect, you just have to try and the perfect will come later.” – Anne Cork
Anne Cork is a serial entrepreneur, wife, and mother of 2. She started her company, Annabelle Noel Designs, in 2003 with a spool of wire in her basement. Annabelle Noel Designs is a product design and distribution company that focuses on the creation of products that make life easier and more beautiful. The company has launched successful brands such as Easy Arranger, Scribbles, and Imagination Starters nationwide through independent and national chain retailers.
Anne recently talked with us about her professional business journey, how GROW has helped her along the way and provided some great advice for anyone thinking of taking that entrepreneurial leap.
Anne got her nursing degree and worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep before wading into entrepreneurial waters, but it was always something in the back of her mind. “If I’d known that people could be entrepreneurs when I was young, I would have done that from the beginning,” says Anne. After honing her sales skills in the pharmaceutical industry, Anne began working with wire and sculpture in her basement—it’s there that she invented the Easy Arranger, an awesome tool that helps anyone create artful flower arrangements. “I was driven to work for myself, I wanted to control my own destiny and after inventing the Easy Arranger, I dove headfirst into business ownership.”
The GROW Connection
For the first roughly 12 years of her business, Anne was on her own, learning along the way. “I was totally clueless and bootstrapped the company from the beginning, it was ok, but as the business continued to expand, it became harder and harder to do it on my own,” says Anne. “I was introduced to GROW from a few others and decided to review some of the basics after being on my own for so long. I found just the right fit for me and my business needs to learn and flourish.” Anne is currently part of our EmpowerHER program, a cohort-based, year-long training program for women entrepreneurs who have been in business for at least a year and are looking for assistance with stabilizing and/or growing their companies.
When asked specifically how GROW has helped her business thrive, Anne immediately talked about the supportive community and referral outreach she’s experienced. “I’ve found my lawyer, bookkeeper, and banker through connections at GROW, they are my go-to resource,” says Anne. “They truly care about helping women become successful business owners and that’s why I trust their recommendations.”
Business growth has been steady, but expansion always comes with its own set of personal challenges. For Anne, it’s been finding the right balance between personal and professional life and learning when to let go. “I have a tendency to hold my cards too close to my chest,” says Anne, “this inhibits me from delegating tasks when I really need to.” Adopting a concept she learned from a GROW course, Anne always asks herself, “Who’s at my table?” trying to identify gaps and filling the seats at her table with those who are going to help the business become a success.
Taking That First Step
Her number one piece of advice to those thinking about starting a business is to just take the first step. “Don’t wait,” says Anne. “It’s so easy to think someone is going to do it better, that you don’t have what it takes, but don’t worry about being perfect, you just have to try and the perfect will come later.”
Anne left a job where she was making six figures and devoted herself to figuring out what being her own boss really meant—and she’s that much happier for it. “Have humility, be brave, and admit when you need help,” she says. Initially waiting for that one thing that would bring success, that one sale or that one opportunity, Anne now realizes that success doesn’t happen overnight. “I’m not looking for that one thing anymore, and instead understand that it’s a million things every day that make you successful. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Learn more about Anne’s company online at www.annabellenoel.com.