Taken from the Financial Post’s Small Business section.


It could be argued Consuelo Clarke is striving to attain the impossible. She wants her business to be fantastically successful, with plenty of time throughout the day to care for her two toddlers, maybe even reconnect with friends and make more ties in the community.

Yet with advice and guidance from her CYBF mentor, the Chilliwack, B.C., entrepreneur seems to be managing to do just that.

“The whole point of being in a business is to do what you love,” says Ms. Clarke, who is trying to style the management of her mineral makeup and organic skin-care products company called Outside/In Cosmetics Inc., to accommodate her young family.

It was mere months after launching that she began to realize the demands of being a sole entrepreneur come with a price. “It wasn’t until my personal life and family life were starting to deteriorate that I said ‘Okay, this is not working,’ ” she says, admitting she came close to abandoning the business. “It has been a real struggle.”

Instead, she learned to let go of certain facets of the business such as bookkeeping and sales, outsourcing those duties to providers in her local community so she could focus on the aspects she enjoys.

“I’m a little bit of a control freak,” she says, explaining it was difficult to relinquish her role overseeing sales and finances. But she’s reaping the benefits of hiring two sales personnel to facilitate the business’s incoming revenue, and a professional to log the sums. “Having a business is like having a small child, you have to learn to let it go.”

Ms. Clarke’s mentor, Tana Plewes, has been relentlessly supportive of her protege’s objectives.

“With entrepreneurs who are family oriented, they think that they have to be small, stay close to home,” says Ms. Plewes, president of Discovery Centre for Entrepreneurship business consultancy in Chilliwack.

“It was having her know that you can have a big, successful company and still have your lifestyle and your balance at home. But it takes careful planning to create it.”

So far Ms. Clarke’s organic and mineral cosmetic products only have been available online although beginning this month, she has retained a distributor to break into retail sales. “Retailers, they want it ‘now’ and I just couldn’t provide that time because my No. 1 customers are [aged] two and four.”

The women have established a close business bond and genuine friendship, which is remarkable because Ms. Plewes initially declined to mentor Ms. Clarke.

“I’m busy and it’s what I do as a livelihood,” Ms. Plewes says reflecting on Ms. Clarke’s request she provide her expertise on a volunteer basis as a mentor through CYBF.

With ties to B.C.’s fishing industry, Ms. Plewes also deemed cosmetics to be outside her realm of expertise.

After some thought, she agreed to take the role. “She was courageous even by initiating the conversation knowing that I do this for a living.”

Ms. Clarke makes no apologies. She says learning to delegate aspects of the business enables her to focus on the online orders for the products. “The online business is what I love to do. I can to go to the park with kids come back and there are three orders,” she says. “It allows me to balance my life.”

Financial Post