Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Jess Ekstrom, Founder and CEO at Headbandsofhope:
What does your company do?
At Headbands of Hope, for every item sold, a headband is donated to a child with cancer. A lot of kids who lose their hair to chemotherapy are offered wigs or hats after hair loss. Headbands are a perfect way for them to restore their self-confidence without hiding what they’re going through. We sell our products online and to thousands of retailers across the world. Today, Headbands of Hope has donated headbands to every children's hospital in America and 15 countries.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope. I was inspired to start my company when I was 19 years old after an internship with a wish-granting organization for kids with life-threatening illnesses. The best part of my job is seeing the large impact a small accessory can bring to kids with illnesses all over the world. I also love traveling to different companies, conferences and universities sharing my story about creating Headbands of Hope and how others can create meaning in their own lives.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
One of the challenges at Headbands of Hope right now is how to scale our DIY headband donation program in hospitals. We love combining our mission with art therapy initiatives and allowing the patients to create their own headbands using our materials, but it’s difficult to distribute on a large scale rather than in person. The same issue goes for the donation events we do like hosting proms at children’s hospitals for kids who can’t go to them. We efficiently ship headbands around the world, but we’d like to be able to deliver some of the more custom and unique donation experiences we’re able to do in person or at a local level.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to accept failures and hiccups as a part of the process. In the beginning, things would fall through or I’d make a mistake and I’d immediately reflect it back on myself. I spent a lot of time and energy beating myself up over things I either couldn’t control or didn’t go the way I had planned. Eventually, I learned that all of that is normal and if everything is going perfectly, it’s probably because you’re playing it safe and growth doesn’t happen there. Each time I’ve failed, I’ve gotten better about brushing myself off and not letting it weigh on me.