With This Home-Based Business, All That Glitters IS Gold…

April Allison is the CEO of GlitterBug Gold Parties, a company that is showing everyday entrepreneurs how they can capitalize on today’s incredible GOLD RUSH, all from the comfort of their own homes. Having started her business 13 years ago, April has created and built two multi-million dollar home-party companies from scratch. She’s helped hundreds of women and men start a home-based business they are passionate about, that allows them to find fun in their work and that makes money!

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April recently took time out of her busy schedule to share her backstory and words of advice with other aspiring and existing entrepreneurs through BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange:

I live in sunny Orange County, Southern California. I’ve been happily married to my husband John for 14 years, and we have two children―Zachary and Olivia. I don’t have to work, but I CHOOSE to work each day because I’m passionate about what I do. I get to work with amazing people who want to make life better for themselves and their families. I have the privilege and pleasure of watching them excel in their business and experience huge shifts in their personal lives.

I know what works and what doesn’t in various businesses, because I’ve worked in all areas of the business world, doing literally everything at one time or another. Furthermore, I have done hundreds of gold parties myself, personally trained and mentored successful leaders who make six-figure incomes, and put together and trained a staff that now makes our operation run like a well-oiled machine.

I’ve also invested tens of thousands of dollars in my business education to make sure my businesses operate at an optimal level, and that we capitalize on current and future trends. This is a critical skill, especially in a recession. While everyone else is either barely surviving or going out of business, my companies are thriving.

Unfortunately, my life wasn’t always like this. I used to be the shy overweight kid in school, afraid to raise my hand in class. I had good parents and they put me through college, but I almost filed for bankruptcy when I was 28. I was working in sales, trying to build a future for myself…and I got laid off instead. The owner gave me $20 along with an “I’m sorry” and sent me on my way. Gee, thanks for the 20 bucks! Since I didn’t have anything else lined up, I decided to pursue my dream of being a singer and actress. So I collected my meager unemployment check and tried to become famous. Uh…THAT didn’t work out so well. Combined with the debts I already had, I was soon VERY in debt with no chance of getting out of it that I could see. My parents ended up offering me a loan (with a hefty interest rate attached) because they couldn’t bear to see this happen to me so early in my life.

I eventually found my way to a stable job, but it wasn’t very rewarding and definitely NOT fun. Working for a huge international corporation, I spent my whole day selling copier service contracts to printers and big companies. I felt like I spent all my time convincing others and begging for sales. I hated the continual rejection every time I heard that horrible word―“NO.” I also hated that I didn’t have the ability to choose who I worked with.

I had a co-worker named Susan who was jealous―in a mean and vicious way. At one point, I was seriously afraid for my safety. She verbally threatened me, and I found out later that she stole my credit card information from a bill on my desk and charged $4,000 of Air France airline tickets to my credit card.

I worked there for five years and grew to DESPISE it. Sunday nights were the worst. I knew I had to get up and go to that stupid, unfulfilling, going-nowhere job the next morning. I was depressed and frustrated. I knew there was something better out there waiting for me, but I didn’t know what…and I didn’t know how to get it.

In 1999 I discovered the solution to my problems. I learned the secret formula―how to have my own business, do something I love to do, keep all the profits for myself, and teach others how to do the same. It’s been a turbulent, eye-opening, joyous, amazing ride!

April goes on to share her answers to some of our Entrepreneur Exchange readers’ most pressing questions:

How did you fund your business?

I started my first company with just a home office, a spare bedroom to store product, and very little initial investment. I mainly invested TIME and ENERGY when I got started. Then, after 10 years, I wanted a new project to work on―something brand new that I could build. So I created GlitterBug Gold Parties, and I actually had capital to work with this time. There are many ways to grow your business cheaply (or even for free), but I was able to grow GlitterBug faster because I had money to build and nurture it. It doesn’t necessarily take money to make money, but it certainly helps.

How many hours do you work a week, and how much of it is spent in your home office?

I don’t even know how many hours I work per week because when you’re the boss, you do what needs to be done―no matter how long it takes or how tired you are. But I have a great staff and have the luxury of delegating a lot of the more administrative tasks.

Speaking of which… If you own your own business, you should be having someone else do the menial administrative tasks, as well as the more difficult tasks that are outside of your expertise. Yes, that’s true even if you’re a “solopreneur” and work alone and even if you have limited funds. When you move toward utilizing your time and energy on what will move your business forward (and not just keep it running), that’s when you’ll see real progress. Most business owners are so bogged down in the day-to-day operations―just keeping up or treading water―that they don’t have it in them to grow and expand the business. So nothing changes, and they stay “stuck.”

I work from home two days per week and am in the office for three days. I find that I get more done at home with no distractions, but need the days with my staff so I know what’s going on in the office. I used to work like a crazy person with crazy hours, but I’ve slowed down and I try to spend more time with my family now. I deserve it!

How would you rate your success?

When you ask a successful entrepreneur this question, I believe they’ll always give a score of 6 to 8. That’s because we always know we can do better, and we’re always working to get there….wherever “there” is. Some entrepreneurs don’t even know what that looks like. In keeping with my fellow entrepreneurs, I’d give myself a 7 or so.

What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?

My biggest struggle has been in knowing when to TRUST―learning to trust my own instincts and listening to that instinct when it relates to trusting people. I’m a woman more than an entrepreneur. And we women tend to take business personally. I DO take what happens in business personally.

About six years ago when I was six months pregnant with my second child, my sales manager plotted and schemed to start her own company as my competitor. She took half my sales force with her, and here I was about to have a baby. I felt betrayed and emotionally defeated. It took me a LONG time to get over it.

Looking back, if I had listened to and trusted my instincts, I would have caught on a lot sooner and it wouldn’t have been so bad. But I had to learn, and this was my lesson. Now I run my businesses with my “gut” and not my head. It’s worked out much better for me this way.

What advice would you give to a new business owner?

Take advantage of every single opportunity you have to learn more about running a business and how to get the results you want. Notice I did NOT say your profession or your area of expertise. That’s because most people who go into business know all about that. What they don’t know, and what kills them in the end, is how to run a business―how to manage the money and very importantly, how to MARKET their business. There’s actually a lot of free information and training on these topics, but very few take advantage of it. That’s sad because it’s the key to life or death in business. When you invest in yourself and commit to learning better, faster, more effective ways to run your business, you will go farther…faster than you ever thought you would!

The other advice I’d give is to take 100% responsibility for all of your results. I get tired of hearing people blame their poor results on everything other than themselves. It’s not someone else’s fault…it’s always your fault. That may sound harsh, but I call it like it is. Accept responsibility and then move on to fix it and/or do it better! When you operate from this perspective, you will see that you can change things. You are ultimately in the driver’s seat, in control.

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

I’m the first to admit that “balance” is an elusive thing. First you feel like you have it, and then you don’t. Then you find it again, and then you lose it again. I struggle, just like most working women who have husbands and kids, friends and extended family also struggle with managing their time.

There are a few things that do help me that I’d like to share…

1. I try to be present when I’m with my kids. When I’m with them and my mind wanders to work matters, I consciously force myself to leave the work problems or questions behind and focus on my time with my children.

2. When I promise to do an activity or spend time with my children, I follow through and keep my promise―even though things may have changed or I’m tired and don’t feel like it. They know they can count on me.

3. My husband is wonderful. I couldn’t manage everything without him. He’s semi-retired and takes care of the home front. He does a great job, and I couldn’t focus on my work if I didn’t have him supporting me.