Featuring local small businesses is important to us here at Rocket City Mom, and we love to bring more attention to those that our readers might find interesting. We’re developing our Small Business Saturday posts and asking business owners to share some of their entrepreneurial tips and practices. If you’re thinking of hanging a shingle of your own or just want to grow your existing business get ready to bookmark our Saturday posts – you’ll also have the opportunity to enter to win a giveaway or two![pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do. – Lucille Ball [/pullquote]One of the busiest people I know is Elizabeth Houssain. When she’s not wearing her Advertising Queen Crown at her business, ValPak of North Alabama, she’s training for triathlons, volunteering in her community, and parenting her two daughters – 9 year-old soccer star Emma, and spirited little Claire, age 5. The entrepreneurial spirit runs throughout the Houssain family, and is also found in Elizabeth’s husband Anthony, owner and President of Spinecare, Inc.
Tell us about ValPak of North Alabama’s origins.
We opened in March 2010. Anthony has been measuring advertising vehicles for years working on Spinecare. On the advice of a dentist friend, he tried direct mail as a means of attracting new customers, but he was extremely skeptical. So when direct mail blew away all other types of advertising that he had been doing, he started thinking. He had always wanted to open a second business, and he was familiar with Valpak from living in Chicago. The problem was, he was far too busy to take on a new business, especially a new start-up. That’s when he turned to his wife (yours truly), and suggested that she do the research, write the business plan, and officially convert from Speech-Therapist to Business Owner/Sales. After I started digging into the research, I fell in love with the business and the new role I was taking on. The rest is history in the making!
What is Valpak of North Alabama’s mission?
To provide intelligent, measurable, and responsible direct mail and digital marketing solutions customized to meet each client’s individual needs.
Our Philosophy: Every action and activity we undertake at is motivated by one underlying passion: to grow and nurture the local small business community by providing effective, measurable, and responsible direct mail and digital marketing solutions.
Who do you serve?
Our business has two customer levels: 1) Area business owners who would like to attract area consumers to their products/services; and 2) Area consumers who are looking for savings on products/services that they actually need and want.
Is there anything new/exciting you’re working on now at ValPak?
We’re trying to get the word out about our wonderful digital presence. We’d like consumers to turn to Valpak.com, whether they receive the blue envelope at their homes or not, for additional savings opportunities. Sometimes, we keep savings up (like Gigi’s Cupcakes!), after they no longer have their coupon. We’d also like to promote our free smart phone app and let people know that our iPad app is going live on February 12th! For business owners, especially moms that may be starting up a business, or not-for-profits, we’d like to promote our new digital advertising package, which is an affordable way to participate in Valpak’s services.
ValPak of North Alabama won the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Start Up of the Year Award. Do you have any entreprenerial advice to other small business owners?
Goodness, there is a TON! Definitely everyone needs to write a COMPREHENSIVE business plan, in a spirit of learning each and every aspect of starting up and running your business: from your competitive advantage and analysis, to your break-even analysis, target demographics, marketing plan, etc.
You MUST plan your capital needs and I recommend laying out three scenarios: 1) conservative 2) moderate 3)optimistic. Err on the conservative side, and plan on worst case scenerios. Also, seek out a mentor..someone who has been in your business for many years and is successful. You will need all the help you can get, and why reinvent when you can borrow ideas that have been tried and found to work? Bottom line, plan, measure, adjust….plan measure, adjust!!!
Books Elizabeth Recommends:
Selling the Invisible, by Harry Beckwith (for service industries)
The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber
Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath
The 29 ½ Solution, by Ivan Misner
Other important, but slightly denser, books include Blue Ocean Strategy,Influence, and Good to Great, (authors Kim/Mauborgne, Cialdini, and Collins, respectively).
To learn more about Elizabeth and Valpak of North Alabama visit www.Valpak.com/nalabama or find them on Facebook. Be sure to check out the neighborhood deals Valpak offers Rocket City Mom readers in our sidebar!
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.