The first thing that struck me about Lisa Hackman Freda is her background: 20+ years on Wall Street! I thought, “This is someone that Sage Wedding Pros’ readers have to meet!” So many of us have fought careers of the 9-5 (or the 7-11)… we have dreamed of leaving our jobs to start our own business. A couple years ago, Lisa decided to make the big leap into the world of entrepreneurialism.. and she hasn’t looked back. Lisa, your gumption is an inspiration to all of us!
Lisa Hackman Freda
Owner, Sweet Grace, Cake Design
Bergen County, New Jersey
Why did you start your business?
After a two-decade long career on Wall Street, I did a major career change launching Sweet Grace almost two years ago. This move finally gave me the chance to exercise my artistic skills. My sister, Renee, has been a sought-after cake designer for the past 15 years and a great mentor to me (www.bellamanse.com). After college graduation, I was at a crossroads – a career in fashion or finance – since I earned degrees in both (I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and the State University of New York).
I chose finance then, but now I choose fashion, albeit in a different medium – sugar instead of fabric. Wall Street was my passion after college and I pursued my MBA and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). I loved the years I spent as an equity research analyst and learned so much about working hard and professionalism, but I also have a creative side that was not flourishing. I wanted to be more in control of my schedule (since Wall Street is a 24/7 type of career) so I decided to launch Sweet Grace, Cake Designs. To my surprise, I’m still working 24/7, but for my own business which makes the world of difference. My business has grown quickly and I have a growing list of very satisfied clients. I have the vital trilogy of skills to run a successful business – the vision of an entrepreneur, the skill of an artist and the business savvy to artfully manage the day-to-day operations.
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
The book I would highly recommend hands-down is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. The book walks you through how to “think” about your business and how to avoid the common pitfalls many small businesses make. He challenges us to envision our company how we want it to look in the future and then work backwards to reach that end goal. He stresses that our business should not enslave us, but instead allows us to have the style of life we dream of.
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
I’m a real planner, so am always looking towards the future. I so agree with Michael Gerber’s idea of envisioning our company “finished” and then take steps backwards to connect this future point with today. This is so much wiser than only fighting fires every day and just allowing are business to take us as it will. It can be a bit tricky to see a clear path to make these connections from the future until today but I don’t think it’s a straight line from today to our end-goals and likely the end goals will evolve over time.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
As a business owner, I find it hard to stop working. My mind is always on my business and I’m responding to emails at 11:00 at night. My efforts have produced such fabulous and fast results that I want to keep doing more. But a life balance is important, so I think I’ll go now and schedule a vacationJ
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
I have to honestly say that I’ve been thrilled with the trajectory of my business and don’t regret any of the decisions I made. I quickly educated myself in all aspects of my business – such as technical skills and marketing. I created my own website and learned everything I could on Internet marketing –reading articles and participating in webinars. I view this self-education as an ongoing process.
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