Michelle Byram: Confidence to Move Forward

Pouring a BLock of SoulShine Soap

SoulShine Soap Company

Michelle Byram loves her business. Started in 2013, SoulShine Soap Company allowed her to stay on her farm and to be there as a single parent to her daughter.  It also gave her the flexibility required to continue to take care of and be the advocate for her Mother who was dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s. But when she wanted to take her business farther, she turned to the New Ventures Maine’s Venturing Forth (VF) class for skills that would give her the confidence she needed.

Confidence from Venturing Forth

“I gained so much confidence through VF (Venturing Forth)….I realized that…. I could in fact take something I loved and make it work for me.” Michelle registered for Venturing Forth in the winter of 2015. “I signed up for Venturing Forth because I wanted to take my business to the next level. To do that, I needed local business contacts, a detailed business plan, and help with marketing and pricing structures.” The class gave Michelle just what she needed. She wrote a solid business plan that could be adapted over time as her business grew. She made contact with a wide range of professionals that could help her with everything from cash flow planning to funding to keeping up-to-date with marketing trends. Her peers inspired and motivated her. Weekly classes provided an arena to voice her concerns knowing that “I would get honest, constructive guidance.”

Growing at her Own PaceMichelle checking inventory of SoulShine Soap

Since completing Venturing Forth, Michelle has grown both her wholesale business and online sales considerably. She has participated in more shows and markets. A measure of the confidence she has is seen in her ability to turn away stores that she feels are not a great fit. ”SoulShine Soap Company is going into its 4th year and Michelle says that she has increased her gross sales every year so far. Growth at her own pace means she has not needed to seek outside funding but, if she does, she knows now exactly who to reach out to for assistance.

Management Tools

Along with her business plan, she has a financial system in place and in use and has improved her budgeting. As a direct result, “I am able to see where I can tighten up certain procedures to increase my profit margins.”
She is now building a dedicated studio attached to her house (with thanks to her master carpenter partner) and says, “I am confident that this space will greatly improve my production, productivity, and efficiency.”

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF  WYLDE PHOTOGRAPHY