Entrepreneurs need to embody a number of traits to be successful. Opportunista Su Pak, Founder & President of IEShineOn.Com, shares that three specific attributes – adaptability, perseverance, and curiosity – are critical to an entrepreneur’s success. Let’s add a fourth one to the list: Fearlessness. Why? Because Su’s got a whole lot of moxie that helped to make her vision a reality.
Su built IEShineOn.Com, a lifestyle website primarily for the Riverside and San Bernardino counties, by identifying a market gap and using her own funds to build a trusted online resource for residents and visitors of the Inland Empire. Su shares one key lesson learned in building her business as well as an important current goal that will increase her productivity as a business owner.
There’s a lot to learn from this Opportunista’s experiences, resourcefulness, and grit. Let’s meet Su and learn her story!
Name: Su Pak
Location: Upland, CA
Title & Company: Founder & President, IEShineOn.Com
Education: A. in Communications and B.A. in Political Science with Public Law emphasis
What is the inspiration for IEShineOn.Com?
The inspiration for IEShineOn.Com comes from growing up in the Inland Empire (IE) in California and believing in the region’s potential. There were and are so many events and things to do, but there was no online hub that shared this information. I couldn’t understand why someone in the IE would drive one and half hours in traffic to Los Angeles, Orange County, or Pasadena for an entertainment, dining, or arts experience that they could find in their backyard.
How did you identify the market opportunity to build yourIEShineOn.Com?
The simple fact that there was no online hub, despite all my research, showed me there was a need. And, honestly, I was naïve about it. I thought, “Oh, there’s no website, I’ll just build one based off of my little elementary digital project management skills.” I laugh about it now, but there’s definitely a sense of fearlessness I do miss now that I have a little more business experience under my belt.
I always knew I wanted to build something – a company, a team, a contribution to my community. I felt with the project management skills I had obtained and with the college ad club I had formed, I would just go for it and see how far I could take it.
What advice do you have for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to be run her own business, but doesn’t yet have the idea?
READ AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! Learn and absorb everything you can about whatever you’re passionate about. Get the knowledge from books, magazines, people, experiences – whatever you can get your hands on.
And, it’s completely ok to not be exactly sure the direction you want to take, but don’t let that keep you from trying. Something that always stuck with me was this quotation, “A dream is only a blueprint for action.”
You funded IEShineOn.Com with your personal savings. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are also looking to fund their business with their own money?
I wish I could say that I had created a solid business plan with projections that showed me what financial steps I needed to take. However, that was absolutely not the case. I would recommend working on a budget and thoroughly researching the costs. I would also recommend making sure your credit is in good standing and that you don’t have a lot of debt before you make the leap – because you’re going to need to use your solid credit at some point in the future.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in launching IEShineOn.Com?
There were so many challenges but the greatest challenge that comes to mind was finding the right team for the budget I had. I knew that I could not build this alone, and with the limited budget I had, it was difficult to find the right combination for a team member – the right experience plus the passion.
What are the three most important lessons you learned in launching your business?
- Network! Join local professional organizations because the people you get to know can be great resources. It might be a time commitment, but it’s well worth it.
- Hire the right people. Sometimes you just want somebody to fill a position fast but that can be such a hassle down the line. Be patient and wait for the right person.
- Learn as much as you can about building a business. There are so many free resources out there that there’s no excuse not to learn. Also, developing your product is important, of course, but without the infrastructure there’s going to be no way to distribute it.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are looking to save time, money, and resources in launching and operating their business?
Talk to your local small business administration office – almost every city has one. They have free business counseling for all your different needs. They can also refer you to other resources you may need.
What do you think are the three most important traits that entrepreneurs must have and why?
Adaptability. Perseverance. Curiosity.
With everything that’s going to be thrown at you, you definitely need to know how to roll with the punches, get through the difficult times, and be willing to learn as much as you can.
What do you love most about what you do?
Every day, I get to work on something that I am so passionate about and that helps people have fun.
What have you learned about yourself – both personally and professionally – in building and operating your own business?
I learned that I have a more moxie than I thought I did. There have been so many ups and downs, and I’m a little surprised I haven’t suffered a nervous breakdown.
How are you working to increase your productivity as an entrepreneur?
I am currently trying to find the right staffing so that I can delegate more responsibilities and help open up my time so that I can refocus my energy on building the business.
Entrepreneurship is full of highs and lows. What has kept you from giving up?
The support from my family has given me the confidence to build a business. They’ve been so supportive over the years. When times would get tough, they reminded me how far I had come, and that I just couldn’t give up.
How are you creating your own opportunities to live your best life?
To be honest, I’m not sure. But I’m hoping that by pursuing my dreams, working hard every day, and contributing to my community, that I am living my best life.
Su is The Opportunista.
Favorite way to spend a weekend in the Inland Empire? Farmers Markets.
You would describe yourself as: Hard working.
Your friends would describe you as: Fun.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? My dad once told me, “If you’re hungry, you need to reach for the apple. The apple isn’t going to just fall into your mouth.” It sounds a lot better in Korean.
Let me know in the comments: How has Su’s story inspired you to build your own business and create your own opportunities to live your best life?
Learn More from The Opportunistas
Check out my first issue of Opportunista Insights – Stronger Than You Know: 10 Ambitious Women Help You Face The Challenges of Entrepreneurship – to read about the tough challenges that 10 women entrepreneurs have faced, and most importantly, HOW they’ve overcome those obstacles.