Interior of the Kennedy and Vine plant shop.
Jennifer Seitz found and filled a need in her local community when she started Kennedy and Vine plant shop. — Kennedy and Vine

Having a solid business idea and an entrepreneurial spirit are great first steps to starting a business — but you have to take action to get it off the ground.

That’s exactly what Jennifer Seitz, Navy veteran, plant collector, and owner of Kennedy and Vine, did when she started her business in May of 2021. By strategically figuring out what was missing in her local community, she filled a need by establishing a successful plant shop in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.

Seitz believes that anybody with the drive and motivation looking to start their own business should follow their dreams.

“My No. 1 tip would be to take the leap,” Seitz advised. “The answer will always be no if you don’t ask the question.”

Identifying the need for a business

Kennedy and Vine is a “place for plant aficionados and the plant curious to shop for the greenery of their dreams,” according to Seitz.

After a friend sent her a video about a personal plant shopper in New York City one day, Seitz realized her local area didn’t have any plant shops — and thought they could benefit from one. She began conducting research by visiting roughly a dozen NYC plant shops to get ideas and inspiration, and eventually turned her research into a reality.

“It's no secret that plants make us happier, healthier, boost creativity and relieve stress,” Seitz said. “They are even known to clean the air we breathe! But with the current climate, we find ourselves spending [less] of our time outside enjoying nature. So why not bring the outside in? Everyone deserves to live in their own oasis.

[Read More: 3 Easy Steps to Research Your Startup Business Idea]

My No. 1 tip would be to take the leap. The answer will always be no if you don’t ask the question.

Jennifer Seitz, owner, Kennedy and Vine

Don’t let a lack of experience slow you down

Seitz didn’t have much prior experience when she decided to tackle this new business venture. However, she didn’t let that stop her from achieving her goals.

“You learn the most from making mistakes, but can also set yourself up for success by educating yourself,” Seitz said. “There is a tremendous amount of free information and programs out there available to anyone looking to start a small business.”

As a veteran who spent five and a half years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Seitz sought help from the resources that are available to her, including those offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“My very first step was reaching out to the SBA and taking any courses they offered on opening a small business,” Seitz explained. “I was then introduced to VBOC (Veterans Business Outreach Center) who helped me with everything else — from the formation of my LLC to my business plan — and still answers any questions I might have.

[Read More: 7 SBA Programs Every Small Business Should Know About]

Hard work can be worthwhile

When starting a new business venture, entrepreneurs should expect a major learning curve that comes with being their own boss.

“Working for someone else, as hard as that may seem, is nothing compared to doing it for yourself,” Seitz said. “Every single decision is yours to make; every mistake and every triumph all falls on your shoulders.”

As an entrepreneur, Seitz understands that while there is extra pressure and a higher level of responsibility when you begin working for yourself, the hard work is worthwhile and offers tremendous benefits.

“With all the stress comes all the reward,” Seitz said. “When a customer is happy, it’s because I did something right. Meeting customers, getting to know them, and in turn, telling them a bit about myself and my life … it’s really something I enjoy.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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