There are quite a few entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to who have built their companies from the ground up and have similar stories: self-financing, managing everything and often putting every dollar back into the business. Rachel Thebault, owner and head confectioner of Tribeca Treats in New York City is no exception. But she found a way to reward herself without taking away from the bottom line.
Rachel has grown her bakery and confectionary gradually, starting in 2003 as a side business to her job as an investment banker. As her customer base grew, she quit her job, attended culinary school, and eventually opened a custom catering business that she ran out of shared space. By 2007, she opened her first storefront and enjoyed tremendous, immediate growth.
“We were covered in the New York Times the day we opened, and were suddenly getting all of these calls. I had to figure out a delivery policy on the fly,” she told me. In 2008, she saw 30 percent growth over the previous year. “And then we hit a wall in November of that year,” she said. “We really felt the affects of the economy around the holiday season.”
Despite the initial and now rebounding success, Rachel has been conservative with her cash flow, and has yet to pay herself from the business. Still, she rewards herself – and her family – for the time she puts into the business by using the Membership Rewards points earned with her Gold Card charges toward vacations. Most recently, she used the points toward a family vacation in Hawaii.
“I’m glad I had the points so I could give something to my family for the time I’m away from them. The Membership Rewards points and the consolidation of billing are among my favorite benefits of being an OPEN Cardmember. That and OPEN Forum. I love having a community of business owners I can turn to.”
Rachel also credits the connections she made through her 2008 participation in the Make Mine a Million $ Business program, created in partnership between American Express OPEN and Count Me In. “The connections made through that program are really long-term. I still turn to those women as a sounding board for my ideas.”
In addition to finding similar connections, Rachel advises other business owners to: “Have an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Build the business around your strengths and then hire to fill in the gaps.
“And find a way to reward yourself.”
I thank Rachel Thebault (Cardmember since 2006) for sharing her story and invite other Cardmembers to share their stories for how they use their Card benefits in interesting ways. You can e-mail me at email@example.com, and you can follow me @marcyshinder on Twitter.
And look for Rachel’s cookbook, Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion, coming out October 26th.