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Judi Townsend, founder of Mannequin Madness

Judi Townsend, founder of Mannequin Madness is on her way to growing a million dollar business. Last week, at the the National Association of Minority Women Entrepreneurs Tele-Summit, she shared five tips for moving a start up business to the next level. (Watch how Judi started her mannequin business here.)

1) Diversify
Diversifying is a great way to increase your revenue streams and help you through times when demand may be lower. For Judi, who started off renting used mannequinns, that meant expanding her product line to include new mannequinns. “One thing about being an entrepreneur is that you’re always on the lookout for opportunities,” Judi says.

2) Become an expert
As Judi gained more experience in the industry, she saw other ways to maximize her expertise in the mannequin industry, which included championing an eco-friendly company vision to encourage stores to recycle their mannequins and consulting retail stores on how to use mannequins effectively in visual merchandising (another revenue stream!). Judi says her customers can always rely on her for any mannequin need, making her an indispensable expert in their business.

3) Consider partnering with competitors
There are times when competitors can create partnerships to build a stronger industry, benefiting all parties involved. Judi has partnerships with used mannequin sellers across the country. Major department store calls her looking to unload used mannequins, and she contacts her competitors in other states and has them collect the mannequins in their respective cities. From this transaction, Judi collects a broker’s fee for making these connections happen (and that’s another revenue stream!).

4) Get social
Judi started blogging because she realized there was no central website for mannequin needs and decided to create one. Then she started using social media to broadcast her blog, which helped Mannequin Madness improve in search rankings on Google, which in turn helps her business. “Many times journalists will call me when they want a quote on trends in mannequins and things like that,“ Judi says. To find out what works on social media, Judi says it’s a combination of trial and error and talking to other entrepreneurs who can help you find out what tools are the best fit for your business. “You can’t jump into everything just because people are talking about it,” she says.

5) Delegate
Since you are only one person with two hands and one brain, delegating work is the only way you will be able to grow your business without sacrificing all of your well-being.

“Delegate is a big word and it’s one of the most painful lessons I’ve learned. Entrepreneurs by nature, tend to be a bit of control freaks,” Judi says. We all have strong skillsets and other areas in which we’re less talented. Focus on what you’re good at and let another person handle other tasks that may not be your forte. As a small business owner, you may be hesitant to pay someone to do work because of your budget. But hiring that extra hand will free you up to do other duties that can generate even more income. It’s all about using your time wisely. And as the founder and visionary of your company, your time is the most precious.

And most importantly, Judi says to remember that your decisions are not the end all, be all. There’s always room for trial and error, just don’t be intimidated to step outside your confines to help grow your business. You never know what serendipitous circumstance you may find yourself in.

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