Samantha Stephens is the founder of Oatmeals, a cozy eatery she opened in New York City’s Greenwich Village back in 2012. Its launch was the culmination of more than a decade of planning, she told us when we first wrote about her in December 2015. Ever since her college days, when she sustained herself on oats, Stephens dreamed of owning a shop that would sell sweet and savory varieties of the warm breakfast dish.
Today she is doing just that. Stephens recently told us she’s expanded her fanbase, engaging thousands of customers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The store has added more savory options to its menu. And down the road, she aims to expand beyond Manhattan with potential locations in American airports and urban transit hubs.
But most importantly, Stephens told us something every entrepreneur can learn from.
“I don’t want to sugar coat it — [entrepreneurship] is a tough world, especially in New York City,” she says. But the struggle is worth it, because she’s accomplishing a goal she set for herself more than a decade ago. “I had this idea, and I wanted to make it happen.”
[See our videos about women entrepreneurs who are farming, distributing, cooking and serving food.]
That phrase — “I wanted to make it happen” — sums up exactly why Stephens is managing to thrive. The road to entrepreneurship is notoriously a tough one to navigate. Achieving success often boils down to dreaming big, working hard, and persevering when numerous obstacles seem to block the way.
The commitment to staying the course can help entrepreneurs overcome any number of things they may be lacking: expertise, connections, funding. And it can mean the difference between success and failure for entrepreneurs who seemingly have everything else in their favor.
Entrepreneurship also requires patience. In Stephens’ case, success did not happen overnight. In fact, it took years to get her idea off the ground. But she stuck with it, attending the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies to boost her business skills, and the French Culinary Institute to solidify her cooking skills.
Bottom line: She wanted to make it happen. And she did, proving that no matter how far-fetched or distant a goal may seem, an entrepreneur who dedicates time and energy to something can turn it into a reality. “I’m happy that I’ve been able to accomplish my dream,” Stephens says.
[Related: Read about Oatmeals’ startup story.]
This post has been updated.