Lenore Johnson, owner of LenJo Bakes, describes her business as a small cake studio specializing in wedding cakes. Her retail storefront offers speciality baked goods three days per week.
When she first heard about Rhyze Ventures the terminology in the description was unfamiliar, but she liked the idea of learning along with other women entrepreneurs and applied. When the program started, she had not yet even signed the lease for her business. She said one of the things she learned in the program was how much she didn’t know. During the program Johnson received many suggestions about how to pivot, effectively manage ecommerce, be more confident, tackle marketing, perform research and she enjoyed practical learning about how to run her business.
”I value being in a space of all women with such a breadth and depth of experience in different types of business,” she said. Another valuable component was the project work where she discovered her sales process was time-consuming and not efficient. She now subscribes to a software that integrates seamlessly into her business. A questionnaire ensures she has all the information she needs before she talks with customers on the phone streamlining the process. “I recently had a day where I made five 10-minute phone calls. All five were converted to sales!”
As a result of participating in the program, Johnson said she has a clearer vision for her business and is less afraid of making changes out of fear of losing money. “I was afraid to say no.” Now when customers call at the last minute, she educates them about why she requires more notice. “When I make a cake, it’s custom for you – freshly baked, not frozen,” she said. “I have you in mind and I personalize it.”
While she enjoyed class learning, she said the zoom check-ins were an infusion of knowledge where everyone was helping freely with joy! Johnson has added one full-time employee to her business and she has reduced her time with the business from her former 20 hours per day, seven days per week. Additionally, her sales in one week now equal what she had forecast for one month.
An unexpected result of her participation was the encouragement she received to be herself in her business and increase her confidence. She encourages other women entrepreneurs not to let fear hold them back. “Women are sometimes their own worst enemies, often afraid of failing,” Johnson said. “Don’t be confined by the role society expects. We can release ourselves from that.”
“Rhyze Ventures was the most timely, efficient and beautiful experience where friendships grew,” said Johnson. “We shared struggles and we could be unashamedly women. There’s nothing bad that could come from a group of women literally rising up together.”