Dawn Mucci is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Innisfil, Ontario. She is the founder & CEO of LiceSquad.com. For her Success Story, Dawn shares about the inspiration behind her business, the frustrations and rewards of starting a business from scratch and what sacrifices are required when you’re the head of a household and the leader of a successful company.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I cannot recall what inspired me towards entrepreneurship. I possessed those traits as a very young child and as I grew up they became stronger. My favorite childhood game and pastime was setting up my play cash register with fake money and creating things to sell to my friends and family. At around the age of five or six I began selling lemonade and other items for real money from a stand on a busy Toronto street. I think I was hardwired towards entrepreneurship as it did not run in my family but I do believe that one can be inspired and develop the entrepreneurial mindset at any age.
Can you describe a typical day? Is there such a thing?
My days begins with a half hour swim followed by getting the kids lunches packed and seeing them off to school. My work with Lice Squad starts at 8:30 and consist of replying to emails and following up on sales leads. I spend time formulating new ideas as I love to be creative and innovative. I do the majority of media and PR for the company and this requires a lot of time and effort and takes me out of town on occasion. When at the office, I work on creating new wholesale, retail, and affiliate relationships.
I am always working on creating new products, and helping the team improve systems, marketing, and policies to better the franchise and brand offering. I do my best to encourage and lead the team at head office, the franchise network, and service consultants. I also learn a lot from them on a daily basis and I do my best to support them, and be available.
I turn off work with Lice Squad at 5pm and focus on myself, family and other volunteer commitments. I used to work all hours and never knew when to turn off the computer or turn down a request. When you are growing a business, time may not be your own and you have to be where you need to be and modify your schedule as required. After 14 years I have learned where to draw the line and shut it down or say no if it stretches me too thin or is not in line with my company or personal mission and vision.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family and friends that answer the call?
I count on my family and I have a couple of close friends who I know are solid and I can turn to for support. I also rely heavily on my management team. These are the people that help make the business great and keep things running smoothly. They help me be a better leader and I appreciate their dedication. My mentors help me when I need them and keep me honest and in touch with reality when my creative mind starts to wonder off the strategic path. I also turn to my business associates and colleagues in the franchise world. I am only as good as those I surround myself with and I have been blessed to have some amazing people in my life.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at work to make the family work? Or vice versa?
I would be lying if I said no. I have had to sacrifice family time, personal time, money, and in some cases my sanity to build this business. If anyone says it is easy to start and build a business they are not being honest. I now know I could have mitigated some of those sacrifices by asking for more help and surrounding myself with positive and knowledgeable people early on in the business. I was naive and cash starved when I started out and tried to do too much on my own and I trusted the wrong people too easily. I have since learned get everything in writing, ask for help and advisement, delegate, lighten up and let go. I’ve learned the more you try to control the less control you actually have. It is better to share in the responsibility. This allows you to focus on what you are best at and gives you that time you need so you are not always making sacrifices.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
After work hours I spend my time with family or friends. I also volunteer on a couple not for profit boards and spend a great deal of time outdoors hiking, kayaking, swimming, and biking. I write songs, books, blogs and love to sing. Cooking is a passion so I spend time making large batches of food that I can freeze and use during the work week, often brining in soups and treats for the office staff. I love to get pampered so whenever possible I get massages and I try to do spa days. I can never seem to get enough of those.
I have learned that you must take a day off. Heck, take several if you are able. You need to take care of yourself first.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The lifestyle and freedom it provides. It allows me to have options. There is also a great sense of passion and accomplishment. When you create something that ultimately provides value for yourself and others and meets a need it makes you feel like you have a purpose and meaning in life and a legacy you can leave behind. Like starting a family, starting a business is a commitment that you make to invest your personal time and resources into something greater than yourself that will hopefully result in living a happy and meaningful life.
What does the future look like for you and the company?
I believe that my team and I have built a solid foundation from which we can continue to grow and prosper. Along with building a head Lice Empire I hope to pursue my other artistic and wellness passions. My dream is to sell my catalogue of over 200 songs and to one day invest in a new venture within the spa industry. I am working on a book and have ideas for a TV show concept. My dream bucket list item would be to have a jam session with Jann Arden, Pink or Shania Twain one day just for fun as I have no desire to ever become famous. I love my anonymity.
Who’s another entrepreneur that inspires you?
There are too many that come to mind. I could drop many names of women and men who I have looked up to and who have inspired me. Every day I meet or read about new people I could add to the list. I am not sure it would be fair to just name one person because I think we all have unique and God given talents and we can create whatever we set our minds to. I see the entrepreneur as an artist who creates a business out of whatever talent or gift they have been given from music to makeup to technology, it is all about vision and passion. I will say I am inspired by Maria Locker for her dedication and hard work in taking Mompreneurs® to a new level and bringing together Canada’s best Mompreneurs. I admire Jann Arden, Rick Mercer, Arlene Dickinson, David Foster and Christine Magee.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
I am very active. I volunteer on the Children’s Aid Foundation board and the Canadian Franchise Association Board. I coordinate fundraising activates to raise money for local initiatives. I use my company to give back by donating a portion of sales to organizations that help children. I sat on my local chamber of commerce board for a time and support other local businesses. In fact I always try to source and buy local whenever possible to support the community.
Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?
Take care of yourself and don’t burn out striving for success. Put yourself and your family first because your health and families wellbeing is the most valuable thing you have in life. If you are single don’t get consumed by career and keep time open for a personal and social life. Ask for help and surround yourself with support at the beginning of your business venture. You can’t know it all so learn to delegate rather than take on more than you can chew. Ask for help and grow at your own pace. You have the ability to succeed without sacrificing the important things in life like your health and relationships. We have all seen examples of the toll that this has taken with divorce, addiction and burn out common place in business. We must not follow that lead because we are smarter than that and know success is about more than money and making it to the top. It is about a manageable lifestyle and personal fulfillment and contentment. You can have it all as an entrepreneur if you put yourself first.