Entrepreneur Friday – Margot Malin
Time for another Entrepreneur Friday. This week we have the fabulous Margot Malin of Lots to Live For, Inc. So grab a cuppa and take 5 minutes to read her fab interview.
Entrepreneur Friday – Margot Malin
Tell us a bit about your business
Lots To Live For, Inc. is a carefully curated collection of cancer resources that delivers comfort during cancer including:
A website that sells personal care products to reduce and relieve the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cancer surgery.
A blog that gives tools, tips and information to help patients and caregivers along the cancer journey.
A newsletter that highlights new products and new developments in cancer therapy.
What inspired you to start it?
The genesis and inspiration for the company came from watching both my mother and grandmother fight courageous battles against cancer while simultaneously trying to maintain normal lifestyles.
My mother passed away in 2001. In retrospect 2002 was the vortex of a perfect storm which inspired me to found Lots To Live For, Inc.: the internet was just becoming popular; founding the company allowed me to give back to people in need by helping them through a difficult time in their lives; the company serves as a memory and tribute to the most important women in my life; and a flexible business model allowed me to be available for her children while they were young.
What is your career background?
Lots To Live For, Inc. is my “second act”. After receiving my MBA from The Wharton School, I joined a major New York City investment management firm where I was a managing director and equity portfolio manager. I enjoyed analyzing companies and industries, investing, and earning competitive returns for her clients for almost twenty years. In fact, I still invest in both in the public markets and in the private market as an angel investor. “Second acts” are frequently characterized by “giving back” and that is exactly what I am attempting to accomplish with Lots To Live For, Inc.
What is your vision for your business?
My overriding vision is to improve the lives of cancer patients by reducing their uncomfortable side effects so that they can continue with their normal lives as best as possible. Our products make gifts that can brighten lives. Our resources provide information that help individuals learn about how to reduce side effects, become the best patient advocates for themselves that they can be, and use complementary and adjuvant therapies to improve health, mood and spirit. I enjoy connecting individuals who can help, educate and inspire one another.
We offer a curated collection of products which has evolved over time. We like to be up to date on new and helpful products. We are frequently the very first internet retailer to offer new products as they are introduced.
You’ve balanced being a successful business woman with raising a family. Any advice for other women?
I have learned that balancing work and family is a very personal decision. There is no right answer. I think my favorite statement is “Women today can have it all, but maybe not all at once.” The most important thing to remember is to do the best that you can. I believe that women should be supportive and non-judgmental of each other, as each woman tries to optimize her choices to satisfy her heart and soul, stimulate her mind, and concurrently provide for her family situation.
What was your light bulb moment? When did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur/ business owner?
Sadly this occurred on September 11, 2001 when I was working in Manhattan, and I was unable to get home to my family because the highways and bridges leading out of the city were closed until early evening. It was then that I knew I wanted more flexibility so that I could be closer and more available as my children were growing up. This was part of the “vortex” that I mention above.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Be flexible because things frequently don’t go the way that you expect them to. Stay current. Don’t put your head in the sand. Watch for new products. Learn about new technologies that can facilitate your business. Embrace social media.
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
In some ways, owning your own business is somewhat similar to being a mom. You juggle a lot of different things at once. Discipline and organization are important. You learn something new every day.
Who and what inspires you?
Many different people inspire me every day. But probably the most inspirational person in my life was my mother’s mother, who was one of the inspirations for Lots To Live For, Inc. She was way ahead of her time. She was brilliant and very independent. She rebelled against some prevalent cultural norms in her day. She was a person of integrity, she was highly principled and dignified, and she was brave. She encouraged and inspired me. She was an elementary school teacher for 32 years, and she inspired many others as well. Seventy years after being in her class, one of her students recently contacted me! Due to her unconditional love and confidence, my grandmother instilled a sense of possibility in me, along with the courage to try new things.
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
The great thing about having an internet business is that I have a lot of control over the flow of my days and nights. There are some things I do every day, but my schedule is usually quite flexible. Each day I process orders, check inventory, and reach out to others who are helping cancer patients to see if we can collaborate or work synergistically in some way. I also evaluate our product assortment, communicate with customers and suppliers, and work on our social media presence. I always try to squeeze in some time for exercise because I am passionate about fitness.
What obstacles have you had along the way?
The biggest challenge is visibility – getting found on the very crowded web! We have great products, and there are so many people who can benefit from using the collections of products that we have assembled. The challenge is being found on the internet – we are always trying to optimize our presence and help people discover us! Our former customers are probably our best salespeople as they tell both their oncology nurses and other patients at their treatment facilities about us.
Tell us your favourite tools that make your life easier (apps, website, software, etc.)
My favorite tools have evolved over time. I use Big Commerce as the platform for my website. I like Endicia for shipping. I find LinkedIn groups helpful for making connections in my industry.
What is your favourite quote?
My interpretation: Be bold, don’t fear taking risks. If you don’t try, you will never achieve your dreams.
Margot Malin is the Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc. After receiving her MBA from The Wharton School, she joined a major New York City investment management firm as a managing director and equity portfolio manager. She enjoyed analyzing companies and industries, investing, and earning competitive returns for her clients for almost twenty years. The formation of Lots To Live For allowed her to give back to people in need by helping them through a difficult time in their lives. Margot enjoys mentoring first time entrepreneurs and is also an angel investor.
Thank you so much for sharing your Entrepreneur Friday story with us Margot!
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