Ever wondered what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur with PostNet? Check out the story of Shelly Whyland, owner of a PostNet franchise in Syracuse, NY.
Shelly Whyland has always been the creative type. Over the years, her hobbies have spanned doll making, painting miniatures, creating handmade cards, and much more. It was this creative spirit that eventually led her, unexpectedly, to the PostNet family.
Shelly started off with a small business selling custom cards. She loved the creative angle of it, happy to work with her hands, paper and pens. But the business side of it was frustrating. “We went to craft shows to sell the cards… You have to pay a fee to have a booth, and my cards were marked at $3.00, so we had to sell a ton of cards to recoup our investment,” she said. “Basically, we weren’t making any money.”
At the encouragement of her family, Shelly began focusing on wedding stationery, which she promoted at bridal shows. Finally, her business began taking off — to the point that she became overwhelmed fulfilling orders on her own, on top of working another full-time job. To ease the workload, she partnered with PostNet to manage her printing needs.
Three years later, the owner of the local PostNet decided to retire and sell the business. Having worked closely with the business for years, Shelly and her husband decided that the logical next step for them would be to buy it!
Shelly says, “If you’d told me 18 months prior that I would be the owner of a PostNet franchise, I would have said ‘no way.’” But when the opportunity presented itself, the Whylands dove into their new endeavor with passion and energy.
Even with her card business, networking was the toughest part for Shelly. “I’m the creative one. I’d much rather be creating than being in the spotlight,” she said. Luckily, she was able to lean on her outgoing, social daughter and husband for help. But after purchasing her PostNet franchise, she quickly realized that “networking is the life force of owning a small business.” It wasn’t enough to leave it to the natural salespeople of the family — it was time for her to step outside of her comfort zone.
“I started reading books and articles about sales and marketing,” she said. After a few months of studying, she gave cold calling a try. But after over 300 calls, she came to terms with the fact that it just wasn’t for her.
Instead, she created a spreadsheet of all the clients that her PostNet center had worked with over its 10 years in business (under the previous owners). She started dropping by to visit these people and other small business owners in the community. She didn’t go in with the mindset of trying to sell anything — just to introduce herself and see if she could help them out. “And guess what? It worked!”
Shelly credits the advice and encouragement of her mentors in helping her overcome the early doubts and difficulties she had in running her business. But now, she’s ready to share her own advice to would-be new entrepreneurs:
1. Lean on the support available to you. “I’m lucky that I’m a franchisee. I can reach out to other franchisees any time, and I have the whole headquarters of PostNet to draw upon. Huge shoutout to my Regional Director, who I can call or email any time. She’s one of my biggest cheerleaders!”
2. Learn from the experts. “There are tons of books, podcasts, and articles to help you with small businesses!”
3. Get involved with your community. “There are so many things that are offered through the Chamber of Commerce. Also, become a member of a social club like Rotary, Lions, or Masons. Serving the community and learning about what’s going on in my city fascinates me!”
4. Take a risk. “Opening a business is scary, but you will benefit from doing it. I’m still pushing myself every day. You can overcome the fear — the more you try, the easier it will get.”
“Being a small business owner, you are the one that has to make things happen,” Shelly says. Running the business can be a lot of work. There are some early days and late nights. Shelly is constantly putting forth effort to meet new people and become more involved with her community. But she says the work is all worth it. “People ask if I like what I’m doing now, and I say YES — I’m living the dream!”
Shelly has developed an entire new skill set and gained confidence in herself. She’s highly involved with her city and even serves as an Ambassador to the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and the Vice President of the Rotary Club. Best of all, she gets to put her creativity and helpful nature to work every day — while supporting her peers who are chasing their own dreams.
Inspired by Shelly’s story? Learn more about how to become a PostNet entrepreneur!