Originally published on

Originally published on


Michelle Cloney is the Founder of funfunctional and the creator of such “everyday eco-chic” products as Le Bibble. We asked her for a little expert advice:

What advice would you give to someone who feels overwhelmed by the competition? Stay in your own lane. I believe that we all have a spark inside of us, something that brings us excitement, joy, and motivation. Following that impulse can only lead to good things. Don’t worry about what others are doing and follow your heart. People will feel invested in you when you are telling your story. You are the only you.

When you think of the best people to work with, what traits do they share? Reliability, honesty, and a good-naturedness about them.

Entrepreneurs often say that “you can’t do it all.” What three things do you always outsource?Early on I decided to outsource the actual product making. I learned to sew just to make my idea a reality, and then quickly outsourced to a reliable contractor. I do most of my own graphics, but when there is something intricate that I’m not equipped to do, I have a graphic designer who knows me well take over. As we continue to grow, I will likely need to outsource the final packaging of the product.

What business book would you recommend to someone who is either about to launch or in the early growth stage? One book that has really resonated with me is Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. I believe that when you begin a company with a triple bottom line approach (people, profit, planet), you are starting on the right foot. Everyone benefits when you focus on doing good while doing business.

What are your thoughts on raising capital? I wish I had thought of it earlier! When I started my business, I dove right in to get the product made, design the packaging, and create the website and the marketing. I think the wisest thing to do is to sit down and at least begin with a numbers goal so you know how much capital you will need that first year (and second and third if you can) in order to operate efficiently. It’s hard to know when you first start out because you don’t have comparison numbers, but just start with something. A great tool I recommend is the LivePlan online business plan software that can work most of your numbers out for you. It’s amazing! As the year goes and you input your actual results, it updates the plan for you so you know your projected capital needs.

What piece of invaluable advice did you receive that you would like to pass on to women pursuing their dream? When I went to meet with my very first possible sewing contractor, he told me that bringing a product to market takes time and money. I rather naively thought that he was mistaken and that it was going to happen quickly for me! But nothing happens as fast as we think it will, which ultimately may be to our benefit. Making thoughtful decisions is important and if your business takes off too fast you may feel the need to make decisions you’re not ready for. I spent money in my first year on things that I would not spend a dime on now, and pursued feedback that I probably would have been better off not following, but I learned. It’s all one giant learning curve.

My best advice to a woman launching a venture is… That you have a dream for a reason. It’s yours, so cherish it and bring it to life. No two people have the exact same dream, so honor yours. And do not take “no” for an answer.

What would your advice to your younger self be? That everything is going to be OK. And to believe!

And finally, please share your top five tips that would benefit an entrepreneurial woman launching or growing her business:

  1. Know your strengths.
  2. Know your weaknesses.
  3. Specify your intentions – know why you are doing what you are doing.
  4. Believe in yourself.
  5. Be prepared to work harder and with more passion than you ever have before.