Sara Olsher on building Mighty + Bright and finding creative solutions to help through difficult times
Sara Olsher explains how her professional and personal backgrounds led her to her mission of helping children understand difficult times, the importance of routine and prioritizing mental and physical health.
Describe your business in a few words?
Mighty + Bright supports families through super difficult things (like divorce and cancer) using unique kids’ books and visual calendar sets.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I went through a really difficult divorce when my daughter was two, and I created a visual calendar to help her deal with shared custody. It helped her so much that I wanted to provide the tool to other families. Then, three years ago, I went through cancer treatment. My daughter was seven and I realized that visual calendars — especially when combined with a kids’ book — can help relieve kids’ anxiety in all SORTS of situations.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My background is in psychology, and rather than working with individuals one-on-one, I really wanted to help large groups. I am thrilled that my business allows me to do that.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Definitely not! I come from a family of doctors, lawyers, and nurses. The idea of forging my own path was terrifying. I believed you had to have a “job” to make money. For some reason I thought very few self-employed people made enough money to support themselves.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
In the beginning, I ran my business as a side gig while I focused on my day job (ironically in marketing). SEO served me really well and most of my sales came from organic search. I always felt very shy about promoting myself, until I realized that this company is bigger than just “me.” After that, sharing with everyone I met felt more natural and less like bragging — and that’s when things really started to take off. I needed to get out of my own way.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
For me, it was never one big mistake as it was remaining committed to my cause and tenacious about making it work, even when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I always asked, “how can I make this work FOR me, instead of thinking something bad is happening TO me?” This has helped me see opportunities when something goes wrong, rather than just panicking. Just recently someone contacted me with a misprinted book, and I was able to share three other ways we could work together (in addition to fixing the misprinted book problem).
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Knowing that hundreds of kids feel better because of what I created is what keeps me going. Parents send me emails telling me what a difference they’ve seen in their kids. Hospital professionals call to tell me that my books are truly helping kids with cancer. I can’t imagine a greater accomplishment than knowing that something I put out into the world has eased kids’ suffering.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
During lockdown, divorce went way down because parents couldn’t separate and were stuck at home together. I worried less about my lack of sales at that time than I did about how hard it must have been for families in that position. I focused a lot on creating free content to help — I ended up writing and illustrating three books I provided as free downloads on my website.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
My goal is to create more book and calendar kits for kids dealing with all sorts of hard things, like kids in foster care, military families, and kids with health conditions like Type 1 Diabetes or epilepsy.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
How much we truly need structure and routines to thrive.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
How important it was to learn how to sell, and not think of it as slimy.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Honestly, I think I have coped really well — in part because I have my business as a sense of purpose, and also because I have already survived cancer. Once you’ve gone through chemo, it’s a lot easier to take things one moment at a time.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Work/life balance is absolutely necessary for me. Cancer is a disability. I have become very good at listening to my body and realizing when I need to take a break. I get more done in a shorter amount of time because I am intent on maintaining my focus; that way, when I hit a wall, I can lay around and watch Netflix guilt-free. Sometimes it is frustrating, because I’m excited to work on a project and I don’t have the energy. But the truth is, there will always be more to do in my business. I will never be “done,” so there’s no point in working my tail off to try to make that happen. It isn’t worth missing out on my family or my health.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I created a little quiet space in my closet and spend a lot of time in there (ha!).
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Always get dressed, even if you don’t plan to leave the house.
- Meditate or take quiet time where you try not to think about anything.
- Take walks. Inspiration comes in the times when your mind is quiet.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being unapologetic in your quest to make a difference in the lives of other people.