how she did it

Case Studies // Living The Dream...

Living The Dream

Debra Delaney asked herself;  “Do I want to be doing this 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer was a resounding no!..” so she left her job & set up a business, doing what she loves. Read her inspiring story below.

What does your business do?

A unique, one-stop resource that gives people access to everything they need to entertain with grace and style.  A place packed full of ideas, regardless of your budget or experiences as a host or hostess. We cover every occasion from simple weeknight meals, romantic dinners for two or special occasion parties.  Fresh ideas are added monthly.

Resources, tips, how-to videos, slideshows, timesavers, centerpieces, seasonal tablescapes and menus with downloadable grocery lists.  Enjoy contributions from cookbook authors, chefs and food experts.

What made you decide to start your own business?

I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with corporate America. The dream I thought I wanted and the ‘measures of success that came with that dream’ weren’t enough anymore.

I asked myself: “Do I want to be doing this 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer was a resounding no! It became more about personal fulfilment than money and a bigger title. I realized that I had a greater fear of the consequences if I didn’t follow my dream.

Therefore, after 32 years in corporate America and a milestone birthday, I asked myself what I loved doing and the answer was that I loved to entertain and help others successfully entertain.  That’s how was born.

The seeds for Memorable Entertaining were probably planted in my mind from childhood. Because of my Greek heritage, food always figured prominently in my life. Cooking together and discussing recipes were part of family life growing up.

My grandfather, aunts and uncles owned restaurants around the U.S. (big surprise). I was known for filling the coffee milk pitchers, helping at the cash register and (I hate to admit) occasionally entertaining customers with my amateur song-and-dance routines. Combine this with a Southern mother known for her gracious entertaining, and voila. Memorable Entertaining was destined to be.

My passion for entertaining can be summed up in this true story …

While attending a 60th birthday party for a friend, one of the guests happened to be someone who dined at our home almost 10 years ago.  She introduced me to her new husband and proceeded to tell him, in detail, about our food, the table and our house. In surprise I said, “How can you remember all that? It was almost 10 years ago!”

I have seen the ‘power’ and lasting impact that bringing people into your home to share a meal can have on both business and personal relationships.  Our hectic lives make this one of the last things we think about instead of one of first.

My goal is to inspire people to want to entertain again and show how even the simplest meal, presented with a little thought can go from nice to wow! with very little effort, creating an unforgettable experience.

It is time to take time to create those memorable moments that give friends and family some respite from the fast paced world we live in!

What have been your biggest challenges?

In terms of challenges, there are daunting days where you question everything you do – be prepared for those days. Your tenacity and belief in yourself will carry you through. In addition, everything takes longer and more money than you think it will, so a big challenge is managing and deciding what to spend your time and money on.

Be flexible and open to other possibilities.  My original idea was to focus only on a membership based site. The first year of business taught me a lot and now I’ve identified four other avenues to expand my business and generate revenue

Believe it or not, one of the biggest rewards is the process itself. It is exhilarating.  Don’t get me wrong – it is a lot of hard work and some days can be down right excruciating, but along the way you learn so much and meet the most fascinating people. It is very rewarding when you are building something that you own, on your terms, especially when you realize all the possibilities!

The biggest challenges still continue to be spreading the word and generating revenue.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Spreading the word:

Understanding the power of social media and the most effective ways to use this medium.

Speaking Engagements

TV Appearances

Generating Revenue: This year I switched from a paid membership site to a free membership site.  The objective is to increase traffic and membership significantly and develop advertising and strategic partnerships to generate revenue.

What tips or advice would you give other business owners?

•        Do your homework before you leave your job.

•        Set as much of the groundwork in place as you can and save, save, save as much as your budget allows.  Everything almost always costs more than you think or budget for.

•        Have a good support system.  Surround yourself with successful people full of positive energy that give you strength and challenge you.

•        Help others whenever you can.  People come back into your life in the most unexpected ways.

•        Never burn any bridges.

Listen to your inner self and don’t be afraid to follow your dream. You can only ignore your inner voice for so long. Sooner or later, if you don’t pay attention, it will affect you emotionally, physically or both.

Take the leap – it a great ride, albeit scary.  You will grow and learn more about yourself than you ever imagined!

What is your favourite quote?

I have 3 favorite quotes:

“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the actual nature of the events themselves.”

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamp of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustrations for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach.  Check your road and the nature of your battle.  The world you desired can be won.  It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”  Ayn Rand

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly … to listen to stars and buds, to babes and sages, with open heart; await occasions, hurry never … this is my symphony.”  William Henry Channing

Who inspires you?

My father, my husband and individuals who have succeeded against all odds to achieve their dreams.

Find out more about Debra & her business…


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