This past April, just before Passover, I embarked on an exciting new chapter in my career: I opened a small business selling children’s books.

The idea for this business was actually many years in the making. Already 30 years ago, as a two-year-old, I reveled in listening to a story on my mother’s lap. My passion for books was nourished further when, as a 10-year-old, I refused to leave the comfort of my mother’s voice behind, curling up beside her as she continued to read to me into the night. The spark was set ablaze when, at 16, I worked my first job selling children’s books in Barnes and Noble. I still remember overhearing what a customer said to the cashier one day as he walked to the front with his purchases: “That young girl you have working back there…she’s good! She really knows how to sell books!”

Why was I so at home with children’s books? Maybe for the simple reason that they made up my childhood – they formed the bare bones of my love for reading. They kindled a flame that never dimmed throughout many, many life changes.

It would be an understatement to say that, for me, selling children’s books is driven by passion. This brings me to the first piece of advice I’d give to anyone opening up a small business: find your passion. Figure out what sort of service you can really stand behind and make sure it’s linked to a talent or base of knowledge that you can offer the world.

Then there’s the simple but all-too-important precept: do your homework. Whatever it is that you pursue, make sure you know the industry – both the old ways and the new – so that your expertise seeps straight from you to the customer. It is what they’ll latch onto when deciding whether to trust you, and whether to invest money in this enterprise you’re building.

Additionally, before you begin advertising your business to the public, make sure that you’re financially sound, that you’re surrounded by people who can back you, financially, emotionally or both. Take care of all the technicalities beforehand, too. You’ll find, almost immediately, that governmental red tape is endless, and you certainly don’t want it to trip you up in the midst of a business transaction. Knowing that you have everything in order is part of staying organized – a crucial component of running a small business. My Excel sheets abound – from my order forms with various publishers, to my customer base, to my inventory – and I must constantly stay on top of what books are coming in and out, what needs to be ordered, and what needs to be delivered to whom.

The key word here is “delivery” – because convenience is key. Making the experience as easy as possible for your customers increases the likelihood that they’ll do business with you in the future. This may seem trite, but customers are inordinately grateful for small conveniences – to hear, for example, that you take credit cards, so that they don’t have to part with badly-needed cash. They smile over the phone as you tell them that all you need from them is a price limit.  You’ll select the books, bundle them up, write the card and deliver the gift for them; they don’t need to do a single thing more. They will enter your place of business and browse your stock, more than willing to let you figure out what their child should be reading or wearing or enjoying – if you show yourself to be confident enough to handle that responsibility. And it is a responsibility – because customers come to you open, vulnerable, and willing. They give themselves over to you and they put themselves in your hands, with the expectation that they will be enriched somehow when their interaction with you is through.

That brings us full circle then, to the key question which you must ask yourself throughout it all: do you feel enriched? Do you love what you do? Profits and margins aside, do you feel that you’re doing something valuable, and do you feel fulfilled? The answer to these questions must be “yes,” because it’s the only way you’ll persevere, avoid pitfalls, and succeed despite the occasional inevitable setbacks. Because the mark of a truly successfully entrepreneur is the obvious joy he takes in what he does, joy that he can then share with his customers and with the community at large.

Kelly Massry is a creative writing teacher, certified reading specialist and the curator of Kelly’s Collections, a children’s bookselling business. Follow her on Instagram @keliteracy.