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Entries in Achieving $uccess (12)

Tuesday
Jun022015

Achieving $uccess:: Nellie Aklap

Nellie AklapMarket Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Nellie:: After we sold my first company to Intuit back in 2005, we took a few years off to spend time with the kids, work out and relax. We soon realized that we were too young, too bored, too passionate and too motivated to take on an early retirement so after our non-compete agreement with Intuit expired, we decided to get back into the document filing industry and started CorpNet.com in 2009 since thats where our passion and excitement liesIN Small Business..making peoples small business dreams into a reality!

Market Mommy:: How long did it take before you felt successful?

Nellie:: We started CorpNet.com in 2009 and it took us 4 years to break even and we are just seeing the true success and fruits of all of our effortsso almost 6 years. For me its a constant battle because I am always setting these high goals and standards for myself and my team so even when we have seen success, we are off onto a another crusadeLOL!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Nellie:: I believe success is something you achieve based on how much you put into whatever it is that you would like to see success from. Certainly others can help you, just as others can provide obstacles, but ultimately you make your own success and your own failure.  What I know for sure is that if you want to have success and be successful, you cant make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant and the success will naturally follow.  If you have the vision, drive, and the determination, and you immerse yourself into whatever it is that you are trying to do, you can and will accomplish that goal in the face of any obstacle or challenge, the rest will come.. And that in itself is success!!!  I truly believe, that the reason Ive been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money even to this day. I would do what I do today, which is inspiring and empowering small business owners by assisting them with making their business dreams into a reality and not get paid for it...that is how much I love what I do and thats how you know you are doing the right thing.  Off course, hitting daily, monthly, quarterly revenues is just a matter of numbers, but more me, its bigger than that.  Its creating a legacy and leaving a legacy behind and the biggest success for me would be if as a result of my help, motivation and inspiration, someone else was able to achieve success and true happiness and doing what they love to do.

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Nellie:: From the outside, it might seem to be a breeze for me, but believe me: Ive set up rules and processes to make sure both components of my life get the attention they need to thrive. Some of these rules include choosing one over the other - you cant be CEO and Mommy at the same time so choose one thing to focus 100% attention to at a time and switch roles. Sometimes, for my own sanity, I dont focus on either role as CEO or Mommy and instead focus simply on myself and it helps a lot! De-stress and then go back to what needs attention.

Market Mommy:: When did you break the six-figure threshold?

Nellie:: We broke the six-figure threshold in our first year in business. To most thats a huge deal, but in our industry, our profit margin is super low so even though we broke the six figure mark in our first year, our costs and expenses outweighed our profits so it took a while for us to become a profitable company.

Market Mommy::  What business strategies contributed to your success?

Nellie:: Our reputation in the industry, the relationships we establish and maintained with our clientele and our AMAZING unsurpassed personable customer service is what I believe has contributed so much to the success of CorpNet.com.

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you?

Nellie:: Surveying our clients, listening to what they had to say and improving and innovating and coming out with products and services based on their feedback and needs.  In addition, myself and my company both have heavy social media presence which I love. We want to be a resource to people to come to with questions, not just any service. Being on social media allows us to share a plethora of valuable content to help and inspire others.

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Nellie:: I recommend that you first get your support system ready. Whether it is your family or friends, you will need to let people you love know about the journey you are embarking on so no one is left feeling like they werent prepared for the repercussions you becoming an entrepreneur will cause. Next I recommend you set goals early and often. I think a lot of newbie entrepreneurs dont think about setting goals when they first start a business. They just want to get the business started and begin making money! But setting goals is a really easy way to set your sights on where you want to go. Finally, my last piece of advice is to get help when you need it! Its Ok to ask for help, find a mentor or look for resources along the way. There is so much out there and available, just find it and you will get back on your road to success.

 

 

Thursday
Jan052012

Achieving $uccess:: Cindy Engstrom

Cindy EngstromMarket Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Cindy:: I founded SIRCLE Advertising (formerly Is That Odd, Inc.) in April of 2009 because I identified a new way to approach marketing in the era of online living: advertising relations. It weds traditional advertising and public relations by creating a setting for consumers and brands to engage online that is connected to real-life product experiences and brand impressions. The internet is such a powerful tool to engage with people and use data to determine how effective marketing efforts are – I had to make use of it!

The SIRCLE model allows consumers to earn virtual currency and redeem it for product samples, and then follows up with a review request and retail purchase incentive. Currently, SIRCLE is live on IsThatOdd.com, and we’re in talks with several major web properties to put our model on their site next year. Additionally, we are developing a second property of our own for early 2012. We stay busy!

Market Mommy:: How long did it take before you felt successful?

Cindy:: I think life is full of many milestones, and I can fondly remember having a smile on my face because I felt successful.  Whether it was nailing a tough econometrics exam during my MBA program or finding a way to bring a new approach to a business when you are not in a position of power.  I also get a huge kick out being able to bring together a talented team and feel very successful and honored that talented people were willing to join the SIRCLE Advertising team and work hard. With SIRCLE Advertising our/my big moment was the insight we gained from our first experiment with the sample campaigns running on IsThatOdd.com.  We’ve had a few of those moments where the numbers are so good you rub your eyes and look again. Our time-on-site and pages-per-visit are on par with big players like Facebook, and 25% of our users engage with our brand partners - to compare,  banner ads usually deliver around 2%.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Cindy:: Success to me is where you are completely invigorated and inspired by what you do in a way that complements having a fulfilling personal life.  I am also a fan of Oprah’s definition of success: preparation meeting opportunity.  People think success is purely luck based.  It is not, it requires a lot of hard work and no short cuts.

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Cindy:: It is hard!  I often joke about wanting to high five myself some mornings when I’ve exercised, made my cuties breakfast, driven them to two different schools. I cherish those morning drives and the discussions that emerge (or the songs we sing). As I head to the office, I think, “Yes! I did it!”

As far as the actual management of my day, I couldn’t do it without technology. I check in throughout the day, getting a text from our nanny when the kids are home from school, emails from the school about field trips, calls to my husband about evening plans, and emailing my team from my Blackberry and iPhone – yes I carry both, and an iPad – to keep all the plates spinning.

Market Mommy:: When did you break the six-figure threshold?

Cindy:: OH! Sorry, I’m Canadian - that is a very personal question in the Canadian culture – but it’s a good one because that barrier did mean a lot to me when I broke through it.  I had paid my dues at a few hard jobs when my “preparation meets opportunity” karma kicked in. I was leading the marketing team for a tech start up in the dot com boom and I was 29 years old; it was fun to be a part of that history.

Market Mommy:: What business strategies contributed to your success?

Cindy:: I work hard; really, really hard.  I’ve always believed I could outwork the competition because I can sit at my desk for hours on end and I am so driven to make sure I do my part for the team.I have built a successful career in figuring out the intersections where technology makes a person’s life more fun, or just plain better.  I am an observation fanatic; I like to watch and listen to people and be a fly on the wall.  As I’ve matured, I’ve become better at listening to feedback, which is something I am very proud of myself for achieving.  Some of the days I have the most fun are going from meeting to meeting with super smart people and hearing their thoughts on the latest leg of our strategy.My network is also key, I am humbled by the amazing network of business friends that I have!  I really encourage people to get out there and talk to each other.

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you?

Cindy:: It is a lesson that I try to pass along: focus.  Now, that might sound easy at first, but what focus really means is that you must let things go.  It can be painful to alienate anyone or anything outside of the focal point.  One of its best applications is with launching a new product or company, you have to focus on sending the right messages for your situation.  It is tempting to jam in messages about all the great facets of what we are doing, but we can’t because the net effect will be zero share of mind.  A great example is from when I was running a small retail company in the Midwest and we were up against Coach and Gap.  A market positioning disaster for a new store, so  I decided we would focus on selling leather jackets, our highest margin products.  The quality of our product was out of this world and we developed a selling strategy to send people back to the Coach store to do a quality comparison - it worked!  We kicked the snot out of our locally situated competitors. I remembered one day walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and seeing people wearing our jackets.  THAT was a moment.

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Cindy:: My sister Tracy, who is an amazing Mom to three sons,  said to me once “there is no such thing as a part-time job.”  It takes as much time to get everyone to school, manage the household, and make everyone’s lives function whether you’re working 3 days a week or 5.   That stuck with me and so my first piece of advice is that even if you start part-time, it will feel full-time.

So, be realistic about your professional and personal schedules.  Be fiercely organized. Not one minute of my day is left unscheduled, including fun time, which is super important. Identify your resources: child care, meals, project help, budget and the almighty emergency stash of chocolates.  You will have deliverables when your partner/spouse is on a business trip, you have a flat tire, and one of your children is home sick with a cold so having help at hand to conquer moments of crisis is key. Most importantly, never give up on your dream.  Yes, you’ll be tired and yes at times you’ll think you’re a horrible Mom but your dreams are important. You are an important role model to your children that dreams matter, and are showing them an example of how to enjoy your professional life and your family.  Every once in while you get a comment that brings tears to your eyes, “Mom, you sure do a good job.  I want to be like you when I grow up.” It is pure magic.

Friday
Jan282011

Achieving $uccess:: Melanie Stewart

Market Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Melanie:: My name is Melanie Stewart and I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Compliance Partners, Inc. d/b/a CPI Experts and M&M Consumer Products, Inc. Compliance Partners, Inc. d/b/a CPI Experts was founded in 2001.  My son was 6 years old and I wanted to have flexibility with my time so that I could be more involved in his life.

I co-founded M&M Consumer Products, Inc. in 2009 because I was not able to find products on the market that addressed certain health and beauty issues that I was having.  I invented cuesTM,  FooteezTM and The SASSI System as a result.

Market Mommy:: How long did it take before you felt successful?

Melanie:: It took about 2 years before I felt successful.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Melanie:: I define success as owning my own business and living the life that I want to live.  

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Melanie:: My family is my top priority!  I keep my family’s calendar with my work calendar so that I can make sure that I don’t schedule client site visits that would interfere with my son’s school events.  There are many days that I will work during the time my son is in school and then complete my daily tasks in the evenings when he has gone to bed.

Market Mommy:: When did you break the six-figure threshold?

Melanie:: I broke the six-figure threshold in 2004 with CPI Experts. 

Market Mommy:: What business strategies contributed to your success?

Melanie:: Creative and flexible payment arrangements for the consulting services provided to CPI Experts clients.  This allows small hospitals with limited budgets to purchase the consulting services that they need.

M&M Consumer Products is a niche product company.  We develop products that are solutions for specific health and beauty needs.

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you?

Melanie:: I tried several marketing strategies when I started CPI Experts.  These included mailers and cold-calls.  None of these strategies really worked.  The best marketing for CPI to date has been referrals from satisfied clients.

With M&M Consumer Products, the best marketing has been getting our products featured on daily give-away and “coupon” sites.  Networking with people in the beauty and health industry as well as bloggers is also proving to be very beneficial.

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Melanie:: There are several pieces of advice that I would give anyone just starting out:

o   Believe in the success of your service/product

o   Be true to yourself

o   Don’t under sell your worth

o   Be persistent

o   Network

In addition to her primary websites, products can be found on Facebook here and here. M&M Consumer Products also has a blog.

  

This post is part of a new series on Market Mommy, Achieving $uccess. These posts detail the journey these mom entrepreneurs have taken to reach sales of six figures and beyond. How do they balance it all? What strategies have worked for them? What advice do they have for you, the new mom entrepreneur? Follow our blog for many more Achieving $uccess stories in the near future.

Tuesday
Nov302010

Achieving $uccess:: Victoria Missry Sutton

Market Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Victoria:: My father founded All in the Cards 20 years ago, and I joined him in the business more 10 years ago. He is now semi-retired and I run the family business. My sister and brother have also joined me in doing so.

Market Mommy::  How long did it take before you felt successful?

Victoria:: Hmmmmmm! I will let you know! Still working on that one!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Victoria:: To be able to balance business with family and personal life – being happy in both- simultaneously.

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Victoria:: It’s challenging. There is always the pull…being organized. Being organized with time, everything is on a schedule….my calendar and my lists! Any extra time I have is with my family and my children. Knowing in business there is always tomorrow, but if you miss a ballet recital – there isn’t!

Market Mommy:: When did you break the six-figure threshold?

Victoria:: Before I worked for my family business, when I was an assistant to a president at a major dept store in NYC.

Market Mommy:: What business strategies contributed to your success?

Victoria:: Building a strong team. I am blessed to work with a very dedicated and talented team. You are as good as the people who surround you!

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you? 

Victoria:: Word of mouth….bringing great product at a great value, keeps our customers coming back, and sharing AIC with their family and friends….sending our cards to them for special occasions and birthdays!

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Victoria:: Love what you do. Be passionate about it! Work hard and love what you do. It’s the key to my success!

 

This post is part of a new series on Market Mommy, Achieving $uccess. These posts detail the journey these mom entrepreneurs have taken to reach sales of six figures and beyond. How do they balance it all? What strategies have worked for them? What advice do they have for you, the new mom entrepreneur? Follow our blog for many more Achieving $uccess stories in the near future.

 

Friday
Nov192010

Achieving $uccess:: Sandra Ann Harris

Market Mommy:: When and why did you found your business?

Sandra:: I yearned to avoid the throw-away plastic baggies, the plastic Tupperware food containers and the plastic/vinyl lunchboxes sold at the big-box retailers that are so ubiquitous. But as I searched high and low in sporting goods stores, big-box retailers and online, I was unable to put together a lunch kit that met my needs. I wondered, "What is the best way to pack a lunch?" That was when, about five years ago, I resolved to develop a lunch kit for kids ages 3 to 103... Something healthy for people and the planet.

What I've come up with is a back-to-the-basics solution. The kit starts with a 100 percent cotton, machine washable bag with matching cloth napkins. Inside the bag, which can be converted from shoulder bag, to sling bag to backpack, are reusable bamboo utensils, and a two-level stainless steel ECOlunchbox sized to fit a sandwich. What have I left out? Plastics. Disposables. Vinyl. PVC. Lead. And, of course, the lunch. That part is up to you!

Market Mommy:: How long did it take before you felt successful?

Sandra:: I felt successful when I completed the final design of our ECOlunchbag + 3 napkins and realized that the backpack-style bag designed to fit our napkins and stainless steel lunchboxes would be a unique addition to sustainable lunchware offerings internationally. I was happy with my idea. And I felt successful even though I hadn’t sold even one item yet! Positive thinking is so important for entrepreneurs when starting a new venture. Always believe! And it’s never too early to celebrate successes.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Sandra:: The definition of success is constantly changing. I felt successful to some extent when I sold the first 100 handmade cotton ECOlunchbags + 3 Napkins and the first 100 stainless steel ECOlunchboxes. Celebrating successes, no matter how small, is crucial to firing the engine for great successes. No success is too small to celebrate. But it took about 18 months before the business was operating in the black and that felt like an important a marker of success. Now I seek to achieve more success in increasing our distribution nationwide and internationally. We have distributors in Canada and Australia, but I’d like to find an eco products distributor in Europe to help us reach those markets, as well. That would be success, too!

Market Mommy:: How do you balance parenting with running your business?

Sandra:: I've worked from home in various capacities over the last 10 years and it was natural I would do the same with ECOlunchboxes. I am a working mother and balance my business and home responsibilities. I like to be present in the children’s lives and available to volunteer at their school. This spreads me thin, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My staff and my husband are a big part of making this juggling act a success. Yes, I do need childcare help, but because I’m my own boss I set my own daily schedule as well as vacation schedules so I can spend time with my family. And just as importantly, I can change my company headquarters and run my business remotely from a vacation home during school vacations or wherever since I have set up ECOlunchboxes to function effectively using cloud computing services and remote network access.

Market Mommy::  When did you break the six-figure threshold? 

Sandra:: 2010 has been an amazing year! There’s an appetite out there for sustainable products and ECOlunchboxes has benefited from this growing consumer awareness as well as an overarching desire among so many families to make an environmental difference by greening their lifestyles. I only see this trend growing in the years ahead, but ECOlunchboxes also has to be prepared for increased competition as this consumer products category continues to grow and attract more interest.

Market Mommy::  What business strategies contributed to your success?

Sandra:: I’ve kept our overhead as low as possible for as long as possible so we can re-invest the savings in the growth of ECOlunchboxes. This is one of the reasons I've chosen to keep ECOlunchboxes a virtual company and use cloud computing services and outsource fulfillment services. I'm not seeking to grow a big organization. I'd like to keep our company light on its feet and as scalable as possible, especially since our product is seasonal and we have big spikes in demand in during back-to-school lunchbox season.

Market Mommy:: What specific marketing efforts really paid off for you?

Sandra:: Public relations. Tell your story authentically. And if you’re not sure what your story is find out by sitting down with a friend or two and ask them to listen to you tell your story. Make a recording of what you say and listen to it later. You have a story… find it and tell it.

Market Mommy:: What advice do you have for moms who are just starting out on their entrepreneur adventure?

Sandra:: Dream. Believe. Then, get Real: do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and listen to what the data shows. Once you begin, you will find strength to persist as you "dream," "believe" and reflect on your "SWOT" analysis.

ECOlunchboxes can be found online in several locations. In addition to their website, they also are on Twitter and Facebook. Read about Ecolunchboxes in the news and why you should green your lunch!

 

  

This post is part of a new series on Market Mommy, Achieving $uccess. These posts detail the journey these mom entrepreneurs have taken to reach sales of six figures and beyond. How do they balance it all? What strategies have worked for them? What advice do they have for you, the new mom entrepreneur? Follow our blog for many more Achieving $uccess stories in the near future.