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Entries in Business Advice (20)

Thursday
Nov042010

Achieving $uccess:: Laura J. Wellington

Meet Laura J. Wellington of The Giddy Gander Company, Wellington Consulting Company and Wellington Financial Systems.

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

Laura:: In 1991, both my late husband and I founded WCC and WFS having a strong desire to capture a place in the financial technology industry to support our future family.  In 2006, a few years after my husband passed away, I launched The Giddy Gander Company because I wanted to honor Dean's memory by making the world a better place for all children and families.   

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

Laura:: Two years with regards to WCC and WFS; and this year with regards to The Giddy Gander Company.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success? 

Laura:: Feeling financially stable with lots more growth to go while living balancing your personal and professional lives well.

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

Laura:: I keep my priorities straight and rely and everyone on my teams (meaning my children and my staff) to pitch in at every level.

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

Laura:: 1994

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

Laura:: Keep your business team lean and take care of them well.  They are your most important asset and can make or break you.  Additionally, never give up.  If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!  Finally, learn to make small adjustments as small adjustments can lead to large rewards.  Too many entrepreneurs over adjust. 

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

Laura:: We took all of our marketing and pr in house!  It saved me a bundle and worked more efficiently when coupled with our sales efforts.

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

Laura:: Don't let fear get in your way.  Fear is good.  It keeps you going.  Just learn to control it.  In that, your "answers" and "next steps" will come.

Laura can be found online at wumblers.com.

 

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.

 

Thursday
Oct282010

Achieving $uccess:: Allison O'Kelly

Allison O'Kelly, Founder and CEO of Mom Corps.Meet Allison O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps.      

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

Allison:: I started Mom Corps in 2005 just after the birth of my second child.  I personally needed a flexible work schedule and began doing some contract accounting work.  I quickly realized that companies were looking for flexible experienced talent and there were many other women like me who needed flexibility.  However, neither knew how to find each other.  It seemed like a huge unmet need and I decided to match these companies with these professionals, and thus founded Mom Corps.

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

Allison:: Success is a relative term.  I feel we are achieving success, but we are not there yet.  If we were there, we wouldn't need to continue to plug along!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Allison:: There isn't one definition.  We have built a brand successfully.  We have launched a concept successfully.  We have launched a franchise program successfully.  We are now growing our business.  There are many goals along the way and these small successes eventually lead to great success!

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

Allison:: I am able to work from home and control my schedule.  That said, I work many hours but am able to adjust as needed for my family.

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

Allison:: In our first full year of operations... 2006.

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

Allison:: We were very focused on our brand and our goals and did not stray.  In addition we were and are very "scrappy". 

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

Allison:: Our best marketing has been word of mouth and PR.  We find these are the least expensive and most effective methods.

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

Allison:: You get what you put into it.  If you are doing something a few hours a day you can't expect to have a great 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.



Thursday
Oct212010

Achieving $uccess:: Candi Wingate

Candi Wingate, founder of Care4Hire and Nannies4Hire.Meet Candi Wingate, founder of Nannies4hire.com and Care4hire.com

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

Candi::  My nanny experience actually goes way back.  I was a nanny for a family with five children, which included newborn twins.  After becoming a nanny and working in a nanny agency for several years, I purchased the successful Nation-Wide Nanny Placement Agency.   After finding that we needed to expand, Nannies4hire.com, Babysitter4hire.com and Care4hire.com was born. Nannies4hire.com was stated in 2002.  Babysitters4hire.com was started in 2008 - which merged into Care4hire.com in 2009.

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

Candi:: I felt I had success when we started working with the Dr. Phil Show and with TLC's Jon and Kate + 8.

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Candi:: Success can be defined in several different ways.  Whether it is success with your own children or success in your own business;  every person has a different way of measuring success.  I define success when I am happy or pleased with what has been accomplished. 

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

Candi:: As a mother of two busy boys I tend to simplify my life by hiring a nanny.  With running three businesses I find great success with my nanny being an extra set of hands.  Besides childcare, she also helps with laundry, grocery shopping, homework and meal preparation.  I can't imagine my life without a nanny. When I return home after work, the house is in order, the meal is in the oven, the homework is done and I can spend more time with the children.

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

Candi:: It takes years and years to grow a business.

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

Candi::Our goal is to find every family the right caregiver, not just any caregiver and offer caregivers an enjoyable experience.   Our business thrives on customer service.  A good amount of our business has been built on referrals and repeat clients. 

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

Candi:: We worked with TLC's Jon & Kate + 8; helping them find a nanny for their family.  Nannies4Hire.com has been named as one of the INC500, by INC magazine, is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award and the 2010 Nebraska Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is an ongoing media resource for television, radio and online organizations including ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN.com, The Dr. Phil Show and ABC’s Supernanny, to name a few.

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

Candi:: When things in business don't go the way they should, don't give up and stay positive.

Nannies4Hire can be found on: Their Blog, Twitter, Linked-In and Media.

Care4Hire can be found on: Their Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Media.

 

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.

 

Thursday
Oct212010

Achieving $uccess:: Lynn Schneider

Lynn Schneider, founder of DentaKit.com.Meet Lynn Schneider, founder of DentaKit.com and ArchWired.com.

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

Lynn:: I got braces on my teeth for the first time at age 41 and started writing a journal about my experiences. That journal eventually became ArchWired.com, which later also housed a message board (The Metal Mouth Message Board). About six months after getting braces, I realized I needed various oral hygiene supplies I couldn't find in stores, such as a good dental kit for braces. That's when I created the DentaKit Braces Survival Kit and launched DentaKit.com. The two sites have a symbiotic relationship with each other. ArchWired.com readers become DentaKit.com customers, and vice-versa. I didn't plan it that way, it just happened, and soon I realized I had accidentally created a great business model.

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

Lynn:: It took about three years for me to really begin to feel successful at this business. I started it as an experiment and for the first few years, I treated it as a hobby. But as ArchWired's readership grew and DentaKit's sales figures began to climb (along with my customer base) I realized I really had started something special.  At first I filled all of DentaKit's orders by myself from my house, but after a few years it became impossible to keep up with it (even with help from my family), so I found a fulfillment company to handle warehousing and shipping for me. That not only saved my sanity, but made me feel very successful -- that my business had grown so large that I couldn't handle it at home anymore! Now I have more time to manage the business properly, and my house isn't filled with dental products anymore!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Lynn:: I feel that in creating this business, I've really helped people, which gives me an enormous amount of satisfaction. When people write to you and tell you what a positive difference your efforts have made in their lives -- to me, that's success. Many people view the message board at ArchWired.com as their orthodontic problem lifeline, especially people undergoing jaw surgery. For DentaKit.com, I define success as: customers are happy, they keep coming back, and they tell their friends and colleagues about my store. My business is also to the point where I can "give back" to various charities in the name of my company, which really makes me happy.

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

Lynn:: It can be difficult sometimes. Running an online business from home is challenging because your work is always there on the computer. You need to be able to say "I've done enough today" and walk away from the computer, whether it's to go to the gym, do the grocery shopping, or spend time with your family. Lists are very important; I make lots of lists. My day has always been broken up by parental responsibilities, such as picking up the kids from school or driving them to their activities. I try to get most of my work done while the kids are in school. It's easier in some ways now that they're teenagers, because I don't have to watch them every moment they're home. But I still spend many afternoons driving them around to sports or music lessons. One more thing: I feel that I've taught my kids a lot about entrepreneurship. When my oldest daughter was in 5th grade, she made a poster for her social studies class about how her mom is an entrepreneur. She told me how proud she was of me.  That poster is hanging in my home office. I look at it every day, and it always makes me smile.

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

Lynn:: I started DentaKit.com in late November, 2001. In mid-October 2006, it had broken the six-figure threshold. So, it took about 5 years to achieve that goal. But for the first several years, I didn't run it like a business; I treated it as a hobby. I think if I'd have taken it more seriously at first, and had really seen its potential earlier, I might have achieved that goal sooner. Now I'm projecting the time frame for seven figures. It really blows my mind. I never thought I'd create something that would be so financially successful!

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

Lynn:: Thinking like a customer (or in the case of ArchWired.com, thinking like a reader). I had braces on my teeth for three years, so I had a good idea what my customers and readers needed. When I wasn't sure about a product, the ArchWired.com message board enabled me to communicate with my readers, many of whom were also DentaKit.com customers. In a nutshell, I suppose it's: communicate with your customers; know your customers! Talk TO them, not AT them.  Be sincere. Also, I knew who my "competition" was. It's very important to know what you're up against so you can word your copy correctly and price your products properly.

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

Lynn:: I'm proud to say that I didn't take venture or investment capital from anyone. I started this business with a few thousand dollars of my own money (I raised some of it by selling tech logo polo shirts on eBay!) Since I didn't have deep pockets to draw on, I did a lot of "guerrilla marketing." I posted on other dental message boards, wrote press releases, did email marketing campaigns, and kept a close eye on search engine optimization.

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

Lynn:: Don't have too broad of a focus. Try to find a niche that has potential and concentrate on that. You need to be able to differentiate yourself from the other similar businesses out there. Ask yourself why people would buy from you instead of your competitors. Be sincere, but remember that your products have value and price them accordingly. 

If you have an internet business, educate yourself by reading about guerrilla marketing, web analytics, and search engine optimization. Also, be realistic. Write a business plan (it doesn't have to be complicated), and re-visit it every few months to keep yourself on track. The numbers must be realistic. If you can't be profitable from day one, then you must figure out when you'll be profitable and if that time frame will work with your finances and your life.

Remember that starting a business is A LOT OF WORK! You'll be working very hard at it, so you have to believe in what you're doing and have a passion for it. You need to have the time to spend on it. To be successful, you can't build something and then rest on your laurels. You must continually work at it.

Finally, I would tell moms who are just starting out to think like managers, not employees. Run your business like a business, and recognize when you need to hire help. YOU should do what you enjoy, and YOUR EMPLOYEES or the companies you hire should do the grunt work you don't enjoy. We moms have a tendency to want to do everything ourselves. That's fine when you're first starting out, but no business can grow properly with just one person wearing all the hats -- that's a recipe for crash and burn!

Lynn Schneider lives in Northern California with her husband, their two teenage daughters, and their pet water frog. Before starting her internet business, Lynn was a technical writer in Silicon Valley. She can be found on Twitter, in addition to her blog, DentaKit.com and the ArchWired.com Metal Mouth Message Board.

 

 

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.

 

Wednesday
Oct202010

Before the Launch

When speaking about your business, measuring success, listing accomplishments, etc. it is normal to just talk about things that happened after you officially launched. Oftentimes, everything that happened prior to your actual launch just gets lost in the mix.

That shouldn’t necessarily be the case. We shouldn’t overlook all of the hard work and endless hours spent before our business is actually off of the ground. Doing this, I believe, causes other would-be mom entrepreneurs to believe that this work isn’t as important. Or, even worse, maybe not even necessary.

You simply cannot just jump into entrepreneurship. The number of start-up businesses that fail each year is proof of that. There are things that you must do beforehand. There really is no way around it. Here are just a few things to consider:

Research:: This is a huge component of launching your business. You must research your potential market, your potential customers, your product and supplies. Research what other similar companies are charging, how much profit they’re making. Research the need for your planned product or service. This research will help you produce a well thought out, realistic business plan.

Education:: This goes hand in hand with research, but is slightly different.  It is critical that you be well educated in your area of business. You don’t want to go into things blindly. Learn everything you can about your competitors, your field, and don’t forget things like the business software you plan to use. Be prepared.

Write a Business Plan:: Write a detailed business plan using what you know and the data you’ve researched. Plan ahead for at least the next year. How will you start, how will you operate, how will you maintain and grow? How will you market your business?

Secure Funding:: Most businesses are not created from nothing. You’ll most likely need some start-up funds. Do you have them or do you need to find an investor? If you are planning to start mass producing a product, hire employees or open a storefront you’re going to need a few thousand dollars minimum before you start generating profit. Don’t overlook this crucial component.

These are just a few of the things to consider before you open your doors for business. There are many others including naming your business, legally establishing it and more. I’ll cover these in some upcoming posts. Only after you check some of things off of your list, can you move forward, launch and then grow your business.