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.



Let’s be realistic, there aren’t a lot of things in this world that are free. And, there sure aren’t a lot of valuable things that are. However, Market Mommy does offer a few things that are free and I encourage you to take advantage of them! All of these things can improve your marketing efforts for zero cost!

The Blog:: You’re here. This blog is updated 3-5 times per week {at least} and includes a lot of valuable information. Not only do we feature various marketing and business tips, but we also profile those mom entrepreneurs that have been successful so we can all learn from them. We also feature the random product review or giveaway. Please sign up for our feed so you don’t miss a thing!

E-Newsletter:: Our newsletter goes out once a month and includes a variety of things. We highlight different partners, include marketing tips, give our readers discounts and much more. Also, if you’re on our list you get privileged information about special promotions. Sign up today!

Directory:: Market Mommy offers a business directory where you can list your mom-owned business in one of several categories. Since we have a Google page rank of 3, this is a great way to help build SEO for your site.

Mommy Monday:: Want to be featured on our blog? Every Monday we feature a different mom entrepreneur and her story. It’s free and can include a photo. You simply have to answer a few questions. If you’d like to take advantage of this service, send me an e-mail.

And of course, you can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for free. We love our fans and often promote special pricing and offers to Facebook or Twitter only.

Market Mommy offers a variety of paid services too. But, they are all very reasonably priced! Check out our advertising opportunities and marketing services for more information!

Happy Thursday!

Market Mommy is excited to introduce our newest sponsor to you, Rendi Independent Stylist, Jessica Russell.

Russell is one of the first stylists in the country for the new company, which offers customers the chance to create personalized picture frames and wall décor. From color choice to names, dates, quotes, or personal messages—customers can “become the designer.” Interested potential customers are encouraged to browse the designs available at Russell’s site.

Rendi not only has the online storefront, but they also offer personalized home parties where you and your guests can bring your laptops and experience the design process together.

Russell said she’s very excited about her new business venture. “I’m so impressed with the quality and beauty of these gifts,” she said. “I’m very excited because Rendi is a brand new company, so that means there is enormous potential for growth.”

Rendi—meaning “you make” in Italian—is the brainchild of Annie Danielson, an entrepreneur and designer who experienced great success with a cottage painting program allowing women to work out of their homes, and a nationally renowned home décor company. Motivated by the idea of empowering women, Danielson has turned her attention to Rendi. “C.A.R.E.” is one of Rendi’s central precepts: to Celebrate, Affirm, Remember, and Encourage. It refers to giving women the ability to manage both a career and a family, but also serves as a reminder to everybody on a wider level.

In addition to Rendi’s people-positive approach to the business world, the company is also socially and environmentally responsible. All products are made in the United States, and the company takes care to craft them with planet-friendly materials, including 100 percent post-consumer recycled wood and water based inks. Rendi also has a charity initiative where a portion of each sale goes toward drilling freshwater wells in impoverished African villages.

If you’d like to give a beautiful, personalized gift this holiday season, visit Russell’s page and see everything Rendi has to offer. She is also interested in speaking with women who are interested in starting their own business as independent stylists. You can learn more here, or e-mail her directly at jessi.create{at}gmail.com. She can also be found on Facebook.

**FREE GIFT ALERT** If you order, be sure to let her know that Market Mommy sent you! She’s giving a free gift with purchase {valued at $13} to all Market Mommy readers who order.

Cales Cantrall is the mom behind MarieLynn Boutique. She has been running the shop since September, 2007. The boutique offers trendy apparel, accessories and gear for babies and children.

Like many work-at-home-moms, Cantrall is constantly working on balancing work with family. “It’s still a work in progress; but I’ve found that with having a two year old and four month old, the best thing to do is work during nap and bed times,” she said. “It leaves me with quiet time; to focus on my tasks at hand.”

Cantrall said if she’s stressed or overwhelmed, she just remembers why she is doing what she is. “Remember that you are a mom first and foremost. Work can get stressful and time consuming, but work will always be there. Our children grow so quickly and we can’t get this time back,” she said.

In addition to MarieLynn Boutique’s main website, she can also be found on Facebook and her Blog.

I would love to recommend a wonderful book that I know you would enjoy and both informative and engaging. Corporate Mom Dropouts is a book designed for any mom who wants to work from home and raise their children. (That’s you!) It’s geared toward moms who want to contribute to their children’s future while creating a legacy. (That’s also you!) If you are a mom who wants financial independence and freedom, this book is definitely for you!

Lucinda Cross is a speaker and author and founder of Corporate Mom Dropouts, blog, radio show and book. {She is also one of the co-organizers of The Super Mom Entrepreneur Conference that I am attending next weekend in NYC!} Her life has been filled with wonderful experiences – from being a single mother, to a mom entrepreneur, sharing her gifts as a marketing strategist, mentor and writer she uses that wisdom and insight to motivate moms to create a better life, a better community and a better business.

Books can be ordered easily online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Lyss Stern, Founder & CEO of Divalysscious Moms.Meet Lyss Stern, founder and CEO of Divalysscious Moms.

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

Lyss:: Founded in 2004, I wanted to bridge the gap between my pre-baby lifestyle and newly bestowed motherhood after the birth of my first son, Jackson.  Rather than give up my beloved stilettos for strollers, I decided to embrace them both.  My company’s name came from combining delicious–a friend’s word describing my work–with Lyss, and a pinch of “diva” thrown in for good measure.  And voila!  Divalysscious was born, celebrating moms that are strong, sexy, confident and (dare we say it!) even more fabulous post-baby.  I feel that stilettos, sippy cups, strollers and Starbucks all go hand-in-hand with this uber-cool, modern group of diva moms.

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

Lyss:: I knew I was “successful” after I published my first book, “If You Give a Mom a Martini… 100 Ways to take 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself” (Random House) and became the Editor In Chief of Observer Playground,  the new parenting publication for NYC moms.  However… I think I will feel most successful when we sell my TV show that we are currently pitching to the networks!

Market Mommy:: How do you define success?

Lyss:: When my children are happy, and healthy that is my definition of success!

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

Lyss:: I am frequently asked how I balance motherhood and owning/operating my own business.  While every successful mother and business owner has her own recipe with ingredients that work for her as an individual, some tips that I like to give other mothers that are in similar situations are the “Divalysscious Tips”, and the ingredients that work for my “Mommy Entrepreneur Recipe.”

Here are my “Divalysscious Tips on How to be a Mommy and an Entrepreneur” –

1. Your Children Come First. That means that any email and phone call can and will come after the children are happy and settled in. With today’s technology, it seems that everything is urgent; however your child’s well being comes first and your children need to feel secure.

2. Prioritize. Make sure that your work can be done early in the morning before the children wake up.  Yes, that means sometimes waking up at 4:30am to finish work… of course you will need a large cup of coffee!

3. Have a routine.  Having breakfast with the children and taking my older son to school in the morning are crucial aspects of my daily life.  Dinner, bath time, and bedtime are also extremely important for my children and for me.  I try my best to put down the blackberry, and eat with the children, bathe them, read to them, and spend quality time with them before bed. After my boys are sleeping, I know that I can go back on the computer to finish up my work.

4.  Have a “Mommy Time Out”.   Moms who run their own businesses also need to take a few minutes out of their busy day for themselves.  I have a strong philosophy that if mom isn’t happy, then the children won’t be happy.  Take ten minutes to meditate, get a quick ten minute back massage at the local nail salon, flip through a magazine, or even make a phone call to a friend, completely unrelated to work, just to say hi.  I believe that taking this time for yourself is critical.

5.  Delegate.  Always remember that being a mom and a business owner gives you the right to delegate the work, which means surrounding yourself with a great supportive team comprised of positive people who have high energy.  Make sure these are people that you can trust, and people that can help you.  My husband is my biggest supporter, at times he has to help with the children because I might need to be at a meeting, have to work late, etc… I know that I can count on my husband and vice versa for him, as he too has a high demanding job.  Delegate the errands with your family and care givers, and do not be afraid to ask for help!  It’s always better to ask, than to be completely overwhelmed.

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

Lyss:: In year three of my business.

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

Lyss:: For me, being the best mom I can be turned out to be the job of my dreams.  My success comes from my passion.  I always say that Divalysscious Moms is my third child!  I am growing my business and my brand, all the while doing something that is fun, hard work and completely satisfying.

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

Lyss:: I call it ‘Word of Mom;’ one mom telling another mom about how fabulous Divalysscious Moms is.  My database started off with six moms and now has over 200,000 of NYC’s most influential women and moms!  It’s important to stay focused and do a great job, and word will spread naturally.  I regularly tap into this network for inspiration on new event ideas, and use real-life issues, thoughts and concerns to develop meaningful events that will actually make a difference in these women’s lives! 

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

Lyss:: The best advice I give moms that are starting out their business, is follow your dreams and passions and try to answer a ‘need’ that you recognize in this world.  For me, I recognized that moms in New York City wanted to stay chic and continue to network with each other in fun, fabulous ways.  I came up with something to answer that need!  You have to “go for it” and surround yourself with positive, trustworthy people.

Lyss can be found online at Diva Moms, Observer Playground, Facebook and her book can be found here.

 

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.

 

Linsday Harris is the mom behind Glow Baby, which she launched in July of 2009. Her company is dedicated to providing unique and user-friendly scheduling tools for today’s busy parents. “Glow Baby products are all about helping parents save time and reduce the stress of the day to day,” Harris said.

Glow Baby offers journals, calendars and lists that help parents keep track of daily activities such as; feeding, sleeping, diapering, bathing, first foods by type, meal planning, family activities, general to do lists for daily tasks, groceries etc.  According to Harris, all Glow Baby products are designed with both function and fashion in mind. “They are easy to use and small enough to slip into a purse or diaper bag but packed with useful pages to quickly use or reference,” she said.

Harris admits that balancing family and business can be difficult at times. “I try and get as much work as I can done while my daughters are asleep or at camp/nursery school,” she said. She also noted that she tries to keep the weekends for family time and does as little work possible on weekends.

She said that working from home definitely has its advantages. “The flexibility of working from home is great as I can pick and choose when I work so I can take my girls on special outings or to their various activities.”

Harris had encouraging words for other mom entrepreneurs. “My advice is to believe in yourself and stick to your guns,” she said.  “You started your business for a reason and you have to try and remember that.  Everyone goes through rough patches, it’s how you get through them that counts,” she added.

In addition to the Glow Baby website, the company can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and their blog!