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.

Melissa Bass founded Personalized Letters & Accessories in June of last year. Her products include custom hand decorated nursery letters, tutus, tutu outfits (Halloween costumes, sports outfits, birthday outfits), custom hair bows (all colors, designs, seasons, holidays) and pillowcase dresses.

According to Bass, she’s found it fairly easy to balance this business with her family. She has a 19 month old son who is rather independent and enjoys playing and entertaining himself. “Most of the time I have a chance to sit down sew a dress together or start a tutu; and if not then I just wait until my husband gets home to take over the parenting roll and give me some time,” she said.

Bass said that she’s thankful that her husband and son support her in whatever she does. “I have found it [my business] to be very theraputic for me, it’s a great stress reliever and makes for some great “me” time,” she said.

When talking to other mom entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, Bass encourages them to not get frustrated or be scared to ask questions of others. “I got so easily frustrated in the beginning and I still tend to now,” she admits. “So, I just started out slow and worked my way up.”  

**Thanks to everyone who commented about their personal bucket lists! I’ve chosen Janessa as the winner of the $20 credit!

**There are a few things I have on my personal bucket list, although I’ve never really written them down. Mostly, they relate to travel. Visit Italy, Hawaii. Own a vintage Volkswagen bug convertible. In the last couple years, I’ve started to develop a business bucket list, if only in my head.

Do you have one? Each year I outline my business goals, my marketing plan, etc. But, it’s never quite like a bucket list. There are always those big dreams and hopes in the back of my head that I want to accomplish but it seems the steps I take toward them are tiny. Do you have a similar experience?

I figure it’s about time I write them down and get them out in the open. Maybe it will motivate me. Maybe it will help you all to hold me more accountable. Maybe neither, but hopefully it will at least be a little interesting to read.

Granted, it’s a busy time in my life. I have two pre-school aged children, pregnant with my third, working, running Market Mommy, volunteering and trying desperately to catch up around the house and prepare for baby. But, that’s ok, as I’ve said before I tend to thrive on a chaotic to-do list.

Expand. This is kind of a multifaceted goal but I definitely want to take Market Mommy further. It’s great how it is, and it’s come a long way, but I know it can be bigger and better. I’m currently laying out plans for how I can help more women market their businesses and create more business opportunities.

Write a book. My first love is writing. It’s always been my passion. Writing a book has been on my personal bucket list for years. Now, it’s migrated over to my business list so that I can further grow Market Mommy and establish myself as an expert in the world of mom entrepreneurs.

Hire. I have a wonderful assistant, but up until this point I’ve only used her on a very limited, temporary as-needed basis. My goal is to bring her on permanently, at least part-time. In addition to an assistant, I’d like to have other actual employees but that’s probably a little ways down the road.

Make it legal. Had I planned correctly, all of this would already be completed. But, the farther I go the more I realize that obtaining a trademark and forming an LLC are critical. If I could do it over I would have done this first; lesson learned. However, better late than never is my motto now.

Quit. Eventually, I’d like Market Mommy to be my one and only job (aside from my children and husband of course 😉

Ok, I’ll leave it at those five. Some I’m closer to than others, but hopefully all are in within my reach. What’s on your bucket list? Comment here and tell me. Next week, I’ll pick my favorite comment to win a $20 credit from Market Mommy!

 

I was recently contacted by Candi Wingate at Nannies4Hire about reviewing her new book The Nanny Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Finding the Right Nanny for Your Family.* As I’m sure many of you know, childcare quickly becomes a necessity as your business grows. But, like me, many of you may not know how to go about finding the right nanny for your family, or what to do once you have one.

There are many myths surrounding nannies. Many people falsely believe that nannies are only for the wealthy, that they must work full-time or that they don’t do housework. Wingate starts the book by disproving these, and many more myths.

The Nanny Factor walks you through it all. Finding a nanny, how to interview, what to expect from your working relationship, how much to pay and much more is outlined in this easy to read book. It even has a section on common complaints and how to get out of sticky situations.

One of the aspects of the book that I really appreciated was the appendixes. Wingate thoughtfully included a sample contract and sample evaluation form. Each can obviously be modified to your needs, but I think it’s helpful to have something at your fingertips to reference when you’re getting started.

About Candi Wingate:: Candi Wingate is an award winning and nationally recognized child care expert. She has been a nanny, owned a nanny agency, started three online nanny databases, authored two books plus she is a wife and mother of two. Her website, Nannies4Hire.com, has been named as one of the INC500, by INC magazine, is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice 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. Since 1987, Wingate and her services have been helping wonderful families and nannies.

Buy the book:: The Nanny Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Finding the Right Nanny for Your Family can be purchased here for $21.95.

 

* I did recieve a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this honest review.

 

Michele Downie, PhD, started Downie Therapy in May of 2010. She’s a therapist that provides individual and group therapy with the goal of helping women take better care of themselves.

“My blog, The Women’s Self-Care Therapist, is a way of encouraging Moms who would not walk through my door to think about their own self-care challenges and to offer some ideas about putting self-care into practice,” she said.

Downie is like many others when she says she struggles finding balance between work and family. “I have a full-time job outside of the home and I’m trying to build a private practice. The idea is that if the practice grows enough for me to quit my full-time job, I’ll be able to make more money in fewer hours and spend more time at home. So, right now it’s even harder than usual to find balance.”

“When I get home in the evenings, I leave my full-time job at work and it’s family first,” Downie said. She sees private practice clients on one evening and then takes care of business and marketing tasks later in the evenings after her boys go to bed.

Downie encourages other mom entrepreneurs to always remember their goals and be sure to leave something for yourself as well. “My challenge is that I have to expend more energy and a little more time away from my family in the short run so that in the long-term I’ll be able to be home more. Keeping the long-term goals in sight helps you get through the daily challenges,” she said. “Make sure to take care of yourself, also. To model self-care, I have started integrating yoga and exercise back into my life,” she added.

In addition to her website and blog, Downie can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Who doesn’t need to save time? We’re all so busy with work, kids, husband, errands and our plethora of other responsibilities that it’s no wonder we crave any little tid bit that can help us save time, become more productive or multitask just a little bit better!

Here are five quick time savers that you may not have thought of. Have fun implementing them into your daily routines. Let me know how it goes!

  1. Prepare as much food and as many meals as you can for the upcoming week on the weekend. Chop vegetables for dinners or snacks and store them in the refrigerator. Freeze a dish that you can pop into the oven later in the week. Gather your supplies for an easy crock pot meal.
  2. Mornings rough? Make sure you have the kids’ school clothes out and ready the night before. Same with backpacks and homework; make sure it’s all packed up and ready to go the next morning before  you hit the hay the night before.
  3. Being organized can help you accomplish more while the kids are at school or napping. Keeping your to-do list prioritized will help you get more done when it’s time to sit down and get some work done.
  4. Save time by combining tasks. Don’t make extra trips to the bank or post office in the middle of the day. Stop before you pick up the kids from school or some other time when you already need to be out and about.
  5. Delegate. Have an assistant? Make sure you’re using her to her potential. Have your hubby run an errand for you or have your kids help stuff envelopes. Others are usually more than willing to help if you just ask!

When Angela Bickford wanted to start a family in 2008, she left her teaching career to pursue her love of writing and crafting and started always B designs in July of that year.

As a business, always B designs offers custom stationery (invites, business cards, etc.), domino necklaces, scrabble tile necklaces, and bottle cap necklaces, decorated clipboards, and premade scrapbooks. always B designs also offers parties to show you how to make some of the products. But, since Bickford is also a freelance writer, editor and marketer, she sometimes helps her customers with those things as well.

Bickford admits that she’s still learning how to balance business with family. “I recently moved to working solely from home, and I’m loving it. But, I do tend to stretch myself too thin at times,” she said. She also admits that she doesn’t like it when she has to multitask. “It bothers me because I’d rather focus on one thing at a time.”

She admits that most of her “quality time” with her husband is spent in their office. And sometimes he has to drag her away to spend some real time together. The couple is currently trying for kids, and in the meantime, helping to raise their nieces and nephews and cater to the occasional long-term houseguest. “We also have five pets that demand constant attention, and sometimes I have to just get out of the office and ‘play’. So, I guess I balance things by remembering WHY I am doing what I’m doing,” she said.

When asked about what advice she might have for other mom entrepreneurs, Bickford admitted she often struggles with guilt, and wondering if she’s doing enough for her family or with them. “I think getting over the guilt is the hardest thing, and I would encourage other mom entrepreneurs to try to remember that being an entrepreneur IS what they are doing for their family. To be proud of it and show their families that it’s something to be proud of too.”

In addition to her website and blog, always B designs can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

I know that it has been more than two weeks since I’ve made an appearance and updated the blog. I apologize for my absence and appreciate your understanding while I took some much needed time off to spend with my family during the holidays. I trust that you and yours also had a wonderful holiday season.

Ours was filled with many exciting moments, including the announcement of our third baby due to join our family this summer. My two weeks off were really underscored by quiet time at home with the kids, watching movies, ordering takeout, having friends and family over and just simply enjoying the days. Which, of course, went by way too fast.

So, now, here we are at the brink of a new year. I’m back and refreshed and ready to implement some great new ideas for Market Mommy and for your small businesses, too.  Are you ready to tackle 2011? Do you have a plan in place and goals set to achieve? Only you have the power to make this year better than the last.

As I organize and implement new ideas for 2011, please let me know how Market Mommy can help you. We are here to offer advice, help and services when it comes to ANY aspect of marketing! Have a question? Just ask, chances are we can help you answer it!

Happy New Year!