by Chelsea Duggan

You have a great idea – really great, so great you’re going to keep it squirreled away where it can grow inside your heart and no one can steal it!

Except that someone already has – but what is going to separate you from those others is your ability to move your idea forward rather than sequestering it. How do you really know if your idea is as great as you think it is? Test it. Here’s how to BETA.

B: Boast a little and chat your idea past your friends. See what their initial reaction is and jot things down. Don’t be surprised if some people are shocked in your gumption to do your own thing. Rather, think in terms of how you can solve someone’s problem and make his or her life better. Be sure to document major points and keep a running list. This will keep your mind moving forward and keep you open to considering small changes that might impact customers later.

E: Establish a test with a control group. When I did my initial test I begged everyone I knew to participate and asked them to recommend friends who might too. Then you need to set up your test. Mine began with a short questionnaire, two weeks worth of free activities, and a post questionnaire. Determine what it is you need to know. Is price point a concern? Ask what your testers are already spending on similar products.

T: Test your idea. Realize that with any test you will probably only get back 40% of the surveys you send out, so get as big of a pool as you can. Then be sure you have a clear way to tally your results and keep track of data. Why not mock up a test for just one or two people to see their reactions to the questions. You might get a few surprises that you can tweak before the official version goes out. Be sure to give your audience a chance to add open-ended comments. Something they say may trigger a further idea or development.

A: Analyze your results. Did people respond well to your idea? Were there simple changes that you could make to better mold your product into an award winner? Or is it time to go back to the drawing board and dream up something even better?

Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, BETA test and tweak until you do.

Chelsea Duggan:: An entrepreneur, parent and advocate for early childhood development through creative education, Chelsea Duggan is the Founder and Director of Milestar Babies. This innovative online resource enables busy parents to have an influential impact on newborn children, up to three years in age. Chelsea’s background in education – a passion she shares with her two children, so they themselves can enjoy a lifelong interest in learning – is at the center of Milestar Babies. That commitment to excellence starts with shared moments and teacher-designed lessons, which parents can further customize, so children can discover, synthesize and pursue their own discoveries. Chelsea believes that every child is an amazing individual, who deserves to learn at his or her own pace. This kid-tested, parent-approved philosophy is Chelsea’s distinctive concept, complemented by the convenience of the Internet and her dynamic site. A graduate of Northwestern and a member of the Chicago Women Entrepreneurs Network, Chelsea welcomes the opportunity to interact with parents and children throughout the nation and the world.

 

Nicole Orozco is the mom behind Mompreneur Media. It is her endeavor to help mom entrepreneurs get the website of their dreams and also empower them to learn how to manage, maintain and run it via solutions and tutorials. “We believe in translating YOUR story into a visually appealing design that represents who you are while connecting with your customers,” she said.

Orozco knows that launching a website business on your own can be a lonely, not to mention scary, prospect. “Having a supportive environment to rely on can be the key to your success. Fortunately the Mompreneur Media community is here for you.”

Her passions are WordPress and helping mom entrepreneurs by giving them easy-to-use and stylish websites that will enable them to rock their businesses. “I partner with mompreneurs who’re looking for WordPress websites designed to suit their businesses and themselves. Yes, you need a website that works to boost your business without bogging you down with technicalities.”

Orozco is the mom of two and lives in southwest Washington with her contractor husband. As a mom entrepreneur herself since 2005, she understands what mom entrepreneurs need.

Encouragement, support and community are some of those things. In addition to web designing, Mompreneur Media is a community that supports and empowers moms. “I wanted to build a community for women who believe in themselves. For women who believe in their dreams and abilities. For women who will not quit. I’m excited to be meeting other like-minded and aspiring mompreneurs, she added.”

Learn more by visiting her website, or liking Mompreneur Media on Facebook!

 

Photo credit, Paul Mueller. Teresa Delfin is the founder & CEO of Mountain Mama, Inc., a technical outdoor apparel company for maternity that she founded in 2009.

According to Delfin, family is the cornerstone of her business. “I don’t have much guilt about making time for both,” she said. “Like most mothers, I’m a multi-tasker, so I’m frequently nursing baby while on a conference call or responding to emails, and our toddler thinks the semi-annual tradeshow we attend is like going to Disneyland. My husband is an integral part of the company, so family and business get mingled in our day-to-day lives whether we like it or not.”

As a seasoned mom entrepreneur, Delfi­n encourages other moms to follow their passion and trust their instincts. “Don’t be afraid to use the wisdom you’ve gained as a mom, and draw on the strength you’ve gained. Women are tougher than most people give us credit for, and we have to learn to own that in the business world. There are lots of sharks out there, and they’ll try to take advantage of you if they can.  But there’s nothing more ferocious than a mother protecting her family, or her business!” she added.

When established, Mountain Mama created an entirely new category of maternity apparel. This made it necessary to think outside of the box with their marketing campaign in order to reach women and let them know that such a thing even existed. “Traditional print advertising in magazines is one way, but as a small start up we can’t afford to do much of that. We attend the big Outdoor Retailer tradeshow every six months to show the next season’s collection, and that generates some press and wholesale orders for outdoor shops,” she said.

Delfin admits that the biggest piece to their marketing puzzle is social media. “We started a Facebook page before we even had product ready to ship, and it’s grown into a real community of nearly 3,000 fans who not only give us feedback and suggestions but look out for each other with advice on dealing with pregnancy and family,” she said.

You can find Mountain Mama on their company website, on Facebook and on Twitter!


By Amber Davis

If opportunity knocks….will you answer?                              

I have a HUGE birthday coming up this month and I keep questioning “is this it?” Is this where I want to be with my career, my family, my home? I keep working on projects, praying and seeking the “what’s missing in my life!” But maybe, nothing is missing!

I am pretty content overall. Blessed with a nice home, healthy children and a great support system of siblings, parents and friends.

My career is the bumpy place. Like many of you I left my career (which I swore I would never do….wanted to be a career woman, mom and have it all) but when the babies came I couldn’t stand handing over a portion of my paycheck for someone else to raise my children. Kudos to child caregivers by the way, they are amazing individuals and deserve every cent of that pay!

I became a stay at home mom, farm wife and did some part time work.  A few years ago I became a consultant with a great company that is 10 years young and quickly promoted to Director. I have been in Direct Sales since I was married and I love the ability to make extra money while developing great relationships on my own time table. I love the team I have built, inspiring, training and motivating them! {Check out our affordable products here.} Wondering all along, is this growing team my opportunity for true success?!

Still….I have not felt in control and not completely pleased with my overall income vs. hours devoted to my business. I live in a cornfield where the majority of our community are farmers and industry workers who are conservative with their spending. With little opportunity to meet new people I am seeing a lot of consultants in our area and feeling pushed out.

I have been looking for a business of my own to buy with little luck until a recent coffee meeting with a business contact allowed me to think outside the box! A product based company with the sole mission of helping people! I love it! Problem is, it’s still a developing company solely owned by someone else. I wondered….is this the knock at the door I have been waiting for? Do I get everything in order and wait for this to be my next big move?

Then suddenly, another direct sales opportunity has presented itself. Cindy Monroe, the founder of Thirty One Gifts and her sister have started a new direct sales company. Read more here.

Aiming for a different target market than Thirty One. The company focuses on fashion purses and accessories at a higher average price point than Thirty One. I received an invitation to join as a founding consultant! This is a big deal in the direct selling industry because the growth could be substantial if the company takes off! I had 10 days to make my decision. After a lot of soul searching, talking to friends and praying I decided maybe this is the opportunity I have been waiting for. I don’t see a large market for the bags in my region but feel like I can reach way beyond my corner of the world. With unlimited room to grow to the top with this company! Really, I have nothing to lose by trying! Take a moment to check out this brand new company and let me know your thoughts!

How do you know when opportunity is knocking? Are you willing to take a risk and GO FOR IT? Or do you take the wait and see approach.

When sitting back and taking it all in, I have to say my true mission in life is to raise my children to be good people! I have been watching them struggle thru some issues lately and feel so blessed for the opportunity to work from home! Making my family the #1 priority!

Amber Davis is a 17 year direct sales associate with The Lonagberger Co. and currently director for at Thirty One Gifts.  Holding a degree in business administration and marketing, she previously worked in the business industry. After the birth of her second child; family took priority over work and she left her full time position. Now a mother of four, she believes firmly in direct Sales and the endless opportunity it provides! “I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional 9-5 job,” she said. She firmly believes in doing what works for your family. She helps her husband on the family farm and writes her own blog: Adventures in Farm Life. This, she said, is a work in progress and mostly serves to share family photos. In her free time she loves to travel and enjoys volunteering.

 

 

 

By Abbey Fatica

In order to continue on your journey to finding funding for your idea, you must have completed step one. There is no reason to rush into this next step until your business plan and power point presentation is nearly perfect in your mind. As we learned during the process, you have to make your presentation short and sweet but REALLY eye catching.

One key factor that you must remember is that investors get tons of pitches every day and you have to make yours stand out from the crowd. Sure you’ve heard that before but it’s true. I have sent out literally 400 pitches and I’ve only heard back from a handful of these companies. Since my partner and I live in different cities perfecting our Deck (the word investors use for Power Point presentation) took many emails back and forth for about 3 days straight. This is not something you go into lightly. We did not work on anything else until we knew that our information was good to go and were comfortable enough to send it out to potential investor.

I remember one day, I told my children that mommy had an important project to work on and that I would play with them once I was done. This process can be hard to explain to a 4 year old, 2 year old and 1 month old, but I said to them that it will be worth it in the end when Mommy gets her work done. Yes, I might have thrown on a couple Disney movies to be a babysitter but if your idea is important then it’s ok to take a full work day to get it done.

First I will give you a quick list of where to begin your search. If I had a list like this of what to search then beginning the process would have been so much simpler. I had to start from scratch because I knew nothing about the funding world.

Google will become your best friend while you are looking for different firms and/or means to invest in your cause.

Things to search for:

– Angel Investors
– Venture Capitals
– Business Incubators
– Seed Capital
– US Small Business Grants
– Small Business Grants for Women
– Crowdfunding
– Celebrity Backers/ Endorses
– Where did *so and so company* (like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) get investors

Those are great places to start but this is definitely not an exclusive list of where else you can find money to fund your business.

Other options you might have are:

– Personal Investment
– Friends and Family
– Applying for TV Shows like Shark Tank
– PR on TV Shows, Radio, and Print Media
– Doing Searches and Browsing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
– Visiting Business Websites like Inc.com or Forbes

This is just the beginning, follow me during the course of this series to find out how each of these options either got us somewhere or was something that just didn’t work for us AT ALL.

Use the info or don’t use it but at least enjoy our long and arduous journey along the way. There are good days and bad days when it comes to funding but if you are persistent then trust me there will be someone out there who loves your idea just as much as you do.

Abbey Fatica balances her time everyday between her husband, three kids and her businesses. Yes, businesses! Ever since she started working from home and being her own boss in 2009, she has started companies like Living Your Moment and TrackerSphere working with brands and bloggers enhancing her clients visibility through social media channels. Her newest venture includes writing a nine part book series called Life Well Blogged, a collection of humorous blog posts. While she is all over on social media, you follow her currently on Twitter @LifeWellBlogged and on Facebook at Life Well Blogged.

Dalagelis Painting, LLC offers a wide range of services to their clients so that their homes look as amazing as possible. As they expand, there is always something new and upcoming.

Dalagelis focuses on the needs and wants of the customer, always keeping the lines of communication open. They are always open to taking on new projects and challenges. If it isn’t a service they have listed, ask, and they will happily accommodate you if they feel they can.

Services they offer include:

1. CUSTOMER SERVICE

2. Painting – Interior/Exterior

3. Minor Drywall Repair (This includes installation, mud, tape & sanding)

4. Nail Pops, Nail Holes

5. Wallpaper Removal

6. Custom Moulding Installation (Base, Crown, Chair Rail, Door & Window – this includes priming, painting & caulking)

7. Custom wood work

8. Door & Jamb Installation & Painting

9. Staining (Doors, Moulding, Decks & JUNGLE GYMS!)

10. Pressure Washing (This includes houses, decks & concrete surfaces)

11. Faux Finishes (Samples in our Portfolio – so much fun!)

12. Restoration Projects (Ask about this!)

13. Free Estimates & Color Consultations

14. Color Consultations ONLY – $75 per consultation. 

Dalagelis Painting LLC has recently become a Wholesale Distributor & Installer for MirrorMate Frames® and are serving the tri-state area. Sample frames and photos can be found visiting their website here.

If you don’t already know what “MirrorMate®” is, here is the simplest way of explaining it…

“You wouldn’t hang a picture without a frame, so why settle for a bare mirror?

Transform that large, plain mirror into a beautiful, framed focal point.

Every frame is custom-cut and will fit even if the mirror is touching a wall or backsplash.

The frame adheres right to the surface of the mirror while it’s on the wall, covering those unattractive clips.”

Dalagelis Painting is located in New Jersey and serves a wide geographical area. In addition to their website, you can find them on Facebook.

Want a great deal on adorable items for your child? The One Stop Kids Shop knows that your child is the cutest.  They stock merchandise for infants up to teens, specializing in character apparel.  Leave the work to them. They research what’s popular now so all you have to do is sit back, shop and choose your favorite!

What child doesn’t have a favorite television, cartoon or movie character? At the One Stop Kids Shop, the list of characters is nearly endless. Diego, Nike, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Batman, Superman, Thomas, Dora, My Little Pony, Curious George, Hello Kitty, Power Rangers the list goes on and on.

They also stock some holiday specialty items as well as accessories. They have merchandise for infants up to teens available and they do the research about what is popular and trendy.  They are sure to have something for everyone.

BUY NOW:: You can buy with confidence because One Stop Kids Shop always honors a no questions asked return policy.

FUN ON FACEBOOK:: Follow them on Facebook. They frequently run contests and you can win items that are slightly flawed.

SAVE:: One Stop Kids Shop offers competitive pricing and always quick and FREE US shipping. International buyers can contact them for large discounts on shipping as well. And, if you mention Market Mommy, you can save an extra 10%! Shop now!

 

Laura Bisel began initial testing and research for her Bizzy Fizz Bath Treats products in 2003 and officially filed for business license and opened their first website in 2005. The shop specializes in unique and handcrafted bath treats, they call fizzies.

Here’s how it all started: In 2003, while working on a homeschool science project with my six year old son, we studied chemical reactions. That project sparked something in him, and he began to dream about making bath fizzies. He would come downstairs every morning with a list of names and ideas for what he wanted to call them, how he wanted them to look, little things to put inside to make them special. As his mom, I wanted to encourage his excitement. I began to extensively research, and eventually we began creating bath fizzies for him to use. He then started to give them away to friends who asked for more and more of them. We then decided to take a chance and began our company, Bizzy Fizz Bath Treats.

“We make a full range of items for bath and body that everyone, from child to adult, will love,” Bisel said. “Each of our bath treats have a special blend of oils or to make your skin super soft, and powders such as oatmeal or aloe for sensitive itchy skin, or green tea and clays to detoxify.  Some even have flower petals, or a toy inside for the kids!  We also have fantastic lotions, scrubs, lip balms and body oils,” she said.

Other than answering a few e-mails during the day, Bisel said she really doesn’t start working until 6 p.m., when her husband comes home and takes over with the kids. Sometimes she works until 1 a.m. “Balancing the business and family seems to be a constantly changing process. The business has really become a family project.  I would not be able to do all this without the support of my husband and the help of my children,” she said.  

“When this business was started one of the things my husband and I agreed on was that family comes first.  If the kids need me, or we have soccer or baseball games, those come before anything else.  I do end up working later sometimes because of that, but I’ve accepted that,” Bisel said. “Now that my son (and business partner), Skylar, is a teenager, he is helping more on the production end of things.  It certainly is nice to have the extra help!” Bisel credits the business for brining her son and her closer together and helping to make their relationship so strong. “As a parent, it feels great to have that kind of relationship.”

Bisel encourages other mom entrepreneurs to get their families involved. “Kids can learn so much by actually helping out on the business end, and they are capable of much more than most people give them credit for.  It can also be a huge confidence builder for them!” She also says to take time for yourselves. “We are all moms first and foremost, and if everything was gone tomorrow, we still have our families. That is THE MOST important thing of all,” she said.

Bizzy Fizz uses social media for their marketing efforts as well as local advertising and press releases. You can find them on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

 

By Jennifer Covello

Pick up any magazine, turn on any TV show, read any Facebook post and it’s likely you are going to read something about nutrition. Whether it’s the best foods to beat the common cold, to override the effects of menopause, or to eliminate diabetes, there is no shortage of tips and tricks to help you lose belly fat or simply cleanse your body of the myriad of toxins we have ingested throughout our lives.

“You are what you eat.” How many times do we hear this phrase admonishing us to eat better? If you’re like me, you long for a personal chef to transform your cupboards and freezer contents into healthy meals for you and your children. While I subscribe to the philosophy of eating well, I’m far from being a good practitioner due to my total lack of interest in anything culinary. (I also have a disdain for clothes shopping but that’s a topic for another time.)

You’re likely asking yourself, what does food have to do with running my business? Well, not much, or so I thought until I came across the following last week.

“A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.” Proverbs 27:7

Now before you assume I’m trying to push Bible verses off on you and you click off this post, hear me out, ok? Yes, I do read the Bible nearly every morning. Yes, I do find inspiration and solace in its words, and while I’d highly recommend this practice to anyone who is searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, that is not the reason for my post today.

When I read these words just last week, I immediately thought of the activities in my own business, Frittabello. When things were going well and sales were good, I needed nothing. However, when sales slowed down and PR opportunities did not present themselves, I found myself reaching for anything and everything to turn things around. In short, I was grasping at straws (the bitter food) and taking any opportunity that came my way to grow my business. That’s the message that popped into my head when I read this verse just days ago.

Take a moment to read it again.

“A person who is full refuses honey.” When you have everything you need and things are going well (either personally or professionally), you are full and you desire nothing.

“But even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.” Now, when things aren’t going so well and you’re in a negative place, you will reach for nearly anything to feel better, even to your own detriment.

Now while you can certainly apply this to your personal eating habits, interestingly, I immediately interpreted this with a business connotation which is why I am sharing this today.

I remember very well the many dry spells I had with my business. Phone calls weren’t being returned. Prospects for my baby gifts didn’t result in a sale. Even my creative ideas for promoting my business were falling flat. Then, I’d go to a workshop or listen to a webinar with some small business expert promising remarkable results if I only signed up for their much-discounted program. I was mesmerized more times than I can count and quickly ran to the back of the room, opened my checkbook, and handed over my limited monies with the hopes of financial windfalls.

Sadly, more often than not, there was no windfall. In fact, many times, those monies were wasted. Sort of.

You see, while I didn’t always get the results I envisioned or that were promised, I did learn invaluable lessons that are with me today and ones that I teach in my small business marketing workshops.

There are no quick fixes. There is no magic. There is no wave of a wand that will make your business thrive. Yes, there are lucky breaks and invaluable connections to people who can speed things along, but it is dedication and meaningful activities that ultimately win you true success.

My message today is not to tell you to ignore the many wonderful services available to mompreneurs today nor to consider them all scammers for your hard-earned money. I know many businesses that have been helped with everything from branding to better websites to simply hiring an intern because they invested in these services.

I’m not here to tell you to fire your business coach and start reading the Bible every day. My message today is to be mindful of your actions and decisions – whatever these may be – when things aren’t going as you’d planned in your business. Be thoughtful of what you pursue and WHY you are pursuing it. It’s the WHY that will determine whether or not this venture will be successful.

Completely social media challenged and need help? Yes, hire an expert (See my previous post entitled “Do Your Best and Hire the Rest”.) However, if you are lost and struggling with what to do next to grow your business, your time may be better spent in taking a step back and examining the real reason behind the slowdown.

In short, before you reach for that bag of chips, drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry, eat a healthy meal. But if not, you just saved yourself hundreds of calories and hours at the gym.

The adage, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” rings true here. Don’t let yourself get too hungry or you may very well eat anything placed in front of you. Translation for your business: Don’t let dry spells go on too long before you take thoughtful action. Desperate people make decisions out of desperation and more often than not, regret them later.

If you’re struggling with what to do to take your business to the next level, consider joining (or starting) a mastermind group. Hire a business coach. Get a goal buddy. Rethink your marketing plan. Make smart decisions that you can feel good about rather than impulsive ones that will likely only end up in regret and an ever-decreasing bank balance.

And if none of the above works, consider taking a break. A real break. Put your business aside for a week or two and do something completely different. Just like those lost keys appear when you are no longer looking for them, I guarantee that when you return to your business, new and fresh ideas will similarly make themselves visible.

Jennifer Covello  is The Purposeful Parent, an award-winning author, blogger, creator of Frittabello baby gifts and mother of two children. With her unique perspective on parenting coupled with her sense of humor and vast experience, Jennifer is able to relate to a variety of women and the daily challenges they face as a mom and business owner. Jennifer has been featured on both radio and TV programs for her insights about her journey from corporate “cubicle dweller” to “mompreneur” providing helpful tips and inspiration to moms and dads alike. Most recently she was on Better Connecticut Weekend Edition where she provided tips on overcoming SuperMom Syndrome. Jennifer is a native of Long Island, New York and had a corporate career in IT and Marketing. She holds a B.S. degree in Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing Management from Pace University, New York.

Patty Barbs is not only a successful business owner of a very popular fashion boutique in Las Vegas, Patty’s Closet, but she is also a mother of a teenager with down syndrome. Being a mom and a business owner is challenging for her, but she wants other moms to know that they can succeed just like she has!

Patty’s Closet Fashion Boutique opened in May of 2007. “We are a women’s boutique with retail prices, so it’s pretty exclusive yet affordable,” said Barbs. She acknowledges that balancing business with family is hard at times, and making sure you give everyone and everything your attention is a challenge. “We try hard to keep our date nights going and dinner at home consistent,” she said.

To other mom entrepreneurs, she says it’s not easy, but you CAN do it. She recommends getting organized from the start. Barbs said that they have a great publicist but as far as marketing goes, they just started talking in the beginning. “Tell everyone about your business, you never know when the word will spread,” she said.

Visit Patty’s Closet online to learn more.