By Jennifer Covello

The other day while walking on my treadmill, watching my favorite inspirational program, the above phrase came to me. While my immediate thought was to apply it to my own life circumstances, I began to expand that thinking to mompreneurs. Light bulb moment.

Many mompreneurs simply think too small about their businesses. Why? They certainly didn’t start out thinking small when their small business idea or vision came to them. They didn’t think small when they were doing those first tasks to set up their small business. When did their big dream turn into a small thing? When did their ark turn into a canoe?

I will tell you exactly when.

It happened after their first rejection. It happened when someone told them ‘no’. It happened when they saw another mompreneur with a similar business model succeeding and they weren’t. It happened when they saw more money going out than coming in.

It happened when they let fear came a-callin’.

The moment they let fear drive their decisions, the big projects they were planning turned into little tasks. Instead of sending out press releases to announce their business, they told a few friends instead. Instead of building an e-commerce website, they did a home party. Instead of investing in their business, they misered every little penny for fear of loss of it.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for pursuing the baby steps to build your business and am an advocate of taking thoughtful, deliberate steps to grow your business, but even a baby gets tired of crawling and wants to walk, right?

But what’s a struggling mompreneur to do?

Here are a few simple steps to take when you find yourself building a canoe instead of the ark you were born to build.

  1. Take a break and go back to your plan.

I know it’s hard to stop everything you’re doing and take a break (and even harder to find the time!), but that’s exactly what you need to do.  Take a walk. Sit in the park. Go to the library. Think about the moment your business idea came to you and all you had hoped to accomplish. You need to stoke the embers and get the fire back that you had when that brilliant idea first came to you.

Review what you’ve accomplished to date. Are there steps or actions you haven’t done? Why or why not? You may have good reasons for not building a website or calling your local newspaper to interview you, but the key is to make sure they are GOOD reasons. Make sure that the reason you haven’t done these activities is due to solid business decision-making; not fear.

Once you’ve fired up your engines again, jot down 2 or 3 action steps you can take right away. Note any people you may know who can help you. Want to build up social media? Surely you know someone who has a solid Facebook presence for their business. I’ll bet the names of the reporters are included somewhere in the pages of your local paper. I can guarantee that you’ve got a small business in your area that you could contact to offer your products.  Reach out to these people and ask for help – which leads me to my second tip.

  1. Ask for help.

What? You mean I don’t have to do this all myself? Nope. That’s a big ole’ fat lie that someone told you somewhere along the way that you have held on to like a drowning person with a life preserver.  Stop trying to do everything yourself. It’s not only impossible, it’s well…dumb. And believe me, you are far from dumb!

I know. I know. There’s satisfaction in saying “I did it myself”. I get that. But there’s also stress – way more stress than a mompreneur needs when trying to balance the scales of mompreneur and mommy-hood.

Think about it.

As a mom, don’t you look to find the easiest and quickest way to get things done? Don’t you buy products that save you time? If a product or service can save you time in taking care of your kids or house, aren’t you all over it?

Why then, would you do the opposite for your business?

It’s time to re-think your “me” strategy and embrace a “we” strategy.  Yes it may cost you money, but I’ll tell you what. The money you spend to hire an expert to build your website will be well spent because someone who knows what they are doing can do it in half the time you could. This frees you up to focus on the things you do well – which leads me to my final point.

  1. Stop doing stuff you’re not good at.

Ok – maybe not one of my most eloquently written tips but hey – I’m trying to get your attention. This point is so important that I’m going to say it again. Louder.

Stop. Doing. Stuff. You’re. Not. Good. At.

What does this mean? If your talent is designing a cool new clothing line but you can’t add a column of numbers, stop wasting your time with balance sheets and hire an accountant. If the word “Twitter” or “Instagram” are foreign terms to you, hook up with a social media expert.

It pains me when I hear mompreneurs telling me that it took them weeks to set up a Facebook page or blog. I want to shake them and say “Why are you doing this?”

I realize as a newbie mompreneur, you may not have the funds to hire all of these people, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck. Surely you’ve heard of the term “barter”. I can’t tell you how many press releases I wrote for people or marketing plans I developed in exchange for other people’s expertise. And guess what? Many times, those barter relationships turned into paying consulting assignments which then turned into, yep, money to hire experts to do things I couldn’t do.

See? What goes around really does come around.

Now, don’t be naïve enough to think that implementing these simple tips will turn your business around in an instant. Remember, it took Noah over 100 years to build the ark. (I promise it won’t take you that long!)

But if you are tired of paddling that canoe and are ready to sail the oceans in that gorgeous ark you dreamt of building, then throw away those oars and get ready for a wild ride!

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.

 

By Monika Labbé

As more and more people create products and services the word “brand” has almost become synonymous with the word trademark. The company’s branding is what distinguishes or differentiates it from others. It’s similar to the way cattle ranchers branded their cattle over 100 years ago, to distinguish which group belonged to whom.

Question is, what does this really mean, and why is it important for me and my business? Years ago when a now famous soda company was getting started, it needed a way to stand out from all the other soda companies out in the marketplace. If we broke it down to the bare bones, we could say that a brand is simply a non-generic name for a product that tells us the source of the product. In years back, we referred to these non-generic names as brand names. So then is there a difference between a brand name and a brand? Is there more to the perception of distinctive products and services than their names?

It is my belief that business owners create a specific perception in the mind of it’s customers concerning the qualities and attributes of their specific product or service and then call it their “brand.” Simply put, your “brand” is what your customer or perspective customer thinks of when he or she hears your company’s name. It is everything the general population thinks it knows about your name brand and what it offers, whether it’s factual (it also comes in canary yellow) or emotional (it’s authentic).  Your “brand name” exists objectively, but your brand exists in someone’s mind.

So, it’s safe to assume that when a customer has a real relationship with your brand and feels comfortable around it, you can start to see your brand growing stronger. Customers will sometimes have nicknames for your brand, just like in real life people sometimes create nicknames for those they feel a fondness or affection for. This would be brand reinforcement. Sometimes though, these perceptions can have a negative effect. Like, for example the retailer Whole Foods, which has been known and called “whole paycheck” by loyal shoppers.

The best way to be remembered is to be first in your prospect’s mind. It’s no accident that brands have become synonymous with their function. What tissue do you use? Kleenex. What coffee shop do you frequent? Starbucks. People love to remember and be loyal to things that have been around a long time. It’s no accident that they were also the first. People also love what is new, they can’t help themselves. Why do you think People magazine was named “People”? Yes, for its readers.

It’s no coincidence that people can remember the names of the Olympic Gold medal winners but not so much the silver or bronze. People are naturally drawn to firsts. So instead of copying a business idea, or someone else’s vision or mission, why not pick a different perception so that you can be sure to be the first one in the customers mind. This is when knowing your competitor comes in handy. Remember those wars between McDonalds and Burger King or Coke & Pepsi? Same products, different approach. McDonalds was fried but Burger King was flame broiled. Coke was Classic but Pepsi was the choice of a new generation. If you can successfully sidestep the old perception and firmly establish yourself as the go-to place or person for your product or service with what makes you different, that would be “new”.

So then ask yourself, what is the purpose of your branding efforts? What is it that you are trying to achieve? Is your product or service distinctive? Simply asking others to buy your product, is just not enough. Remember that every product has something unique about it. Do you know what your unique is? Is it very different than your competitor? Customers now have so many choices and need some way to distinguish among them. They really are looking for you to help them decide. It’s essential to educate your clients on the difference they are getting from you. This really comes down to knowing who your ideal client is and what specific thing about them would link your product or service together.

Sometimes we get so bogged down with running our business that we forget what the real purpose was of what we were trying to achieve in the first place.  Is the purpose of your branding efforts helping you gain more clients? If not, it might be time to take a really hard look at your brand.

Having been a professional photographer for over 13 years, I feel very blessed to have been published in numerous books, magazines, and websites. For me, seeing how my photos touch others, whether they bring a smile, a chuckle, or a tear, is what I consider truly priceless. I welcome the opportunity to bring that to you and your family. For more information regarding photography services, please contact me through my website,or email me directly. ~ Monika Labbé, Visual Storyteller

By Mindee Hardin

Full Speed Ahead! Never Look Back! Onward and Upward!

All nice warm fuzzy motivational mantras intended to power us forward and into greatness in our entrepreneur journey. Yep! It IS very wise to set goals, create a vision board and plan ahead. It IS positive and impactful to practice the art of imagination and manifesting your dreams into a reality.  As with wine and whining, spending and saving, this also absolutely must be done in moderation. Your daydreaming must be balanced with reality and with measurables you can call on for a clear picture of where you are in the present, where you were in the past and where your personal success point is at.  No matter what stage you are at in your business development = just starting with an idea, a garage full of thingies, a mountain full of debt or a pay pal transfer away from cashing out, it’s really important at some point you have taken the time to define what will make you feel satisfied for your sacrifices. What is your definition of success? When will you have enough of what you set out to achieve?  There is a reason gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Consuming more than what you require will eventually kill your passion.  You absolutely must define your bliss in being an entrepreneur.

Fulfillment happens with an occasional dance in the clouds, an intermittent stake in the ground and a lot of checking in with yourself on where you are in between.

I see many Moms in business pouring gallons of money, time and hard work into a business bucket with holes in the bottom. They have NO idea how to feel fulfilled in their business. They just get on the hamster wheel and go. Put out fires all day, answer emails, process orders, manage customers having no real idea if they are on a path headed towards why they even started their business in the first place. It might be money, might be connection or making a difference, meeting people or staying busy. Everyone’s reason for starting is different and likely a combination of many of these things together. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that you have taken the time to recognize it and find ways to put it at the heart of your decision making.

If you are feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, uncertain if you are on the right path, perhaps now is the time to start drawing a map to FEEL BETTER Rd.  To help do this, I suggest my Juicebox clients take two simple steps:

STEP 1: Ask yourself the following questions, reflect on them and be specific in your answers:

1.       How many hours can I easily commit a week to be FOCUSED my business? This is not while a kid is watching cartoons, this is focused without interruption.

2.       What do I expect to get from those hours? Number of customers, number of likes, hits, shares etc..

If one of your answers is money (which seems pretty relevant since this is a business, not a hobby)…..

1.       How much money do you want to make in your business? A REAL number, not “enough to buy some new shoes” or “enough to retire at 50”

2.       How many units of your product or service do you need to sell a month to make that much money?

PAUSE

LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS AND EXPECTATIONS! HOW DO THEY MAKE YOU FEEL?

Can you really sell 40 units in a month working 10 hours/week? Can you sell 4,000 working 40 hours/week? Can you really get national PR for your cause only spending 2 hours a week dedicated to it or is local PR a better aspiration? Only you know what’s realistic given your unique set of resources and opportunity. Look at what other companies are selling, consider the marketing you are doing, the budget you have to work with, advice from experts, amount of help you have, past sales and what your consumer behavior is. Set up a plan to scale the numbers as you grow and adjust spending and time as needed when it’s evident a strategy is or isn’t working.

STEP 2: Remind Yourself. 

It’s a pretty simple thing to re-vist these goals, but HUGELY impactful on your daily attitude as a business owner.

The glory and PR and attention is fun, the connecting is beautiful, the money is nice, the networking is rewarding. None of it will make you sustainably happy if you don’t know where happy is for you. Once you can determine that place by asking questions like those above, you can work backwards from it to be intentional and efficient in your work TODAY. You will have a realistic picture of what is required from you to get there. It’s just about knowing what you are up against to fill your bucket. Knowing what making the holes and aligning them with the resources and mindset you have to plug them up. It makes you feel incredibly empowered and in control instead of flailing from one thing to the next.  

Put these magical numbers and goals up in your office, tattoo them on your feet, ink them on your steering wheel, scribble them on your coffeemaker.

Know every day what you set out to achieve in your business.

One of two things will happen from this exercise. The first is you may not hit these goals, repeatedly, month after month you can’t get there.  In my experience if you have not met your original sales goals in 12 months, it’s time to pivot! Hopefully you had some experts chime in when you developed them and you know truly what was realistic given your business model. If you are repeatedly off from them, that is a SIGN you need to pay attention to before it’s too late. Something is broken in your business model and you must adjust it.  Redefine your fulfillment point. Seek new ways of thinking or doing things differently.

The second thing that could happen is you reach these goals, with the hours committed and the resources you assembled – you hit the nail on the head. Awesome. Now CHILL OUT! Just keep doing what you are doing for a while. Enjoy it. Swing the pendulum back to family time or you time or visits with friends you miss.  Clean up your office, take a trip, play more cards with the hubby. Your business is not your life. It is one part of what makes you, you. It’s ok to dedicate a lot of time to help it grow as long as once it does, you stop and make sure the rest of what lights your heart is growing right along with it. No doubt you and your family have been making changes and sacrifices for this risk so accept the reward with open arms. Face it! You did what 90% of those who start out can’t do. Don’t screw it up by thinking so quickly, right away, you need to go do more. That’s how and why so many fail and burnout and lose it all.  Eventually, once the balance resets, you will feel the itch again and then you can start the climb over, set another goal, add more resources and time or money to help propel you to the next benchmark.

Growing a business is a series of sprints, NOT a marathon.

If you do not rest in between you are guaranteed to collapse at the finish line.

No amount of money will ever be able to buy you a peaceful night’s sleep, the ability to be fully present in moments with your kids and family and a confident heart you are living your best life. Only fulfillment can do that.

Peace & Be Well

Mindee

Mindee Hardin:: Author, Inventor (Boogie Wipes®), Idea Consultant.Tired of chasing her kids runny noses, Mindee herself ran with an idea she had for a saline infused nose wipe she called a Boogie Wipe ®. In 2007, she partnered with Julie Pickens and by 2011 grew her concept, to $12 million in sales, with distribution to 50,000 retail locations in 8 countries.  She managed all PR, marketing and branding herself and landed Boogie Wipes® on the Today Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutch, Good Morning America, in People Magazine, The NY Times and countless others.  She is the author of Get your Own Juicebox – Confident Moms raising Capable Kids and consults an exclusive group of start-ups through her company Juice Box Consulting.

 

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The great folks at Wonder Forge recently contacted me and asked that I review a few of their new games in time for the upcoming Easter holiday. I gladly obliged. I’ve reviewed their products before and have always been impressed. In fact, when these two arrived my kids were jumping with joy that they had more new games to try out!

Right now, Frozen is all the rage! My kids loved seeing it at the movie theater and all of the items (custumes, toys, games, etc.) surrounding the animated movie have become very, very popular. So, of course the Disney Princess Frozen Matching Game was a hit at my house. My daughter loved it (and asked to play again and again) but my sons liked it too. You really can’t go wrong with this choice, espcially if you have a little princess-lover in your life.

About the game: It’s the classic game of picture-matching, now featuring your favorite characters from Frozen! Flip over brightly colored tiles and find beautiful pictures of sisters Anna and Elsa, plus friends Kristoff, Olaf, Sven and more. What familiar faces will you see? Pick up the most matching pairs to win!

I also chose to review the Disney Planes Sky Race Game. My boys, especially my younger one, love all things that relate to planes, trains or automobiles. So, I thought this was the perfect choice and indeed it went over very well.

The game offers some more challenges than just  your basic matching game and I thought it might be a little too difficult for my toddler. However, it kept his attention pretty well and he enjoyed the ‘high-flying, tricky-tossing fun!’

About the game: Fly your plane through the Wings Around the Globe Rally to win. But, watch out–flight conditions change and you’ll face surprising challenges. Toss with your eyes closed, between your legs, lying down, and more!

I think all mothers try to give the constant impression that their life is completely put together. We never want others to think we’re scattered, overwhelmed, unorganized, sad or even depressed. We don’t want others to see that side. So, we put on our smile, go about our day and rarely, if ever, let anyone see the truth.

When in reality, we all have the same truth. We are all a mess. Despite our best moments, we all have our struggles. I’m so thankful for Glennon over at Momastery. I love her blog so much and was so excited when she invited other bloggers to share their messy beautiful. I ‘discovered’ her several months ago and read her book, Carry On, Warrior, on my summer vacation. The entire thing resonated with me. She speaks the truth ladies. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already.

So, what is my messy beautiful?

Here is my beautiful.

As you can see from my picture, the act of actually bringing my children into this world was a messy one. Like many mothers, I started my journey naïve and uneducated about childbirth. The birth of my first was anything but smooth; some may even call it traumatic (I did). My welcome to motherhood changed my life in so many ways. In addition to the sleepless nights and bombardment of hormones and emotions, it put me on the fast track of self discovering.

As soon as I succumbed to that unnecessary surgery I knew that I had to do better for myself and for my children. I then went on an intense journey of education and empowerment. Because of that, I’ve become a better person in many other aspects of my life. I’m a better advocate for myself and my body. And, maybe more importantly I’m a better advocate for my children and theirs.

I’m more confident and ultimately I’m a better mother.

They are the loves of my life. I don’t think they fully grasp the fact that I would give my own life for theirs, but I would. I’ve never known love any deeper, and I’m sure that all mothers would agree that you don’t truly know love until you have a child. They are my inspiration and the reason I go through each day.

But. They are also at the root of all (ok, most) of my messy. I often try to think back to the days before November 2005. Before I had children. Did I have less messy? I believe much less.

  • I didn’t sporadically scream hysterically at 6:30 a.m. when children wouldn’t get out of bed or stop bickering at each other.
  • I didn’t have to clean puke out of someone else’s hair (well, maybe I did do that but it was because I was a good friend, not because I HAD to).
  • I didn’t have to peel a screaming toddler off my hip and turn around and walk out on him.
  • I didn’t have to do 18 loads of laundry in one week.
  • I didn’t have to cry as much or as often (granted some of these are happy tears, but they are messy regardless).

And, that was just a peek of this week alone.

We all would say the joys outweigh the struggles. But the truth of the matter is, there are SO many struggles. This job we have as mothers, as wives, is a damn hard one. Anyone who says it isn’t is a bold faced liar.

The best things in life are the things we work for, I believe. So no matter how hard this job is I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And, I would even add to our brood if I could. Pardon me while I pick my hubby up off of the floor.

So, despite all of the messy, my children have taught me how to embrace the beautiful. They’ve taught me so much about myself. They’ve given me courage, strength, confidence and belief that I was made by God to be a mother.

My messy is beautiful and I love it!

 

When your child is sick, the last thing you want to struggle with is a thermometer that isn’t working or that is difficult to use. I was recently asked to review the new Kinsa Smart Thermometer since it has received regulatory approval from the FDA. It provides a convenient, trackable way to take temperatures of your family members.

The packaging is neat and simple and provides a great way to store the thermometer between uses. I was easily able to open it, download the free app via iTunes and set up the thermometer. All of that in just a couple of minutes.

About the Smart Thermometer:

As a reminder, the Smart Thermometer is the world’s first oral, digital thermometer that connects to your smartphone (via the audio jack). The use of the smartphone allows us to create a fun and engaging temperature-taking experience (see screenshot below) and do far more than what the average thermometer can do. With just a few taps, a mother can track temperature and symptoms over time for each member of her family and help her doctor provide the best care. In the coming weeks we will also be adding the ability to track health within your own private groups (e.g. your child’s classroom).

It was also very easy to take my temperature. It was quick and simple. The thermometer plugs directly into the audio jack but there is also a nice extension cord to give a little space between the phone and the actual thermometer.

About Kinsa:

Kinsa is driven by a bold mission – to enable society to track and stop the spread of disease, while simultaneously revolutionizing the way we care for our families. By using innovative ‘connected’ health devices, we can provide unique value to our users, while simultaneously aggregating information to help society understand what illnesses are spreading and where.

Kinsa’s mission is to enable society to track and stop the spread of disease, while simultaneously revolutionizing the way we care for our families. By using innovative ‘connected’ health devices, we can provide unique value to our users, while simultaneously aggregating information to help society understand what illnesses are spreading and where.

The Kinsa app currently includes the following functionality:

o   Engaging temperature taking experience. Kids fidget. Especially when they’re sick. So Kinsa uses the smartphone display to create a fun, engaging screen that calms your child while you take her temperature.

o   Automatically track your family’s illness for better care. With just a few taps, track temperature and symptoms over time for each member of the family, so you can help your doctor give you the best care.

o   Find care. If your symptoms persist, find nearby urgent care facilities without ever leaving the app

What I find most beneficial is the ability to track and store the readings. When my child is sick, it is stressful. When I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, the ability to pull up the app and relay the accurate readings is a huge benefit. I don’t have to worry about giving misinformation or forgetting how high their fever actually was.

If you’re interested in your own Kinsa Smart Thermometer, they are currently taking preorders on their website. The price point of $29.99 is more than reasonable. You can also find Kinsa on Facebook and Twitter.

An app that lets you create and run online giveaways says the’ve seen businesses that started with a relatively small fanbase but managed to run a staggeringly successful giveaway anyway (and gaining a sizeable number of Likes in the process). Dango (name of the app) boasts over 10,000 registered users and are giving away 100 premium memberships for free at the end of this post. They decided to share with us some patterns they’ve spotted in giveaways that perform exceedingly well.
The Prize
This tends to be one of the most pivotal aspects. The twist: it doesn’t need to be of a high cash value! It just needs to be something most people would want! If you sell something to a very specific target market (e.g. wedding dresses) you don’t have to give away a wedding dress! How about something as simple as a box of chocolates? (According to Dango this really happened and the giveaway performed well above average).

The Image
There’s a strong correlation between giveaways that do well and the use of beautiful images of the prize. Make sure to use the most gorgeous photo you can take. Think high quality Pinterest boards.
Promoting the giveaway
Businesses that promote their giveaway on their Facebook page have gained between 15% and 55% more entrants, according to Dango. Some fan pages went as far as promoting their giveaway 3 times a week and it still worked in their favor! Make the use of various giveaway directories out there as it will help with the traffic.

Virality
Make use of features that foster virality (e.g. rewarding entrants with bonus entry points if they invite a friend to join). There are entrants out there who are influential enough to pull in 10 people or more. These influencers WILL enter the giveaway if it increases their odds of winning.
Title of the giveaway
This one is obvious. However it’s incredible how often this rule gets neglected. The title should be concise and easy to understand! If your user has never heard of your business before they should know exactly what they stand to win from the giveaway.
How to get one of 100 FREE Premium Memberships.
Lastly, as mentioned above Dango is giving away 100 free premium memberships to the app for free on a first-come-first-served basis. It includes various features that would otherwise be paid for. If you’re one of the earlier readers, here’s the link to register on (you will be upgraded automatically): http://www.dango.co.nz/index.php?page=prem/tw2