Guest Post by Michele Golden ::: “Do as I say, not as I do.” We’ve all heard the phrase, and we try to avoid it when it comes to parenting. But it does have its uses. Take, for example, my journey to entrepreneurship. There’s a lot of stuff I did that you really shouldn’t do. But my goof-ups won’t have been in vain if they save you some missteps:
What I did: Had a water-tight business plan.
What I say: Have a general plan. If you’re starting a low-investment service business like I did, you don’t need to spend months on a detailed business plan. Once you get started, you’re going to adjust course (trust me). Now, those of you starting a coal mine or private space program might want to be more buttoned up. I’m just saying you should assess your own situation and decide how much time you really need in planning mode.
What I did: Didn’t hang out my shingle until every last detail was ready.
“Are you ready to be entertained? Meet Jill Salzman- sassy CEO of Founding Moms. A graduate of Brown University and law school after that, she ditched bankruptcy law to begin her entrepreneurial journey with two successful companies; Paperwork Media LLC and the Bumble Brand LLC. Her third venture, Founding Moms is focused on connecting mom entrepreneurs around the globe. Jill brings great advice to this Q&A with lots of humor. Enjoy!
If you had to give a piece of advice to a girlfriend that was thinking about starting her own small business, what would that be?
I’d ask her to sell me on her idea. Then I’d tell her to go out and find friends, family and strangers and pitch her product or service to them. My first piece of advice for anyone is to figure out whether there’s a market for what they’re selling. Too many people spend far too much time planning, thinking, planning, waiting, wondering if it’s the right time, creating a laundry list of worries, and then planning some more. I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs spend upwards of 2 years prepping their product launch only to find out, post-launch, that no one is interested in buying it. I’m very much a dive-in-first-and-then-plan kinda gal, and since it’s worked for me three times, I’m confident it’s going to work for someone else, too.
What small business resources can you not live without?
Guest Post by Malik Turley :: How small is your business?
Mine, which opened its doors two years ago, started out very small. I opened my dance, fitness, and parenting studio as a one-woman shop. I did all the administrative work. I taught all the classes. I offered all the services. When I started thinking about transitioning from a contractor-about-town to a brick-and-mortar shop, my friend and business guru suggested I work up a business plan even though I wasn’t seeking any financing. She thought that the exercise of looking at all the aspects of my business from the perspective of a potential lender would be helpful to me at the outset and along the way. Part of that business plan required projections – how many classes, how many students, how much revenue. I hadn’t had to think about these things in a forecasting mode before.
Sharing the results with her and another mentor of mine seemed to indicate a strong growth pattern. The idea took hold. When I was looking for the perfect location for my business – no small task – I did so with the idea of expansion in mind. Nothing needed right away, of course, but for “someday.”
“I’d just published Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs in January. In it, I write about how any entrepreneur can rent a mailbox at The UPS Store and set themself up with an official-looking business address. Once I dove into marketing mode, I thought I’d reach out to UPS and ask if they’d sell the book in their 4,700 stores around the country.
But they said no.
Then, magic happened. A woman who read my book tweeted publicly: “I just learned that you can get a UPS mailbox for your business from @foundingmom’s book! Who knew?”
Guest Post by Laila McCloud :: As a single mom, I often find myself stretched for time, energy and money. However, it has made me more resourceful and creative when it comes to exploring business opportunities that will not interfere with being a mom. I’m a firm believer that single moms, in particular, should see entrepreneurship as a road to travel. I know there are many reasons why a single mom would say “When would I find the time?” or “Who’s going to watch my child while I work?” or “I don’t have the extra money to invest in a business.” These are all things that have crossed my mind. That’s when I reached out to other entrepreneurs to seek answers. Here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way as s single mompreneur.
Start Small. Whatever your business idea, start small. I currently set aside two hours each day to work on my business ideas. When I first began, I did the two hours in one sitting. Now I spend one hour in the morning and one hour after my son is in bed. Whatever time you set aside, treat it like office hours and be consistent.
Show Me The Money. Whatever you are working on, you should have a tangible amount of money you are working towards. One of the primary motivators for many single mompreneurs is increasing income, so make sure your business is giving you the return you need.
Find Your Village. If you don’t have a co-parent, family or friends who can help with childcare, visit your local college. It’s a great place to find affordable and qualified sitters. Contact the education department and post a flyer in search of a student who can watch the kids while you work on projects or conduct meetings with clients. Don’t forget, there’s nothing wrong with calling a sitter to watch the kids while you sleep.
Put Yourself First (even for an hour). Solo parenting often means that you are taking care of everyone but yourself. There have been times where I didn’t realize until after I had cleaned the kitchen that I didn’t eat dinner. Working on my business allows me to focus on me (yes, me!) and my goals without feeling selfish.
Laila blogs about her life as a single mom and entrepreneur at OnlyLaila.com.
“How fitting that Jill Salzman was the May speaker for the Women in Business Breakfast this month – just in time for Mother’s Day! Although I still believe there is sometimes a stigma involved with being a mom and an entrepreneur, I am inspired by Jill. Her latest entrepreneurial venture is an international networking group for entrepreneurial women. And get this – kids are allowed to attend the meetings! The group is called “The Founding Moms” and has thousands of members across the globe.
If you didn’t attend the breakfast, Jill was NOT there to speak about work-life balance and how being a mom directs your business. Rather, she got right to business (after telling a funny story about her idol, Peter Walsh) to teach us business folks about how we can cultivate our fanbases.
She gave us all kinds of helpful information; but the point she wanted us to remember relates to follow-up.”
You’ve seamlessly moved a lot of your work to your phone through apps. You can check and create notes in Evernote there. You can respond to business emails there. You can interact on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn using their apps. But I’ve started to realize this isn’t such a good idea for everyone in business.
We have kids to take places. We have mouths to feed. We are women on the go! So you feel obligated to turn your attention away from your home office and onto your mobile device. Big brands have been investing more and more into making our lives easier on the go. There’s an app for that, right? There’s an app of every kind now available to you to accomplish what you’d normally do at your desk. But at the end of the day, is it improving your work?”
“To those of you seeking a publishing deal: quit it. You don’t need to hand over any profits, control, distribution or happiness to a major corporation that may or may not pay attention to your success anyhow. Go the way of T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve found much success in self-publishing, and you can, too.”