This site is for YOU – the mom or mom-to-be who wants to start a business from home or grow your existing home-based business. On this site, we’ll promote women with home-based businesses, share expert advice on a wide range of topics to support you, and provide learning resources and materials to help you start and grow your own home-based business with a baby or small children in your midst. And check out our book! Let us know how we can help YOU succeed!
After reading Mom, Incorporated, Dena Mendelsohn took the plunge and made the decision to launch her small business, Right-Hand Woman, earlier this year. As a professional Jill-of-all-trades, she provides emergency support to start-up and growing businesses with a gap in their skill set or their staffing. She shares with us what she like most about running her own business and some of the lessons she is learning along the way.
MOMINCORPORATED: What inspired you to start your own company?
DENA: I really enjoy working in a variety of workplaces and with new challenges. Starting my own company gave me the opportunity to meet new people, constantly address new problems, and of course steer my own ship. It’s a great feeling knowing that I can help businesses with a variety of needs while being my own boss.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did your background and advanced degrees prepare you for this work?
DENA: Earning a JD is difficult and requires intense focus and determination. My MPH (Master of Public Health) concentrates in health policy—particularly health insurance—and gives me a mastery of subject matter that extends from human resources to understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result, I’m both confident and competent when it comes to tackling the wide range of issues start-ups and growing businesses experience.
MOMINCORPORATED: What do you like most about running your own business?
DENA: I love steering my own ship—from strategy down to business card design—and surprise myself by how much I enjoy meeting with potential clients and figuring out how I can be of service.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did you secure your first client?
DENA: Someone in my rather-large mom’s organization posted that she needed help for her business and I made my first pitch.
MOMINCORPORATED: You have called yourself the CEO of your family (which we love), how do you juggle the responsibilities of motherhood with entrepreneurship?
DENA: Excellent service to my client is absolutely necessary for the success and growth of my business. I prioritize everything I do—both at work and at home—and emphasize organization and communication. Of course, the foundation of me being able to do what I do is a great support system for me and my family.
MOMINCORPORATED: At 1 and 3 years old, your children are still very young. What kind of support do you have?
DENA: Oh, but at 1 and 3 they seem so much older than when they were “babies”! My support system includes a husband who believes in me and my business, a preschool that is not only excellent for my son but offers the hours required by dual working parents, and a loving family daycare that cares for my younger child as if she were their own.
MOMINCORPORATED: What were some of the initial challenges you faced in starting your business and how have you overcome them?
DENA: It was hard paying for more childcare than I needed—and really wanted—but it is difficult (if not impossible) to develop and grow a business if you’re also trying to care for and raise a delightful baby who has no concept of time or the meaning of work obligations. Once I accepted that and found a great daycare, the stress level went down and the business opportunities went up.
MOMINCORPORATED: What advice would you give other women about starting a business while raising a family?
DENA: Make sure you know all your financial obligations and are true to yourself about why you want to start a business. If it’s to spend more time with your family, explore the realities of how much time starting your own business will take. Look at the actual financial costs: what equipment does your business need, what professional organizations should you join, what are the licensing fees, etc. Don’t forget the cost of childcare if you’ll be doing any business when you don’t have free childcare lined-up. Then look at your opportunity costs and how much time you actually want to spend on your business. The worst thing is to launch a business and then realize that you either can’t afford the adventure or that you’re not getting the time or flexibility to be with your family that you were seeking.
It’s Annie, your Mom, Incorporated Community Mom, here. On the MomIncorporated.com blog, we tend to focus primarily on business. We interview successful mom entrepreneurs who are running their own businesses and we provide tips and resources that you might find helpful in running your business. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thought it might be nice to pause and focus on the Mom part in Mom, Incorporated for a moment.
We say it all the time, “this site is for YOU – the mom or mom-to-be who wants to start a business from home or grow your existing home-based business.” No matter what type of business you are running – from blogs to products to software or services, the one thing that unites us all is that we are moms.
On the Eve of Thanksgiving, let us pause and give thanks that we are mothers.
It is not always easy being a mom and running a business. We may have had fertility issues, miscarriages, postpartum depression, adoption hurdles, or special needs children, and yet, somehow we make it through. Sometimes just the chaos of life while raising a family can be overwhelming. Starting and running a business can be demanding of our time and resources. We keep working towards our dreams because it is who we are.
Being a mom makes our success that much richer. We have so many things we want to teach our children. What we are doing also teaches them: we are taking leaps of faith, we are betting on ourselves, we are pushing ourselves to lengths we didn’t know possible, all so that we can reach for our dreams. Our children are watching. They will grow up seeing us searching for our passions, being true to ourselves, and doing work that is meaningful to us. What wonderful gifts we are giving them.
Personally, no matter how busy or stressed I sometimes feel, I know it is all worth it when my baby’s eyes light up when she sees me or when my preschooler runs into my arms after school. I am so thankful I have this amazing opportunity to be a mother, and I am thankful that I get to be here with you, finding community among smart, tenacious, focused and innovative moms like you.
What are you thankful for? Leave us a note in the comments section below.
Nashville stay-at-home mom blogger, Scarlet Paolicchi, started the Family Focus Blog in 2011 when her kids were just 4 and 6 years old. It has now turned into a Top Mom Blog with upwards of 63,000 page views per month, bringing in revenue through advertising and featuring family-friendly companies.
Mom, Incorporated caught up with Scarlet to talk about blogging, social media and some of the secrets to her success.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did you first get into blogging?
SCARLET: I actually had a friend that had a small blog and I thought that was interesting. Then I saw other mom bloggers and I thought to myself, “that is something I could do from home without too much risk or capital to start,” so I decided to give it a try.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did you turn your blog into a business?
SCARLET: Well, I explain it to my family by telling them a blog is really just an online magazine. You provide good content that pulls in readers and you make money through advertisements. For example, everytime someone clicks on an add in my blog sidebar, I make about 50 cents, which adds up the more traffic I get. I also accept sponsored features. The way it works best is when the ads are related to things my readers want. You know, like when you are reading a fashion magazine and the ads are sometimes just as exciting as the articles.
MOMINCORPORATED: Your blog is chock full of content and giveaways. Where do you get your ideas for what to write about?
SCARLET: I write about all things family related so I have a pretty big range. Part of my ideas come from what is timely and part come from everyday happenings that inspire me.
MOMINCORPORATED: How much time do you devote to it each week and, as a SAHM, when do you find the time?
SCARLET: Now that my kids are in school, it is so much easier to find the time! I try to blog between 8 and 3. I used to have to fit it in a nap time, after bedtime and in snatches while they were playing.
MOMINCORPORATED: With over 63,000 monthly page views, what do you think makes your blog so popular?
SCARLET: I think people come for the good content that people can relate to or that is helpful to them in some way. People want to know about healthy school lunch ideas, or DIY teacher gifts, and they find that type of information on my blog. They can also find personal stories as intimate as the loss of a baby when they need someone who has been where they are. On the lighter side, they can find funny stuff and giveaways as well.
MOMINCORPORATED: You have been featured on NBC Nashville, CBS Nashville, and MSN Business. How do you get media attention?
SCARLET: Honestly, it mostly finds me through my blog. I was fortunate enough to be contacted to be on the TV shows. I was mentioned on MSN as part of their coverage of the StartupNation Home Business Awards, for which I won Savviest in Social Media. I suspect there is another source of my media attention- lots of people find me through Twitter, @familyfocusblog.
MOMINCORPORATED: Speaking of Twitter, you have nearly 5 times more Twitter followers than Facebook fans. What role does Twitter play in your business?
SCARLET: Yes, I’m working on that! When I started my blog, I started my Twitter account. I didn’t start my Facebook page till much later when a fan suggested that I do so. Everyone has their social media that just comes natural to them and for me it is Twitter. I love it because it is so social. I meet new people on there all the time. People comment on my articles or ask questions and I share my blog info and other family resources. I love Twitter but I am starting to enjoy Facebook as well.
MOMINCORPORATED: How else do you use social media? Have you learned any must-do’s or never-do’s for any particular platforms?
SCARLET: I also use Pinterest and I am beginning to use Instagram as well. I find that each has its specific purpose: Twitter is great for meeting new people whether it is readers, bloggers, or business owners. Facebook is great for interacting with current readers. Pinterest is great for visual people who don’t necessarily have time to chat. My must-do would be that the more consistently you use the social media, the more successful it is for you and the more fun!
MOMINCORPORATED: How have you used Mom, Incorporated as a resource?
SCARLET: I love the interviews. I think they are great for inspiring you. They can be useful to get started and to those of you who are already trying to do a home business but could use a few tips from others. It is also a great place to be able to find like-minded people to network with.
MOMINCORPORATED: What advice would you give other women about starting a business as a blogger?
SCARLET: Chose your name and URL carefully and make sure it is immediately clear to others what your blog is about. Go straight for WordPress with your own domain so you don’t have to switch later and lose page ranking. Develop your favorite three social media platforms to go hand in hand with your blog right from the start. Be consistent in publishing. Find a few blogging buddies so you can all work together to promote each other and answer each other’s questions. Have fun and don’t give up!
Catriona Wallis is the Founder and CEO of Colto, a developer of mobile games that teach language to kids. We caught up with this globe-trotting mother of two to find out how she transformed her background as an English teacher in Europe into an entrepreneurial adventure in mobile technology.
MOMINCORPORATED: Where are you from originally? What motivated your move to Italy?
CATRIONA: I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. After a 10 year career in television, then working in business development in the Arts, I became seriously ill at 32 and had to stop work for 4 months. During my recovery, I decided to do what my heart had been telling me for the past few years and move to Europe. I sold everything and used the funds to travel to Italy to study Italian, eat pasta and drink red wine while I regained strength in my life. I was interviewing for career jobs in London at the time but in my heart I was falling in love with life in Italy. Then I met and fell in love with my now Italian husband and never considered moving to London again!
MOMINCORPORATED: How did you transition from English teacher to mobile apps developer/entrepreneur?
CATRIONA: I completed the Cambridge University English language teacher training course and started teaching English in Milan. Being a mom and mother tongue English teacher living in Italy, I was constantly asked by friends how they could improve their children’s English. At the same time I was observing the huge impact that games on my smart phone and tablet had on my own kids from when they could walk.
I started researching new digital teaching methods and read inspiring publications and discovered revolutionary and highly effective teaching methods for young kids learning through games and having fun.
Then I started playing different educational games on the App Store with my eldest son. I found almost all of them lost his attention after a short period of time as they were what I call digitalised taxtbooks. So that’s when I decided to develop my own language learning game that would capture and hold kids’ attention.
MOMINCORPORATED: Why do you think mobile apps make good educational tools for kids?
CATRIONA: Educational Psychologists agree that mobile game apps have the potential to be powerful learning tools for kids. There’s a gaming concept called ‘being in the zone’ which happens when a great game totally absorbs a player and transports them to another world where they lose track of how long they’ve been playing. Educational Psychologists call this same concept ‘flow’ and say it’s the optimal learning state, where learning just ‘flows’.
The mass popular appeal digital games have on learners is because they are truely engaging. It makes sense then to use this popular appeal to motivate kids to learn.
Video games have also proven to teach kids valuable life skills such as creative problem solving, quick response times, exercising control in challenging circumstances, persistence and attention to detail.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did the idea for Dodo Ladder Chase come about?
CATRIONA: The idea for Dodo Ladder Chase first came about after long discussions about the impact of technology on English language learning with Graham Stanley, author of the book “Digital Play: Computer Games and Language Aims.” I had originally planned Colto as a more serious (and in retrospect boring) educational game. After discussing the project with Graham and researching the motivations of why kids play video games, I realised we had to create fun games that would not lose the players attention, otherwise it would defeat the purpose of using games to teach.
MOMINCORPORATED: How does the game work? What languages are included? CATRIONA: In Dodo Ladder Chase kids learn new words in English by associating them with images as well as hearing the correct pronunciation of words and letters. An intro video to the game draws the player into a story about an evil Dodo bird set in an adventure world of floating islands joined by ladders. The player goes on a mission to chase the Dodo up the ladders and encounters obstacles such as evil flowers and creepy spiders on the way and has to solve mini word tasks in order to continue climb in. The points, prizes and collectible coins kids win in the game capture their attention and keep them playing and learning new words.
The game has been localised in 7 languages; English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. This means the games’ buttons and instructions for the mini tasks localize to these languages when they are the default language of the iPad or iPhone .
MOMINCORPORATED: How did you manage 3 months at the accelerator in Estonia and being a mom?
CATRIONA: To be honest, the 3 months in Estonia came at a cost to my family. Our beloved nanny of 7 years decided to move back to the Philippines 10 days before I was due to leave for the program and my Italian mother-in-law told me in no uncertain terms that a womans place was at home with her kids and she wouldn’t help me with the kids while I was away. My husband supported my decision to go and so we found a new nanny to live in our home with the kids for 3 months. I travelled back and forth from Tallinn to Milan each week apart, from 2 weeks school holidays when the boys came to stay with me in Tallinn.
It was difficult for both the children and I with me being away as I am the mom who follows their daily routine of schoolwork, sports activities, playdates, reading to them and putting them to bed. At the end of the program when I returned, it was such a pleasure to be able to take them to school in the morning!
MOMINCORPORATED: What have been some challenges you’ve faced starting a mobile apps dev company?
CATRIONA: There have been major challenges starting with the initial challenge of finding a team for the project. As a mother and English teacher I didn’t have contact with tech people and programmers. Through contacts I got in touch with various unsuitable people working in IT before calling the Professor of the Masters course at one of the best computer programming university courses in Milan. He introduced me to my current partner and programmer, Davide Jones.
Then there’s the challenge of balancing life between work and being a mom. There are times when I feel like I’m not doing enough for either my children or my business. I feel guilty for not spending time playing with my kids after school as I used to do when I was teaching English. Now I have to rely on my nanny to play with the kids and organise their after school activities.
There have also been financial challenges securing funds to be able to continue our work. I have invested my lifetime personal savings in this project and have not earned a wage for 2 years. The other team members have also been working hard on the project for little money.
MOMINCORPORATED: Did you start or do you run your business from home? If so, what challenges did that present?
CATRIONA: I started running the business from home for the first year and a half but in June this year we started renting a desk in an open plan co-working space for startups in Milan.
Working from home was very difficult when my second child was still a toddler. Even though I had a nanny, when he got home from pre-school in the afternoons, he wanted me to play with him and I found it difficult to close myself in the office and concentrate when he was in the house. I could still hear him asking for me.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did the Indiegogo campaign come about? What are your goals for that?
CATRIONA: I started thinking about running a crowd funding campaign after a mentor on our accelerator program in Estonia gave a seminar on the advantages and disadvantages of the different funding options for startups. I decided it was our best option because it gave us the opportunity to test the popularity of our vision and game on the market before it was released on the App Store and it gave us exposure to a huge target market audience. If our campaign is successful, we will be able to be truly independent game developers as we will not have to answer to investors making decisions for Colto based on profit.
Our goal is to raise $50,000 in 45 days which will enable us to finish Dodo Ladder Chase and publish it for English language learning on the App Store for iPad and iPhone. If we raise more than our budget we’ll develop and publish the game for learning in different languages and we’ll develop it for the Android & Windows 8 platforms. This will enable kids from all corners of the world to practice languages for free while having fun playing our action adventure game.
To learn more about Colto’s effort to fund Dodo Ladder Chase, their interactive language-learning game for kids, visit their Indigogo campaign page.
In the first two parts of this series, we shared how mom entrepreneurs could benefit from working with a mentor and gave some tips on selecting the right mentor for you. In this final post, we will go over the best ways to get the most out of your mentoring relationship.
So, you’ve made the decision to work with a business mentor. Congratulations! That is the biggest step. Then, you researched your options and signed up for a program or asked someone you know to become your trusted business advisor. Now what? The purpose of having a mentor is to help you become a better businessperson. No matter how much or little experience or knowledge you have, your mentor is there to make you even better. Follow these five strategies for making the mentorship relationship work for you. Continue reading
Zoe Kardasis Sturtz is one half of the husband-wife team that is Edit Design Build Studio. The duo started this residential remodeling company in 2009, just a year before their first son was born. Now they’ve got two boys under 4 and they are still running their business out of their home. Living and renovating in the community they call home might just be the secret to their success.
MOMINCORPORATED: What inspired you and your husband to start Edit Design Build Studio?
ZOE: When we started our company it was 2009 we were in the midst of a very long and hard recession. The construction industry and architecture field had been hit particularly hard. After a year or so of us both struggling to believe our jobs working elsewhere were secure, we realized that the best place to put our efforts, and our faith, was in our own hands. Continue reading
A mentor is a trusted advisor that can you can talk to about your business, offer a different perspective, or help you work through a challenging situation. Consider it another resource in your toolbox. As moms you are already juggling so many things that you often have to call in the reinforcements for help: from babysitters and housecleaners to accountants and lawyers. A mentor is another resource that can help you take your business to the next level by supporting you in the areas where you may not be as strong.
In the first part of our series on mentors, we talked about why you should get a mentor (you can’t be an expert in everything) and offer suggestions on where to look to find a mentor. Here are five strategies on how to choose the right mentor for you. Continue reading
Starting your own company can often feel like the best decision you’ve ever made. But, there may be times when working on your own can feel lonely or isolating. One often-overlooked resource for entrepreneurs is a business mentor.
Colleges often set up mentor programs for their students. They’ll pair a student with an alumnus who is working in the field of study and the student has an opportunity to learn what it’s like in the real world. They can shadow their mentor to see “a day in the life,” or ask questions about the work, the field, or what they should be doing now to prepare themselves for a career in that field. A mom entrepreneur can benefit in much the same way from a mentorship relationship with a business mentor. Continue reading
We are so excited to announce that our very own Mom, Incorporated co-author, Aliza Sherman, has been nominated for a 2013 Small Business Influencer Award in the “expert” category. Please help her win by casting your vote today!!
The Small Business Influencer Awards recognize the unsung heroes who support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, and help them achieve success and stay successful.
As co-author of Mom, Incorporated and Social Media Engagement for Dummies, she continues to support mom entrepreneurs by providing tips and resources to inspire small business owners to embrace and leverage technology that will help them start and grow their companies.
Aliza sees her job as making technology more accessible to humans. “Being nominated as an expert for the Small Business Influencer Awards is positive recognition of the years of passionate support I’ve devoted to helping small business owners understand and benefit from technology,” she says.
Are you a Mom Entrepreneur? Have you started a business from home while pregnant or raising a child/children? We want to hear your story!
Be the next featured mom in the “Moms with a Biz” section of Mom, Incorporated!
We promote women with home-based businesses, share expert advice, and provide learning resources and materials to help you start and grow your own home-based business with a baby or small children in your midst.
By sharing your story, you are inspiring other moms and sharing the lessons you learned the hard way.
Contact us and tell us a little bit about you, your company and your story!