YOU are Mom, Incorporated

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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 bookLet us know how we can help YOU succeed!

Give Yourself A Raise

We all work hard and have so many roles. We wanted you to pause for a moment and ask yourself this question:  

Do you give yourself a raise as a mom? 

Being a parent is a full time job, and taking a break is important. As busy mom entrepreneurs, sometimes it’s hard for us to remember to take stock in all we accomplish each day and give ourselves some credit. We asked Aliza (co-author of Mom, Incorporated with Danielle Smith) how moms can give themselves a raise. She recommends taking a proactive and longer-term approach to personal raises.

“You deserve more than a fleeting treat,” she says, adding she believes in taking meaningful rewards on an ongoing basis. “After a hard day of juggling work and home life, don’t go for the quick and ultimately unsatisfying hit of an indulgent dessert or buying another pair of shoes you love but probably don’t need.”

Aliza advises that personal rewards and raises should encompass things that you enjoy. You might be struggling to track your steps or get to the gym as part of a daily fitness routine, but a dance class might be even better for relieve some of your stress and might be much more fun than a typical workout.

Taking up yoga is another example of a treat that is physically and emotionally beneficial. Yoga can clear your mind and recharge your batteries for the coming day’s work. Or have you tried meditating? Just 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

Another raise that’s not only good for the soul, but good for the body is to eat more healthfully. You’ll have more energy to tackle each day’s challenges and your body will thank you for it.

If you are the crafty Mom, don’t forget to make time to entertain your creative side. Take a crafting class, give yourself a creative outlet – jewelry making, pottery, painting, cross stitching, painting, or playing the ukulele!

Aliza learning to play the ukulele on Popexpert.com

 

If you still feel like you don’t have the time to rush around to participate in any of these activities, try some of them at home. You can access yoga or a meditation videos on YouTube for free. Hire a fitness coach or take dance classes by Skype. Register for an online crafting course through a site like Creativebug.com.

Carving out that “me” time has never been easier than a click of a few buttons. Give yourself a raise, make a “date” with yourself, and actually put it into your daily calendar as a “must attend” event.

What do you do? Leave us a note in the comments and share with us!

This post was inspired by raise.com – the online marketplace where you can buy and sell gift cards. Because every mom deserves a Raise!

She’s Mom, Incorporated: Catriona Wallis Follow Up

Great news! One of our featured Mom Entrepreneurs Catriona Wallis’ has now launched her game Dodo Ladder Chase on the App Store for iPad, globally!

You may remember the interview back in October 2013 with Wallis, founder and CEO of Colto. At that stage of her game development, she was crowd funding for her App, the language learning game for preschoolers called Dodo Ladder Chase. You can find the original article at She’s Mom, Incorporated: Catriona Wallis .

Wallis describes how the App begins with a video telling the story:

About an evil Dodo bird set in an adventure world of floating islands and ladders. The player goes on a mission to chase the Dodo up the ladders and encounters obstacles such as evil flowers, creepy spiders and mini word tasks which have to be solved. The points and collectible coins kids win in the game capture their attention and keep them playing and learning new words.

The interactive game introduces toddlers to English letters of the alphabet and their pronunciation as well as new words and their meaning and pronunciation and the spelling of simple words.

Find Dodo Ladder Chase on the App Store for iPad here: Dodo Ladder Chase 3

You can also learn more about Colto on their website http://www.colto.com

Kimberly Palmer on How Entrepreneurship Can Recession-Proof Your Life

Dreaming of becoming a Mom Entrepreneur but not sure if you’re ready to quit your full-time job just yet? Consider starting out with a side-business.

Kimberly Palmer’s new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” is all about that – starting an entrepreneurial side-business as a gateway to financial security and personal satisfaction. With profiles of successful “side-giggers”, inspiration and helpful advice, the book is a complimentary companion to Mom, Incorporated: A Guide to Business and Baby. We caught up with Kimberly to chat about her inspiration for the book and how moms can channel their entrepreneurial spirit through a side-business. 

 

MOMINCORPORATED: In your new book, The Economy of You, you write about entrepreneurial side-businesses and your experience starting one while working full time. What inspired you to write the book?
KIMBERLY: After my daughter was born four years ago, which coincided with the height of the financial crisis, I was suddenly gripped with worry over what would happen if my husband or I lost our jobs. I really wanted a back-up plan – income I knew I could count if I was unexpectedly laid-off. I launched my business of money planners on Etsy to create that income.

After I did that, I quickly discovered a booming world of entrepreneurs just like me — people who were launching something on the side to supplement their income and serve as a back up plan. I discovered first-hand how empowering that can be, and wrote the book with the goal of inspiring other people to do the same thing, and laying out a game plan to make it as easy as possible for them.

MOMINCORPORATED: How did your own experience prepare you to start your side-business?
KIMBERLY: I’ve been writing about money for about ten years, and I love it – so I knew my side-business had to relate to personal finance in some way. I’d always been a fan of Etsy as a shopper, and one day when I was browsing, I discovered an entire section of “paper goods” and calendars, and I suddenly realized that I could create digital products that would fit well into the site. That hit me like lightening, and within two weeks I opened up my shop.

MOMINCORPORATED: At Mom, Incorporated, we are geared toward moms who want to start their own businesses and the unique challenges of motherhood and entrepreneurship. How old are your children and how do you manage the juggle between full-time work, entrepreneurship, and family?
KIMBERLY: My daughter, the one who inspired my Etsy shop, is now 4, and my son is now 1. I took a six-month maternity leave when he was born, which helped me a lot. Now, I juggle everything by focusing on finding little snippets of time to get things done instead of larger chunks, which are harder to find. I try to take advantage of commuting time, lunch breaks, naptime and then evenings after they go to sleep for the night. I save my vacation days for when things get really intense and I need to take a time out, either for myself, my kids, or my business.

MOMINCORPORATED: Do you have any support?
KIMBERLY: My biggest support is my parents, who live nearby. My husband has a job with crazy hours, so I’m the one who is in charge of snow days, sick days, and all of the other unexpected schedule changes. My parents help me so much – they come over to my house, or pick my kids up early from daycare and preschool, or invite us over on the weekend so I can run on their treadmill while they play with my kids. I’m really lucky to have them nearby and so willing to help.

MOMINCORPORATED: The book has profiles of 100 successful “side-giggers.”  Did you notice any themes emerge among them?
KIMBERLY: Yes! One of the most striking things to me was how almost all of them struggled with failure, or at least bumps in the road along the way. Building a side-business isn’t easy for anybody. Once I realized that, I found it easier to push past my own inevitable hiccups, like slow sales periods or negative feedback.

Another theme is the importance of tapping into your online community of fellow entrepreneurs. Whatever your niche is, there are probably people out there already in it. For me, it was the world of creative entrepreneurs. Connecting with your “tribe” by reading their blogs, talking over social media, and even meeting up in person can help you find much-needed support as you build your business.

MOMINCORPORATED: What are some of the initial challenges that a mom might face in starting a new side-business and how might she address them?KIMBERLY: One of the most common challenges is marketing, and learning how to get word out about your product or service. Even if you have an incredible and valuable idea, no one can buy it if they don’t know about it. So you have to learn how to toot your own horn a little – tell the story of how your business started, reach out to bloggers who might be interested in covering it, and communicate with your target audience over social media and your own blog.

MOMINCORPORATED: What would you tell a mom who is wondering how to determine if creating an entrepreneurial endeavor is worth the time needed to devote to it?
KIMBERLY: I think it all comes down to how it will make you feel and if your side-business will provide an incredible sense of satisfaction that you’re not getting elsewhere in your life. Even though my Etsy shop just makes a fraction of my overall earnings, with my full-time job bringing in the bulk of my income, it is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in my professional life. I get to create things that other people find useful, and that’s an amazing feeling. If your side-business gives you that deep sense of satisfaction, then the additional stress or time that goes into it is well worth it.

MOMINCORPORATED: Do you have any advice about starting a business while raising a family?
KIMBERLY: Make sure you choose a side-business that connects with your deepest passions, skills and expertise. If you know that you’re helping people by leveraging your own unique background, then it’s a lot easier to push through those initial challenges to create a thriving business.

Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” and senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report, where she writes the popular Alpha Consumer blog. In addition, she is the creator of Palmer’s Planners, her own line of digital financial guides and money organizers for major life events and goals. You can connect with her at bykimberlypalmer.com, where you can also download worksheets to help you build your own side-business.

Have you started a business as a side-gig or have thoughts to start one? What kind of businesses do you think would make a good side-gig? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.

Roundup: Best Advice for Mom Entrepreneurs from Mom Entrepreneurs

Ring in the new year with some advice from successful mom entrepreneurs.  We rounded up the top quotes from 2013 from our Moms with a Biz series. There’s bound to be a few nuggets of wisdom you can use to help boost your motivation for 2014.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN, DO THE MATH

Dena Mendelsohn, Right Hand Woman

“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. 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.”

 

 

Jackie Ekholm, Moo Chocolates

“Pick a business that you can fit into your lifestyle. Be realistic about the amount of time, energy and resources you will need to start a business and really figure out if you have the help and support that you will need. Do something you LOVE!  Hopefully that one should be the easiest!”

 

 

 

FOLLOW YOUR HEART AND START SMART

Kim Gellman, Artistic Sensations

“If you are passionate about a concept, do some research and see what competition is out there and their approach. Then take your own spin on it and go for it. Find a need and fill it. Where there is passion, success follows.”

 

 

 

 

Martina Delaney and Suzanne Browne, Clevamama.

“Follow your instinct. Once you have the idea, the rest is down to hard work and determination. It is important to know your market and know whom you are selling to. But most importantly, don’t get discouraged by obstacles, embrace them as a learning experience.”

 

 

 

 

Scarlet Paolicchi, Family Focus Blog

“Chose your name and URL carefully and make sure it is immediately clear to others what your blog is about.  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!”

 

IT GOING TO TAKE TIME

Kelly Axetll, Creations by Kelly

“Give yourself the permission of time.  I think our culture has such a sense of immediacy to it that we think it should even apply to something we are trying for the first time.  You have to keep working on it.”

 

 

 

 

Katie Wallace, Yummi Pouch

“The best advice I’ve received lately is to embrace contentment. I’ve realized there is always more that “can be done” and I have been working on doing my best with the time I am given and finding that to be enough.”

 

 

 

 

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS 

Sonal Gerten, Tumblewalla

“Seek out the support and and camaraderie of other women entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar challenges and fears – you are not alone!  It’s easy to get so focused on the day to day that sometimes we forget the power of personal connections and relationships.”

 

 

 

Zoe Kardasis Sturtz, Edit Design Build Studio

“Successful people leverage their resources. You have friends, colleagues, and neighbors, people who want you to succeed. Tell them what you are doing, ask them for advice, pick peoples brains, build relationships – real relationships – those are the people who will be there for you as you grow. They will be happy to help you and proud to talk about your venture. I still believe, even in the age of endless social media, that the people you know personally can be your best assets.”

 

 

Dee Wanger, Ridekick International

“Don’t be afraid to ask for money – for capital, for product, for your time.  Network, network, network.”

 

 

 

 

 

What advice would you add? Let us know in the comment section below.

She’s Mom, Incorporated: Dena Mendelsohn, Right-Hand Woman

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.

A Word of Thanks

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.

 

 

She’s Mom, Incorporated: Scarlet Paolicchi, Family Focus Blog

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!

She’s Mom, Incorporated: Catriona Wallis

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!

Family time

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.

The Colto Team: Rubens Cantuni, Catriona, and Davide Jones

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

5 Ways to Make the Most of Mentorship

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

She’s Mom, Incorporated: Zoe Kardasis Sturtz, Edit Design Build Studio

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