5 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Our guest blogger this week is Stephanie Lee of Scratchpad Secretaries. We featured Stephanie in our book in the section about virtual assistants. She’s awesome, and here is some of her great advice!

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

You’ve finally gotten to the point in your business where it’s time to delegate some projects and tasks. Good for you! It’s exciting to be ready to take that 5 step in partnering up with a virtual assistant to take some of that administrative load off your plate (and your desk!). Continue reading

Mom, Incorporated Wins the Gold

No, this isn’t news of Olympic wins – although for us, it is pretty darn close!

The influential publishing world magazine and website Foreword has selected our book – Mom, Incorporated – as the Gold Book of the Year Award (BOTYA) winner for 2011 in the category of Career. We’re over the moon thrilled. This recognition was unexpected and incredibly validating of the long, hard work we put into the book content. We are grateful.

Ask any serious author and they will tell you that they pour their hearts and souls into each book they write, and for us, Mom, Incorporated was just that – filled with our own stories and the stories of many other women, all from the heart, honest and revealing. We worked hard to make sure that the more technical chapters – like the ones about finances and taxation for new businesses – had personality and soul so they were more compelling to read. (No easy task!)

We’ve heard from many of our readers that our book is not only inspiring them but that they keep it right at their desk and refer to it frequently. This is incredible for us to hear because it is what we set out to do and only dreamed would happen. We wanted to create a holistic, realistic guide to starting and growing a business from home with a baby or kids in your midst that would become an indispensable resource for women. And by adding the stories of dozens and dozens of moms across the country with thriving home-based businesses, we also set out to make our book more timeless and lasting.

We’d love your support getting the word about about Mom, Incorporated. We want to help more women with their dreams of starting a business from home. Here’s how you can help: Click here to tweet out a message. Or share our Facebook Page or posts with your friends. And if you haven’t picked up our book yet, you can do that here!

Thank you to everyone who has supported our book so far! We look forward to meeting more of you in the near future.

Buy Mom, Incorporated TODAY on Amazon to benefit Operation Shower

“Give Good, Get Good” isn’t just a professional motto for me – it is how I choose to live.  And Aliza lives much the same way.  For us, so much about writing this book was about helping Moms to live out their passions, generate income for their families AND still feel complete in their role as a mother.So, it was natural for us to figure out a way Mom, Incorporated might give in additional ways.  And, by jove….we landed on the perfect idea for us.

First Lady, Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden & Martha Stewart at Operation Shower in North Carolina

Today, on November 1st, we will donate one dollar ($1) to Operation Shower  for every book purchased via Amazon. Operation Shower is an organization that supports military families by providing joyful baby showers for military moms who have husbands serving overseas, thereby easing the burden of deployment.  Since 2007, Operation Shower has grown from a few boxes delivered to individual moms to full-blown showers on military bases around the country for hundreds of moms-to-be. Danielle has been working with Operation Shower for more than three years now. Most recently, emceeing a Shower at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that was attended by First Lady, Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Martha Stewart. And Aliza? Well, her dad is former military, so this is a cause that is extremely important to us.Won’t you help us spread the word?If you are so inclined…. will you tell a friend, share a tweet or even buy a copy of Mom, Incorporated for a Mom you know?Sample Tweets

  • Today is the day: Purchase @momincbook on @Amazon & $1 from each sale will go to @operationshower  http://amzn.to/nPylOs
  • Today all purchases of @momincbook benefit our military via @operationshower $1 from each book will be donated! http://amzn.to/nPylOs 
  • Help @momincbook support the military: $1 from each book purchased today 11/1 will benefit @OperationShower http://amzn.to/nPylOs

Thank you, for the love and support you have shown us as we have spread the word about Mom, Incorporated and our love of moms in business.

Worksheet: Getting a Handle on Your Time

Mom Incorporated includes a variety of worksheets and checklists to help you plan out your business journey. It features charts to help you decide how much you need to make, how to set up your office and how to home in on your target market. Here’s a chart you can download, which focuses on getting a handle on your time.

DOWNLOAD: Worksheet: Getting a Handle on Your Time (right click on PC or CTRL click on Mac to save to your computer).

DOWNLOAD: Worksheet: Getting a Handle on Your Time

Recovering From Business Mistakes

Sheena Edwards, Lizzie Lou Shoes

This guest post is written by Sheena G. Edwards, founder of Lizzie Lou Shoes and one of the women featured in Mom Incorporated: A Guide to Business + Baby.

Through hard work and perseverance, Sheena has made Lizzie Lou Shoes a successful company. But it hasn’t been easy. As she says in the book, “This is a labor of love. If I didn’t walk into my closet and see 20 pairs of flip-flops I loved, I would have quit. Because at 10 at night, I’m tired and sometimes you have to keep going. If you don’t love it, you won’t keep going.

Here’s what Sheena has to say about mistakes she made early-on, and how she managed to overcome them.

By Sheena G. Edwards

I started my imported flip-flop business, Lizzie Lou Shoes, http://www.lizzieloushoes.com/ in the summer of 2008 with not much more than a dream and a great contact.

Six months of designing, sampling, re-designing, working to find the right manufacturer, identifying potential retail dealers, and learning the ins and outs of customs law led to the arrival of the first prototypes.  They looked great — everything about them was beautiful.   I couldn’t believe my idea was now real.  I told my agent and co-designer in India to go forward and start manufacturing a huge first order of shoes.

The shipment arrived on April 20, 2009, each pair in its own shoe box ready to sell.  There was so much excitement as my family and I looked at the huge pallet of boxes stacked in the garage. But it gave way to disappointment as we opened the boxes one by one.  We found many problems and realized the shoes hadn’t been 100 percent quality checked in India prior to shipping.

There were shoes with crystals not attached properly, sometimes two left feet to a box, mixed sizes and many other problems that were going to be time-consuming to work out.  Worse, I didn’t have the capital to simply order an entirely new shipment.

After some serious crying, I figured out a new plan.  I just accepted that we wouldn’t be able to make initial sales projections, and decided to invest the time to make sellable as many pairs as possible to keep my losses down.  I told my agent in India that initial sales numbers would be small and that the business would be stalled until we could re-evaluate the product.

But I wasn’t ready to abandon my line of flip-flops and give up on my vision.  After regaining focus and setting new priorities, we started to move forward again.  We designed a second line of shoes, aiming for release in the spring of 2010.

Not wanting a repeat of the first go-round, we were overly cautious; we decided to insist on several smaller batches of samples before actual production began.  We also decided to produce a smaller number of shoes from a new manufacturer. That allowed for 100 percent quality control prior to shipping.  That way I regained control of production, spent less on shipping and importing, and avoided the time and hassle of fixing factory mistakes.

That first shipment was a great learning experience for me, albeit a very costly one that came with lots of stress, frustration and financial setback.  Why did I start big and then have to scale down?  Why didn’t I start small and make sure everything was perfect, and then leap forward?   This is a common error among young or new entrepreneurs:  We get excited and then jump straight into it.

After that first error, we changed the production and quality-control processes. Along the way, we found a new shipping method that further ensured the shoes would be sellable on arrival.

In the spring of 2011, we imported 400 new shoes, including a new line of flat flip-flops and several beautiful new styles of our heeled shoes.  We have learned how to ensure quality, maintain focus on production and create fabulous new styles.  Our new production process creates the perfect flip-flop.

If business mistakes are unavoidable, overcoming them can make you a better designer, producer, sales person and entrepreneur.  My advice is to start small:  Ensure your product is ready to hit the market by doing extensive research and testing.  It’s too easy to go forward and not be fully prepared.

So move slowly and cautiously when designing and manufacturing a product.