Our Services – Not Just for Moms

I’ve been doing some thinking… And I want to make a point.

We are marketing our services by moms, for moms. We exist to help moms and mom-owned businesses to change the world.

But just for the sake of saying it – just because you’re not a mom doesn’t mean we can’t help you.

In case that wasn’t obvious, all moms are women – but not all women are moms. Whether you’re a mom, a mom-to-be, or a never-wanna-think-about-kids die-hard single gal – we’ll help you.

If you have a vision to change the world and a gender that matches ours, whether you have kids, want kids, or hate kids – we’ll help you.

We are all mothers of this world. We make a difference in our own unique ways, and nurture those around us whether they’re our genetic children or not.

I’m saying this because I struggled with infertility myself.

Years ago, I never thought I wanted kids. After I met my husband, I spent too many nights up crying about wanting so desperately to be a mom to sit here, saying that you can’t be a part of this worldwide movement unless sperm-meets-egg.

Who knows – if we did that and got really popular, we might have women getting pregnant just to get in! *wink*

Take from the mom label what you need to take from it, but don’t think of it as one of exclusion. If you’re a mom of kids, a mom of step-kids, a mom of your significant other, or a mother of the world at large – you’re enough of a mom for us.

Baby Gourmet Review + Coupon Code!

organic baby food review baby gourmet

Just because we’re a business blog doesn’t mean we don’t get to do some neato reviews around here… And this is one of them!

Awhile ago I was sent a sample pack of Baby Gourmet.

Now, I have to be clear – we don’t actually use babyfood in our home.

We practice what is called Baby Led Weaning – which is really just skipping purees, and giving (safe, baby sized portions of) what we already eat. However, anyone who has practiced BLW will know that everyone wants to “feed the baby” – and there are some days when you’re just not eating the right things to feed your child the same food. So every time someone wanted to feed the baby, or we decided to have peanut butter sandwiches and beer for dinner (LOL), we used Baby Gourmet.

One of the main reasons we chose to practice BLW instead of jarred baby food was because of the additives, preservatives and flavourings in the usual baby food. And of course we’ve all seen that ridiculous Baby Bullet commercial talking about the work of pureeing everything… Running two businesses out of the same household, I just don’t have the time or the energy to make it all myself.

Baby Gourmet solves both of those problems!

Isabella just loved it, every time. By the time she was 8 months she could devour a whole package! And the packages are great, too. Squeezable with a baby-mouth-sized-spout – so you don’t really need a spoon. We used one because I kind of sucked at getting all of the food from the spout into her mouth, but that was more likely a user-error than a packaging flaw.

They make big promises too – like saying that even grownups will like it. I’ve even heard of people using them as bases for smoothies! (Yikes!) – Since I would never do that with traditional baby food, I was a bit nervous to taste this stuff, but I had to taste it before I gave it to Isabella.

I gotta say – Old Fashioned Apple Crisp was my fav! I actually like it. Not “I’m writing this review so I’ll say I liked it because it was free” – I actually would eat that again. I’m having a craving for it as I type this. I could almost heat it up and eat the pouch myself, if I wouldn’t feel totally guilty taking food from my daughter (and watching the heartbreaking look on her face, because she loves this stuff too!)

There wasn’t a single flavour she didn’t like… Not a flaw in the packaging we could find… And the ingredient list read like a shopping list for the farmers market. That’s something I can get behind!

And as an added bonus, I don’t even have to buy it online. I can buy it at the grocery store. For the first time, I’ve found a crunchy-mom product I like that is actually in a local retail store. WAHOO!

Want a deal?

If you want to try Baby Gourmet, you should like them on Facebook. Right now they’re celebrating 2000 “likes” with a coupon code that gives you not only free shipping, but 15-35% off all orders! But I’m not going to give it away here, you have to Like them on Facebook to get the code!

You can also Follow them on Twitter, and Visit their Website!

We don’t often do reviews here. And when we do, it is only for products by mompreneurs and only for products we would actually go out and buy ourselves. This is one of those products. Hope you enjoy!

Why Direct Sales is Wrong for Most Moms

why you should ditch your company and find your own pathWarning : This post is likely to make a lot of people angry.

That’s good.

If they’re angry, they’re thinking.

This post also could have been titled : Why You Should Forge Your Own Path

In response to a post at MomEO Magazine…

Every time I see some poor mompreneur spamming on Twitter, Facebook, or any other online medium about how great their “company” is, and how you can make bazillions in your underwear in 45 seconds, I cringe… I feel so bad for them. Direct sales is just not the right business for most moms…

Now, don’t get me wrong – some people thrive in it and make great money. Fantastic!

But I hate direct sales. Not just for me, but for all mompreneurs. Why?

Because there is no meaning behind it.

I enjoy turning moms into meaning-making machines – sending them out into the world with knowledge of who they truly are, so that they can change the world. And unless you’re unlike anyone in direct sales that I’ve ever met, you aren’t actually passionate about Avon, or Watkins, or Partylite, or any of the other direct sales businesses.

The people who started these businesses had a vision – a mission – a meaning. Many of you are just joining to make some cash, and because you like their products (some of you – others don’t even like them, you were just told you could make money to stay home with your fam.)

And while there is nothing wrong with doing something to make money, there is something desperately wrong with doing something just to make money. (Before you get defensive, it is nothing wrong with you – just with the system and promises they make.)

Especially because chances are, unless you’re one of those few that are passionate about “building your downline”, you’re not going to see that great of success.

Me – I’d rather see you turn your passion into a new vision for the world.

Do you polish rocks? Knit? Sew? Enjoy taking photos of nature? Like to eat at restaurants? Write? Read? Breathe?

Any one of those things could be turned into a successful business if you’re passionate about it – and likely for an even smaller investment than the direct sales company.

I’m going to put this out there…

I want you, if you’ve read this post and I’ve got you thinking, to email me.

For the rest of this week, I’ll coach anyone who emails me to make a decision about what business they want to be involved in – even if that means staying with your company.

I’m not against it in principle – if you find that you’re really, really passionate about this, then our email conversations will only further affirm your decision to be part of that company, and make you more passionate!

But if there is even a seed of doubt, and we can work together to discover your true passion – then we’re working on changing the world.

Either way, I’m happy.

And no, there is no catch. No upsell (although I might invite you to the upcoming workshop, I’ll only do it if I believe its the right fit for you.) Just free coaching for the rest of today and until midnight tomorrow – Pacific time! So you East Coast ladies get a bonus 😉 It is now 2PM, so I’ll be holding this email coach-a-thon for 34 more hours.

Just a note :

I had not at all planned to do this. Not even when I started writing this blog post did I know I’d be offering free coaching by email until midnight Friday. So please, please be patient with me – my inbox may get completely flooded and I have to give you all my real, full attention. I apologize, but I will respond to you all – as long as I receive the emails before midnight Pacific on Friday evening.

To get the free coaching…

1. Email me : Email me at [email protected], telling me about yourself, your company, why you joined it, and what from this blog post made you want to talk to me today.

2. Follow me on Twitter. Not just because I want more followers, I’ll be doing updates about the status of requests through Twitter for the next 2 days – it is way easier for me that way. Look for the tag #freecoachathon for updates about the status!

3. Tweet this. This one is voluntary, but I would appreciate it!

RT @crunchybusiness Working with a great business coach during #freecoachathon – get free coaching til midnight Friday!

Guest Posting Today!

If you’re all wondering where you can find me today…

A) Here, of course, working on my secret project *evil laugh*

B) Over at Traffic Generation Cafe giving you guys some awesome tips, tricks and tools for turning wasted time into traffic! Check it out…

And don’t go too far – I’ll be posting some more awesome content over here today!

3 Steps to Getting Funding for Social Mom Ventures

get fundedHave you ever considered getting funding from investors or banks for your social mom business? Here are three steps that will take you from “hobby” to “investment” in no time!

1. Create a business plan. Not just some one-page business plan you found online, either. Banks and investors want to see a full business plan with financial spreadsheets and 5 year projections. They know that your business plan isn’t actually what is going to happen, but they want to see that you’ve at least thought this through, know what you’re going to do, and believe it is a viable business. Otherwise… Well otherwise it’s just a hobby. The template at SCORE is a great one that has gotten a few of my clients funded in the past.

They also want to see that you know how the funds are going to be used. Some people go to get funding, just assuming that they need money – in reality, they probably could have bank-rolled the whole thing themselves, and now face financial liabilities (accounting word for owing money) or reduced stock in the company. Any bank or investor is going to want to see that the funds they’re lending are going to produce a measurable return.

** Mom Tip : If you’re stuck, do the financial part first. Run the numbers and see how much revenue you’ll need to make. Envision the business actually running. Once you know what you need to make to make things work, figure out how you’r going to make that happen with your idea.

2. Research all funding sources. There are non-profits who do entrepreneurial loans based on ideas rather than credit scores, banks, angel investors, and even the IPO option. You can use your own savings, or borrow from family and friends. You could even start freelancing to fund your product development (hey, it worked for us!)

Try to be aware of all your funding sources, and suit the one that not only fits your business and yourself, but one that has worked with a lot of businesses in your industry in the past. Don’t just go knocking at the door of your daily bank, that is a recipe for disaster in 99% of all cases (unless you have the money yourself to run the business and are borrowing for strategic reasons, your bank has no desire to do a small business loan to an existing client.)

If you’re opening a bakery, find a bank, investor, or lender who has worked with bakeries in the past. If you’re opening an online business, angel investors might be all over it while traditional lenders and investors consider you risky.

If you do your homework and know who to approach, you’ll get fewer “no”s before you get a yes.

** Mom Tip : Try talking with others in your industry, online or in person. Ask if they got startup or expansion financing and if so, who did they go through? Talk to them about your vision – they may be able to not only give you a name, but put in a good word for you.

3. Don’t take no for an answer. As much as I refuse to believe it, many mompreneurs still believe that women with children are discriminated against when it comes to funding. The numbers don’t lie… Less than 20% of all funds from angel investors go to businesses owned by women. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a statistic – be passionate, follow through, and refuse to accept defeat. You may get funded, you may have to bootstrap your way to the top and the fund other mom businesses when you see success. Either way, keep the faith and don’t lose hope. Your dream really can be a reality!

** Mom Tip : While investors may be less willing to back a mompreneur, it is an unfortunate fact that banks and lenders are more willing to back a mompreneur whose husband is making decent money (sexist, I know, but it is what it is.) If you’re in a situation where your husband could easily cover your loan payments (if your business were to fail) you’re in a better position to approach the banks. In my opinion, if the system fails you – you have nothing to lose by playing by their own rules.

It’s all about taking your business seriously.

Sure, we have a lot of fun over here. We goof off, go to the park in the afternoon, and write blog posts in our PJs. But we take our business seriously, too – it isn’t just our livelihood, it is our mission in life. We pay taxes, carry proper business ID, and conduct ourselves as real business people.

Just because we have way too much fun at work doesn’t mean that banks have to know that 🙂

How Community Building Helps Businesses

a community of momsCommunity building is so important to a business.

Sure, you can advertise in the Yellow Pages, put up a website, use Pay Per Click advertisements, you can even use television and billboard advertising – take out a full-page spread in a national newspaper if you want. But what will that do?

High cost per lead, low ROI.

Okay, okay – so “cost per lead” and “ROI” are typically thought of as big-business terms, but aren’t. You should know how much it costs you to get a customer, and you should know how much you get back for dollars spent in various ways.

For example, if you know how much your Yellow Pages advertisement costs you each year, you should find out how many customers you get from that ad – and the average amount of money those customers spend.

If your Yellow Page ad costs $240/year, and you get 12 customers from that ad (one a month, which is more than most businesses get from Yellow Page advertisements)…

Your cost per lead is $20.

Now, if we say that your cost of goods sold is $20, and your average customer spends $50, then we know three things :

1. That your Yellow Page ad is getting you about $10 in profit for each new customer.

2. That you can use any form of advertising you want, and as long as your cost per lead is under $30, you’re going to break even… And

3. That the lower your cost per lead is, the higher your profit per customer is.

We all know that online strategies like blogging and social media have drastically lower costs per lead than traditional strategies, but it gets even better – when you build a community around your business!

Within a community, you have the evangelists… They go out and sell your product or service for you. And no, you don’t have to pay them – they’re customers and community members who are so impressed with you and what you’re doing, that they want to convert other people to their way of thinking – they want to make other people buy from you.

You also have the technical support… These are users who know your product inside and out, and answer questions on your behalf to solve problems for customers – thereby increasing the value of your product, since “everyone knows how to fix it!”

You’ll have the beta-testers… Those who feverishly buy up every new product or service you release, and give you constructive feedback through your contact forms to improve the product.

You’ll have the re-tweeters… Not as prolific as the evangelists, but they believe in what you’re doing, so they share it with their friends through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.

You’ll have the commenters… The insatiable commenters. They’ll discuss anything and everything you have to say. They attract massive amounts of attention to blog and social media posts by providing a level of interaction. Don’t discount “trolls” either – those who start arguments for the sake of arguing. Sure, everybody will respond to the arguments – but in the meantime, they’ll be reading your content to see what started it.

All of these personalities come out when you build a community around your company, and every one of them will give value to your business beyond what they may buy.

Communities are simple things. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, once said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that you can never “build” a community – you can just create great tools and hope that a community uses them.

That is what we do.

The right tools are never a guarantee of success, but if companies like Apple and Coke have taught us anything, making a cult following look easy takes time, effort, and patience.

Watch for our coming series of posts on things *you* can do to build a community around your business.

11 Ways Mompreneurs are Better Than Other Entrepreneurs

Aside from the obvious good looks </conceit>, mompreneurs have a lot going for them. Sure, some people say the term is derogatory and used to discriminate – I couldn’t agree less. I think we should differentiate ourselves from other entrepreneurs, because we have so much more value to offer in so many ways.

we kick ass!

  1. You can multi-task. This, single handedly, is one of the only ways we can do what we do. That doesn’t mean running after kids while answering emails, either (although that can, and does, happen in this office!) It means the ability to focus on more than one task, from blog posting to ad management and email responses. Moms have a natural nack for doing it all!
  2. You have long-term vision. Who would have kids without realizing that babies turn into teenagers? Moms already know that hard work in the short term pays off in the long run. We grumble a lot less, and stay motivated longer, than our kid-less counterparts in many areas of life.
  3. You want to make the world a better place. This one is obvious, but it is something not everyone has. Many entrepreneurs (especially work-from-home style entrepreneurs) get into business purely for the lifestyle. Sit in your PJs and make millions overnight, they’re told. Not you, mom – you got into business because every kid in the world deserves to have books to read, clothes to wear, fresh organic food to eat, cloth diapers on their bums, or happy parents – or all of the above. You have a vision for the world, and the difference you want to make in it. And…
  4. You’re damn motivated! The kids need shoes, any wage you could earn in your town would barely pay for childcare, and you’re going out of your mind talking to toddlers all day. You want to make the world a better place so that when they grow up, they can do – and be – whatever they desire. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is.
  5. You have a built-in support group. So many entrepreneurs have to go looking for mentors… Knocking on doors… Banging the phones just to get someone – anyone to listen to them and help them out. Us moms, we band together. We see a mompreneur in need of some help, and we give it – with no expectation of return. Call us naive, but we believe that making more mompreneurs will make the world a better place in its own right.
  6. You have inspiration. Similar, but different from motivation. Ever stuck for a blog post on healthy food? Feed your kid. Ever want to chat about business, but don’t know what to write? “3 Things Crawling Babies Taught me About …” From housework to husbands, kids to cooking, our lives are full of inspirational tidbits – and as long as you’re being yourself, it never gets boring.
  7. No fear, and no shame. Any woman who has had a room full of people discussing her vagina as she passed a human being through it isn’t afraid of putting herself out there and making her opinions known. And if she is, she should read this post and snap out of it! Half of us poop on the delivery table in front of half a dozen people. Get over yourself and make the difference you want to make.
  8. More sympathy. Ask 10 random business owners what they would do if a bright eyed but broke patron walked into their store, looked at their merchandise, shared their story, and walked away without asking for a thing – 9 would say that they hope the person comes back when they have money. The 10th is a mom, and they’d do something about it now. Think it’s a bad thing? Imagine the PR boost from the headline “Homeless Woman Gets Free Makeover”. Exactly.
  9. You make connections. To other moms, to other entrepreneurs, to other women, to childless work-a-day men – we connect. It’s in our nature to reach out and touch eachother, to forge friendships and to stay in touch. Ever called a friend half way across the country “just to say hi”? Imagine what that would do if that friend were a potential business partner.
  10. You’ve been oppressed. Sure, a lot of the sexism is gone (although some women believe it is still in full force…) – and discrimination based on gender is illegal. But so is talking on your cellphone while driving in a growing number of areas, and I’ve yet to see Bluetooth sales surpass cellphones. What does that do for us? It makes us try harder. For many women, in the back of our minds we know that some people out there don’t take us seriously. There are individuals in the world who hear “mompreneur” and think “bored housewife”. So we try, and try, and try, and put more effort into things like blog posts than most other entrepreneurs put into sales pitches. Which is a big reason why we succeed.
  11. You’re proud. Another entrepreneur might look at a blog post like this one, finally finishing up after a long morning writing it, and think “okay, now I have to …” – You will take a break, even just for a second, and be proud of yourself. You accomplished something not everyone does, and you know it. And that pride just drives you to do more.

What do you think? Do moms make better entrepreneurs than others? Should being a mom be an indicator of business potential? Should banks and lenders pay more attention to moms than their childless counterparts? Weigh in!

It's Okay to Suck

work life balance
CCL : ToniProtto

This isn’t going to be a long post, since it is 1am… I just felt inspired to write this to every other mompreneur out there, burning the midnight oil right now.

When you’re starting or running your own business, working on a new project, launching a new product, or even just getting through the day – its okay to suck at the whole work/life balance thing.

It’s just something we, as mompreneurs, have to accept.

Yes, some people consider us the “superheroes” of our generation. We take care of the kids, keep a nice house, and build multi-million dollar companies – all without breaking a sweat. It looks – well, it looks perfect.

But from the inside… Well, inside the life of a mompreneur, you have moments like the one I’m having now:

Sitting on the living room floor on your laptop, writing and responding to emails, nervously looking at your giant to-do list while your husband drifts off watching movies, your daughter sleeps, the laundry that has been waiting to be folded for 3 days stares at you from across the room, and all you can think is “when did I actually sleep 8 hours – let alone 8 hours straight?”

Your dishes aren’t always going to be cleaned the second you need them to. Dinner might have to wait 20 minutes in the middle of a conference call. The dog might have to sit on the porch for an extra 3 minutes while you respond to an email, and your family may have to occupy themselves once in awhile when you have to work late.

It’s okay to suck at the balancing, superhero act sometimes.

Because after a few hard days, you’ll get an easy one. You’ll come out of your “work fog” and get a toothless grin from your little one (or your SO if he’s a hockey player) and it’ll be worth it. Getting those smiles in the middle of the day… Having the flexibility to pick up your kids from school… Never missing a recital because you can schedule your work around their day, instead of the other way around.

Tipping the balance towards work is okay, because sometimes – those precious moments – the scale tips in the other direction. And those are the moments mompreneurs live for.

Goodnight, moms. It’s time for me to get some shuteye before another day living my dream come true – helping you live yours.

Want to succeed? Be willing to fail.

Success is one of those funny things in life. It is something everyone wants, but also fears. Everyone already has it in some areas of their life, just not in others. When it comes to business, if you want to succeed, there is one crucial piece that stops many people dead in their tracks :

You have to be willing to fail.

mompreneur willing to fail

Let me emphasize, that is not a *maybe* statement. I did not say “you might want to consider that it’s possible you could fail if…” – I said YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO FAIL.

If you’re not willing to fail, you’ll be paralyzed by the prospect of failure. End of story.

Take my dear, dear husband for example. He is an amazing man, with a vision for the world. He wants to help every family caregiver to live an easier life, by taking some of the burden on himself. An admirable business to get into (his site is here – check it out. You can tell he really wants to make a difference.)

But like so many other entrepreneurs, he started out excited – building his logo, crafting his business plan, putting up his website, and figuring out the details of his business – and now, he sits on the sofa, waiting for someone to call him and hire him.

If someone does call through the connections he has made, he gives his everything to that communication – but he refuses to reach out. He won’t invest himself in his business, because if he doesn’t try, he can’t fail.

He is paralyzed by his unwillingness to fail.

He tells me “maybe this business idea just doesn’t work… Maybe no one wants to buy what I’m offering.” (That will sound familiar to some of you, I’m sure.)

I tell him “No – you don’t know that yet. You haven’t put yourself out there. You asked 70 people during market research if they’d hire you, and 80% said yes. You know they will, you’re just afraid to go find them and ask again because it is real now.”

He looks down. I feel guilty.

He goes back to the sofa. I go back to the computer. The cycle continues.

He would put himself out there if he was willing to fail – and if he did, he would probably succeed.

Being willing to fail doesn’t mean you will fail – it just means that you accept that you could put everything you have into making this business happen, and it still might not work. You could invest thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours, and see absolutely no return. Don’t fool yourself, it is possible because I’ve seen it happen.

But if you don’t give it everything you’ve got, put yourself out there, and take the chance – then you’re guaranteed to fail.

The only true failure is when you never even start.

This post might get ignored by a lot of people for being philisophical nonsense, and I realize that. But under the surface here is something big – something inspiring. Something that should get you off that sofa and putting your passion to work.

Something that should get you close to failure, because you have to be close enough to failure to taste it before you can succeed.

I call on you, successful mompreneurs, to share some of your failures. Tell us in the comments how you were willing to fail before you reached success. Maybe it will inspire someone!