I need to get into the habit of blogging here. To get back into the swing of it, I thought that an update on the current state of my business, Baby Fabulous, would be a good start.
This last year has been really crazy; a roller-coaster rid. But then, running a business is always like that, right? If the economy issues weren’t enough, there was sweeping regulation passed that went into effect last year and has had everyone in the children’s industry scrambling ever since.
The end of last year especially, was a very stressful time. We were watching a lot of retailers go out of business, which meant we were losing customers. Everyone who was staying in business was wary of buying anything until they knew what kind of certifications and testing was required – heck, we were nervous about producing stuff.
But we just keep going, kept trying to figure out how to proceed through all the murky waters. And we’re making it so far.
We’ve had our products tested and are CPSIA compliant. We’ve got products that are selling really well for our retailers who have stayed in business. This helps – we have the right price point, we manufacture our products in the US, we specialize in 100% organic baby clothing, and we have stuff that is very gifty. Any one of those aspects would help our sales immediately – having all of them is helping our sales to grow by leaps and bounds.
I interviewed a NW area sales rep yesterday and couldn’t be more excited to bring her on board. I’m sending a product sample to a reputable sales group for the SW region. Bringing on and supporting sales reps would be a good thing for me to blog about here as we continue to build the business. So, the business is growing and we intend to keep it that way.
First and foremost, I should warn you all: I love, love, love to chat, but I will do my best to keep my posts short and sweet. I am the proud mama of two endearing and manipulative kiddos that I adore (10 & 14) and I am married to a very understanding and supportive husband. He has to be since I tend to be loaded with ideas!
Before I started down the entrepreneurial highway, I was an executive assistant for over ten years and then a stock broker for a few years. It wasn’t until after the birth of our son, that I started researching work at home businesses. This led me to Ellen and Pat’s Mompreneurs book which I read many years ago and actually still have and recently had autographed by our awesome leaders!
Having the flexibility of being home with my kids was extremely important so I’ve tried my hand at being a Creative Memories Consultant, a Heritage Makers Consultant, a sales rep for Robert Dawson then ventured into my own businesses: desktop publishing, stamped note cards which evolved into using my own photography and I sold these to upscale resorts throughout Arizona.
I even joined the ranks of mom inventors and have a prototype of my invention. Right now this project is on hold due to funding and limited time resources. I will tell you that one of our own, Nancy Cleary, created my product name! That’s one creative lady!
I’ve been a member of MompreneursOnline.com for a few years, but it’s only in the last year or so, with some encouragement from Leslie Haywood (Inventor Mom), that I finally stopped lurking and joined in. To me, MompreneursOnline.com is where I come home to relax and chat with all my good friends.
As for my title of Freebies Mom, well I love tracking down freebies and discounts. I’m the creator of Free Birthday Treats, a nationwide directory showcasing businesses offering birthday freebies and discounts for adults, kids and pets. In this economy, birthdays tend to be put in the “not necessary” pile and are overlooked. My mission is to make it known to millions that you can have a spectacular birthday by indulging in these offers just waiting to be claimed.
I’ll be sharing numerous tips and resources that lead to freebies and sweet deals so be sure to check back to see what’s going on.
I’m honored to be blogging for MompreneursOnline.com and look forward to contributing to this fabulous forum.
When I was in university, I was studying to be a journalist when one of my professors suggested I go into PR. He told me there would be more opportunities in the field, more flexibility, and I would still be applying a lot of the rules of journalism in my work. I looked into PR and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was the first time I had ever heard of the term, and now almost 20 years later I find myself explaining to almost everyone I meet, the definition of PR. There are many facets, but for a mompreneur business, I’ll keep it simple.
PR builds awareness and credibility for your company, product or service – which is critical for entrepreneurs and new startups. Company information is shared through the media (reporters and bloggers), in order to reach customers, potential employees, joint venture partners, investors and anyone else who needs to know about you. Usually the end result you are expecting is a story in the paper, magazine or blog which then drives people to your website or store to evaluate, and then eventually buy your product or service.
I hope that removes some of the aura of mystery around what PR is!
Practical Publicity for the Time-Strapped Mom Entrepreneur
As moms who are trying to balance work and family, we have to make many transitions in our lives. I’ve always found transitions to be tough. I guess I get used to the status quo and am fearful of changing it.
The first transition I made was when my first son was born. I thought I’d be going back to my old job at my publishing company after my maternity leave ended. To my surprise, I couldn’t do it. I loved my job as a magazine editor, but I loved my newborn son much more and I couldn’t leave him. That’s when I became a mompreneur, although I didn’t know I had that “name” in the beginning.
I wanted to get some part-time work, so I sent out notes to everyone I had ever worked with…publicists, other editors, people in the food industry (I was primarily a food writer) and told them I was going out on my own. If they had any work they could throw my way…anything that involved writing, recipe development, whatever…please throw it my way! I was hopeful but had no idea what to expect. We really needed two incomes. Would I be able to bring in enough as a freelancer? How would I juggle taking care of my newborn son if I had a tight deadline?
Three weeks after my son was born, an editor called me up and asked if I could come into the office to develop some recipes and help with the photo shoot. I jumped at the chance! But it involved being away from my son for at least 8 hours. My husband had a job to go to, so he was not available. I quickly called my parents and they offered to help out. So I thought I was all set. Wrong!!!
I couldn’t believe how much I missed my baby in those 8 hours! I called several times just to make sure he was OK. And these were his grandparents watching him! I realized that this whole work-family balance thing was going to be much harder than I thought! And I realized I wanted to do most of my work from a home office so babysitting could be kept to a minimum. Transitioning from a full-time magazine editor to a freelance writer who felt a huge tug between motherhood and work wasn’t going to be easy. I sort of winged it along the way…sometimes more successfully than others!
Hello everyone! I’m excited to begin blogging here!
As I am sure you have noticed from my title, I am not a Mom…yet. However, the reason I was drawn to doing business online was because I began thinking ahead to when my husband and I do start a family (hopefully not too far off). I decided I wanted to craft a flexible business so that I can be home with my children when the time comes. Couple that with a strong desire to work for myself and here I am.
One of the most supportive groups I’ve found is here in the Mompreneurs Online community. Not only is everyone more than willing to share helpful information and cheer you on, the ladies are inspirational to me in a big way. Seeing so many successful women juggling both a family and a business helps me see that it is indeed very possible. And I always appreciate the candor–sharing both the good and bad and ups and downs of being a Mompreneur!
As for my business, I’m an Online and Social Media Marketing Consultant, Trainer and Coach. I teach small business owners and professionals how to conquer the overwhelm of online and social media marketing to increase business and maximize profits. My mission is to teach others how to gain more time, money and freedom by leveraging the power of the Internet.
I’ve always been interested in media, communication and technology. In college it was mass media—TV and radio. But I have really been an internet junkie since I was a teenager. I started my first blog in 2004 and have had several since then. About 4 or so years ago, as new media was really coming to the forefront—podcasts, RSS, social networks—what people refer to as Web 2.0—I became really fascinated with that.
Around the same time I started a couple of businesses and really became aware of how big of a role marketing played in keeping a solo business afloat. It wasn’t enough to be good at what it was you were doing. Since I was so comfortable with technology I really immersed myself in learning all of these online marketing techniques. There started to be a buzz around this thing called social media and I was drawn to how this could be used to connect to all of these potential clients and customers. And be done in such a way that was very natural and not a type of “push” marketing which never sat well with me anyway.
I really liked the whole relationship-building aspect of it and that at its core it was about connecting and conversation. I was seeing that the results could be phenomenal. And because I see so many solopreneurs struggling with marketing, especially because they feel it’s sort of disingenuous and “yucky” and the whole resistance to the early morning business card exchange type networking, I realized there was a real need to teach these social media/online marketing integrated strategies. To show them it doesn’t have to be such a struggle and that you can really leverage this technology.
So, that’s a bit about me. I can’t wait to help you learn more about social media and online marketing! I am looking forward to the discussions.
Christine Gallagher, MLS, MSIS
Online and Social Media Marketing Consultant, Trainer and Coach for Small Business Owners
Friend me on Facebook: http://profile.to/christinegallagher/
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ChristineG
Link up on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/christinesgallagher
Are you celebrating Administrative Professionals Week? For those of us virtual assistants it’s awesome to be able to work from home and no longer be someone’s admin. The boards and Twitter are buzzing with grateful VAs. I personally can remember working at a law firm and this week was the one time that the boss really went out of their way to be nice and show their appreciation. It was awesome.
Today, it’s different. Being the boss now, I get to tweet myself to something nice today and remember how grateful I am to be able to work from home.
I thought you might enjoy Kelly and mine’s latest article. Wake up and Partner with a VA. Would love your comments. Also, tell us how you are celebrating this week.
Thanks! Diana Ennen / VirtualWordPublishing.com
Wake Up and Partner With a Virtual Assistant
Is your to-do list keeping you up at night? Are you counting tasks rather than sheep to fall asleep?
1. Wade through emails – 2. Finalize the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting - 3. Get handouts ready for Wednesday’s meeting - 4. Make follow up calls zzz – 5. Schedule sales meeting zzzzzz – 6. Buy anniversary gift. – 7. Call my kids.zzzzzzzz
If it’s been a long time since you laid your head down on the pillow at night without a care in the world, rest assured – there is hope. You can have sanity and sleep, too.
When business worries and personal commitments get to be too much, you need to get help. Businesses owners are faced with more and more challenges every day—finding clients, keeping clients, creating products, article and press release distribution, social networking, and the economy. So if you’re spending more of your time on administrative tasks or just plain spinning your wheels going no where fast, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to partner with a Virtual Assistant.
So what exactly is a Virtual Assistant and what can one do for you?
A virtual assistant, or VA, is an independent business professional who among many things, can help overwhelmed business owners handle administrative tasks so they can remain focused on their business. Utilizing the latest technology your Virtual Assistant can manage your social networks, write press releases and correspondence, tweak or create a presentation, make travel arrangements, be your own personal concierge, write letters, follow up on trade show leads, handle literature fulfillment, and even prepare your expense and call reports. The possibilities are endless once you start to see how many tasks you really can delegate.
“I don’t know what I’d do without my Virtual Assistant. As a sales professional who works out of my home and travels extensively I don’t have an on-site staff to keep things moving. I can rely on my VA to prepare marketing materials, organize my contacts, send out letters, and keep me on track with special projects. Delegating routine tasks and special projects to my Virtual Assistant allows me to spend more time growing the business,” says Mark Loudenslager, VP of Sales.
Partnering with a virtual assistant affords you the luxury of spending more time in front of your clients and less time behind your desk. Because virtual assistants are independent professionals they come equipped with their own office, their own equipment, the latest software programs, and the know how of running a successful business. They don’t, however, come equipped with added expenses like payroll taxes, expensive benefit packages, paid vacations, holiday pay, or “free time” (that you pay for) for talking to co-workers. They’re only there when you need them. Sometimes they’re even there when you don’t think you need them!
Virtual Assistants are also invaluable in helping to keep your business from being lost among its many competitors or overlooked because of lack of professionalism. Amidst the Internet and Social Networking craze, millions of email exchanges, and web and teleconferencing many professionals have literally ‘lost sight’ of their clients. In a day and age where we thrive on customer relationship management, personal sales calls have taken a back seat to technology. Further, today’s economy has forced more layoffs and corporate downsizing, which has impacted the availability of internal support systems and other such resources. The lack of internal resources has forced companies to rely on already overburdened staff to pick up the slack. Staff such as sales people who are now spending more time doing administrative tasks than they are generating sales. Where does the madness end?
It’s time to wake up and get back in the field. Get ahead of the competition and you won’t find yourself saying, “Oops, I could have had a VA!”
Kelly Poelker and Diana Ennen are successful virtual assistants and co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After Virtual Assistant and accompanying Virtual Assistant the Series Workbook, Stop by http://www.vatheseries.com for information on starting a VA business or contact authors at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a virtual assistant. Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DianaEnnen and http://www.twitter.com/KellyPoelker
Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.
I wanted to introduce myself as your PR Mom blogger. I’m Elena Verlee, a serial entrepreneur with three companies and 17 years of experience working in PR in North America, Europe and now Asia! I’ve had an international PR consultancy for over a decade working with start-ups as well as billion dollar technology companies. I also have a coaching company for entrepreneurs, and now a do-it-yourself PR company for small businesses.
A couple of years ago I sold my own mom (and pop)-preneur online business using only PR as a marketing tool and this made me realize how much small businesses can benefit from PR. It’s not just for the big boys!
Getting PR can bring publicity, credibility and clients to your business but moms think it’s either too expensive to hire a consultant (let alone an agency), too scary to do yourself, or just too confusing to be part of your marketing plan.
I’m here to show you it’s not the case! I’m looking forward to helping you jumpstart your PR and your business.
Serial entrepreneur with 2 kids, 3 businesses, living in 2 countries (and still sane)
As a work-at-home mom, co-author of the Mompreneurs® series of books, and co-founder of MompreneursOnline.com, I’ve been writing for years about the perks of running a home business. You already know the benefits: Family flexibility, being your own boss, calling your own shots, and the sweet freedom to take your child to the playground in the middle of the work day. But there’s another cool perk I never expected: The Comedy! Remember that Seinfeld episode, where Jerry says his dentist is in it for the jokes? I’m a mompreneur for the funny stories.
Take, for example, the time I said “Bye-bye, Mommy loves you” to a client on the phone. Or, what about that afternoon I was rushing to a press event and my daughter was plastering me with the bird stickers I’d given her as incentive to stay with the babysitter. I thought I had peeled them all off, till I discovered a giant cockatoo on my butt about halfway through the event! Not exactly the way I wanted to get noticed, but it sure was a conversation-starter!
Like many of you, I’ve taken business calls in the closet, the bathroom, and during potty patrol. I’ve been peed on, thrown up on, scribbled on—all while trying to maintain my professional phone voice.
And…did I ever tell you the one about the mompreneur and the water gun? I was doing a phone interview with a high-powered surgeon for a health story, and my son (11 at the time) was in the yard doing target practice with his brand new Super Soaker. He decided to see if he could reach the third floor window, and guess whose office is up there? I’ll let you imagine the hissing sound of water on window screen, my shock and smeared mascara, my sopping notepad and clothing, my attempt to seamlessly continue the interview with famous doctor while standing in a puddle. It wasn’t pretty, but I managed to finish up without the doctor ever knowing what had happened.
These stories have now become part of our family folk lore, and I know one day my kids will tell the tales to their children. But most importantly, the work-at-home comedy has taught me and my kids how to roll with the punches and overcome obstacles—important life lessons indeed.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened in your home office, and what did you learn from it? I’d love to hear your stories, so please share.
Copyright, 2009; Ellen Parlapiano; Mompreneurs LLC; all rights reserved.
Here is the interview from last week:
My dear friend Tori Editor and Chief of Thoughtfully Simple gave a shout out here: http://www.thoughtfullysimple.com/best-gift-for-the-bbq-lover/
Here is an email I received from a food allergy expert that was doing a review on Grill Charms™
I tried out Grill Charms this week-end when we grilled some burgers. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical that the charm would stay in ground beef, but it worked perfectly, even while flipping. I’m a believer!” I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I make a “believer” out of someone. Here is a link to her review:
Also, if you every need some of the finest meats on the market, check out www.oliverranch.com Here is her blog about Grill Charms™ http://discoverbeef.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-avoid-mixing-things-up-on-grill.html
I have a little story today about the power of Twitter. For those of you that don’t know about “Twitter”…hmmmmm… I’m not even sure where to begin. Here is the Wikipedia def: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter Now I am by no means a twitter expert, as a matter of fact, I’m not even that good at harnessing the true marketing power of twitter, but I’m learning. I did however realize this week just what a wonderful tool it can be for just plain “stuff”. Grill Charms™ was featured in a Dallas / Fort Worth magazine called Indulge. I had been in contact with the reporter and knew the issue was out. I felt weird asking for a copy to be sent to me as the writer had already done so much and the story was also featured in several newspapers across the US, so instead of asking for a favor from a guy who already done quite enough… I tweeted. I put out a tweet asking if anyone lived in the Dallas area and if they ever heard of the magazine. Almost immediately I got a DM (direct message) from a follower who said she had family in the area and would absolutely have someone pick up a copy. She even refused payment for the magazine and postage! Talk about paying it forward. In the news there are always so many scary stories about creeps on the internet and not to trust anyone etc.. and I do believe in safety first, BUT I do also believe in my heart of hearts that 99% of the people online are good, genuine people. If you guys want to “follow” a GREAT gal, follow www.twitter.com/Fancy_Nancy_
She’s a real gem! Thanks for paying it forward Nancy! And if you are not following me, I’m www.twitter.com/grillcharmer
If you do not know what Twitter is, here is a great article for the newbie: http://shegeeks.net/twitter-101-clarifying-the-rules-for-newbies/
Tweet ya later!!
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™ www.grillcharms.com
Ok – we’re up and running!! Looking forward to sharing some great tips and new ideas.