What started as simple ideas to make extra cash from home while raising kids turned into full-fledged money-makers for these three women.
Lisa Brawley's first priority for her new business, Alphabet Moon, was to be able to stay at home with her young son. The key to her business success? Using product placement. "My background was in P.R. and marketing, so I knew that if I got my product on a hit TV show like Friends, magazines would start calling me back," says Lisa, who is also the author of the book, Only When I Sleep: A Family's Journey Through Cancer. Her custom letter pillows have since been seen on the air and have become a hit, but her strategy hasn't changed. "I didn't have a budget for advertising when I started, and I still operate the same way."
For Monica Moody, starting a business was about maintaining her sense of self once she became a mom. "Being a stay-at-home mom, I was at a point where I was forgetting how to think. My vocabulary was slipping away," says the founder of Spa Party Creations. "I thought about what I knew, and what things I had done for my friends and family that were a success. I remembered I had done a spa party for my family, and the idea was born out of that."
When Gabrielle Brennan had a baby, she couldn't believe how much "advice and handling" perfect strangers offered her about parenting. "New parents receive an unbelievable amount of unsolicited advice -- people just do not censor what they say to new moms and dads," says Gabby, who turned her frustration and laughter into a marketable idea with gabbybaby. The company's baby onesies and tees provide friendly reminders like: "All parents run on instinct," "Please don't ask my mommy if she is 'working,'" and "Please do not touch my hands, I put them in my mouth."
Kim Lavine had no intention of starting a company. She originally developed a Wuvit as a gift for her children's teachers. After her husband lost his job, she decided to take her kitchen-table idea and turn it into a company. Ten million dollars in profit later, Kim shares how she first got started: "I rented four mall kiosks in Michigan and Atlanta for eight weeks during the holiday season. During that time, I sold $225,000 worth of Wuvits in two months!" Kim offers a million-dollar tip to future mompreneurs: "If you have a great idea and are passionate about it, just follow your dream and don't listen to the naysayers!"
Jennifer Openshaw, CEO and author of The Millionaire Zone: Seven Winning Steps to a Seven-Figure Fortune, shares her tips for other aspiring entreprenurial moms:
Use what you know and what you love. "Look at what these successful women utilized," says Openshaw. "The ideas were right in front of them."
Have a 'life net.' "These are people, places, and resources that you can tap and that can help make your idea move forward," Openshaw says. "They are your leverage."
Figure out how much you are willing to risk financially when starting your own business. "If you're starting a company, it's O.K. to use 5 to 10 percent of your savings (not your retirement savings) to invest as capital in your business."
For moms who want to work from home for someone else's company, Openshaw suggests a consulting position or an opportunity in customer service. "Consulting is great because a lot of companies are trying to lower their costs and overhead, and having people work from home usually eliminates their need to provide healthcare," she explains. "Go on to career Web sites and type 'telecommuting' or 'work-from-home' in the search and see what you come up with."
There are, however, a few red flags that should be raised when searching for a telecommuting position: "Watch out for get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level/pyramid marketing, or any company where you have to spend money to make money," warns Openshaw. "Use common sense, and ask good questions. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
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