Most mom entrepreneurs start a business to help support their families. So why not get your family to help support your business? You're in business for yourself, not by yourself. Let your family be part of your growing business. Not only can family members provide support and assistance, they can also learn about business during your journey.
Obviously, each business is unique. However, I believe that all businesses have hidden opportunities for an owner's kids and spouse to get involved. Maybe your kids can stamp envelopes, hand out fliers or alphabetize folders; think about how much they would learn. Even if your husband has his own job he can still be an integral part of your success. He may have ideas that complement yours or can help run errands or support you at trade shows. The idea is to get your family involved so it truly is a family business.
When I started Stroller Strides , my son Jacob was in charge of giving out stickers to classmates after school. When he got older, he helped tape my fliers shut. My franchisees tell me stories of their kids handing fliers to passersby and having their kids work trade show booths with them. I believe we're teaching them from a young age how family and business can work together. My husband, Jason, has always been essential to my business's success. Although he has a full-time job, he's still my sounding board when things get tough. He asks where he can help and is happy to run small errands or help more with the kids if that helps me with the business. In my company, entirely staffed by women, it's nice to have a bit of testosterone to balance us out.
Cathy Bennett, founder of How Fast They Grow , an online scrapbooking company, says her husband, Steve, and her young children Patrick and Elizabeth love to "weigh in" on new designs and love seeing what customers come up with as the end product. They're also regular contributing members as part of Bennett's so-called panel of judges when they pick the winner of the business's Page of the Month contest.
Bennett's husband is not an employee or partner in her business. He has a "real job" working in the financial field. Because of his background, he was a great resource when Bennett developed her business plan. In spring 2008, How Fast They Grow changed its organizational structure from a sole proprietorship to an LLC, which allowed Bennett to grant equity to suppliers and other investors in mid-2008. Steve was a tremendous asset during that process, according to Bennett.
He also keeps her focused on the importance of financial tracking and metrics. Bennett's background is in marketing, so she wants to spend 100 percent of her time focusing on new product launches, PR, customer communications and promotions--her comfort areas. Steve consistently reminds her to spend more time on the accounting and financials, which are not her comfort zone but are vital to running any business. When they are at home in the evening, Bennett says, Steve is a great sounding board concerning pricing, product strategies and the day-to-day stresses of running a business.
Stacey Ross, founder of San Diego Bargain Mama , says a supportive, involved husband is key to the success and growth of a mom-run business. "Most notably, he's the major breadwinner in the family, yet spends his free time devoted to the growth of his wife's dreams," Ross says of her husband. And Ross views her children as "entrepreneurs in training." They help her with her business by preparing for events, stuffing bags and counting cash.
Joanna Meiseles, founder of Snip-its , a children's hair-care franchise, often asks her four children for their opinions on new hair-care products, such as shampoos, scents and brushes, plus their views on videos the company develops. In fact, her children inspired her to create the business when she couldn't find a salon in her area that catered to children. Now Snip-its is on a growth fast track.
Laura Wellington involved her children from the get-go when she created online activity site and TV program The Wumblers . As her husband was dying of cancer, Wellington embarked on developing the characters and the storylines for The Wumblers. Her children helped name the characters, choose the characters' colors and, once production started on the television series, assisted in casting the voices.
So when you feel like you're all alone, remember that your family supports you every step of the way. You just need to let them know how to help and when you need it.
Lisa Druxman is Entrepreneur.com's "Mompreneur" columnist and the founder and CEO of fitness franchise Stroller Strides. Druxman is also a nationally recognized speaker and author, and is considered an expert in the field of fitness, particularly pre- and postnatal fitness. She hosts a free monthly webinar during which she answers questions from fellow mompreneurs. If you are interested in participating, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.