It has been a roller coaster of a winter that began with my mom having major back surgery and ended with my father-in-law passing. I do not want to make this post all about the ups and downs of my life over the last few months, but rather about where my life will take me now. Beyond still supporting my mom, being there for my kids, and lending a shoulder for my mother-in-law to cry on…..I also really need to get my ass in gear with my mompreneur travels. Throughout the winter, I felt proud that I was still continuing to check items off my to-do list while dealing with the swell of personal crises surrounding me. Now that spring has sprung (I think – it is snowing a bit today), I am ready to forge ahead with a new attitude. Just like the sun will be shining daily (maybe), I plan to sparkle again in my pursuits.
Last Friday, our country woke up to the devastating news of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For me, it was hard to concentrate on anything but the media coverage of this terrible natural disaster, and hoping and praying for the safety of those affected. It is in times like these, that we are thankful for the little things in life, and take pleasure in what we have around us. I took comfort in my 2 boys and the opportunities that are in front of them. The boys’ creativity, vibrancy, and outlook on the world is so reassuring. I decided to reflect a bit on these 2 mini-entrepreneurs.
A few years back when my older son was in kindergarten, I had a good friend that worked at his school. This friend lived right near a place that sold my fave low-fat brownies (I know – they were probably 1000 calories a piece, but that is another blog). It was a great set-up: my friend would get a week’s supply of low-fat brownies, put them in my son’s backpack at school, and I would have my most indulgent nighttime snack all week-long. It was my own personal low-fat brownie underground operation. UNTIL, one day in the carpool lane, I received a phone call from another mom saying she owed me money for the chocolate treat?!?!? I had NO idea what she was talking about until I pulled up further in line and my son got in the car.
Guess What? My son, who was 6 years old at the time, decided to turn the carpool waiting area into an entrepreneurial venture. He opened up the packs of brownies (2 per pack) and sold 1 brownie for a dollar each! At the time, there were still vending machines at school. so some kids had money for snacks, and for a few close friends, he issued credit. When I suggested that he return the money, he said “No Way!” He argued that the kids had their brownie and ate it, and it was only fair he keep the money. What he did not account for was that I was his financial backer with the brownies, and he would have to take the initial investment out of the gross (his first lesson in biz). This was the day when I realized that I was dealing with a kidpreneur.
My older son is lucky to have a little brother that is never afraid to speak his mind, thinks out of the box, and acts as a “profit coach” of sorts. Together, the two boys make up a great pair – one is very serious and “crosses every T and dots every I”, and the other brings the ingenuity and creative thinking. They appear to be on equal footing in their biz ventures because each one holds a different skill set, and they realize that! This is another valuable lesson in business for them – know your strengths and weaknesses and align yourself with someone who can fill your gaps.
Last week, I was listening to a podcast on “branding” while de-cluttering my desk (by the way – my desk is a mess all over again). What I took away from the podcast is that the brand is reflected in all aspects of the business. Obviously. If you have successfully branded your business, you already know this. BUT, if you are just building a business, successful branding takes time.
As the desk cleaning began to take more and more time, I started to reflect on how I got to my current place, my brand.
I did not just wake up one morning and say “today is the day – I am starting not one but two business ventures” rather there was a gradual progression that led to this point. A path that was unprecedented for me and with little direction or help from others.
A few years ago, I began to consider what life would be like as my boys gained independence. For at home moms, it is a scary thought that your little “charges” may not need you as much one day! I began to explore my options. I scheduled information interviews with people in positions of interest, took a few continuing education credits, met with the alumni department of my graduate school, and basically floundered about how to put it all together.
I accepted a part-time job subbing for a preschool, increased my volunteer positions, and took a number of job interviews. The job interviews were INTERESTING! You may have read in an earlier post that I have a Master of Social Work. Well, I responded to one job posting about a need for a hospital social worker…turned out to be a job for an abortion clinic counselor.
There were other interviews. Positions that allowed for no time off until I worked there a year…no allowances to attend the Thanksgiving play at the boys school, no flexibility in hours, etc . Obviously, I did not find a right match. That was the beginning of my brand – Who can inspire at home moms? Who can help, aid or assist? I was onto something ….