Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

Making Choices

Categories: Random Biz Rants, Uncategorized

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Life is a series of choices. As I teach my 5-year-old about life and being a good citizen of the world and taking responsibility, I realize a major lesson for her is about the choices she makes and the consequences of those choices.

Choose “bad behavior,” and you’ll lose privileges. Choose “good behavior,” and you’ll find that life is much better for everyone.

But the world isn’t black and white. Even in business, the choices you make can make or break your business - or you. Or they might have little or no impact on anything. And the choices you make are never made - or played out - in a vacuum. There are other factors, other players, other influences.

So even if you choose “good behavior” or make what you feel is the “right choice,” it can create an avalanche of problems or cut out opportunity,.
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Diary of a mom-owned startup: Picking a name

Categories: diary of a startup

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It is a New Year, and time to get back on track! I’ve been looking for ways to continue to support women - and moms - who are starting, running and growing their businesses. Writing Mom, Incorporated with Danielle Smith is part of fulfilling that mission. Creating a new blog (TechWithAliza.com) and soon coming out with learning tools around technology (Tech for Humans) will be also be part of that process.

Another way I am trying to contribute is by continuing to mentor other women who are looking to start businesses. Recently, I asked one of the women - Danielle Elwood - to keep a startup diary about her new business. I’ll be sharing her diary entries along with some of my own comments as a way of teaching and inspiring others - like you!

In this entry, Danielle is struggling with naming her business. I blogged about this business dilemma back in 2008, and it’s a common one that many of us have as we embark on a new business venture. Here’s Danielle’s story.

Launching my own business has become a struggle, but the biggest problem I have come across has been coming up with a creative, descriptive, and fitting name. I even went as far to hold a virtual contest on my blog (http://www.danielleelwood.com/help-name-my-business/), asking my readers to help me come up with something.

Being the picky soul I am — I didn’t pick any of the entries. I feel bad because my readers put forth their best creative effort, and my pickiness put the kibosh on all of them.

Finally, a couple days later, I was taking a shower with my mind running a mile a minute — like always. And it came to me! One Mom Digital Media.

But this wasn’t before I nixed dozens of names including my own personal name on the business. I didn’t want to have a self titled business like Danielle Elwood Media. I am not really sure why, but I guess I wanted to be able to expand some day and not have others be known under my name.

Breaking down One Mom Digital Media...

My business name starts with “One Mom” because obviously I am going into this project solo, and “Digital Media” because that is exactly what I am going to be offering. Social media, Facebook, Twitter, management, marketing - the new age of marketing for businesses

Here is to a successful endeavor and a diary to help other women entrepreneurs in my position!

As Danielle can attest, naming a business is often challenging. What I like about her name is that it is clear and descriptive. In some ways, however, the name might be almost as limiting as using her own name. It suggests there is only one person in the company so even when she expands to more than “One Mom,” the name doesn’t necessarily grow with her.

“Digital Media,” on the other hand, is a nice expansive term that can cover a host of services.

I do think that the name is evocative and could appeal to small businesses owned by women who want to work with other women-owned businesses or maybe even larger companies looking to reach moms. With that focus, Danielle could build a strong niche for herself, zeroing in on potential customers that fit a demographic or are trying to reach a demographic where she can demonstrate - and hone - an expertise.

For example, since she is a mom, I hired her to help with some of the social networking and communications around promoting Mom, Incorporated (yes, I’m a paying client). I feel in addition to having the appropriate skills, she is the book’s target reader, and that is a great benefit when someone is starting to manage a social community.

What do you think of Danielle’s business name? What is your company’s name and how did you come up with it?

A case for showering

Categories: Work/Life

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showerAfter a long series of back-to-back business trips, I’ve been hunkering down and getting back to some semblance of a work routine. Or more accurately, a work un-routine.

While working from home, it is easy to get distracted by household activities or to wander from task to task instead of plowing through work systematically and checking things off a list. Besides carving out actual work time between family life, staying disciplined is a tough one for me.

I have no trouble staying motivated to do the work, but my attention flits from assignment to social media to a side project to another assignment. By the time the school bus brings my kindergartener home from her after-school program, I’m left wondering where the time went.
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Woman, can you juggle?

Categories: Work/Life

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I recently co-wrote a post for CarolRoth.com with Danielle Smith, my co-author (of the book Mom, Incorporated) and an accomplished vlogger and video correspondent who, like me, runs a business from home. We expounded on our premise that “balance is a myth” and that what we really do as moms and businesswomen is juggle.

We’re trying to eliminate the pressure we all put on ourselves of “finding balance.” We want to remove it from our vocabularies because with everything on our plates that we want on our plates and in our lives, it simply does not add up to balance. It can’t.
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She’s an e-entrepreneur: Maya Bisineer, Memetales

Categories: Women Entrepreneurs

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Maya Bisineer is the founder of Memetales – a revolutionary marketplace for children’s picture books.

Memetales opened doors March 2010 and has been growing steadily in both community and content. The site helps writers and illustrators collaborate through an online collaboration space, and they recently launched their mobile storytelling app for kids for iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Previously, Maya worked as a software developer, architect and consultant in bigger corporations for a number of years.

Entrepreneur Mom: Why did you start your biz? What were your intentions from the start? (lifestyle, income, growing or go big or go home)

Maya Bisineer: The idea for the original Memetales came about early 2009. A bunch of us set up a collaboration space to create children’s stories and books.

That original idea grew into the Memetales product as it is today - a platform to share children’s stories.

In the beginning Memetales was simply that - a collaborative community. It evolved mainly because I saw a real need to help people share their creations with a wider audience. Creating good children’s stories are hard work and good stories need a platform to be shared.


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Are you a Mom Incorporated?

Categories: Books & Articles

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I’m about to embark on an East Coast and later West Coast book tour for my new book, Mom, Incorporated. I’m excited and exhausted in equal measure, and the travel hasn’t even started yet. But I wanted to share details about the book and the tour and promise to post from the road as well.

The Book: Mom, Incorporated

Mom, Incorporated is a holistic, realistic guide to starting and running a business from home with children in your midst. This is my 9th book but my first with a co-author. Danielle Smith is an accomplished video correspondent with her media company Danielle Smith Media (which she runs from a home office) and creator of ExtraordinaryMommy.com.

The @momincbook Book Tour #mominc

Danielle and I head to South Florida and then to Atlanta this weekend for the start of our book tour.

From Heather Solos, author of Home Ec-101 and Heather Lopez of Super Mom Entrepreneur Conference to Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams of In Good Company and authors of The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business That Works For You, to Shannon Nash in Atlanta and Niri of MommyNiri.com and Laura Fitton of oneforty/HubSpot in Boston to Karla Trotman of BellyButtonBoutique.com in Philly, we’re sharing the spotlight with other amazing women and moms to share the stories about our businesses and share advice from our experiences running successful home-based business.

You can find the constantly updated list of tour dates here.

We hope to meet moms like us - like YOU - who are aspiring to start - or grow - a business from home.

YOU are Mom, Incorporated, a Power Mom, and we want to celebrate YOU!

Let us know if you can make it to one of our events!

4 ways being an entrepreneur made me a better mom and vice versa

Categories: Women Entrepreneurs

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Here’s a wonderful guest blog post from Adelaide Lancaster, co-owner of In Good Company workplaces. She and her business partner Amy Abrams are also co-authors of the new book The Big Enough Company. You can meet Adelaide and Amy when they join me and Danielle Smith (my co-author on the book Mom, Incorporated) on Oct 4, 2011 in New York City. Find out more here.

Here’s Adelaide’s official bio:

Adelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and a columnist for The Daily Muse and The Hired Guns. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and daughter.

And here’s her post where she explores some core lessons she has learned from being both mom and entrepreneur.

I think that moms make excellent entrepreneurs. I also think the reverse is true. After spending the last year navigating these two roles simultaneously, I’ve been surprised at how many of the core lessons overlap. It occurred to me that most of the things that make for a successful experience as an entrepreneur are also the things that make for a successful experience as a mom.
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If we don’t value our time, who will?

Categories: Business Essentials

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In her recent post “Respecting the Billable Hour,” writer and consultant Alexandra Samuels talks about a mind shift in how you think of other people’s time and your own.

…there is a big difference between meeting with a consultant to assess whether you want to hire her, and asking her to simply give you a couple of hours to do the work you need. When you are talking to someone whose work includes analyzing problems, offering insight or making recommendations, “picking their brain” is the same as asking them to work for free.

I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. In the past, I felt guilty asking for money or even mentioning money when someone asked if they could have an hour of my time. I knew they wanted me to provide strategic thinking to help them work through a business issue. They knew this was what I did for a living.

But the money conversation can be hard, at least for me. So I’d get on the phone, and have mixed feelings afterward. I felt like I had done a good deed, and at the same time felt like a pushover. I had spent an hour or two giving away for free what I normally get paid to provide. I kicked myself for being weak and afraid to just bill for my time.
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The “Women Are Bad for Startups” Hubbub

Categories: Random Biz Rants

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Entrepreneur and writer Penelope Trunk, in a BNET opinion piece, talks about how being a woman founder of a startup (versus a lifestyle business) is a distraction. Trunk says “The problem is that men and women are different at work, and the intensity of a startup magnifies these differences ten-fold.” The friction between the sexes can “cause drama,” something not needed at a startup.

She also says that diversity is good for Corporate America but not a startup - that it slows things down and can be stressful to the founders, keeping them from moving forward and focusing.

Trunk’s view got a lot of outcry from people who thought that she was saying women are bad for startups. I didn’t really get that impression from her piece. In fact, the title of her post was “Are Startups Better as Single-Gender Affairs?” The piece was really more about potential frictions when there are male and female startup founders.

In a response post, “Are Women Bad for Start-ups? You’ve Got To Be Kidding…” by Vanessa Camones, the Trunk article was interpreted as saying women are a distraction in startups. Well, Trunk wasn’t saying “women are a distraction” but again, she pointed out that having men and women at the helm of a startup can add distractions that could get the founders off track from the business at hand.
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6 do’s and don’ts for startup entrepreneurs

Categories: Startup Tips

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I’ve been thinking long and hard about what it means to be an entrepreneur. I’m not talking business owner here. We’re talking entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word.

Like entrepreneur (founder of Buyosphere) and author Tara Hunt says: “You aren’t a startup entrepreneur until you are ALL IN. Until you are 100% focused on what you are doing and willing to make the ultimate sacrifices, it won’t work.”

I was recently asked for some talking points about lessons I personally learned as an Internet - more specifically Dot Com Era - entrepreneur in New York City in the 90s.
Here’s the list I compiled.

1. Don’t think of your company as “your baby.” Think of it as a vehicle to get you to a specific destination.
2. Do be ready to give up majority share of your company. Don’t hold on so tightly that you control a whole lot of nothing.
3. Do have multiple revenue streams. Create a robust and recession-proof business model that is diverse yet focused.
4. Do hire smarter. Don’t just hire the worker bees. Hire the smart talent that can catapult your business beyond what you can do alone. (Be willing to give them a piece of the action if you cannot pay the high salaries).
5. Do know when to let go. Whether on a day-to-day basis delegating or simply knowing when you need to step away from the company you founded because YOU are the one holding it back.
6. Don’t take it personally. This is just business. You are replaceable. You are not your business, the business is not you. Check your ego at the door.
What do YOU think are the most important things for startup entrepreneurs to do? Or NOT do?

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