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.

She’s an E-Entrepreneur: Lauren Margulies, Touchy Tags

Categories: Women Entrepreneurs

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Touchy TagsI had the opportunity to interview Lauren Marguiles, founder of Touchy Tags, while doing research for the upcoming book Mom, Incorporated that I co-wrote with Danielle Smith. She’s a true inspiration and an example of a woman coming up with a useful product based on a genuine need. Here’s her story about starting and running her e-retail store.

Lauren Margulies was a competitive sales woman entrenched in Corporate America when she gave birth to premature twins. As soon as her maternity leave was over, she returned to her job but within a handful of months realized she wanted to stay home with her twin boy and girl. She gave her final notice, and suddenly had no job.

After the birth of her preemies, Lauren began thinking about a product idea but only started taking her casual brainstorming seriously when her twins were eight months old. She really wanted to be with her children full time but also wanted to have a creative outlet for herself.

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Mom 2.0 Summit: The new entrepreneur, part 2

Categories: Biz Nuts & Bolts, Uncategorized

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I’ve been thinking a lot about personal branding lately and am reminded about a quirky, fun moment in a panel I sat in on at the Mom 2.0 Summit in April. The panel title was The Other New Normal: Entrepreneurial Strategy in a Post-Recession, Post-Web 2.0 World. The panelists were Stephanie Smirnov (moderator), Erica Diamond, Shelly Kramer and Gabrielle Blair).

Unexpectedly, Gabrielle (@designmom) used Justin Bieber in a lively presentation about tips for entrepreneurs. Yes, that Justin Bieber.

I’m not going to repeat the Justin portion - just use your imagination there.

But here is the gist of the tips she shared that can easily be applied to both social media and business:

Lesson #1 - Engage Your Audience - Interact with your audience. Reach out, respond.

Lesson #2 - There is No One Set Path - You may not know what you’re creating, but build something. There is no one way to do this.

Lesson #3 - It Never Hurts To Look Good - Brand yourself. Know what your “look” is. This is true for any business. Invest in design but also be smart about what you spend on your “look.”

Gabrielle also pointed to successful women-owned companies that were examples of people who are living and working these tips including 5MinutesforMom and CoolMomPicks. Take a look at what their doing and how they are doing it. Note what they “look” like and how they are putting who they are out there through their content and branding.

What path are you on with your business, and how are you communicating and showing it?

She’s a mom and an entrepreneur: Belinda Takahashi, Ph.D.

Categories: Women Entrepreneurs

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I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Belinda Takahashi, Ph.D., Emmy-award winning composer, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at The Juno Company while at Mom 2.0 Summit in New Orleans. The Juno Company is an award-winning producer of quality musical entertainment for children. Their DVDs are celebrations of classical music with adorable characters and positive lessons for young viewers. The company was co-founded by Belinda and her husband Adam.

About four years ago, I learned of the Juno Baby DVDs when my daughter was barely one. I was enamored with them, and somehow - through the power of the Internet - was able to get in touch with Belinda’s husband, Adam. We emailed for a while, and I think he kindly sent me another DVD and a CD. We enjoyed wearing them out, then my daughter moved on to older fare.
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When the internet goes down

Categories: Tech & Net


Everything stops. An eerie silence ensues. My brain comes to a screeching halt. Fingers stop typing.

My Internet connection is down again. This happened for several hours a day for the last few days, and it has gone down this weekend, too.

Lack of connectivity to the Internet from home isn’t such a big deal to a lot of people. But my entire home-based business and livelihood depends on being connected at least 8 hours each day. Such is the mixed bag of having an Internet-based business.

Working from Rural Alaska

When we were preparing to move to Tok, Alaska, I did my homework to see how connected I’d be able to be from the crossroads of the Alaska Highway. In the beginning, my company was paying about $300 a month for the fastest DSL that Alaska Power & Telephone (AP&T) offered. It was a lucky day when fiber optic came to Tok last year, reducing Internet fees to about $79 a month. But when something goes down, entire swaths of the community’s Internet connects goes down with it.
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Mom 2.0 Summit: The new entrepreneur, part 1

Categories: Biz Nuts & Bolts

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I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit in New Orleans last weekend and really relished the opportunities to meet other mom entrepreneurs and innovators and to attend some sessions.

At the panel The Other New Normal: Entrepreneurial Strategy in a Post-Recession, Post-Web 2.0 World moderated by Stephanie Smirnov (@ssmirnov) and with panelists Erica Diamond (@womenonthefence) Shelly Kramer (@shellykramer), Gabrielle Blair (@designmom), Stephanie and Erica shared their personal stories about being entrepreneurial moms which I always find so valuable. I learn more from women’s stories of personal experiences than from text books or by more formal learning methods.

Shelly Kramer, founder of V3 Integrated Marketing, had some great tips after she spoke about the birth of her twin girls (now 5 years old) and her work/home life juggle.

1. Don’t assume everyone knows your story. Tell your story, what you do. If you don’t talk about it, people won’t know about it.

2. Collaborate, learn, solve problems. Shelly really emphasized the importance of working with others, emphasis on the collaboration part.

3. Raise your hand. Identify something someone needs done and offer to do it. Again, Shelly advises to take a pro-active stance. You make your own opportunities.

4. Be very careful when taking on a partner. While she encourages collaboration (see #2), Shelly also stresses that you need to have an agreement in place. Don’t give away a company. Don’t give away your ideas. Put things in writing.

What are some of your favorite tips for women entrepreneurs?

Mom 2.0 Summit: How to get a sponsor

Categories: Biz Nuts & Bolts

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At the Mom 2.0 Summit, I sat in on the panel How’d You Get That Sponsor? The Nuts and Bolts of Pitching with Maggie Mason, Erin Loechner, Liz Gumbinner. The topic was about getting big sponsors for your blog and crafting the pitch and overall story about who you are and what you do so sponsors find you more attractive. This advice can apply to anyone who is looking for advertisers, sponsors and even clients.

Here are some of the takeaways from these three powerful speakers and successful businesswomen:

Erin Loechner:

1. Establish street cred. Show up. Meet people. Form relationships. Be nice. Let potential sponsors see that. With Twitter or any social media, you’re always an influencer of somebody and the people you influence are influencers so share that with potential sponsors. That is valuable.

2. Be present. Ask for what you want. It’s up to you do figure out what you want and go get it. Knowing in your mind your goal - for your site, your brand, for others - and having that mindset. Always look for potential opportunities.

3. Don’t oversaturate. Don’t water down your brand. Focus. Less can be better - and more manageable - than more.

Liz Gumbinner:

4. Be the blogger that everyone wants. Beyond having a professional blog, be a professional. It is important to know brands see what you’re doing - the good and the bad. Be yourself, be authentic, but be aware of how you operate in the blogging space. Brands may be afraid with engaging with a “complainer.”

5. Own your niche. Bigger isn’t necessarily better to be relevant to a marketer. Know what you stand for in the space. Stand for something which in advertising is called “positioning.” Stand for something singular and specific. Marketers don’t want generalists. Don’t be self-deprecating - be proud of what you do.

6. Build your case. Sponsors are looking for reach and influence. Having more influence than reach can be very interesting to sponsors. Build your media kit and define who you are, who you reach (your demographics), and what you’re offering - the ways you position yourself to the sponsor. You can also include testimonials in your kit. Prominently display the press you’ve gotten.

Maggie Mason:

7. Do the heavy lifting. Network. Identify sponsors to approach. Ask what their campaigns are for the year. Work hard to deliver opportunities and ideas to sponsors. It isn’t “What can you do for me?” but instead “What can I do for your brand?” Make it easy for the sponsor to execute. You do the heavy lifting - they write the check.

8. Define the relationship. First, you want a professional relationship. Outline mutual expectations to reduce the possibility of conflict. This also helps you manage “scope creep.” Ask “what are your success metrics for this campaign?”

9. Make it fun. Be nice. Respect the person you’re pitching. Be pleasant and gracious.

10. Know your worth. And know what you’re selling. Sponsorship is not banner advertising. Aim high. You’re worth it.

How do approach and work with sponsors?

Talk about yourself and get further in business

Categories: Business Essentials

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In a recent Huffington Post article, Marcia Reynolds - author of Wander Women: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction - states that “when women talk about themselves, they earn more. She cited a reason why many women feel burned out in Corporate America and opt not to climb the corporate ladder is that too many women think it takes “hard work and long hours” to advance in a company. But she says it isn’t just hard work that moves your forward - it is increasing your visibility and building key relationships.

While Reynolds’ premises focus on the corporate women, women entrepreneurs can also benefit from both increased visibility and fruitful relationship-building. Both require something that many of us fail to do: Self-promotion.

Book CoverThe first step to self-promotion is to know what you bring to the table in business. Identify what you contribute beyond your skills and knowledge. What traits do you possess that drive you to success?

Reynolds includes an exercise in her article for women to better articulate their worth, and I’m excerpting it here because you need to do this:

Describe a peak experience where you felt fully alive and excited about your work. This could be while you were working on something, or at the end of a project or challenging situation. What five things did you contribute to creating this peak experience beyond your work knowledge and skills (personal strengths, gifts, talents, emotions, attitudes, values, unique sense or perspective)?

She also recommends keeping a success journal where you don’t just list what you accomplish but pinpoint the traits you have that helped you accomplish them. Learn more about Marcia Reynold’s work at Outsmart Your Brain.

What are your personal strengths? Talk about yourself!

img by guitargoa

Are you a mom with a home-based business?

Categories: Books & Articles

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I know I’ve been a little bit absent here but for good reason: I’m working on my 9th book and my first book with a co-author, and I’d like to possibly feature you in my book. Are you a mom with a home-based business and a baby or small children at home with you? You can submit your story for consideration to be quoted or featured in the book or read on for more information.

The Book

The title of the book is Mom Incorporated, and it is a guide for women who are home with a baby or small children and think “I want to start a business” (instead of returning to the 9 to 5 grind) but don’t know where to begin. The guide is very personal, easy-to-understand, and really emphasizes using the Internet and technology to help you with your business.

The Authors

I’ve been writing about women-owned businesses for over a decade including blogging here since 2008 (or has it been longer than that?) and have started and run a number of businesses myself, mostly from home since about 2003. My co-author is Danielle Smith who is an accomplished vlogger and talented blogger at Extraordinary Mommy.
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She’s an E-Entrepreneur: Laura White-Ritchie, BrainyFeet.com

Categories: Women Entrepreneurs

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Laura White-Ritchie is a start-up coach on BrainyFeet, a graphic designer at LauraGetsGraphic and an unschooling mom of 3-year old twin gilrs, a 17-year old daughter and a 20-year old son.

For over a decade, whe has worked to help people get out of the office, create the work they love and start living life on their own terms. She’s helped hundreds of solopreneurs and would-be non-profits decide if their idea is doable, create a plan to launch it, carve out a market niche and tap into social media.

I had the opportunity to interview Laura White-Ritchie from BrainyFeet to learn more about her business. Here’s the interview.
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8 things I hate about having a company

Categories: Uncategorized, diary of a startup

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This post might come back to zing me in the butt, but I have to be honest here. I hate having a company. There, I’ve said it.

That said, I still believe I’ve got a killer idea that I could ramp up quickly and sell, but I was thinking that I had to have a company to make that happen. Now I’m not so sure I need one.

In one of my previous posts, I blogged about two opportunities I have to get me out of my rut, to shake off the business blues, and to move forward. One is an online process and forum where I’ll be guided to better articulate my business idea. The other is working with a friend on an entirely different level, another plane if you will, and get her input about the direction I’m going.

In my most recent brainstorming session with her, I expressed my frustration. There was some kind of barrier in my brain that I couldn’t seem to dismantle. Through the course of the conversation, she nailed what has been bugging me all these months.
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