What made you decide to take the plunge into self-employment?
I’d just graduated from law school and knew that I was not going to practice law. I also knew that I wanted to create an environment where I could be home with the kids and making money at the same time. Child labor laws prevented me from going one route, so I opted to launch my own business instead.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as an entrepreneur?
It depends on the day. One day it’s accounting, another it’s legal, and most days it’s marketing. Finding customers and clients is a pretty big one. But for the most part, figuring out how to get my work done and feed my family all in one day takes the top of the cake, most of the time.
If you had to give a piece of advice to a girlfriend that was thinking about starting her own small business, what would that be?
I’d ask her to sell me on her idea. Then I’d tell her to go out and find friends, family and strangers and pitch her product or service to them. My first piece of advice for anyone is to figure out whether there’s a market for what they’re selling. Too many people spend far too much time planning, thinking, planning, waiting, wondering if it’s the right time, creating a laundry list of worries, and then planning some more. I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs spend upwards of 2 years prepping their product launch only to find out, post-launch, that no one is interested in buying it. I’m very much a dive-in-first-and-then-plan kinda gal, and since it’s worked for me three times, I’m confident it’s going to work for someone else, too.
What small business resources can you not live without?
Twitter. And Tadalist. And LessAccounting.com. And Google Docs. And Wordpress. And Evernote. And Skype. And most importantly, My First Ticonderoga #2 pencils.
Tell us about The Founding Moms and how mom entrepreneurs can benefit from joining.
The Founding Moms is a collective of meetups and educational resources for mom entrepreneurs. We’re in 30+ cities to date with 2,500+ members around the world, including cities in Canada and Australia (and soon Germany, too.) We host kid-friendly meetups each month where we come together to help one another through education, advice, speakers and networking to better build our businesses. We’ll be launching an online platform soon and there’ll be a lot of benefit to each of these members in their cities connecting with members outside of their home area. Very exciting. The benefits to joining? There’s the practical stuff, like advice and tips on all areas of entrepreneurship that you can write down, go back to your office and put into practice. There’s the intangible, like the networking and brainstorming that happens at each Founding Moms’ Exchange (which is what we call our meetups.) But then there’s the real gold: the inspiration and confidence that you get from connecting with other like-minded women. Every month I head back to work after an Exchange and feel even better about what I’m doing. It’s indescribable, really, but outstanding and happens each and every month.
You just published your first book: Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, tell us about the book and how we can purchase a copy!
Sure! I wanted to write a quick-read guide for women who were interested in launching their own businesses, or who were already running small businesses but wanted to grow bigger. I knew a lengthy, well-researched book was not really up any mom entrepreneur’s alley, so I gunned for a bathroom read and put together 51 short, to-the-point chapters that you can read and refer to again and again. The first half of the book is all about starting up and sustaining a great company. The second half is about how to do all of the first part’s bits with kids in the mix. Humorist John Hartzell of MiddleAgeRiot.com agreed to do the illustrations for my book, and we made them black and white so kids could color them in. The last part is not true but I just figured out that crayons would totally work on them.
You can purchase it at http://www.bit.ly/jillsbook1 which is the only place to get a signed copy. It’s on Amazon, too. The e-book is available through BarnesAndNoble.com and it’s in Barnes & Nobles’ stores nationwide.
When deciding to write your book, what was the biggest stumbling block?
The writing of the book was the easy part. The chapters almost fell out of my head and onto paper and I completed it in literally 6ish weeks. The hardest part was figuring out whether to self-publish or to find a publisher. I spent much too long waiting for my agent to nab a publishing deal, when in reality most pub deals are pretty bad these days as the industry struggles. But when I decided to self-publish, there were so many new challenges that I didn’t even know to know that it held things up for a bit. Which printer? How to distribute? What size book? Who would design it? Those things. Fortunately (and clearly) I figured them out and here I am!
My thanks again to Jill for a wonderful interview. To learn more about Founding Moms or to contact Jill directly, please visit: