Mompreneurs, You Inspire Us

It's time to stop thinking you're 'less than' and start celebrating all that you do.

Mompreneurs, You Inspire Us

Hopefully by now you’ll have noticed that we (and some other great people at YMC) are involved with a contest generously sponsored by UPS. We’re looking for inspiring mompreneurs—and UPS is awarding $1,000 to the winner. Through our outreach about the contest something came up that troubled us. We asked one superstar woman whether she was planning to enter the contest and she confessed that while she’d considered it, she didn’t think she was ‘inspirational.’ We almost fell over.

Then, when we thought about it, we realized that there are scores of entrepreneurial mothers who are not giving themselves the credit they deserve. 

Of course if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Who’s better than mothers at thinking they don’t measure up? What mother doesn’t secretly think all of the other moms are more patient, more present, more organized? Plus, the feedback we get from our employers (a.k.a. our kids) is often less than kind. Add to the mix running a business and the self-doubt starts to really have legs. Ask anyone who has waded into entrepreneurial waters—sure, it’s invigorating and all, but it’s also really hard to make a buck when you’re on your own.  
The fact is if you are raising both your kids and your business at the same time, you’ve got two full-time jobs, and if you’re doing even moderately well at both—you’re doing a whole lot more than most people are doing. What’s more, we’ll bet you’re rocking both.  Maybe not every second of every day, but mompreneurs are no strangers to true moments of genius, both on the home and work fronts.
Here’s a little exercise for you: Instead of perseverating on all of the things you haven’t done, or haven’t done perfectly lately, take stock of everything you got right this week. Think about every customer you served, and every meal you served while you’re at it. Consider the connections you made both at home and at work and look at everything you knocked off your list this week. Then congratulate yourself for being the rock star you are. You don’t have to be curing cancer to be doing a great job.
We think all mompreneurs are inspirational, and that means you, baby.

Ronald McDonald House

A place you hope you never need but are glad it's there if you do

Ronald McDonald House

I feel very lucky to have attended the recent Celebrating Moms Event at Ronald McDonald House Toronto. I’m sheepish – and frankly, lucky – to admit that I didn’t know much about the House before my visit.

For starters, the new Ronald McDonald House is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Steps from Sick Kids Hospital, the House is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, but somehow manages to feel blissfully quiet and peaceful. The common areas are spacious and impeccable. The modern kitchen facility is enviable. The guest rooms are luxurious.  And it’s no wonder, as the rooms were designed by the Four Seasons Hotel, which donated its time to the project.

But the facility, amazing as it is, was not the most extraordinary part of the visit. We heard testimonials from two moms currently living in the House. What stuck with me? When a lovely mom, currently living at the House with her cancer-stricken four-year-old described what it was like to learn that her daughter was ill. “You don’t think this is going to happen to anyone you know, let alone happen to yourself.” She will stay at the House all summer, away from her husband and other child, while her daughter recuperates after her bone marrow transplant.

The average stay at Ronald McDonald House is 30 to 35 days. Can you imagine that? The stories we heard weren’t atypical: Mom and her child move to Toronto to get the help they need at Sick Kids Hospital while dad and the other kid(s) stay behind at home.

The good news? The old Ronald McDonald House, able to accommodate 26 families had a constant waiting list. There were never enough beds for the families who needed them. (And apparently sleeping in a chair in your kid’s hospital room really sucks.) Here, at the new house, 81 families can be accommodated. They’ve cleared out the backlog. Since opening their doors, they have been able to house all who have needed it.

It goes without saying that I feel beyond lucky to have three healthy daughters. Just because we don’t need Ronald McDonald House doesn’t mean we shouldn't talk about it though. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support it. (The House is a fully independent charity.) In a thoughtful parting gesture, all guests at the Celebrating Moms Event received little coin banks. Here we are working on filling up ours.

Isn’t it amazing that a place like Ronald McDonald House exists for those who need it?


10 Ways to Grow Your Business for Less Than $100

10 Ways to Grow Your Business for Less Than $100

If you’ve ever heard us speak about small business or had a chance to read our book, Mom Inc., you’ll know one thing about us: We’re kind of cheap. We didn’t spend a lot of money to start our blanket company Admiral Road, and we’re still pretty frugal. When consulting to small business owners, we always offer this piece of advice: Don’t spend money in the early days unless it solves a problem or grows your business. 

There are so many things that you can do to grow your business on the cheap. We love that Paul Gaspar, Director of Small Business, UPS is on the same page. Paul says, “Always be on the lookout for ways you can save money. Saving more or spending less doesn’t have to impact your day-to-day.” We couldn’t agree more. Here are some of our favourite ways to grow without spending a lot of dough.

1. Join a networking group

You never know who you’ll connect with. A new lead, new information or new inspiration could change your business. If you can’t find a group in your area, just jump online. There are tons of online support and networking groups for female business owners.

2. Write a press release

Media coverage is a great driver of sales, and we bet there’s something newsworthy going on in your business that the media doesn’t know about yet. Not only is editorial coverage cheaper than advertising, it also carries a lot of credibility. 

3. Read a business book or magazine

If you make the time for professional development we’re sure you’ll pick up at least one tip that changes the way you think about your business.

4. Take advantage of down-time

Waiting for an appointment? Sitting in the car waiting for children? Paul says, “These can be moments of brilliance. Think about tomorrow’s plan of attack; make phone calls. Learn to multi-task.”

5. Submit an article as an expert

Magazines and websites like YMC are often looking for content. By carving out space for yourself as an expert in your field you’ll position yourself the way you want to be seen by peers and customers. Besides, your next big client just may read your article or blog.

6. Write thank you notes

We know that our customers could spend their money anywhere. Why not make them feel special for shopping with you? Excellent customer service is one way you can distinguish yourself from the competition.

7. Send newsletters

Newsletters are a great way to be in touch with your customers. Not only do they want to hear from you and what you’re up to, sometimes they need to be reminded about you.  We’ll bet you see a spike in sales with every newsletter. 

8. Co-market with another company

Find a complementary company with whom you can do a promotion. It’s a great way to reach new customers with similar interests.

9. Use social media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great (and free!) ways to get the word out about your business. Find the one that works best for you and focus your efforts there. We like Facebook advertising. Not only can you set your own monthly budget, but you can also target your demographic very specifically.

10. Freshen up your website

Make sure you’re keeping your web site content new and interesting. Add a blog, some powerful customer testimonials, or your Twitter feed. And of course, make sure your web site is rigged for Search Engine Optimization.

There are more resources available to mompreneurs than ever before. Did you know that a UPS business analyst just might be able to provide the help you’re looking for? Set yourself up for success and take advantage of what’s out there. Besides, many of these resources are our favourite thing: Free!

Check out our Mompreneurs: Making it Happen section full of tips, tricks and advice from experienced entrepreneurs to help you take your business to the next level. You can even sign up for a 20% discount on all UPS shipping services to help you grow your business.

And you won’t want to miss reading about our inspiring YMC UPS Mompreneurs Contest winners. They may even motivate you to start a business of your own!