Being an entrepreneur can feel like a lonely road, this could be especially true for moms who are entrepreneurs. You might have a mix of friends who are stay at home moms or working moms but rarely will you find a group of friends who are entrepreneurs like yourself. Part of you can relate to the stay at home moms and trying to find time to get everything done in between carting the kids to all their activities, keeping the house in order, and being the personal assistant to everyone in the family because these are your challenges too. Being an entrepreneur correlates to business challenges, except you have to do everything yourself, learn how to do it, or find someone to do it for you because you can’t hand it off to the non-existent XYZ department.
I’m fortunate to have my parents, my sister, and her family who are taking care of my kids when I was in Seattle getting Hand Things Down off the ground. The last piece of the puzzle is having a group of entrepreneurs to bounce ideas against and to share resources. My co-founder and I graduated from Founder Institute where we collaborated and were accountable to a group of entrepreneurs a few times a week. What if you’re a work at home mom and you aren’t participating in a startup accelerator? How do you find people like yourself? The answer is to find a local entrepreneur’s group in your area via a website like Meetup.com.
I found the Founding Moms Meetup Group in Bellevue, Washington and was impressed by the diversity of women and their backgrounds. Some women were at the idea stage, some had prototypes of their products, some were service providers, life coaches, authors, a radio personality, and a photographer turned children’s book creator. The thought of attending a networking event or mixer can be daunting but as a business owner, you have to push yourself beyond your limits or have someone push you. There is a part of me that is very shy and experiences anxiety when faced with a networking situation. In these situations, it’s best to pause as you enter the event, take a deep breathe, then look around to get your bearings., and review your goal for the event.
Examples of Networking Goals:
- Talk to at least 3 people – To get the most out of an event, tell yourself, “I MUST talk to at least three people before I allow myself to camp out with the people I already know.” Once you start circulating you will flow from one person to another.
- Find out two things about a person’s background. Ask interesting questions or questions that pertain to the event.
- At a WordPress event ask what theme they are using and why they selected it or what is their favorite plug-in.
- At a conference, ask people what they hoped to learn or who did they want to meet at the event. It’s always great when you can facilitate a connection for someone.
- If you exchange business cards with someone, aim to email them within a day of the event with the information you promised to give them. Follow through is key to networking.
The Founding Moms group made me feel instantly at ease. When I walked in to order my tea before joining the group, I was met by Deborah Drake who introduced herself and let me know where the group was meeting. It was nice to be greeted by the host/organizer because the anxiousness of having to join a new group was removed. When I entered the room, she had already written my name on a nametag and handed it to me. We started the meeting with a round robin where everyone had an opportunity to introduce themselves, their backgrounds, and what they were working on. Some of the women in the group either chose to stay at home to raise their young kids, then as the kids got older; they decided to see if they could turn their passions into a business. Some of the women were laid off or were teachers who also decided it was time to start their own businesses. No matter which route, we all ended up in that room to help each other talk about how we could keep each other accountable for accomplishing the goals for the next 30 days.
Here are some of the questions we discussed:
- How do you win the inner game of procrastination?
- How do you find the time to get some of the work done when your meetings are usurped by sick kids or doctor’s appointments, which clearly are a priority?
- What tools do you use to get more done?
- Book: Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen
- iPhone apps:
- Intuition – Mom’s personal assistant to do list for errands, family, groceries, work, school, etc.
- Things – to do list that helps you get all your projects broken down into smaller tasks $9.99
- Wunderlist – similar to Things but free and has a web version so you can sync between your computer and your iphone
Here are some of the women entrepreneurs and their businesses:
- Deborah Drake – Mompreneur Facilitator – Writer/writing coach
- Sheila Tan – Birthing Doula
- Barbara Schmitz – Life Coach
- Denise & Deanna Powell – Lullaby League Sitters – Like speed dating…except it’s for parents and babysitters.
- Elysia – ZBS Childrens Clothing – 4-in-1 Adjustable length pants, shorts, and capris.
- Akiyo Hernandez – Crystal Angels Jewelry – custom Crystal jewelry
- Suzanne Strong – Seattle Photographer – co-creating a felt, photo children’s book
- Sandy Smith – Facilitator/tutor of The Work of Byron Katie