We all have those days, right? We ask ourselves (and sometimes our friends), “Is this business worth all the effort, time and money?” Almost every week, I hear a mom business owner asking that tough question in an email or private group. In the end, they almost always keep going. Should they?
Having a small business, especially one involving an invention, is a lot like marriage. Coming up the the concept, the idea for the product, the “ah-ha” moment is pure love at first site. As you investigate and refine the concept, you are on a high. You are absolutely in love. But, the courtship is just beginning. The learning process can be occasionally frustrating as you learn what works and what doesn’t. The excitement builds as you plan for the launch — the “big day” when you will have the real product in your hand for everyone to see. It’s a formal announcement, a public recognition, much like a wedding.
As with most marriages, there’s a wonderful honeymoon period. You are forgiving of the little business hiccups. Deals that you thought would come quickly, fall apart instead. Everything costs a lot, but you are still in love. The glory of the wedding, the launch, is still fresh in your mind. You savor those first PR hits, and the congratulations and well-wishes from friends and family still buzz in your ears.
You thought this was it. Your business cards are adorable, your website is completely professional, everyone keeps saying they love your product, but where’s the happily ever after? Where are all the sales? The money, the orders, the glory?
The difference between being “in love” and a marriage is commitment. Remember all the “for better or for worse” stuff? The wedding isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning. Having a product, packaging, a website and a couple PR hits does not create a business. I’m constantly surprised at how many women are believe that is the goal. They gladly announce they are the founder or the inventor, but they aren’t prepared to be the CEO. Unfortunately, many discover it too late.
The average business woman I speak with has invested anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 by the time they launch their product. They think the launch will be the beginning of the payoff. Somehow, the fact they have the product in hand means the orders will fly in. When that doesn’t happen, they feel a sense of failure. The honeymoon phase is over. The real work begins. Like a marriage, you have to continually work at your business. Hopefully you will still have those days of pure star-crossed love, but you will also have to accept the “for worse” times. If you are committed, you will work at the business.
So, when do you give up? Thankfully, the decision to let go of a failing business doesn’t have the same personal consequences ending a marriage does. The decision can be calculated if you take the emotions out. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are the good days and the wins outnumbering the bad days and losses?
- Are you “throwing good money after bad” by trying to buy customers?
- Are you being honest with yourself? Have people given you constructive feedback that you ignored (like to change your packaging, that the market won’t pay X amount for it, or that the copycat product really is just as good and cheaper?)
- Are you truly out there asking for the sale? Do you make cold calls, follow up and try to get the account?
- Are you lacking the representatives or business relationships to get into the retail accounts you need?
- Are you unwilling to invest in the inventory and infrastructure to bring your price down?
These are just some of the potential problems you could be facing. You need to discover if the real problem is the business itself or unrealistic expectations you had. A marriage doesn’t mean automatic “happily ever after”. It means that if the two people are right for one another and willing to put the work in, they will find happiness. Is your product right for the market or are you just blinded from being in love with it? Are you willing to put the work in or were you expecting everything to just happen automatically if you created the product?
Sometimes a outside – and unbiased – help can make all the difference. To help other mompreneurs, Julie Pickens, CEO and co-founder of Little Busy Bodies, makers of Boogie Wipes, is hosting a contest to find one lucky aspiring mompreneur to share her knowledge of launching and driving a business to extreme levels of success. The winner will receive a daylong mentoring session with Julie in the winner’s hometown. In addition, Mompact will provide the winner, and four other deserving businesses that enter the contest, the opportunity to reach tens of thousands of moms through a coordinated marketing promotion.
Supporting Little Busy Bodies’ core values, Julie maintains a vigorous schedule of speaking engagements and call-in chats, all while contributing to the company’s business-themed blog (www.thebusinessofbeingamom.com) in order to share her “mompreneur” knowledge with others while continuing to grow the Little Busy Bodies brand. Now, she is taking it a step further by creating the “Make Me a Mompreneur” contest.
To submit yourself or someone you know for the Little Busy Bodies’ “ Make Me Mompreneur” contest please email a 1000-word or less explanation of your business, difficulties you are facing, the success you have had and why you need/deserve a mentoring session with Julie to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One lucky winner will be chosen on August 1, 2012. The winner will receive a daylong mentoring session with Julie in the winner’s hometown.
To be eligible for the Mompact promotion, you must ALSO complete the free business directory listing at http://www.mompact.com/moms_in_business. Follow the “List Your Business” link. If you have already completed the listing, you do not need to register again. Winners of the Mompact promotion will be selected based on retail-readiness and availability of the product for purchase, product concept, and essay response submitted to Julie. A #Mompact Twitter Party with @BoogieMom and @Mompact will be held during the week of August 5th to promote the winners.