September 12, 2010

Startup Nation ebook: Start your own mom business! (Interview with Mommy Perks owner included)

The ebook can now be purchased at Startup Nation for $27.

As some of you might recall, my PCS book business was entered in the first Startup Nation Mom’s in Business contest in 2009. I landed in the top 200 votes.

The folks at Startup Nation have now put together a helpful ebook full of tips for working from home, ideas for moms who wish to work at home, time management strategies and more.

The second half of the ebook features some interviews with Startup Nation contestants, myself included. I’ve provided my own interview below so you can get an idea of what you’ll learn from each person featured.

The ebook is selling for $27.

Here’s the interview found inside the ebook, regarding my book business (there are 20 interviews in total):

Personal Child Stories

Shara Lawrence-Weiss
Founder/Owner
Leading Moms in Business 2009 Ranking: 185
http://www.personalchildstories.com

I write, design and hand-create laminated books. Customers send me their photos and I write a story based on the images I see. Stories might be as simple as learning the ABC’s or 123’s. Others may help a child deal with sexual abuse or the death of a loved one.

Why did you start up?

  • Entrepreneurship is in my blood..
  • I needed the money..
  • I identified an unmet market need..
  • I wanted control / self-reliance..
  • I wanted to work at home..

My son was born with no vision in one eye. His eye was removed 10 days after his first birthday. I made the first books in order to help him deal with the prosthetic eye and his new glasses. I had a need for him and figured out a way to help him – and it worked!

How did you accumulate your Leading Moms in Business votes?

I emailed friends and family asking them to vote daily. Many of them did. I also promoted my participation in my monthly eNewsletter .

If you could do anything over again in getting your business off the ground, what would it be?

I’m not sure I would change anything. I held onto my idea for 8 years and thought things through. I watched other markets and other moms in business, taking notes from their successes (and setbacks). I took things slowly, spent cash to get things going, and kept my expectations low. I knew from watching others that starting a business was hard work and that success would not come easily. I kept my eyes and mind focused on the long-term goals rather than the short-term setbacks. I think I’d do things that same way, if I had to do it over again!

Do you run the business at home? Pros/cons of your location?

Yes. My husband and I both run our businesses from home – we sit 5 feet apart. We live in a log cabin in the woods, surrounded by wildlife and pine trees. I look out a big window each day and feel amazed that I get to live here AND do what I love doing!

The biggest con – not having a sitter. We take turns watching and playing with the kids and rarely get time to just focus on work without any interruptions.

What’s distinctive about how you run your business that has contributed to your success?

Customer service and a heart to help people. I love kids, and I believe that every life is valuable and worthwhile. People sense that about me. They feel it in my work and tell me they know how much I love children, and they can tell I feel passionate about what I do. They are drawn to that.

What’s the biggest question mark (uncertainty) that lingers in the shadows of your business?

Every book I make takes about 6 hours. No hand-made product can be mass produced for fast sales. That’s not what I’m about. So…that certainly puts a damper on things every time someone writes to me and says, “We’d like to showcase you on TV or radio. How many orders can you handle at one time?” I have to reply, “I can’t. My books take time because each one is individually written and hand-created. I can’t mass produce them.” In America, that’s not what folks want to hear. They want to hear, “Yep. I can make them cheap and move them fast.”

That’s not me. Until I can figure out how to produce more quickly, that question mark will always be there.

How do you ensure that your family is positively impacted by your business?

They are a part of almost every book I write. I tell them about the story line, the family, talk about what the book will do and how it will affect the reader, etc. Many times, they become engrossed in each story with me. Because of all this, I actually won “Working Parent of the Year” runner-up for the state of Arizona a few years back. I wrote a little essay about the fact that my kids helped with the books and that the experience was a positive part of their upbringing. We won a trip to San Diego because of that.

What are the top 3 pieces of advice that you would give to a mom trying to start a new business?

1. Have a professional looking website that clearly defines what you do and what you offer.
2. Time management is key. Figure out what your priorities are.
3. Network, network, network. Be kind to others, and they will WANT to help you!

Find out more about the Startup Nation ebook.

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*No compensation is being received in exchange for this post.

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