Mompreneurs® Still Going Strong—10 Years and Counting!
In September, 1996, we released our first Mompreneurs® book—catapulting work-at-home mothers into the spotlight, and coining and trademarking the catchy word “mompreneurs” to describe entrepreneurial moms. As work-at-home moms ourselves, we decided to pen the book when we couldn’t find anything on the market addressing the special needs of mothers running businesses from home. Wherever we went—whether to the playground or the supermarket—other moms would ask how we did it. So we decided to write our own how-to book about starting and running a business from a mother’s perspective.
Fast-forward to the present—today we offer our expert, personalized support at our website, MompreneursOnline.com (www.mompreneursonline.com), which features interactive message boards, blogs, resources, and a unique Mompreneurs® Marketplace showcasing mom-owned businesses. There are several exciting trends that make it easier and more enjoyable for today’s mothers to launch their own enterprises.
Technology makes working from home more convenient than ever! “The web provides a gateway to careers that were practically unheard of when we wrote our first book. Fields like e-tailing, personal coaching, online learning and virtual assistants (who provide office support via the web) are now very popular with work-at-home moms. Even lawyers, bankers, nurses, teachers and other professionals—who would have been hard-pressed to find work-at-home jobs in their specialties 10 years ago—are carving out all kinds of interesting career niches, without having to switch professions. Attorneys are running advocacy web sites for special-needs students; travel specialists launch online agencies; former Spanish teachers help preschoolers become bilingual; and public policy experts run thriving consulting businesses. With tools like blogs, podcasts, and webinars, mompreneurs are able to reach a wider audience without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Mothers of invention are creating new niches Today’s creative moms are inventing gadgets and safety products that solve problems they’ve discovered in their own family lives. The Web makes it easy for enterprising moms to research patents, trademarks and other legalities with the click of a mouse. And with a few clicks, search engines reveal everything from manufacturers in Asia to drop shipping companies.
Moms want to make a differenceWe are also seeing a big increase in cause-related companies—businesses with a social conscience. Whether your business benefits a local charity or something global, it’s a good idea to work some social benevolence into your business plan.
Funding can be more accessible. Though mompreneurs still tend to rely on savings account, loans from family members, and credit cards for start-up expenses, grants and low-interest micro-loans are available, if you know where to look. Resources include Count Me In (www.count-me-in.org) and Accion USA (www.accionusa.com). Also check local small business development centers and women’s networking groups to see if they can recommend potential lenders. The Make Mine a $Million Business® contest, sponsored by Count-Me-In and American Express Open helps moms grow their businesses through monetary support, mentoring, marketing and technology tools. (Enter at www.makemineamillion.org).
Work-from-home moms are now getting the respect they deserve! With about half a million moms running their own businesses, entrepreneurial mothers are finally being taken seriously by the “traditional” work world. Corporations often hire work-from-home moms and mommy bloggers as consultants. Moms are on a mission to have more family flexibility and have proven that they can successfully run a business and family under the same roof. They are confident and capable. It’s not about opting out, it’s about creating new options.
Copyright 2009; Mompreneurs LLC® All rights reserved.
What You'll Do:
Transcribe physicians' dictation of medical reports, using a transcribing machine or digital system, earphones and foot pedal, and computer and word processing software. Besides being a speedy and accurate keyboarder, you'll need to make sure sentences are grammatically correct and that medical terms and names of drugs are spelled properly.
Skills You'll Need:
Training in medical transcription; excellent spelling, grammar, listening and keyboarding skills; and plenty of patience. Medical transcription courses are offered by local community colleges, trade schools and home study programs, and take one to two years to complete. Keep in mind that home study courses don't provide the face-to-face interaction and support that's helpful when learning how to decipher doctors' dictation and medical terms.
How Much Can You Make?
Anywhere from $10 to $30 an hour, depending on your experience and geographical area. Self-employed medical transcriptionists usually charge by the line, and average from around 7 to 15 cents a line (the faster you type, the more lines you'll produce per hour). Research what medical transcribers in your area earn by networking at professional organizations and online forums devoted to the profession (see resources below).
How to Break In:
It is easier to land home-based employment after you've worked onsite as a medical transcriber in a hospital or office setting. Start by getting at least a year of experience in a hospital, clinic or doctor's office, or at a medical transcription service (which usually require three years of hospital-based experience).
Create professional letterhead, business cards and flyers or brochures. Think about how your services can set you apart from others in the field. Can you guarantee 24-hour turnaround or offer free pick-up and delivery? Little extras like these increase your value to clients.
1. Compile a list of doctors and clinics in your area, then send each one a letter and brochure introducing yourself. You can get lists of physicians from your local medical society or hospital or by checking lists at online resources such as MT Daily (see resources below). Follow up with a call to the office manager. Ask what transcription service they use now, whether they are happy with the service and when their current transcription contract expires. Offer to do one tape or a day's work for free, so that they can sample your work.
2. Consider other opportunities, such as finding another self-employed medical transcriber willing to outsource some work.
3. Have a childcare plan. Medical transcription requires a great deal of concentration and is very difficult to do when kids are underfoot. If you have young children, consider getting some part-time childcare, so you have uninterrupted work time.
4. Join professional organizations in the field and network in person and online (see resources below). Medical transcription organizations often offer message boards, newsletters, resources for training and job leads and up-to-date information on the latest medical terms.
Seasoned medical transcribers agree that the job is not an easy one, but with persistence, patience and a good network of support, it can be a very rewarding home-based career.
MT Daily: Medical Transcription Center (http://mtdaily.com)
Medword Medical Transcription: Books, information, and home study courses (www.medword.com)
Medical Transcription Courses: www.studymedicaltranscription.com
Copyright 2007; Mompreneurs LLC® All rights reserved.
What you'll do:
Plan parties and events that may range in scope from a two-year-old's birthday party complete with "live" cartoon characters in costume to an outdoor wedding to a gala corporate Christmas party. You can choose a specialty or be a "jack of all trades." Some party planners are hired to take care of all the details: creating and sending out the invitations, hanging decorations, finding the caterer, choosing the entertainment, selecting party favors, arranging for a photographer and so on.
Skills you'll need:
You must be very well organized and detail-oriented to succeed in this field. You'll have long to-do lists filled with tasks that must be completed on time and within budget. Meetings and phone calls with clients before an event can seem endless as you iron out all the details.
Equipment you'll need:
Computer, printer, fax and cell phone and a car, van or SUV to carry decorations and props to party locations. You'll also need a portfolio containing party photos, sample invitations and menus to show potential clients as well as business cards. Subscriptions to several lifestyle magazines will give you ideas and inspiration. Some event planners tote their own ladder and tools too.
If you already own a computer and other hardware, $500 to $1,000 will cover the expense of a business license, marketing materials (flyers, cards, advertising) and a small stash of basic party supplies (a wholesale ID number will allow you to buy those at cost; see resources that follow).
For corporate events, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, large family reunions, fundraisers and the like, many planners charge 10 percent of the cost of the total party. For small birthday or anniversary parties, it's customary to charge per person attending, ranging from $10 to $40 a head and depending on how much you're required to do. Some planners work out hourly fee arrangements with clients, starting at $20 an hour and up.
How to break in:
Word of mouth is the best marketing tool. But until that gets going, make up flyers and post them on bulletin boards all over town -- in supermarkets, stores and community centers. Hand out business cards to everyone. Submit an ad or blurb about your business to newsletters published by local churches, merchants' or neighborhood associations, garden clubs and schools. Volunteer your party planning services to your accountant, town councilman, local florist, radio DJ or any other potential customers or vendors; in return, you'll get great exposure. And don't be afraid to try corporations and businesses in your area; those gigs can be very lucrative.
* Event Planning Courses: www.studyeventplanning.com
* partydirectory.com —A directory of vendors.
* Oriental Trading Company www.orientaltrading.com—Party playthings and props.
* Party411 www.party411.com—A variety of party planning services.
* eventplanner.com—Add your Website link free.
Copyright 2007; Mompreneurs® LLC All rights reserved.
Is Franchising For You?
Home business franchises are growing in number and scope. You can run everything from computer tutoring to a house cleaning franchise from a home office—but is it worth the buy-in price of up to $20,000 and more?
For some work-from-home moms, a franchise is a good way to get a home business off the ground—provided you have the start-up cash and a nest egg to get by for three to six months. But you also must have a certain personality to become a successful franchisee. And as enticing as a franchise opportunity might seem, there are some drawbacks. To help you make a smart decision, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of franchising, plus a checklist for potential franchisees.
* On-the-job training. The parent company usually provides a blueprint to getting started in that particular business.
* Brand-name recognition. A good percentage of your marketing is taken care of when you hook up with a reputable company that is know in its field.
* Technical support and advice. Perks like direct mail advertising, website links, and web design often come along with the contract.
* Royalties and other expenses come out of the franchisee’s pocket. This may include monthly advertising fees as well as royalties on gross sales to the parent company.
* Some francisors prey on mothers. They feel that moms are so eager to find a lucrative work-from-home opportunity, they will be more vulnerable and won’t research as thoroughly.
* Determine your compatibility with franchising. If you have a very independent personality and want to bring a lot of your own ideas to a franchise operation, starting your own home business might be a better move.
CHECKLIST FOR POTENTIAL FRANCHISEES
1. Do your homework and thoroughly research the franchise company you are considering before you make any commitments.
2. Obtain a “uniform franchise offering circular” from the franchisor you are interested in before you sign anything.
3. Contact a sizeable number of current and former franchisees (you can get names from the uniform franchise circular). Ask them about their experiences with the parent company, gross and net sales, training and support, potential protection from the franchisor, competition in your area, and how the business affects work/family balance. Even if a franchisor promises that the business is part-time, in reality, it often becomes a full-time job.
4. Before you sign a franchise agreement, go over it carefully, preferably with an attorney who knows something about franchising.
5. Get in touch with the Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office to see if any complaints have been lodged against the franchisor.
6. Check out The American Franchisee Association http://www.franchisee.org for more general insight and background into franchising.
7. Consult with a franchise expert to narrow down your choices. For a free consultation, go to http://www.letsfranchise.com/?code=ELL-
Copyright 2007; Mompreneurs LLC® All rights reserved.
Top 10 Fields for Mompreneurs® Online
Work-from-home mothers are very creative about using the Web to pave new career paths. Based on our research, here are some of the most popular home-based careers for moms right now.
Virtual Assistant. You provide office support services virtually—usually to other small or home-based businesses. A virtual assistant (often called a VA) might do a variety of administrative tasks; or can specialize in target areas, like bookkeeping, billing, data entry, or customer service.
Website Development & Design. There’s a huge need for professionals who have the ability to design and host websites, as well as provide online graphics and day-to-day updates
Healthcare.As the population of aging Americans swells (just think of all those baby boomers nearing retirement age), so does the demand for healthcare and therapeutic services. Growth areas include physical and occupational therapy, as well as home-based nursing services.
Communications. Freelance writing and public relations have always been two of the more popular areas for work-at-home moms. Today’s writers are targeting websites and blogs, as well as traditional print outlets. Public relations consultants are adding non-profits and smaller companies to their roster of corporate clients.
E-Commerce.If you’ve got a unique product, consider opening up your own online shop or gift basket business.
Children’s Products & Services. Many moms are tapping into parenthood, creating gadgets and services that make their busy lives easier. Is there a problem you’ve encountered as a mom? Maybe you can provide the solution!
Marketing & Graphic Design. Because many corporations are cutting their on-staff marketing departments, there’s more business available for marketing consultants, who are hired on a project basis to help with branding and sales development. And graphic artists can help companies create their marketing materials—from logo to letterhead to brochures and business cards.
Pets. People love their pets, and are willing to spend big bucks to keep them happy. This translates into big sales for businesses specializing in doggie and kitty daycare, pet products, and grooming enterprises. One of the hottest new businesses is something called a doggie laundromat, where you can wash off your pet’s muddy paws, before heading home from the dog park.
Do-Good Businesses. Mom entrepreneurs have always been good about earmarking some of their profits for charity. But now many moms are creating businesses specifically inspired by a social or environmental mission. For example, in an effort to go green, earth-conscious moms have created businesses that protect the planet—like organic foods or services that match companies with eco-efficient solutions. Or, like some Mompreneurs® we’ve met, you can reach out to those in need—whether by creating non-profits to benefit mothers in disadvantaged parts of the world, or launching websites that promote fair trade by selling gifts made by African craftswomen.
Education. The No Child Left Behind Law and increase in high-stakes testing in U.S. schools has led to a bigger demand for tutors. Ex-teachers should also think about targeting the very lucrative college preparation market: In metropolitan areas, especially, there is great need for SAT/ACT preparation, as well as help with essay writing.
Copyright 2009; Mompreneurs LLC® All rights reserved.