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Finding Your Mompreneur Mojo: How One Mom’s Success Story Can Help You to Have the Family AND the Job of Your Dreams

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Bring home the bacon…or play “this little piggy”? Work outside the home and feel perpetually guilty and exhausted…or quit your job and feel perpetually broke (and exhausted)? For years, these were the tough choices mothers faced. Maybe we could do both—work and parent—but could we do both well? we wondered. It’s a question that, these days, seems positively antiquated, says Kimberley Clayton Blaine.

“Thanks to the Internet and to the skills we women have developed from our years in the workforce, we have more options than ever before,” says Blaine, licensed family and child therapist, mother of two boys, and author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-58497-2, $16.95, www.TheGoToMom.com). “More and more moms are crafting lives that have ample time for both work and family—and we’re doing it well.”

Such is the story of Blaine herself. A licensed family and child therapist, she spent many years dedicated to her career, working with small children and their families. But when she started a family of her own, things changed. Blaine wanted to spend more time at home with her own children, but she didn’t want to give up the career she loved and had worked so hard for. And, thanks to technology and her own business savvy, she didn’t have to.

Today, Blaine is an online powerhouse. As an accomplished author, social media maven, mom-blogger, and producer of a web channel dedicated solely to moms, she has become the go-to source for women everywhere. Widely touted as “the preschool whisperer” and known online as “The Go-To Mom,” Blaine has become a trusted source of valuable information and an expert that a lot of other mothers depend on.

So how did she rise to online-stardom status? The transition, she says, was natural.

“As a mother, I found myself online looking for answers to the questions I had,” explains Blaine, “and I also found myself looking to connect with other women and mothers like me. But I failed to find one place that encompassed all the things that I was looking for. So I decided to create it.”

As a licensed therapist, Blaine knew that she had something to offer. And as a social media-savvy woman, she knew that she had the tools necessary to connect with people. And for Blaine, the opportunity that working in a digital world has created has given her the chance to live the life she wants. She has the family time she desires and the career she always dreamed of. And the world, she says, is there for every mom’s taking right now. You just have to know how to go out there and take it.
Read on for ten tips that Blaine says will get you started on the path to your own dream job:

Find a need to fill. To get started, you’re going to want to make sure that your venture fills a need out in the existing market. Is it something that is different from what is out there already? Is it better, faster, bigger, more innovative? Consider these questions as you weigh the pros and cons of going out on your own. When Blaine started out, she saw a niche that needed filling—solid parenting advice in one, convenient place—that she was more than qualified to fill. Everyone has their own expertise, interests, or an eye for where something is missing. Tap into that to create your own success.

Test market your idea before you take the plunge. Before you drop everything (your steady paycheck included) and start your new venture, it’s a good idea to “test market” your idea. You would start out doing this work on the side before you resign. Get your first customer or at least some healthy interest before you take the full-time plunge.

Pay attention to your gut instincts. Some of the most successful businesses got their big break because they were on the cutting edge of a new trend. Take Kimberley, for example. When she first started her online venture, social media, like Twitter, wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. And yet, that’s become one of her biggest outlets for making connections in the online community to drive traffic to her sites. At the time, it may have seemed to some that the time she devoted to Twitter was a waste of time, but she knew she was investing in something important. And today, that has paid off.

Figure out how to transfer your workplace skills to your new venture. Whether it’s people skills you’ve picked up in dealing with clients, marketing know-how, or even just your admirable work ethic, tap into that skill set and transfer it to your new venture.

Assemble a top-notch team. Approach your new business venture just like you would anything at your old job. As you are getting started, understand that you’ll have to serve as your own team for awhile, but down the line expect to do some hiring (and have a plan in place for it). During your early days as a one-man show, make sure you are always on the lookout for talent so that when you are ready to expand, you can hire the right team. For Kimberley, having the right team has been paramount to the success of her latest venture, MommyToMommy.TV.

Stay connected and engage your audience at all times. Social media is making it easier and more convenient than ever for mompreneurs to stay connected. Twitter and Facebook can keep you connected no matter where you are. You can blog and comment during naptime, or introduce a new product while you wait in the pick-up line at school. Blaine cautions that while staying connected is great, it often isn’t enough to take you to that next level. Go the extra step and engage in conversation with those you are connected with. That’s where the true rewards lie.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all have our strengths when it comes to business. But that also means we all have our weaknesses as well. When it comes to the areas that are outside of your expertise, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help you. Kimberley surrounded herself with mentors and contacts for the areas of business that were not her strong suit, and she called on them when necessary.

Stay true to your brand. Don’t be quick to jump at the first opportunity that comes knocking. Stay true to who you are and what you know feels right. For example, Blaine was recently approached by a well-known brand to be a spokesperson. While the exposure would have been great, she didn’t feel right about the partnership, because it went against some of the values she had built her brand on, so she turned the opportunity away. Remember, the Internet is forever. Whatever you say and do online will never go away. Be wary of attaching your brand and your name to something that may not be right for you in the long run.

Go for the gusto. A big break can change everything. Just because you are going out on your own it doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be backed from the big players. Getting one big sponsorship can open the doors for plenty of other big opportunities, and it helps to legitimize your brand and give you some credibility. It took Kimberley three years of promoting her brand and showcasing her expertise before she landed large sponsorships like Sony, Vimeo, and Yahoo! And it took a lot of persistence on her part to get her foot in the door. Remember, companies are not going to come looking for your talent—YOU have to be the one to put it out there.

Realize that being a mompreneur won’t be easy. But if you’re doing it right, it will be exhilarating. Of course you’re going to get tired, and at times the work is going to pile up. That’s why it’s so important to feel passionate about what you’re doing. It’s knowing that you love your entire life—your kids, your customers, and all—that will keep you running the race.

“The mompreneur life doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, and it’s certainly not perfect,” Kimberley concludes. “I still have days that are stressful, and I still have moments when I feel like I’ll never get it all done. But I enjoy what I do so much that at times I forget I’m paid. And that’s how I know that I’m doing what I love to do and that I’m doing the right thing. Do what works for you and what makes you happy, and your own success story will begin to write itself right before your eyes.”

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The Mommy-Business Mantra: Six Solutions for Staying Balanced
If you’re ready to take the plunge and make that dream job a reality, Kimberley Clayton Blaine, author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-58497-2, $16.95, www.TheGoToMom.com), suggests the following practical guidelines to help you stay sane.

Get your business affairs in order. Depending on the type of business you are starting, there will be steps you need to take to get yourself started. Meet with your financial advisor and talk through a plan for getting started (and having a cushion), write out your goals and plans for the next twelve months, set up email accounts, phone lines, or get your website up and running. If you start off on the right foot (instead of already behind), then you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed. And if you get most of the busy work and red tape behind you initially, you’ll have more time to concentrate on the important things—like getting your business off the ground and running!

Draw the line between your work life and home life. One of the biggest challenges for moms who choose to go out on their own is finding ways to keep their business and personal lives from constantly overlapping. If your office is at your kitchen table, then it can be easy to get distracted by dirty dishes. And likewise, if your business line is tied into your personal cell phone, it can be hard to focus on devoting your full attention to your kids during outings to the park. Even if it’s a small corner somewhere in your house, set up a workspace where you can devote yourself to working during your set hours. Set up an email account and phone line that are specific to the business (and not co-mingled with personal) and be sure to devote a space to important work documents, like bills and contracts, so that you can find them easily.

Get your spouse on board. While working from home and having a flexible schedule does allow more time for house chores than a traditional nine-to-five job, it may be hard for your spouse to understand that he won’t always come home to a perfectly clean house and dinner on the table. Just because you aren’t leaving the house to head to an office every day doesn’t mean that you won’t be doing work, and that can be a tough adjustment. Sit down and talk through the ways you can share responsibilities as you get your business started, and make sure he understands what your workday looks like.

Set a schedule…and stick to it. This goes for both your duties at home and your business. If you don’t set a schedule, you’ll find yourself harried and stressed and constantly trying to do too many things at one time. You can’t do good work if you’re trying to send emails and fix lunch at the same time…and you aren’t engaging your kids if you attempt to put a puzzle together while listening in on a conference call. Having a set time to work, just like working inside an office, will help you to get more accomplished without feeling so overwhelmed.

Accept that a 9-to-5 schedule just isn’t in the cards. In a more traditional office setting, you show up to work in the morning and when you leave in the evening, you leave. Kimberley finds that she can fit work into the hours that her children are at school, and once they are home, she sets work aside in order to be a mom full-time. And she also finds herself doing a lot of video editing in the late night or early morning hours when her kids are sleeping.

Remember, you have to be just as professional as everyone else. It’s important to remember that your business is just that: a business. And just because you are sending emails while wearing your pajamas, it doesn’t mean the code of business conduct you follow should be any different than if you were in an office wearing a nice suit. Be sure to follow the same rules and etiquette that you would if you were working inside an organization. Reply promptly and professionally to any emails or phone calls, proofread any documents, and address any customer complaints or concerns in a prompt, professional manner.

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About the Author:
Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, is the executive producer of the online parenting shows www.TheGoToMom.TV and www.MommyToMommy.TV and author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children and The Internet Mommy.

Kimberley is a national child development expert and a licensed family and child therapist specializing in working with children newborn to six years old. Kimberley is currently the social marketing director for a Los Angeles-based early childhood mental health campaign (Project ABC) funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has launched a national campaign to help American parents be all that they can be in order to give their children a healthy and fair start. You might have seen Kimberley review products, discuss the perils of parenting, blog, vlog, and take on mommypreneurship across the Internet.

Her webshow, TheGoToMom.TV, has captured one of the largest growing niche audiences—parents who have children birth to seven—through professionally produced yet authentic and real educational videos. Currently, Kimberley is sponsored by Vimeo and Sony and is a member of the Yahoo! Motherboard team of bloggers. Kimberley lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and two young boys.

About the Book:
The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-58497-2, $16.95, www.TheGoToMom.com) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

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