Joining an MLM isn’t the easiest path to becoming a Work From Home Mom

I know a ton of women who would jump at the chance to be a work from home mom.

In fact, I have someone reaching out to me about once a week to pick my brain about how I’ve been able to do it over the last year and a half.

As someone who made the leap from working full time outside of the home, to part time from home for myself, and was able to supplement my previous income in less than a year, I totally get it!

I was there not long ago. Craving more time with my children during the day. Needing something that was just mine. Having to feed my desire to create and produce.

It doesn’t always feel like there are a ton of options for working moms to have it all.

Luckily, many companies are finally starting to embrace the importance of family benefits, such as flexible schedules and better parental leave policies. The sense of balance it provides to employees, moms in particular, has kept more women in the workplace, which leads to more women in senior roles, which leads to more female decision makers, which leads to better family advocates…you see where I’m going.

Some women become mothers and their sense of fulfillment comes from staying at home. This is wonderful, and a privilege for those who are able to do so!

The truth is, more and more couples are relying on a dual income to support their families. Women often feel torn when they have to choose between staying home with their children and avoiding high childcare costs, or heading back to work and spending less time raising their kiddos.

If they’re at a job they don’t love with zero flexibility, they understandably would be seeking out other options.

Enter a flood of groups invitations and private messages and friend requests on your Facebook page.

Everyone from your best friend in 3rd grade to your husband’s coworker’s sister-in-law is probably trying to get you to buy leggings, jewelry, cookware, or fill-in-the-blank from them.

It’s no surprise that multi-level marketing companies have become incredibly popular.

A lot of the products are terrific! I have supported dozens of women in my community over the years and will continue to do so.

It’s also no wonder that when you’re Facebook “friend”sends you an offer to start your own business, and make money throwing parties with your girlfriends, your interest is peeked.

You can become your own boss, set your own hours and get away from the job that’s making you miserable.

Score, right?!

I know that’s how I felt when I was struggling to balance my career and my family and was asked to join an MLM. I quickly jumped at the opportunity! If I’m honest, I’m still signed up as a consultant so that I can take advantage of the discount myself. I stopped “working my business” years ago.

If you’re considering becoming a new business owner through an MLM, it’s important that you understand how it will actually work: you will be selling the company’s product on its behalf {they profit} and your recruiter will be earning a commission on your sales {she profits}.

That isn’t to say that you won’t profit.

But in my personal experience, they know they won’t get you to sign up if you understand just how small your margins will be.

They don’t explain that while you will get a great discount on products, you will need to buy a website, purchase supplies to help you sell, and possibly even invest in product up front {all from the same company you now work for}. Not to mention the “starter” fee and taxes.

Instead, they will hook you with every woman’s dream: to create a better life for your family financially, find fulfillment personally, and have a blast while doing it!

Who doesn’t want that?

Then, she reels you in with the success stories of the few and far between.

She isn’t doing it to be misleading. These success stories do exist. And it’s exactly what she wants for herself and her family. Maybe even for you, too! But she also knows she won’t become one of them without you on her team.

Just like other entrepreneurs, MLM business owners work hard for their accomplishments.

This post is in no way to diminish their efforts. However, none of them made a million dollars selling products for a company. They made a million dollars convincing you to sell them.

For you to be successful in a MLM business, you too will only be extremely profitable by pitching the dream to others. That’s literally how these businesses work!

It’s also the reason that 50% of women who join one of these companies leaves within the first year, and 90% have quit by year 5. I fall in the latter, myself.

Now, if you love the product and the idea of growing a team, by all means go for it! Or, if you’re after some extra spending money at the end of each month, you can accomplish that by selling product alone. You will likely have a costumer in me.

However, if you are looking to enrich your life and your bank account, I encourage you to explore other options before buying “a business in a box”.

Create your own work from home mom business!

Chances are you have a unique talent – a product or service – that you can market and sell on your own. There will still be business costs and taxes. There will also be a ton of hard work and some risk.

On the bright side, 80% of new businesses make it past their first year and 50% are still kicking after 5 years. I like my odds.

Have you ever started an MLM business? What was your experience? Tell me in the comments!

Podcast Prep – Can moms really have it all?

I’m super excited to share with you some exciting – and slightly terrifying – news.

I’ve been invited to speak on not just one, but two podcasts in the next month!

First up, the Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

I was invited to share my pursuit of a work life balance after being introduced to SoCal mom Jessica by a mutual friend. Not unlike my Working Mom Wednesday blog posts, Jessica celebrates motherhood by inviting moms onto her show to tell their stories.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing my spin on the whole “mommy blog” thing on The Blog Chronicles with Matthew Loomis. Fun fact: I set up this blog using Matthew’s easy to follow steps!

moms have it all

Once I got past the initial “what the heck am I going to talk about” nerves, I realized how pumped I was about sharing my mompreneur journey.

After all, I shouldn’t run out of topics about my life, right? We are all experts in our own experiences!

What makes me a tiny bit terrified; however, is finally sharing my beliefs on the controversial “having it all” debate.

Can moms have it all? Or can’t we?

After a year of pursuing it, I’ve come to my own conclusion and I’ll be diving into what I think on these podcasts!

Have you done anything recently that terrifies you? Let me know how it turned out!

P.S. I’ll be sure to share the links on my Facebook page when each interview is published!

2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Have you ever started doing something – you thought about it a ton….you planned and planned – only to find yourself somewhere very different than where you thought you were headed?

That’s exactly what happened to me in 2016.

In December 2015 I quit my 9-5 a little terrified and a lot optimistic and set out to build that thing that would give me the flexibility to work when and where I wanted.

My motivation? More family time. My ultimate goal? Find a way to help other mamas do the same thing.

The Free Mama was born!

I rang in the New Year with a lofty task at hand, and I felt capable and confident that blogger status was where I was headed.

Within 6 months I realized that this profitable blog thing might take longer than I had anticipated. Naturally, my attention turned towards my digital marketing freelancing jobs, something that was making money.

I didn’t abandon my vision for the blog, but my time invested definitely fluctuated as I shifted my focus to ensure I was producing an income for my family.

As each day’s work morphed into something quite different than what I had originally set out to do, my family quite literally landed somewhere different when we unexpectedly moved to Texas over the summer.

And who can forget the added news of a baby on the way?

With so much changing in my personal life, this blog that I started because I wanted to support working moms while supporting my family quickly turned into cathartic diary entries.

And as it turns out, you like that!

People connect with people, and lucky for me they also connect with imperfect people living an imperfect life.

The feedback I’ve gotten through comments, emails, texts, and visitor stats are telling me loud and clear that I didn’t need to “advise” in the first place. I just needed to share my own journey.

That I can do!

As for the freelancing, something that started with a few small clients, has grown into a workload that is all I can handle without bringing on additional help.

I’m incredibly proud to have more than supplemented my previous full-time income in less than a year, all on my own. When I left my job, my goal was to spend more time with family, and working from home has definitely allowed me to prioritize each day exactly as I see fit.

I no longer feel like I’m compromising my kids for a career or vice versa.

And THAT is exactly why I started The Free Mama in the first place.

Maybe I didn’t land so far away from what I’d set out to do in 2016 after all.

The Good

2016 seemed to throw our family quite a few curveballs. But I’ve learned that with change, comes growth. And our family has definitely grown closer.

Change isn’t always easy, and we don’t always like it, but at the end of the day it’s like I tell my kids, “you have to wake up and choose to be happy. No one is going to do it for you.”

With that being said, there were a lot of pregnancy-hormone-filled days where I cried after our move. But as soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what was best for my family.

And what was best for the family was a sane mother.

First, I prioritized finding a support system and joined a mom’s group. Typically that wouldn’t be “my thing,” but friends weren’t just going to show up at my door step. I put myself out there and have formed friendships with women I already cannot imagine not having in my life.

It was also important for me to put some renewed energy into my business. Again, I had to put myself out there. I participated in networking events to meet some amazing professionals in the area, and found new partners and clients.

Trust me when I say it would have been much easier to stay home and keep crying, but it also would have been pretty miserable for everyone.

Not unlike their mom, our kids had to transition to a new place last year, too. But unlike their mom, they did so gracefully. Both are well adjusted, thriving in school and extracurriculars, and loving the warmer climate filled with park playdates with friends.

Justin is loving the flexibility and variety of his job. Although he travels occasionally, our family has spent more time together than we ever did back in Kansas City and I don’t take it for granted for a second.

We spent half of 2016 in Houston and now I can say it’d be hard to imagine our family anywhere else.

The Bad

Getting to Houston, on the other hand, nearly killed me. Buying and selling a home, packing and moving cross country to the hottest place on the planet in the middle of summer is stressful enough, but doing it while throwing up several times a day is downright awful.

But, if I had to sum up 2016 in one word, it would be “bills.”

Not only is moving pretty pricey, but the adjustment to being self-employed brought about health insurance premiums neither my husband nor I quite expected.

I love our sweet new baby to pieces, but she turned out to be a costly little thing. Emergency room visits. Anti-nausea medicine. Pre-term labor followed by two months of bedrest. Between the new state and the new year, we met multiple deductibles just to get her here!

That many bills aren’t just costly, they’re incredibly stressful.

While it may around the same time we pay off the hospital, I’m sure I’ll forgive her.

Eventually.

The Beautiful

There was plenty of ugly in 2016 that I could have written about, but I’d rather share with you something beautiful that I saw throughout the entire year, over and over again.

Motherhood.

Starting with this blog last January, I asked working moms to share their stories with me, to share with all of you.

Friends, acquaintances and even strangers generously donating their time to compose honest and meaningful contributions to my #workingmomwednesday features.

The peak of my morning sickness coincided with my husband’s move to Houston about a month before the rest of us. I was left to finalize things in Kansas City while caring for two busy toddlers.

I relied heavily on the generosity of the moms in our neighborhood to help me get through it. From watching kids so that I could pack, to picking me up orange juice, no favor was too big or too small for these thoughtful women.

When we finally reunited in Houston, I was exhausted and lonely. I joined a moms’ group to meet new people. These mothers have brought me treats when I was feeling down, visited me while I was on bedrest, and continue to deliver meals now that Audrey is here. I feel incredibly blessed for each of these friendships.

Without a doubt, however, the most maternal gesture of 2016 came from my own mother. When I was placed on bedrest at 32 weeks pregnant, she hopped on a plane to help my husband with the big kids. She put her life on hold for nearly two months to cater to our family’s needs without hesitation or complaint. I am forever in debt, and yet, as a mom myself I know I’d do the exact same thing.

It’s what moms do.

Motherhood is such a special thing, and it truly got me through the year in more ways than one. Not only do mothers take care of our own families, but we look out for one another with the same selfless spirit, as well.

So long, 2016

I may be a month behind on bidding the year adieu, but 2016 truly was one for the books. I launched a business, I turned 30, I moved cross country, and our family grew {well, my belly grew. Audrey missed 2016 by 7 days.}

And for the record, if 2017 could be a little less eventful, that would be okay by me.

12 mompreneur tips for thriving {not just surviving} during the holidays

Holidays are such a special time to spend with family and friends. I love the lights, the traditions, the food, and the extra time at home with my loved ones. Yet, just because my kids get off from school, doesn’t mean my business stops – or even slows down.

So I took to the experts…fellow business owners and mamas who juggle their careers and their kiddos….to ask what tips they suggest for not just surviving, but thriving while working from home during the holidays. Keep reading to find out what I learned!
mompreneur tips

Plan ahead & stay organized.

 

Schedule out your days! While the holidays can often throw routine into chaos, take the time NOW to actually schedule out what needs to be done and by when; don’t just make a “to do” list and expect it’ll get done. Just because there’s only a few days left in the year doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off; get ready to rock 2017!

-Amber,  Thrifty Guardian and Embracing Temerity

 

 

Plan ahead! Make a schedule of play and working blocks, and have a few activities in your back pocket to keep the kids busy while you stay on your grind. Don’t forget to give your clients the heads up, too – send out an email outlining your holiday availability, noting any alterations to your office hours and reminding them of your preferred contact method.

-Resa, Eye Heart Creative

 

I use Trello during the holidays (especially my holiday gift and card planning board which helps me to brainstorm gifts and makes sure I’m mailing presents out on time.) I also use Trello to keep track of what is happening with my business and household, including recipes and meal plans, which takes a lot of stress off of me. Trello gives me confidence and allows the holidays to be more fun this year, since I’m in it all the time for my business anyway. It’s easy and fun.

-Dana Malstaff, Boss Mom

 

Find the time{r} to work with your kids.

 

Working with kids in the home is challenging. The one tip that keeps me focused and productive – and this has worked from 3 years old to the teen years – has been a timer and working in time blocks. My young children were able to watch a timer and keep themselves busy for 20 minutes in the other room while I did a deep focus block. I worked the way up to 45 minute blocks as they got older. I have found that with 2-4 focus blocks a day, I can conquer most of the heavy lifting.

– Cecily, Cecily: Nutrition, Love and Transformation

 

I use a pomodoro timer. I set it for 20 minute increments and I can only work during that time. No checking email, no social media, no attending to house work. You would be amazed how much you get done when the time is ticking…literally!

-Kristin, Pond Photography

 

 

During school vacations, I move my work from the home office to the kitchen. This way, I am literally running a command center within reach of everyone and everything we need. If there is a stretch of time coming up when I know that I need to be engaged with work, I try to have a ‘favorite’ on hand for the girls. Homemade play-doh is a double whammy, because we make it together which takes about 10 minutes, but then they have an open ended activity that – after a good raid of the junk drawer – can literally last hours!

-Jenna, Rodan + Fields Independent Consultant

Set boundaries for yourself

The holidays are my busiest season and I have to be very intentional about setting boundaries. When it’s Family Cookie-Baking Night, I don’t worry about Christmas shopping or work. When I’m working, I’m don’t feel guilt over the millions of Pinterest holiday crafts I could be doing with my kids. Peace is attainable if we fully engage in the task at hand and look for joy in the process.

– Jillian, Jillian Jones Music

 

Without a clearly defined schedule, it’s easy to lose yourself in work and totally miss out on family time. After all, isn’t the ability to be more present with our loved ones a big reason many of us work from home? Mark your off times in a calendaring system (I use Acuity Scheduling’s free plan) for your clients, put your hours on your website and in your email signature, and send your clients a note letting them know your hours. Block off personal time and guard it with your life. I promise, this Spring you won’t look back and regret having spent a little less time on your business and a little more with your kids during the holiday season

-Becky, Becky Mollenkamp, LLC

 

Take some time out for you. It sounds like a near impossible task with everything going on during the holidays, with work, the kids, and holiday commitments. Find some time to allow yourself to check out from your business, even if for a night after the kiddos are in bed, to Netflix binge, take a relaxing bubble bath, or enjoy a glass of wine to let your mind take a holiday, too!

-Britt, Home Sweet Hyatt

 

And finally, don’t forget what the season is really about….

 

The key to thriving in the holiday season is maintaining a place of rest and refreshment in your home for you and your family. Simply put, it’s about less stuff. In our culture we live and breathe a constant flash of discounts, sales, and good deals. And because of that, our homes can easily be filled with all of those things. Keep the season focused on enjoying your loved ones and experiencing life with them, let the new year ring in with memories, not overload of things that were accumulated through the month of December.

-Amy, Simplified Home

 

I think the holiday season is all about giving grace and savoring the moments.  As working moms we need to really allow ourselves the opportunity to fully enjoy those memories we’re creating with loved ones, but it’s also a lucrative time for many of us professionally.  Doing our best with what is truly important and forgetting the rest {for me it’s Christmas cards this year} is what makes thriving this season possible.

-Gwen, The Makerista

 

The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones and making good memories. My tip for working mamas is to plan what you can & let go of the rest. Plan/schedule out your work times and your fun times – be realistic knowing that you will want to let your hair down a bit in this season. Also, know that not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay too.

-Veronica, Radiant Life Consulting

 

 


What tips would you add to the list to up your efficiency while working from home during the holidays? Share them in the comments!

“I still wanted to do challenging, high level work”

Q&A with Charissa Fitch

I was recently introduced to a working mom rocking the start-up scene by our mutual friends at Werk.

Charissa is an attorney turned inventor and entrepreneur. Like many of today’s working moms, she left a job that no longer worked for her in pursuit of building a company that would provide the solutions to her own career concerns: her desire to give her kids the time they deserved with their mom, while also putting her smarts and skills to good use in a professional setting.

And she’s on her way to doing just that! Charissa envisions a company where highly ambitious women {and men} can experience flexible schedules and benefits, while working for a dynamic, fulfilling business. She’s on a mission to support parents with great experience that may have “stepped back” from work for various reasons and are now hoping to re-enter the workforce on their own terms.

Now that’s a company I can get behind!

Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

WileyRoo is a parent products company. Our mission is to create innovative products that make parenting and caregiving easier. Our first product offering, bababutler, is a solution to the hassle and chaos created by pumping and breast milk storage. bababutler is a flexible band that fits on most bottles, bags, and containers. It has a timer and thermometer that track the usable time and temperature of breast milk {or the content of the container}. bababutler is smart enabled and communicates with your smart phone or device via an application.

For example, once you put a bababutler band on a collection bottle you can set the time for 8 hours {for room temperature breast milk} and the alarm will sound once that time has expired. At the end of 8 hours if you haven’t used the milk you can leave the band in place and reset it to 120hrs {5 days} and put it in the refrigerator. bababutler is also great for anything you need to remember: medication, supplements, birth control, time sensitive food. Because the alarm is on the item it’s a terrific way to ensure that you, your nanny, daycare, or school remembers to administer medication or supplements to children. bababutler remembers for you!

And you’ve got big plans for growth, too.

My goal for 2017 is to continue to build a dynamic team and to surpass our first-year sales goals.

The idea for bababutler came from necessity. Any tips for pumping/nursing moms?

I had a hard time nursing my daughter. Not only did we have problems latching, but I also struggled with my milk supply. I found fenugreek and oatmeal to be very helpful with supply. Also, as much as I loved the handsfree nursing bra, I found that messaging my breasts while pumping increased my production. The most frustrating part for me was milk storage, which is why I invented the bababutler. My hope is that bababutler eliminates the chaos that surrounds breast milk storage and helps moms to pump and breastfeed as long as they want. New moms could use one less thing to stress about!

Before WileyRoo, you were an attorney. Why’d you step back out of the corporate scene?

Practicing law wasn’t working for me anymore. My husband’s company relocated us three times in six years and during that time we had two babies 17 months apart. I wanted to be home with my kids as much as possible, but “reduced hours” attorney positions can be difficult to find. So, I decided not to practice after our last move 18 months ago. I still wanted to do challenging, high level work, but I didn’t want to put in the {inflexible} hours that litigation can require.

What has been the best part about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur has been amazing! I work when I want to and that allows me to spend more time with my family. Running a start-up is crazy, hard work, but it feels awesome to create something and see where it goes. I think my favorite part is learning so many new things. Running a company is very different than practicing law, so it has required me to learn many, many new skills. For example, I’ve learned how to use Adobe Illustrator. I’m definitely not an expert, but after fumbling around over and over I can use it if necessary; that is much more than I could have said a year ago.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

There are constant surprises! I’m surprised at how long everything takes. I’m surprised at the wonderful response we’ve received so far. I am surprised when our nanny quits, out of the blue, a couple of weeks before I leave for a 5-day work trip. The surprises keep rolling in.

wileyroo

What do you hope your children take away from all of your hard work?

If nothing else, I hope my kids learn that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. I wasn’t happy with a traditional career path, so I’m trying my best to create a company that will give people {myself included} the flexibility they need. I think many women {and men} probably feel this way once they have a family. Also I hope my daughter sees that you can be a mommy and a supportive wife and still be a badass boss lady, because they are not mutually exclusive. It just takes creativity.

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

My advice is… you’re doing fine. We are all too hard on ourselves. If you’re worried about how you are doing as a mom, then you’re probably doing a great job. Useful advice: hire help. If you can afford to pay someone to do something you hate {ie: laundry, cooking, etc.}, then do it!

What keeps you sane?

My faith and my family. I’m very “high strung” so I tend to stress easily. Fortunately, I have always had a close relationship with Jesus that helps me through many hard times. Prayer keeps me at peace with what is going on around me. My husband is also a big help; he can talk me down most of the time.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I struggle with trying to have it all. For me it means being happy with my marriage, being happy with how I’m mothering, and being happy with where I am in my career and personal ambitions. Those things never happen at the same time for more than 10 minutes! If I’m snuggling with my two-year-old on a rainy afternoon, then I’m neglecting something that needs to be done for WileyRoo. If I’m going on a date with my husband on Saturday night, my kids are sad that I’m not saying their “night nights.” You can’t have “it all” because you can’t “do it all”- not at the same time. I think I have more than I deserve and more than I ever imagined!


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

“The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even greater if you go for it!”

Q&A with Nellie Akalp

When I was approached by Nellie Akalp’s publicist about featuring her story in an interview for my blog, I was immediately impressed. Not only did phrases like “serial entrepreneur” and “mother of four” jump out at me as someone I could definitely relate to, but as I read her story I realized she was one working mom from whom I could also learn a thing or two.

Nellie Akalp started her first business with $100 and sold it 8 years later for millions. If I don’t have your attention yet, instead of retiring early, Nellie got back into the industry with the launch of her current business, now recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies in America.

I chatted with Nellie about her entrepreneurial story and how she and her husband started a business literally from nothing and grew it into a multi-million dollar venture, only to turn around and do it all over again while raising their four children!


Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

I’m an entrepreneur, mother of four, author, speaker, and business expert. As the founder and CEO of CorpNet.com I work with entrepreneurs daily to help them start, grow and maintain their businesses. CorpNet is an online legal document filing service that provides new and existing business owners with the most cost effective and comprehensive products and services for starting a business whether it be setting up a sole proprietorship/partnership, incorporating or setting up an LLC, or running and even expanding a business. We help entrepreneurs incorporate, form LLCs, file DBAs and more on a daily basis. For those with an existing business CorpNet.com can help with corporate compliance to ensure the business owner is kept up to date on important due dates each year.

Before CorpNet, you ran a success company that was eventually acquired by Intuit for $20 million. Why’d you head back to work?

After my non-compete ran out with the old company, I realized that I was too bored, too passionate and way too young to take on an early retirement! Plus I was still so deeply in love and passionate about small business and helping other entrepreneurs start their startups, so I decided to start it all over again with CorpNet.com. It’s never been about the money for me; it’s about creating something out of nothing and watching it explode and create solutions that solves problems.

You’ve helped hundreds of thousands of businesses get off the ground. From your experience, what’s the biggest factor holding back future business owners?

I think what holds most entrepreneurs back is the lack of willingness to take risks. Being too afraid to try new things, implement ideas, think big or looking stupid in front of friends, colleagues and loves ones really causes people to hold off on going after their business dreams and goals. The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even GREATER if you go for it!

Have you ever failed? How did you overcome it?

I have failed more than a hundred times and I am still not done failing. In order to be successful, failure is definitely a pre-requisite to absolute true success. I look at failure as a message that there are bigger and better opportunities lying ahead that must be seized, and seldom look at it as a negative. In a nutshell, failure is a part of life, if you don’t fail, you will never learn, if you don’t learn, you can never change and evolve as a person.

What is the best part about being an entrepreneur?

The ability to do the things you love to do the most and being able to do it on your own time and terms without any limitations is really, in my opinion, the best! In addition, being able to have it all, raising children and having an amazing career all at the same time, where I can inspire and motivate other mommy entrepreneurs that you can have it all is just the best!

What does a typical day look like for you?

In my life, trying to balance running a very fast-paced, growing business, and balancing it with managing a household of 4 kids and having a healthy marriage requires planning and routine. Here is a rough snapshot:

6:00am – wake up, shower and drink coffee, make breakfast for kids, check email
6:30am – wake up kids
7:00am – feed kids
7:20am – take kids to school
7:45am – get to gym and workout
9:00am – work till 3:00
3:00pm – pick up my daughter and spend one-on-one time with her until we pick up other three kids from middle school and high school
3:45pm – pick up the three other kids take everyone to get a snack
4:30pm – get home and help with homework and start dinner if no games after school
6:00pm – dinner with family
7:00pm – take kids to dance or other after school activities (either my husband or I while the other attends to the other kids and does homework)
9:00pm – bedtime for kids
9-11:00pm – me time where I make myself a tea, take a bath and time with Phil where we watch a movie or just chat about the day
11:00pm – bedtime for me and it starts all over again the next morning!

nellieakalp1

Your husband is also your business partner. How do you split the responsibilities at work and at home?

It’s all about being organized, planning ahead and staying one step ahead of your game. Work stuff will come up at home and family stuff will come up at work. It’s bound to happen – after all, I am married to my husband and business partner! For us though, we don’t try and totally separate the two because that just makes things more complicated. We deal with what comes up as it arises. If you plan ahead and know your schedule and stuff does come up, you’re more prepared on how to deal with it if you do. Again, a total balance should never be the key, but you should try to have both aspects of your life exist in harmony.

You have four kiddos. Has becoming a mom influenced your professional goals?

Absolutely 150%! It makes me want to work even harder, but more efficiently and qualitatively because time is so scarce and these kids grow up so fast. I know my time is limited with them. I want to spend every waking minute with them when they are not at school or not at an after school sport or activity. It also has made my #1 goal be that I will never ever work for anyone else and will always be my own boss.

What do you hope they take away from your success?

I want my children to know that true success comes from a ton of hard work and never giving up. If you fail, it’s not the failure that matters. It’s how you rise from it and get up that makes you a winner.

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

The three things I would share with working moms are:

  1. Set Goals Early and Often. I think a lot of new entrepreneurs don’t think about setting goals when they first start out. They just want to get the business started and begin making money. But setting goals is a really easy way to set your sights on where you want to go. You might not hit your sales target for the quarter, but if you do your best to get there, you’ll likely do better than you would have without that goal. And don’t just set one goal and leave it at that. I like to set new goals every year and even every month to keep myself and my team moving in the right direction.
  2. Be Willing to Take Risks. You’re already a bit open to risks, or you wouldn’t be starting a business! But don’t be afraid to try new things, implement ideas, and think big. The risks may be bigger, but so will the rewards.
  3. Protect Yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have told new entrepreneurs to protect your business and yourself! Forming a corporation or filing an LLC is such a simple thing to do, but the benefits extend long beyond your first year and it’s the best way to protect your personal assets should your business be sued down the line.

What keeps you sane?

Plan a vacation, even if it’s tough. Set boundaries with technology. Make time to exercise. Take Breaks during the day. Prioritize your day and limit your tasks and goals to 3-5 per day. Don’t try to control everything and just go with the flow. Reduce distractions during the day. Establish a firm “end time” to your day {and work week}. Physical and emotional wellbeing is really important, but getting spiritual something is also a huge must for me. It keeps me present and in tune with my higher power.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I don’t think I have it all and even if I did, I would still want more! I would still want to work, because it has never ever for one minute been about the money for me. We could have retired after our first business was acquired and I’m sure many people would have. But for us, it just didn’t work and I didn’t feel like I “had it all.” Yes, I like to be able to go to bed at night knowing that I have money to pay my bills and have no stress. But, more important to me is being able to watch and see people’s lives change and transform in the work I do and services I provide. That’s why I still work and still run a business!


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Want to be happier? Maybe it’s time to quit your job.

be happier quit your job

In case you missed it, 2016 is the year of the female entrepreneur.

More and more women are taking their professional lives into their own hands and starting a business.

So what’s so appealing about being a business owner anyway?

Do moms who own a business work fewer hours?

Not necessarily.

Do they have fewer responsibilities?

Not at all.

Do they have less stress at work?

Definitely not.

In fact, most business owners would probably say they work more hours, have more responsibilities and carry more stress about their companies than employees do.

But the one thing I’ve learned from 9 months of interviewing working moms is that those who work for themselves say the biggest perk is the freedom and flexibility it brings to their lives. Heck, that’s exactly what I was looking for when I left my 9-5, too.

Moms who run their own businesses are able to put their family first when they need to and clock the extra hours when it’s convenient for them. Also, most entrepreneurs have a passion for their work that makes it not feel so much like, well, working. This brings them more satisfaction at home and at the office.

It turns out my small community of real working moms fits into a bigger theory:

Entrepreneurs are among the happiest people.

This has been my motivation behind starting this blog all along: to take the guilt out of being a working mom and reveal the happy, fulfilling lives we can enjoy as kick-butt career women and super involved parents.

You may be thinking I’m nuts. You love your job. You’re doing fulfilling work and you have an employer who values you and understands that you’re a mom first. {Go you! Seriously, share where you work with other mamas!}

But maybe when you read that you immediately stopped and said to yourself, “Wait! I want to be happier! Should I quit my job and start a business?”

The truth is, being a business owner isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay.

Perhaps you just need a new job at a company with more flex-time. Or a better boss. Maybe staying home with your kids as a full time mama would bring you more happiness.

But it’s possible that you’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch and simply don’t know how to get started.

I’ve been working through this over the last few years myself. When I took a leap of faith and quit my job last fall to go out on my own it was terrifying! There were so many things to consider…what if no one buys what I’m selling? What if I fail? What if?

Here are 3 things to ask yourself before pursuing the entrepreneurial life:

1. Do I have a good idea I’m passionate about?

There’s no point in quitting your job to start a business if you don’t know what your business is! Two things are going to be important to your success. First, make sure it’s a good idea – meaning someone will actually pay you for it. You’re going to need to make money, ya know? Second, make sure it’s something you believe in. You’re going to spend a lot of time working on it, so it will help if you don’t get sick of it two months in.

If you have your good idea and your passion ready to go, it’s time to nail down the specifics. What products or services will you offer? What will you charge for them? Where will you sell them? Who is your ideal client? Step 1: write a business plan.

2. Am I prepared to work my butt off?

Entrepreneurs may be happier, but no one said they have it easier. Especially in the beginning. Starting a business will not be a walk in the park in your yoga pants sipping lattes. {Okay, maybe if that’s what you want to do you can carve out the time…it’s about flexibility, remember?} You will need to work hard to make things happen and drive your company forward. You may need to hire people to help you, which means that you’ll need the money to pay them. Without that steady paycheck from your day job, the pressure is all on you to perform. So make sure you’re ready to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get your business off the ground.

3. What is holding me back?

You’ve been sitting on your good idea for years. You know you’re a super hard worker. So, why haven’t you gotten off the bench yet? When I quit my job, I was the primary bread-winner {my entrepreneur husband’s business was doing well, but much of the money was reinvested back into the company}, the family was on my employer’s health insurance and our savings wasn’t quite where it needed to be. I felt an immense amount of pressure to stay put and be the stable one.

While all of those excuses are valid, the decision to become an entrepreneur or not came down to one simple word: fear. Ultimately I decided I wasn’t going to let a word stop me from going after what I wanted.

I want to hear from you! Do you think your work-life plays a role in your overall happiness? Has fear ever held you back from going after what you wanted?

SIDE NOTE: Let me end by saying that I am a firm believer that happiness is choice, first and foremost. The authority to chose happiness in life is yours alone. So whether you’re an entrepreneur, super hard worker, full time mama, or all three, I hope you find happiness in whatever you pursue!