This is for my Mompreneurs: How to Startup
I’ve had a ton of mamas ask me about the ins and outs of my business. There’s so much more that goes into it than meets the eye. I have my blog, Land of Mom, and Happy Mom Conference to oversee and they are separate but intertwined. I also have a small online shop with Happy Mom gear for making mom-ing a little more stylish and fun! And as a full-time mama to my three boys, you can imagine it's a constant juggle and struggle to manage motherhood and my business!
I’ve learned a lot along the way... much of it by trial and error, as is the case for most entrepreneurs. But I’ve also had some great teachers and supporters to help guide me on my business journey. And today, I've asked some of my favorites to share their expertise in this article that I'm dedicating to all of my fellow mompreneurs. I'm so excited to introduce you to my good friends and colleagues... the amazing contributors to this super resourceful article (I wish I had this info when I was starting out)!
If you're like most entrepreneurs, you know your craft, and dealing with legal seems a bit daunting and you may wonder if it's even necessary or where to begin. I'm definitely not an expert here, so I'm going to introduce you to the guy who's walked me through the legal roadmap for my business and identified next steps and priorities.
Grant Atkinson and his team at Framework Law Group are entrepreneurs too, so they get it. They break things down into four simple categories to create a legal roadmap for each business they meet. Some steps are required by law to keep your business in good standing and other steps can actually be very helpful for the growth and security of your business.
The Entrepreneur Legal Roadmap by Grant Atkinson
This information is not legal advice, but it should serve as an informative starting point.
1. Choose Your Business Entity
The first thing to consider is your business entity. There are a lot of different ways to run your business, and each has its pros and cons. For example, you could be:
Sole Proprietor - This just means you are doing business as yourself as an individual. It's probably the easiest and cheapest way to set up a business, but it doesn't come with any limited liability protection and you may end up paying more in taxes. This means that you may be personally liable for any damages caused by your business and you won't be able to take advantage of certain tax options that can be helpful for corporations.
Corporations & LLCs - Generally we recommend businesses set up a corporation or an LLC to shield your personal assets from business liabilities and to potentially save money on taxes. There are some nuances between S-Corps, C-Corps, LLCs, and Non-Profits. It's always best to consult with a lawyer and an accountant to see what is best for your business.
2. Register Your Licenses & Permits
Then, regardless of whether you are a sole proprietor, corporation or LLC, you will likely need a few basic licenses and permits including:
A Business License with the City (for city tax purposes)
A Sellers Permit with the State (if you sell goods)
A Fictitious Business Name (i.e. a DBA if you are "Doing Business As" a name different than your legal name)
These are the things that are generally required regardless of whether you want to deal with legal or not. For certain business in regulated industries like food, alcohol, or cannabis, additional licenses and permits may be necessary.
3. Secure Your Intellectual Property
Next, we recommend that businesses protect their intellectual property. This stops other people from stealing your hard work so you can grow a strong brand with protected assets, including:
Trademarks - These secure the exclusive rights to your business identity, including your business name, logo, slogan, and unique product names.
Copyrights - These protect your creative works, such as writings, photos, videos, or audio recordings.
Patents - These secure exclusive rights to your inventions.
Trade Secrets - This refers to secret information, including client lists, recipes, and other private information that you should safeguard.
4. Prepare Founding & Day-to-Day Contracts
Finally, we look at what contracts you need to found your business and run your day-to-day operations. Contracts help establish your business relationships, create blueprints for business endeavors, limit your liability, and secure your assets. Common contracts you should consider include:
Founder Agreements - Establishing ownership and control over your company with any co-founders you have
Client Service Agreement - Setting terms and conditions with your clients
Employee and Contractor Agreements - For your workers
Investor Agreements - If you are taking on investments
Such good info, right?! Now, mamas, this is all helpful, but it's important to work with an attorney who understands the unique needs of your business so you can navigate your legal, strengthen your craft, and grow a successful business. I highly recommend Grant and his team if you're looking for some guidance or even a business legal consultation as a starting point.
To learn more about Grant’s firm's legal offerings and if they are a fit for you and your business check out their website.
Bills, bills, bills! And, hopefully for you… invoicing, invoicing, invoicing! Money and finance can sometimes be the last thing you want to have to wrangle with... but as a mompreneur, you're likely trying to figure it out all on your own with little help from your tax accountant... or is that just me? Ha! I don't know everything here, but I have learned that devoting a bit of time and consistency will do you a world of good down the line in your business.
I want to introduce you to Claire Van Holland, Founder & Principal at the CV Ledger, Inc. Claire is a 50% left brain, right brain split and is equally creative as she is analytical, with an extensive career building financial projections, budgets and analyses for corporate media. After learning the operational challenges of being a small business owner, Claire and her team work closely with entrepreneurs to help them manage their numbers. She's sharing some insight today, mamas... keep reading!
3 Ways to Elevate your Business Finances by Claire Van Holland
1. Create attainable financial goals
If you don’t already have them laid out, now is the time to get on it! Start by creating a bucket list of all the financial goals that you want to reach by the end of the year.
You will want to be realistic about these goals. If you earned $150K in net income last year, is it realistic to grow by 400% the following year?
Goal setting is typically a mix of gut and historic data, but use everything you know to arrive at an educated number. Whether that’s 40% gut- and 60% data-based or some other combo, the tools are all there, now use them!
2. Know your money management style
Are you hands ON? Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t mind looking at numbers on a regular basis, and may even find some level of satisfaction from the control you have knowing what is going on, as long as you have the right tools and resources.
Or maybe you are hands OFF and for one or many reasons can’t be bothered because of a busy schedule, or a lack of knowledge, tools or resources.
Perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle, where you work out of a system such as a spreadsheet or a financial tracker like Mint or Quickbooks and are going strong until life happens... then you fall behind on your well-planned routine and the idea of sitting down for hours upon hours is daunting.
Knowing upfront, being honest with yourself, and recognizing what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to money and finances will arm you with the ability to choose the right tools and resources to understand what you’ll need to properly manage your finances.
3. Know your resources
There are tools available to you that can help along the way:
Mint - A free tool, you can pull in your business bank feeds & credit cards so you can begin categorizing your expenses and incoming money.
Xero - For the more advanced, this is a beautiful accounting software that is intuitive and specifically geared towards small business owners, allowing you to categorize transactions, send invoices and receive digital payments from clients.
Quickbooks Self-Employed - Another accounting software that is a bit more simple in function, but allows you to record your business transactions, send invoices and receive payments as needed in a clean, simple design that makes quarterly self-employment taxes a breeze!
If you have more questions re: your business finances, you can contact Claire directly here.
Now that your business is on it’s way to being in tip-top legal and accounting shape, you’ll want to think about your branding!
If your business is just an idea in your head or if you’re at the beginning stages of your business, getting started can be overwhelming. Starting with a solid brand foundation can help you gain the clarity to talk about your business in a clear, concise and confident way. If you have an already established business but aren't communicating your message properly, you are probably not attracting your ideal audience or turning the type of profit you'd like to see.
If you attended the Happy Mom Conference back in 2018, you were in the lucky bunch that got to hear Hilary Hartling speak in person and lead an awesome branding workshop. BUT, if you missed it, not to worry because she's sharing some key branding tips here today! There are many steps to building your strategic brand, but to start, Hilary's sharing how you can connect to the "why" of your brand and heart of your client.
5 Steps to Finding Brand Clarity by Hilary Hartling
1. Start by creating a brand vision board
This will get you out of your over-thinking brain and guide you to follow your heart. Pull images together (use Pinterest if you’d like) that reflect what you want your brand to represent. Write down why you specifically chose each picture.
2. Be purposeful with your brand
What do you want others to know, feel, and do when they come across your brand? This helps you think through the information you need to communicate to be clear, how you need to craft messaging that connects and attracts and the call to action you need to continue the conversation with your ideal clients.
3. Choose 3 key brand words
Narrowing down your brand into 3 brand words will help you focus on the most important things about your brand and what you need to be in order to attract your audience. What do you want your clients to feel when they interact with your brand…is your brand inspiring? Friendly? Fun? Inspirational? Motivational? Spend some time really brainstorming this!
4. Make sure you know your ideal client
Who specifically is “your audience”? You don’t want to build a make-believe client avatar. You want to base this on real-life people! Who do you know (past clients or simply people in your life) who would benefit from what you’re offering? Start to identify their real challenges, real dreams and real goals and base your brand messaging around those real things.
5. Understand the benefits of your brand
A lot of entrepreneurs get stuck talking about the features of their brands, when they need to focus on the benefits. The features tell people the specifics of what you do - the process. It gives your audience information but doesn’t inspire them. To connect with them on a heart-level, you need to identify the benefits of your brand, or the ultimate value you offer as a result of them working with you.
To learn more about building a brand that captivates your audience, head to Hilary's website.
Running a business is hard, often lonely work, and paying for promotion for your product, event, or service can only get you so far in this noisy world. Why operate in a vacuum when you could collaborate with well-aligned partners to help one another gain exposure and achieve your goals together?
One of the first things I did for my business was feature other awesome and hard-working mompreneurs in my popular blog series, #MomBossMondays. I thought, why not create a platform where I can put these amazing ladies on a pedestal and help them reach a new audience... the audience benefits too, with lots of inspiration and tips to be found when they read!
Boss mama Baily Hancock teaches female entrepreneurs how to think collaboratively and empowers them to successfully create, manage, execute, and evaluate partnerships to amplify their marketing strategy and grow their business without spending a ton of money. Sounds simple enough to do without any thought, right? But it's not... good collaboration requires strategic thinking and planning. Baily is here to help!
6 Steps to Growing your Business with Collaboration by Baily Hancock
1. Get clear on what you can give
Before you reach out to any potential partner about a collaboration, first identify what you have to offer. The most effective kinds of partnerships are barter relationships, meaning you give something of value in exchange for something of value from the partner. Consider what you can give that would be of interest to your potential partner, whether that’s sharing your knowledge and expertise, giving them access to your community, or providing them with discounts to your products/services.
2. Understand what you can get
Knowing why you want to collaborate in the first place is crucial, otherwise you won’t know what to ask for from a partnership. The most common reason for collaboration is promotion for your business to a well-aligned community, but you could also want discounts to their offerings for your community, an event venue, or food and beverage. Creating a list of everything you’d want in an ideal scenario is the best place to start, then once you know what they have to give you can prioritize your needs.
3. Find the right partner
There’s no sense in collaborating with a company or individual who doesn’t have access to the target market you’re after, so look for partners who have an existing community of your “future fans”. For example, if you’re targeting 30-something year-old women with small children, you wouldn’t partner with a company who sells razors to college-aged men. If you’re having trouble thinking of potential partners, think about the types of places you get information day-to-day, the kinds of products/services you buy, and the groups you’re a member of. Those all make for perfect partners, because generally, we are our own target market. Some of the typical partner categories are content platforms (like Land of Mom), podcasts, Facebook groups, product/service-based companies, membership groups, and events.
4. Craft a mutually-beneficial collaboration
Once you’ve identified a potential partner who has a well-aligned community to yours, the next step is to find out what their goals are so you can see if there’s a way to support them while achieving your own. For example, if they’re a content platform and their number one priority is to put out quality articles every week, and you’re focused on generating awareness for your company, there’s an obvious overlap in your goals. You can offer to write a guest blog post for their site so long as they’re willing to link to your site and promote the article on their social channels. This solves both of your needs, and does so in a way that’s mutually-beneficial and fairly simply to execute. Always look for the middle piece on the Venn-Diagram between what you each want, and go from there.
5. Execute to Perfection
Identifying a great partner and crafting the perfect collaboration idea are important, but executing the activation as flawlessly as possible will ensure that you both end up happy. Clearly outlining tasks and deadlines and maintaining open lines of communication is the best way to make sure everyone’s on the same page throughout the life of the partnership. Always do what you said you’d do, don’t miss deadlines, and hold one another accountable. Transparency and honesty are everything in maintaining a healthy, happy partnership.
6. Evaluate + Iterate + Replicate
It’s easy to wrap up a collaboration and move on to the next thing on your to-do list, but taking a beat to evaluate the success (or lack thereof) of the partnership is absolutely necessary. Doing so allows you to see whether the collaboration went according to plan, and will highlight elements that you’d like to improve upon should you do it again. Baily has her clients use this Collaboration Evaluation Checklist and has them share it with their partner. When you hop on a post-activation recap call (which you should do within two weeks of the activation), you'll all be using the same rubric to measure success. After you’ve had that call, decide whether you’d like to continue the partnership, place it on hold for now, or end the relationship. Transparency and honesty are the best methods for making sure a relationship stays positive, even if you decide not to re-engage.
All in all, partnerships and collaborations should be a beneficial, enjoyable way to achieve your business goals. Head to Baily’s website if you’d like to learn more about whether creating a collaboration strategy makes sense for your business.
I LOVE MY MOMPRENEURS!
Mompreneurs are superheroes! Are we not?! There's something so amazing about a woman who wants to do it all! She's an amazing mama and she loves her children to death, but she fiercely loves her work too, and enough to make space for it in her crazy busy mama life.
It never feels like there's enough time in a day when you are a mama of little babes, but I'm here to tell you, you do not have to give up on your dreams when you become a mom. I repeat, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS WHEN YOU BECOME A MOM. If you love a thing a lot (anything) you'll make room for it in your life... you'll find a way to make it fit. Soul search! I promise it'll get you there!
I really hope this article helped give you a glimpse into what it takes to build a solid foundation for your business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to build a successful business, but I believe each one of you can do it if you put your mind and heart to it.
If you enjoyed learning the tips from Grant, Claire, Hilary, and Baily, make sure to sign up to receive Happy Mail... it goes out every Sunday and I love highlighting business experts who offer the best industry advice!
Let us know in the comments below what questions you have about starting your business OR if you already have a business, what roadblock have you stumbled across? We'll do our best to answer and guide you on your business journey!