A sought-after speaker, Jill Salzman has been featured in national media outlets including People Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Daily Candy Kids, Business Matters, WGN TV and WAHM Talk Radio. Her TED talk, Why Moms Make The Best Entrepreneurs, received rave reviews. She was recently named one of the Top 50 Women To Watch In Tech. Jill’s been profiled in several books: The Solopreneur Life: 42 Solo-Business Owners Speak the Truth on Dreaming Big, Failing Forward, and Calling Your Own Shots, A Cup of Cappuccino for The Entrepreneur’s Spirit, Volume II, CRAVE Chicago and was recently featured in a film on social media. Jill currently writes for NBC5′s small business blog, Inc. Well, as well as eHow.com. She released her first book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, on January 12, 2012.
The Founding Moms® is a collective of live and local monthly meet-ups where mom entrepreneurs can exchange, connect and learn from one another. Incredible women living right in your backyard meet up to swap start-up stories, interact with renowned business experts, and build personal and professional connections within the ever-growing network of mom-owned businesses.
MO: Why do you think that moms make the best entrepreneurs?
Jill: Because we understand the roller-coaster ride of the entrepreneur really well. We’re professional multitaskers, we know how to ask others for help, and we often don’t take no for an answer. And while my focus is on moms (because I currently run The Founding Moms), I believe the same of Dads. Parents’ first start-ups are our children, so entrepreneurship in the business world is nothing new for us.
MO: What’s it been like to see your concept that started with local moms go nationwide? Have there been any challenges in scaling the business along the way?
Jill: We’ve actually gone global! We now have groups all the way in Australia and Canada, too. It’s been incredible to see the need for mom entrepreneurs to get together and help each other better build their businesses; it’s awfully redeeming to see that I wasn’t alone. And my #1 challenge is figuring out how to run this puppy without having more than one body. I can’t be in many places at the same time, so a lot of control is given over to my Hosts in each city. The Hosts are incredible at what they do, but since it’s my baby it’s hard.
MO: The Center for Women’s Business Research (CWBR) released a study last year that showed that women launch businesses at twice the rate of men. What do you think is contributing to this growing trend?
Jill: There is more accessibility to startup resources (via the Internet) than ever before, and women are very good at tapping those resources to dive in and start a profitable business. On top of that, there’s a cultural norm of men going off to find the big corporate job and because women have slightly less pressure to do so, there is more exploration in the entrepreneurial arena. Women who may have preferred to be stay-at-home moms in the past are finding more and more work-from-home opportunities that this has to be a contributing factor, too. Whatever the reason, it’s pretty neat.
MO: Congratulations on your new book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs. Can you provide our readers with some tips and tricks for the entrepreneur who is building a company and raising kids at the same time?
Jill: Thanks very much! Can do. First, I always suggest that you skip the business plan and dive right into starting it up. I’ve seen too many women get bogged down in unnecessary business plans when they don’t even know if their idea is any good (meaning that there is a market for it and people will buy their idea.) There are millions of products and services thought to be amazing by their creators that the market just doesn’t bear. Second, and perhaps more important, get out and talk to other people. They can be friends, strangers, fellow entrepreneurs…anyone who can weigh in on your idea. And even beyond that – head to parties and networking groups and meetups of any kind to talk about where you are in your business and what you may need help with. Need a graphic designer? Perhaps someone down the block knows someone. Need an accountant? I bet you’ll meet someone who knows someone. People are more than happy to help, so get out there and don’t keep quiet about it. And last tip: get more sleep.
MO: How have you managed to create such a large network of mom entrepreneurs and business experts? What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered and how have you managed to overcome them?
Jill: What’s been a huge challenge and at the same time a blessing has been the fact that our Founding Moms’ Exchanges, which is what we call our Meetups, are free. I’ve been told time and time again not to offer our amazing educational meetups for free because no one will value them and no one will show up. But we’re at nearly 2,500+ members in 2 years and I believe it’s thanks to offering our Exchanges for free. The challenging part about it is that we are making less money than we otherwise would, which we do mostly through sponsorships, but I don’t think we would have grown nearly as fast or as large if it were any different.
MO: You clearly have an entrepreneurial spirit. Who or what were your early inspirations or influences for taking the path less traveled?
Jill: Great question – I’ve never been asked before. My parents were always supportive of taking the path less traveled, but I’m not sure if that’s not a catch-22 – either they supported it and so I went after it, or I came out that way and they supported it. As for inspiration, I have found it everywhere, always. Folks who run marathons. Singers who win Grammys. People who are amazing and do amazing things – and they’re everywhere – make me want to be great at what I do. I mean, isn’t Lance Armstrong incredible?
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