How to start a business—and still have time for the rest of your life

You are a mom. You have a career. You need to use your time VERY wisely.

How to start a business—and still have time for the rest of your life

It’s Monday morning. As you semi-tearfully leave your babe(s) behind, you dream about running your own business that somehow leaves time for you to have it all—family time, a career and the ability to pursue your passions.

Then the doubts start creeping in your mind: Where would you even start? How much money would you have to put in? What about job security? Is it really possible? It is. I did it. Over the years I’ve had tons of business ideas, but never pulled the trigger until now. Finally, I felt inspired and passionate enough about a topic (bringing natural baby products, from Europe to the US market) to take the next step.

Here is what I have learned along the way on how to make it work:

1. Create a unique value proposition

What is something you are passionate about and knowledgable on? What is something you wish you had that is missing or hard to get? What is something that would make your life easier? These are countless questions that have led me to come up with new business ideas. When I was pregnant, I started researching new baby products like any new mom. After reading a study about New Zealand changing mattress materials and reducing SIDS by 70 percent, I started questioning materials in all things baby-related. I found it really difficult to get straightforward answers and found that European brands generally had higher quality standards. It was hard for me to buy them, so I decided to fill this niche and bring it to other U.S. moms. Voila—value proposition!

2. Research the competition

Start with an easy place: Google. Search for similar concepts and think about how you could provide something they can’t. Don’t just stop at Google. Scour message boards, social media and your local community for similar ideas or value propositions and then write out how your idea is different.

Prior to Peurobaby, I had an idea for a half-liter wine sampling business (my other passion as a certified sommelier and former wine blogger). Turns out there are a ton of other companies doing the exact same thing. I stopped and kept thinking.

3. Create customer avatars

Write out profiles for who your customers are. Be specific with a name, age and where they live. What are their goals and values? Where do they get information? What are their challenges and pain points? This will help provide direction to you in everything from website design, wording, marketing and more. It will also be the ground truth you come back to when dealing with difficult decisions.

4. Create your own entrepreneur network

You might feel as if you don’t know any other entrepreneurs, but you can start small. I talked to a friend and her husband who started their own boutique, and a friend with her own acupuncture studio. I reached out to friends of friends and then their friends to ask about building websites, warehouses, SEO, social media campaigns and more. Some of the advice was helpful, some wasn’t—but it helped me take the first steps such as setting up an LLC and helped me ask the right questions to take the next steps.

5. Just reach out

The best way to get started is to contact experts. If you have an idea that needs to be manufactured, do a simple Google search for manufacturers producing something similar enough and schedule a call. If your idea is around a service, contact a company that does something related and see if they are interested in partnering in some way. They won’t all be helpful, but they help you formulate your questions and figure out what next steps to take. I was first super intimidated by the import process and felt overwhelmed on where to start. For a while, I stalled while researching the process. Finally, I started just getting in touch with companies I was interested in working with—many of which already knew the next steps and helped me figure it out for those who didn’t.

6. Set goals

Set long, short and medium term goals. Then set goals within those goals. I sat and wrote down my long-term vision for Peurobaby: To be the premiere destination for high-quality, non-toxic baby items. My medium and short term goals were targeting a specific number of customers and sales. Then I set weekly goals of what I needed to do that week to get to the next place. Seeing these written down created a goal-oriented to-do list.

7. Ruthlessly prioritize

You are a mom. You have a career. You need to use your time VERY wisely. Anytime you find yourself doing something for your business, immediately try to match it to a goal. If you can’t, why are you doing it? Then follow the next two pieces of advice...

8. Figure out what you are good at

Find out what you’re GREAT at, good at, terrible at and your kryptonite. Only invest your actual time in the great and maybe sometimes the good and get help for everything else. For me, research and investigating products fell into the “great” category while SEO was taking me forever to ramp up on. I invested my time and prioritized the things I was great at myself and sought resources for other things.

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9. Get help

Find people who are good at your weaknesses. One of the brands I was carrying introduced me to a social media expert that taught a class on the subject at Stanford. Although working with him wasn’t free, I felt the investment to learn and the investment to my business would come back 10x—and I was right!

10. Invest everything back into the business

Don’t expect to profit right away... Or even soon. I went into my business with an explicit plan of taking every penny I made and investing it back into Peurobaby through marketing, inventory of new brands, launching exclusive products, giveaways and more. This is hard because it takes patience and requires continued investment into your current career, too.

11. Leverage your local community

Get involved with local businesses that can partner with you. They may not seem obvious at first, but think about your customer avatars and where they might go. For Peurobaby, I thought about local new moms and started speaking at events at yoga studios, pop-up shops at neighborhood block parties and talking to local moms.

12. Leverage a virtual community

Think about who your customers are online. Social media is a critical tool. Find bloggers, social influencers, Facebook groups and online message boards that are talking about the problem you are trying to solve and engage in conversations with them.

13. Don’t be afraid to fail

You will make mistakes. You will probably spend a little money that you didn’t need to spend or make a wrong choice. Don’t let it stop you or get in your way, just internalize and learn from it. At first, I spent way too much money researching the import process instead of just reaching out for free information. I also hired (and later fired) a web designer to help set up my online store, when I quickly realized how easy it was to do with Shopify. These were wastes of time and resources, but I didn’t let them stop me from taking the next step.

Above all, remember, you’ve got this, mama! ?

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As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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