Working Moms Who Built Empires From Home

This blog was originally published at LegalZoom and has been republished here with permission.

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There’s no question that raising a family is hard work. But the skills that get you through motherhood—like persistence, prioritization, organization, and creativity—also make moms well suited to small business ownership.

According to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, women own more than 12 million businesses in the United States, bringing in $1.8 trillion in annual revenue and employing 9.2 million people. Women launched more than 1,800 new businesses per day between 2017 and 2018.

For moms who want to become entrepreneurs, the key is to find a winning business idea that you’re passionate about, and then to pursue it with all your heart. Here’s how three moms did it.

Stacy Brown: The Chicken Salad Chick

Back in 2007, Stacy Brown was a divorced, stay-at-home mom looking for a way to support herself and her three young children. She liked to cook, so she started experimenting with recipes for her favorite food: chicken salad. She had some success selling her homemade chicken salad door to door, until the health department told her that her business was illegal. Undeterred, Brown opened a takeout restaurant with a partner, and the rest is chicken salad history. Chicken Salad Chick now has more than 100 franchise locations and is still growing.

Sari Davidson: BooginHead

Sari Davidson was frustrated when her toddler kept throwing his sippy cup on the floor. Tired of picking it up, she sat down at her sewing machine and made a prototype “SippiGrip” that would keep the cup in place. While still working full-time, she found manufacturers and started her company, BooginHead, which also sells pacifier blankets and other stylish products that help make parenting a little easier. The company is now a multimillion dollar business whose products are sold in Target, Walmart, and other national retailers.

Susan Petersen: Freshly Picked

Susan Petersen was a stay-at-home mom in Utah in 2006, when she opened an Etsy shop to sell handmade baby blankets. When her second child was born in 2009, she sewed up a few pairs of soft-soled leather moccasins and put them in the shop—and the shoes caught on. Today, Freshly Picked is a million-plus dollar business selling shoes, bags, and clothing online, and its line of baby shoes is available at Nordstrom.

How does an entrepreneurial mom get her start?

Everyone’s story is unique. Some successful moms are driven by a need to support the family, while others want to escape their 9-to-5 job. Still others are just looking for a little side income.

Most mompreneurs, however, have one thing in common: Their business provides a solution to a common problem. BooginHead, for example, solves the aggravation caused by a baby who drops her pacifier every five minutes. Other mom-owned businesses have solved problems ranging from unwanted muffin-top, to poorly functioning sports bras, to a lack of healthy and easy smoothies.

So, a good starting point is to identify something that bugs you, and create a product or service that solves that issue. Chances are that other people will find your solution useful, too. Here are six steps to help get your business off the ground:

1. Write down your best ideas.

It is not uncommon to have more than one great business idea. During your early brainstorming sessions, you may wind up with a handful of viable businesses. At some point, you will have to narrow your focus, and the best first step is to write down your most promising ideas.

2. Check out the competition.

For each of your ideas, check out what your competition is doing. Visit the competition’s website, check out their products or services, and read up on their press. It’s also a good idea to research where they manufacture their product and whether or not they are pursuing a patent. Then figure out how your product or service is different or better, and how you fill a void in the marketplace.

3. Select your best idea and discuss with friends and family.

Friends and family are often an entrepreneur’s most valuable resource. They can help you choose your winning idea. You can use them to test out your product. Later on, you will want to widen the group to include people outside your inner circle so you can gather more diverse opinions.

4. Build your brand identity.

One of the most exciting first steps in any business is developing your company vision into something visually concrete. Creating a company or product logo is one of the best starting points for developing your brand. It helps make the whole entrepreneurial experience more real and a basic logo is relatively inexpensive and easy to develop.

5. Trademark your name.

Your company name and logo, once developed, are your two most valuable company assets. In a world where brand is everything, it pays to protect these assets as quickly as possible by filing a federally registered trademark.

6. Incorporate or form an LLC.

There is no better way to make your business official than to legally form a business entity. Two of your options are to create a corporation or to form an LLC. Forming your company is especially important for protecting you from liability and also for opening lines of business credit, contracting with vendors, or conducting any official business.

If these moms can do it, you can, too!

These six steps are among the top ways many successful women have chosen to jump-start their businesses. But there are a hundred different ways to launch a business and no correct order for getting things done. Whether you’ve set your sights on building an at-home side business or a large global brand, now is the time to act. Once you start the ball rolling, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it picks up speed. Before you know it, you may be on your way to becoming the next women-owned business success story.

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