WHO SHE IS: Jill Salzman, Serial Entrepreneur, The Founding Moms

SUCCESS STORY: Forbes called The Founding Moms one of the Top 10 Websites for Women Entrepreneurs of 2013

WORK SCHEDULE: Unpredictable

KIDS: 2 kids — 4 & 6 years old

SANITY VICE: Singing

TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Set the dinner table in the morning right after breakfast while you’re in/near/around the kitchen. Two birds!

GO-TO TECH: Wunderlist. I love the list-making abilities and it helps for both work and play. I use the website when I’m on a computer and the app on my phone on the go.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE? Depends on the day — and ranges from 1-10.

5 Questions for Jill

1. Tell us about The Founding Moms — a fabulous resource for mom entrepreneurs — and why you started it.

I started The Founding Moms purely out of self-interest — it wasn’t meant to be a proper business. I was running two separate, unrelated businesses at the time and was pregnant with my second child. Wondering how on Earth I was going to run two businesses with two babies, I went to Meetup.com to start a local group and invited anyone who had a business and a baby to join me and share how they were doing it. Lo and behold, 6 months in we had 200 members! So I called some friends in NY and LA to see if they’d try out a meetup there. It worked. Four years later we’re in 41 cities and 7 countries around the world, and growing.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 11.25.27 AM2. If a mom is thinking about starting her own business, what’s the absolute first step she should take?

The very first step she should take is talking to people about her idea. Before she buys a domain name, before she spends a dime, she should talk to friends, family and even strangers about her biz idea. The more the merrier. And once she has a good sense of who her market is and what their reactions are like, she will have a much stronger sense about how to dive in and proceed. Really! It works every time.

3. Starting a business is a lot of work. How is the decision process to strike out on your own different for someone fully employed versus someone who isn’t working?

There’s a bit more security for the fully-employed person who wants to strike out on their own. They are likely receiving a salary and possibly benefits too. So testing out their product or service, launching a website, being able to pay for resources and dabbling in a new business is less stressful, I’d imagine, than someone who is not working. For the unpaid and uninsured, there’s a much greater risk — and different expectations, because they want and need income faster than the employed person. That said, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who thrive on that type of risk, and many of the successful business owners I know were the ones who were formerly unemployed (rather than moving laterally from corporate employment.) Each situation is unique in terms of the actual decision process to start up a company, and risk tolerance has a lot to do with both ways of doing it.

4. What businesses are you seeing the moms you work with start, and which ones are having the most success?

We see a lot more service-based businesses than product-based businesses on the whole, so my viewpoint is a tad skewed in that respect. We tend to see a huge range of businesses — marketing consultants, business coaches, lawyers, financial advisors, even women who have started construction companies and invented nail products. After meeting up with thousands of entrepreneurs over the years, I don’t see a type of business that succeeds better than another. It’s always about the founder. The best entrepreneurs could be selling shoes (hello, Zappos) and the worst entrepreneurs could be selling gold…it’s about how she runs her business much more than what she’s selling.

5. What’s the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?

So glad you asked! The media loves to put folks in boxes, and sadly, when they use the “mom” label, they still add a condescending, nearly dismissive tone which is often written up in either the “cutesy” sense or the “wow! she was able to do that just like a real person?” sense. The coverage is normally unbearable to me. I love to distinguish working moms from other working folk because we moms have an awful lot on our plates and it should be both recognized and applauded. But to make the “mom” part stand out when I am every bit a solid business person like the next business person baffles me. I am a working mom. If you could read that as “working businesswoman who has kids” that would be preferable. But rarely does a reporter write about us that way, and most folks still don’t read it that way.

5+. What advice do you live by as a working mom?

Ditch the parent guilt. No one is parenting the right way. Everyone is doing it a different way. The longer you suffer over whether your kids are getting enough attention or your business is getting enough attention, the more time you’re taking up with unnecessary worries in your day. I carried this guilt regularly for the first few years of my entrepreneurial career. Looking back, it was such an enormous waste of my time. My kiddos are happy, my business is thriving, and although I’m not parenting in the traditional sense, it’s working for us.

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