I was also fortunate to communicate with Shara, the owner of Mommy Perks, and after doing so I must say I was truly inspired. And of course, now I can say, "I have my Mommy Perks." Do you?
Here's an excerpt of an article done by Business Opportunities Weblog.
What is Mommy Perks and what do you offer?
Mommy Perks is a free online savings program for moms, nation-wide. We offer discounts and perks from each business listed. We have contests, giveaways, freebies, informative newsletters, events in varying states, etc. We have secured Dr. Sally Goldberg, PhD as our resident parenting blogger - she offers free parenting tips on her blog and is the author of 7 parenting books (currently working on her 8th!). We have a great kid’s page, also, with various experts writing articles and ideas for kids about music, health, culture, arts, and crafts and more. Our GreenScene page gives simple green living tips and we have a Resale Shop coming soon - we are very excited about that (it is now open)! A safe and affordable way to buy and sell for the whole family - yay!
How does someone become a Mommy Perks Representative and how does it work?
We used to accept any mom who wanted to be a Rep. We now screen the forms more closely (which research tells us is far more effective when running a business like ours) that come through to make sure the moms are a good fit for Mommy Perks, before offering a Rep spot. We get inquiries almost daily now and many moms are unaware of the amount of time and effort we put into each Rep - to train, answer questions, give them marketing materials, run the website (which we have to pay for, of course), etc. Therefore, we do require an annual investment. Rather than make Mommy Perks a “franchise” (the cost of this is VERY high and would require that we charge thousands of dollars to buy in) we have chosen to offer Rep spots for a low annual investment of $200. This fee can be paid back with the sale of just a few ads and this way, no mom will ever need to take out a loan to work with us. All Reps earn 50% of any ads that come into their area or any ads they sell. Mommy Perks maintains the entire website and we do not charge the Reps a web fee of any kind. Reps can also earn money by referring others to the Resale Shop (once it’s open) and by selling newsletter spots, goodie bag spots in their own areas at events, etc. We provide each Rep with a press release to send out, banners, buttons, fliers, tips, ideas for marketing and more. We are growing a team… not just a business.
What do people get from a membership at your website?
To become a member (the moms) is free. Each member is entered into a shopping spree contest and will receive 2-3 emails each month from us offering tips, recipes, events, discounts from our partners, charity info - all kinds of things. They may shop the business on our site and take advantage of the discounts and “perks” by using their membership card number. They get that number after joining on our free JOIN page. They are also welcome to read the blogs and ask Dr. Sally their parenting questions - no charge.
Why did you decide to start your website? How long has it been since you launched?
The founder, Lori, started Mommy Perks as a way to supplement her own family income, after her husband lost his job (unfairly). The site was started in 2005. Since that time it’s grown at a steady pace. In 2008, Lori sold the business to me and my partner, Lorraine. We took on a new professional web designer (my work at home husband, Rick!) and since then, the membership on our site has doubled and we are now growing at a rapid pace. Some days I can barely keep up with the emails and phone calls coming in.
What are some of your long term goals?
Oh, boy, so many! To get our Resale Shop up, to add more great Reps to our team so we can continue to thrive, to offer more moms the chance to work from home and earn a living selling something that every business NEEDS: marketing! We want to always keep our rates affordable so that any small and mom-owned business can afford to advertise with us. We plan to run more events around the nation - family events, etc. We’ve been called by a couple of very large companies recently, asking to work with us in some way. I can’t give names but hopefully some of those details will come through and it will benefit all of us - the Main Office, the Reps, the advertisers and the members. We consider ourselves a “community” of sorts - moms who support each other and see the importance of supporting small business. We work hard to refer our advertisers to others who might need/want their services and products. Long-term, we hope to add more great and unique businesses to our site so we have more people to refer! I ask often if we have someone for cupcakes or lawn work or for this or that. I’d love to have someone in every category in every city for every business…
How much planning went into building Mommy Perks to the website it is today? What were some of the steps you had to take?
You don’t want to know how much time! LOL. Hours and hours and hours to get the site where it is today. Lots of changes have been made and we have listened to the input of many members and advertisers who told us how the site would function and work better. By putting a professional web designer in charge we have been able to shift from being a good site to a GREAT site. That took planning and thinking and talking through what the ‘public’ was telling us and then integrating that into a system that would work Online for everyone… everywhere. Not easy but we are getting there.
If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be and why?
Hmm… I guess if I had to pick something I’d have made sure my husband was in charge of the website sooner - LOL. He has done such amazing work and we have had so many compliments on the changes - it would have been nice if that had happened even sooner. That being said, I really believe that God is in control and everything happens in His timing. So there was a reason for all of this coming about in due time just as it has meant to. I am fine with that.
What kind of investment did it take to get started?
When Lori began the business the investment was minimal, other than her time. However, to buy her out cost me a pretty penny. We had to take out a loan, let’s put it that way. And my co-partner also had to take out a loan to buy her share. So we have invested a great deal of money and TIME to get this business to where we want it to be.
Did you have any previous experience that you were able to apply to your website? Yes, actually, we did. My husband has been doing web design and development for 20 years and has run his own home business for 10+ years (http://www.dmpros.com/). He is doing very well so he brought all kinds of wisdom and knowledge to Mommy Perks and we learn a LOT from him every day. I own another business as well (http://www.personalchildstories.com/) and have built that business up quickly with little financial investment - by making great connections and networking contacts, etc. I run workshops at local bookstores and have created custom books for people all over the country and as far as Australia. My books are in numerous locations as samples now and my networking connections have helped greatly with Mommy Perks, to boot. Lorraine, my partner, owns another business also (http://www.littletreasuresofarizona.com/). She has brought a lot of business know-how and contacts with her for Mommy Perks, too. Together, the three of us are able to share tips, market, network, finds leads, partner with others, work trades, etc.
How have you managed your time between working and parenthood?
That is a tough one. We try hard to give our kids time and attention but because we BOTH work from home, it can be rough. The kids see us working and think we ought to be playing since we are home, after-all! They don’t quite grasp that we need to have some set work hours and THEN play. We are building a home office outside right now so that we can take turns being out there and away from the main home. That way, the kids will see that one of us is working in the office at varying times and find it easier to associate work hours verses home hours.
What advice do you have for other women interested in finding a way to work from home?
I think my #1 piece of advice would be this: don’t do it if you think it will be easier. It’s not easy. It takes drive and determination to make a home business run. Just like any other job, you need to be committed if you want things to come to fruition. Nothing happens on it’s own and money doesn’t just come in the mail without earning it. If you worked at Target and did a poor job, you’d lose your position, right? A home business is no different. If you don’t put in the time and effort and great customer service, it will be lost. Period.
Take the time to think through what you like to do and what you are good at. That is key. What are your likes and dislikes? If you hate sales, don’t do sales. If you love kids, look into childcare. If you love to read and write, try freelancing. If you enjoy creating with your hands, try woodworking or glass creations. Do what you love and you will love what you do. Success, in my opinion, is not measured by sales but rather by the joy and excitement you feel after spending the day doing what you were meant to do.
This article is a excerpt and partial reprint of an article in Business Opportunities Weblog which can be found at http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2008/07/04/the-real-perks-of-motherhood/. Permission to reprint was granted by Shara of Mommy Perks.