Work at Home Profile: Janice and Susan/5 Minutes for Mom

janice-susan-blogher08 Name and type of Business:
Winter Marketing Inc. (DBA 5 Minutes for Mom)
Winter Marketing USA Corp. (DBA Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love)
We have two corporations: a Canadian corporation that owns our 5 Minutes for Mom blog network and a US Corporation that owns our ecommerce stores, Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love.

How long have you been in this business:
We started our stores early 2005 and 5 Minutes for Mom in early 2006.

What is the biggest challenge about having your business and family under the same roof?
Screaming kids while you’re on the phone! LOL
But no, seriously, it’s just as you’d imagine… work never ends and your family experiences you constantly running to your computer to do one more thing.

How have you managed child care (if applicable):
Until 2007, when Janice and I both had babies within 2 weeks of each other, we juggled our business and our kids with only a few teenage babysitters helping us. One of us would work while the other looked after Julia and Jackson.

Once Olivia and Sophia arrived, we knew we needed full time help. Now, we both have nannies that help with our children during work hours.

What is your favorite part about being in business for yourself? Least favorite?
For me the best part of being in business for myself is being able to think up an idea, decide to execute it, and then go for it! I’ve never considered myself creative in an artistic sense — I can barely draw a stickman. But I’ve discovered that I am creative after all.

The least favorite part of running my own business is the accounting. We have a bookkeeper, but still, the details of the financial side of the business bore me.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
My biggest mistake is one that, unfortunately, I am still making every day — not outsourcing effectively. It is a constant struggle to try to grow your business. You need people to help, but you need the cash flow to pay them. And not only is the cash flow tricky, trying to find the right new employees and contractors and manage their tasks is a full time job in itself. There are no easy answers to this challenge and we’re constantly struggling with it.

What is the best decision you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
To team up with my sister and my mother and create our Corporate structure right from the beginning.

What advice do you have for anyone considering starting a work at home business or job?
Decide up front if you are going to be in business for yourself or if you want partners. If you are considering a partnership, be very careful who you choose. Even if you are confident your relationship will never turn sour, set out the partnership details in writing and determine how you would proceed if one of you chooses to leave the business.

In 2006, identical twin sisters, Janice and Susan, created 5 Minutes for Mom and it quickly became an essential, go-to site for moms that entertains and informs, while promoting the online mom community.
Janice and Susan’s backgrounds in writing, software development, business consulting, and ecommerce store management, along with their experience as mothers of young children, help them deliver their high traffic mom blog.
The twin sisters work at home managing 5 Minutes for Mom and the network of sister blogs as well as their two online stores: Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and A Rocking Horse To Love.

DONT’T FORGET to enter to win a FranklinCovey Planning System and free online session with LiveClick. Read more information and find out how to enter here.

Giveaway: Get Organized with FranklinCovey

It is always important to be organized on the job. However, for some reason, especially when starting out, when someone works from home, they are likely fall victim to the “winging-it” way of doing things. Nothing will get you started out on the wrong foot more than being disorganized.

This week we will be focusing on getting organized when working from home. And what’s a better way to kick that off than to give away some goodies from one of the leading daily planner companies?

There are lots of daily planners out there. But FranklinCovey has some of the most comprehensive planners on the market. Additionally, they offer webinar classes on organizing and planning.

I am so excited to be able to offer a planning system and online session to one lucky winner.

The winner of this giveaway will receive a FranklinCovey Complete Planning Kit and a session of LiveClicks of their choice.

33296_lrgcase

The Kit includes includes all of the tools that the Focus Seminar Attendees receive when they go through the training course. It will has dated daily planning pages, tabs in the back to keep track of your goals, roles, values and finances, a storage piece to keep your extra pages and accessories and some other accessories as well as a vinyl binder.

About LiveClicks:

Now anyone can experience the world-renowned benefits of FranklinCovey training, no matter where they live or work around the globe. LiveClicks webinar workshops by FranklinCovey are one-to-two-hour online training sessions that offer compelling content award winning videos, and live engagement with expert consultants.

FOR YOURSELF

Are you trying to improve your abilities but can’t afford to take too much time away from your home or office? With our weekly schedule of LiveClicks webinars you’ll experience highly engaging training right from your desk on a wide variety of topics. Award winning videos, exciting activities and live communication with the instructor will help you learn better and retain the knowledge you’ve received.

  • Save time and money
  • Get trained without the obstacles or cost of traveling
  • Increase your effectiveness and impact in your current roles
  • Decrease time away from your office and your family

To enter to win:

Leave a comment on this post.

You can also receive additional entries for each of the following that you do:

1) Twitter about the contest and link to the actual twitter (not just your twitter account) Receive an additional entry for each day you twitter about it, as well.

2) Write about the contest and/or Modern Media Mom on your blog and link to it in comments.

3) Link to it on Facebook

Contest will run until Saturday, May 30th. I will announce the winner at 5pm.

Many thanks to FranklinCovey for this fantastic giveaway.

The Intersection of (offline) Life and (online) Life [NHL TweetUp 2009]

If you read my last post (actually… it’s the one right before my Easter post, but I’m lazy and can’t figure out how to properly word its location…), you know that our family has become obsessed a big fan of hockey. (If you haven’t read it, then scroll down and read it. I’ll wait) And now, because of this newfound obsession hobby, my online and offline lives have intersected once again.

Last night, my family attended the Nashville area NHL TweetUp. All over North America, TweetUps were being held to kickoff the NHL playoffs. While our beloved Preds didn’t make it into the playoffs <sob> it was still a great chance to meet face-to-face with other obsessed fans who I have gotten to know through Twitter.

My little guy had his photo taken. He was representin’, yo!

declan at tweetup

We got to meet Mr. and Mrs. “Forechecker” (and their cute kids)

forechecker and mrsforchecker

We missed out on seeing Gnash. He came and went before we arrived. But how neat that the Predators actually got involved with the event (they also donated a lot of autographed items for giveaways)

If you want to read more about the NHL TweetUps and find out if there is one in your city (some cities are holding theirs later in the week), read here and here.

Thanks to the organizers and the Predators, for making this event a success!

View the photo set here.

(photo credit: loudestnoise)

If you have photos from one of the NHL TweetUps or attended, leave your link in comments. And follow me at Twitter (@karpo)

Unexpected Gifts

As anyone who follows me on Facebook knows, for the last 40+ days I have been without a laptop. In the grand scheme of life, this hasn’t been a life shattering experience. But there has certainly been a learning curve to adjusting to life without technological mobility.

Though I did it plenty, I really had no reason to whine. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a six year old piece of crap desktop backup. And I had backed up and stored all of my data, documents and graphics on an online database (whew!).

Not being able to move my computer around with me and having to share the computer with my husband (side note: as if it doesn’t sort of ring ridiculous right now, can you imagine even making that comment a decade ago??!!) has forced me to spend my computer time more efficiently. Get on – get it done – get off. And because of that, I’ve actually learned some things through it all…

What I’ve learned while being laptop-less:

  • Real live kids are cuter than any I can find or read about online.
  • A computer doesn’t need to be on 24/7.
  • The internet won’t fall off it’s axis if I’m not on it.
  • The same number of emails and comments are sent to me whether I check once a day, or 50 times a day.
  • There is life on the patio that doesn’t include typing.
  • Focusing on one task at a time is possible.
  • Getting up and down from the computer chair doesn’t count as exercise.
  • Recipes can just as easily be found in a real-live (paper!) cookbook
  • To find out the weather, go outside. 
  • I am able to manage my time well.

That being said: Any minute now today, I will be receiving a wonderful brand-new-to-me laptop, courtesy of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Who says in-laws aren’t incredible?

Here’s to lessons learned. And hoping it doesn’t take another dead laptop to remind me of them.

Keep A Private Online Diary

A blog is what people typically think of when they are considering writing and keeping a journal online. But what if you are wanting to keep a journal that allows you to insert photos and easily share your entries, while also allowing you to keep it private and secure?

Penzu is one such site. Not only is it super secure (if someone were to obtain your login and password, they’d also have to enter a password to read any entries you have locked), but it is easy and fun to use. (I love the notebook paper background) And? It’s free.

When I first came across Penzu, the concept seemed a bit odd. The idea of typing all of that info out and then saving it where no one can see it struck me as a waste of time. But, I am a blogger because I am comfortable with putting personal thoughts out on the web for others to see. If I wasn’t comfortable with that, my options would be:

  • pen and paper (shoot me now. I hate writing with a pen and paper. plus my handwriting has gotten horrid since college)
  • using a word processing program (cumbersome)

So I can see how a site like Penzu would be worth a second look.

Another plus is that it is easy to insert photos and, if you choose to, share your entries with others.

Be sure to take advantage of the “Print” feature. You wouldn’t want to risk losing all of your memories to a server disaster.

For more info:
Why use Penzu?
Penzu – FAQ

Another option:
Google Docs: free; easy to use. Docs can also be shared with others. However, not password protected/locked

Share: Do you journal? If so, do you use a blog? pen and paper?

photo: incurable_hippie