6 Lessons Learned From a Mompreneur
Kim Leistner Root founded springfieldmoms.org an online resource and social media network that organizes everything you need to know from pregnancy to sending your kids off to college (in the Greater Springfield Area,) but it’s not just for Moms! The What’s Happening Calendar is one of the most popular in town for things to do as well as the Neighborhood Garage Sale Guide, and Fall & Holiday Seasonal Guides. Today, the springfieldmoms.org website enjoys more than 416,000 page views and 181,000 session visits annually, averaging two minutes spent per session. Springfield Moms social media reach has more than 10,200 followers via Facebook alone.
Below, Kim shares lessons learned from her original idea in 2004 to where they are today 12 years later.
- Find a Need. Fill a Need. I was the mom of a two year-old and nine-month old, and I couldn’t find the information I needed where I needed it (online; 24/7.) Were there others who needed this info too? YES! I tested the idea, drafted the business plan and started small. The response was immediate and positive, and within a few years, we’d built a very loyal following of readers that were accessing our information on a regular basis. We had a business model to sell advertising sponsorships to support and maintain the website and hire staff.
- Engage your Customers: Get out face-to-face in your community at events to spread the word and talk about your business to all of the groups that serve! We provided free kids crafts to area families at these events and signed people up for our email list. We respond to reader emails, comments and outreach within 24 hours. We engage with our readers with content inquiries, contests, reader-shared stories and photo sharing. We’ve established an open line of communication through years of trust!
- Set an appointment at the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land CC. They will provide a neutral sounding board for your ideas. I shared my business plan with Director, Kevin Lust, and he shared feedback on where to tweak/further test and also shared ideas of what others were doing. It was very helpful and also kept me accountable. It’s important to keep asking for input from trusted leaders and people you admire so you can refine your plan.
- Keep your day job! Don’t expand too quickly! I was burning the midnight oil working while my kids were asleep and juggling a full-time job as well. I met with a few people about franchising my website to other cities, but in the end, I didn’t have the time to manage other cities/staff. My kids were young, and I needed the flexibility to be around for their activities. Serving the communities around Springfield with a hyper-local focus has been a successful business model.
- Adapt your business plan annually. Technology changes. Your customer’s needs change; kids are getting older and challenges are different. There are continual distractions that will happen to your business and, of course, LIFE happens too! You have to be ready to adapt at any time and be open to NEW ways to grow your business. I had no idea that Social Media & Mobile Marketing would be such a critical portion of our business when I started 12 years ago.
- Be Genuine and True. My favorite quote: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Teddy Roosevelt. My kids were the inspiration for this business and have been with me every step of the way. From helping out at events and passing out brochures to writing guest blogs and taking photos for the website. My daughters have learned what it takes to build a brand from the ground up! I’ve demonstrated how important it is to be yourself and appreciate everyone that helps you along the way.
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You can reach Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or office/cell 217-622-6966.