Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world’s first and only collective of offline meetups and online resources for mom entrepreneurs that was named a Top 100 Website for Entrepreneurs in 2015 by Forbes. She’s the author of Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, a co-host of Inc. Magazine’s top-rated entertaining business podcast, Breaking Down Your Business. She was recently named one of the Top 50 Women to Watch In Tech as well as a Top 100 Champion Small Business Influencer. Read our interview with the lovely Jill below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Desperation. I was running two unrelated businesses at the same time, and I was pregnant with my second baby girl, wondering how I was going to raise 2 kiddos and build 2 businesses, all at the same time. So I used Meetup.com as my call for help. And it just kept growing, so I turned it into a business.
Tell us about your business.
The Founding Moms is a collective of offline meetups and online resources for mom entrepreneurs. We have monthly meetups with business experts in 50+ cities in 12 countries around the world. We’re now at 10,000+ members and the community, both offline and online, it is a tremendous support system for entrepreneurial moms.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes! For the rest of the month, anyone who joins our online community, The Founding Moms Community, gets a copy of the newly-released audiobook, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs, for free!
Inc. Magazine has listed us several times as a top website for entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs. We’ve received recognition from Forbes, People Magazine, ABC7, Fox, and NBC TV, and we’re waiting on Ellen DeGeneres to return my call. 😉
Where is your business based?
I’m in Chicago, IL, but we’re international as an organization.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I started out by asking folks if they’d buy what I wanted to sell. I’ve done that for all 3 of my businesses. Without knowing if the market is out there – and I don’t trust surveys or studies to tell me that – I won’t launch. Once I know it’s out there, I create a website STAT. How else will the world think I am legit? Then I’ll be off and running testing everything from marketing plans to pricing options to more varieties of products and services, if I get there.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Outreach. Outreach like crazy. Emailing, posting to social media, and specifically, asking others to ask their friends and family and colleagues to spread the word. I am not shy when it comes to asking for help – and I think it’s the only reason we’ve grown as big as we have.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Telling everyone on planet Earth that we exist. We’d like everyone to know.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We haven’t yet. For the amount of outreach we have done, and for the amount of people who are aware about us, there are so many more who are not. That’s why we’re constantly testing new ideas to see what sticks and what brings more folks to us.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I lean on colleagues to calm me down. If I’m having a rough day, I usually reach out to someone I know to tell me that it’s not the end of the world. I avoid social media altogether because it never seems to help (and I say this because a lot of people lean on it to help them feel better and it rarely works.)
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
By making sure that people know we think business does not have to be boring. If you merely go to my Instagram feed, you’ll see what I mean.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“These things take time.”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“These things take time.”
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
ProductHunt. I’m an early adopter and app junkie, so I get my fix there by finding new tools every day.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/FMCChicago
Hashtags #theFMC #foundingmoms #womensupportingwomen
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I love Malcolm Gladwell. Instead of releasing his latest book as a book, he turned it into a podcast called Revisionist History. SO. GOOD.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Finding virtual assistants to help us build this puppy.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Opening up more Founding Moms’ Exchanges in more cities! So many more cities!
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