By Mary McCarthy
My name is Mary McCarthy and my husband and I have one son, Timothy Michael Patrick McCarthy III, born on May 13, 1999. Before Timmy was born, I graduated with a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing. I was working in a ministry based non-profit organization, and when Timmy was born, I stayed home to be a mother and full time wife.
Comfy Bummy Diapers is an online business featuring cloth diapers and accessories (http://www.comfybummy.com). Before Timmy was born, a friend from work introduced me to cloth, the benefits to the baby, to the environment, and the savings for our finances! I honestly would of never thought about using cloth diapers if I had not talked with her, and I owe so much to my friend for answering my unlimited questions and inquiries about what to purchase, how to wash, etc.
A few months after Timmy was born, I began to get a little restless. I was involved with a moms group, active in our church, and went out with friends, but I knew that something was missing. My highest dream has always been to run my own business, and eventually that little thought of starting a home business began to bug me. Then my husband and I talked about it, and he was so supportive of my ideas. When I mentioned the idea of a home business selling cloth diapers (I had tried so many kinds of diapers, so I knew that I was familiar with the business of diapers!)Tim was very excited and supportive of my ideas. Then we prayed about the decision a lot. Then we prayed more. Finally, we decided to go ahead and do it.
The main reason why I wanted to own my own business is because it has always been my dream. I consider myself to be a "self-starter." In college, I remember taking some quizzes about what it takes to be a entreprenuer. I always scored high on those tests, and I remember roommates saying that they thought I would own my own business one day.
As a new mom, I had the opportunity to be a guinea pig for cloth diaper manufacturers. Learing and using the wide variety of products that are available helped me choose what covers, prefolds, etc. to carry, and what to stay away from.
In addition, in college I focused on a business major, and I believe that a background in Marketing has helped me the most in my business venture. When utilizing a website for the majority of a business, it has to be actively marketed and promoted in order to gain traffic. With a natural drive to promote and promote my website, I have benefited with the right amount of traffic.
Thank the Lord the first month on the Internet I did make some sales! Before I officially opened, I heavily promoted my website and business all over the Internet. I focused on message boards, a few "teaser" advertisements on some "mommy" related websites, and really tried to make my name as familiar as possible with potential customers. I did pretty well the first month, and have tried to double my sales every month since then. This takes a lot of promoting and advertising, though, but I know that it's worth every minute of it!
Managing my time is the biggest challenge I face every day. With Timmy, I have to be versatile, and that is after all, the main reason why I wanted to start a home business. My goal was to be able to be with Timmy when he needed me, and work, clean the house, make dinner run errands, etc. all of the rest of the time...it becomes quite a challenge!
Yes, my family is supportive, especially my mother. She is the one that I can count on to give me advice, congratulations, or whatever I may need at the moment when I call her. Even though my husband was quite helpful in the beginning, I'm beginning to see that Monday Night Football takes first place! Actually, though I enjoy working alone, so it doesn't really bother me that my husband isn't there all the time to help. Sometimes I will ask him to pack orders, and he is more than willing to lend a hand during those times. I probably wouldn't be able to do this without his support.
To obtain new business I advertise, promote my website, particpate in contests, and do a few other little things. It really is a never ending task to build a client base!
- As far as advertising goes, I've advertised on a few sites with great response, and then advertised on others with barely a hit on my website. You really have to find compatible websites or newsletters to advertise with.
- I frequently submit articles for publication on the web. This enables me to get Comfy Bummy and my website address out in front of the public. It helps generate traffic, doesn't cost anything (usually) and establishes credibility for my business.
- Sponsoring contests has also helped me gain more traffic to my website. I usually try to participate in contests where the person has to answer a question from my website to enter. This gets them to browse around a little and maybe learn something they didn't know before about using cloth diapers!
Every month I strive to advertise in a couple of places, submit my articles to a few different websites, and sponsor at least one contest. This month I'm sponsoring four contests.
My biggest accomplishment was last months sales...I was overjoyed! Also, one customer emailed me the nicest message about how much she enjoyed ordering from me. I started to cry when I read it, it made me so happy!! My biggest dissapointment so far was an advertising decision I made. I think I jumped the gun a little, and paid for advertising for a few months in advance without trying it out first. I'm really dissapointed in the low traffic, and would have never paid for more months if I had known how little I would gain. I lost money on that decision, but I believe that you have to take risks to learn!
The first inspiration to me and my husband is our Lord. Without Him, we would have never been blessed with our miracle who is sleeping in the next room! We feel so blessed to have Timmy in our lives, and we owe it all to the Lord. The Lord is the one who has given me the gifts and talents to make this business succeed, and I indebted to the Lord for all of His many blessings in our lives! Also, I have to mention that my father, who passed away this fall, was probably the biggest influence (in addition to my mother) for my success in this business. My father was an entreprenuer, and taught me how make decisions, how to take risks, and just how to be a good person. I am truly grateful for the parents God has given (gave) me!
My best advice for moms looking to start their own home-based businesses?
Research, research, research! This was what I did the first 3-4 months before I officially opened. When you look at running business from every angle, you become ready for the challenges that will come upon you. You can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So I would recommend any mom to really delve into the industry she is looking to start a business in, and research the products, the competition, what to do to get started, how much money it will take, etc. Also, I would try to enlist the help of work at home moms to help you build your business. I luckily found the greatest website designer and hosting company, which consists of a work at home mom.