1. Tell us a little about your business and how you started it?
Stroller Strides was one of those “ah ha moments” in your life. I was a new mom on maternity leave and every moment was precious to me. I loved working in the fitness industry but did not want to go back to work full time in a traditional capacity. Unfortunately, I could not afford to be a stay at home mom. So while working out with my son, I realized that I could help other moms get back in to shape if I put a class together. This would help me too because I did not know any new moms and was looking for a way to connect. I came up with the name on that very walk. I started with just a few moms in my local neighborhood and word soon spread and we grew quickly from there.
2. In your opinion what is the greatest thing about Stroller Srides?
There is no one thing. It is such a feel good program on many levels. Personally I feel that one of the greatest things is that we give women around the country the opportunity to have a career that is supportive of motherhood. We are a company run by moms, for moms. But it’s so much more than that. We help moms at a very challenging (but wonderful) time in their life. We support them physically and emotionally through motherhood. For the kids, I am a true believer that we are inspiring this next generation to embrace health and fitness because it’s a part of their lives since infanthood.
3. Do you believe that women can have it all?
If having it all is having career and family then YES. If feeling balanced in that equation then no. It’s not an easy life but it’s not one that I or any mompreneur would trade for anything. We live very full, very busy lives.
4. Let us talk about your franchising opportunity. Are most of your franchisees women and if so why?
All of our franchisees are women and most are moms. The business is very female based. I don’t think a man would identify with that it’s about family first, not money. Besides, I think we would scare a man away at the first talk about leaking breasts and kegel exercises. We get applicants for working for the company and franchising every day of the year. I think it just shows that there are not enough careers out there supportive of motherhood.
5. What kind of support do you offer your franchisees?
A ton! Moms need support so we want this business to have as many tools as possible. We have an incredible franchise support team. But we also have a web based business center that is chock full of tutorials, demo’s, trainings, forums and more.
6. What is the most gratifying thing about being a Stroller Strides franchisee?
I think being able to bring your child to work with you every day is pretty gratifying. Our franchisees get letters from their clients about how their lives have been touched from this program. How many businesses can you make such a difference?
7. Any words of wisdom for women wanting to be their own boss?
Does just do it ring a bell? You need to move forward with an attitude that is unstoppable. You need to want it so much that no obstacle or challenge will get in your way. Realize that you don't have to be an expert or have a degree in something to be successful in business.
8. What has been the biggest hurdle you have faced in your business so far and how did you overcome the hurdle?
Believe it or not, the biggest hurdle is in balancing work with motherhood. When you are working, you feel like you should be with your kids and when you are with your kids, you feel like you should be working. Of course, growing a new business, there are financial challenges. We have chosen to fund the company ourselves rather than bring in investors. This way, we can truly run the company as we see fit and only have to answer to ourselves.
9. You are a regular contributor to Mompreneur section of Entrepreneur.com. You write about home based business moms. In your experience what are a couple of the most common mistakes moms in business make?
1) They start a business without thinking it through. For instance, they start a business so they can be home with their kids but fail to realize the amount of time it would take to launch that particular business. In reality, many mompreneurs are with their kids less than if they had a traditional job. Make sure to start a business that truly can be done from home and on your hours.
2) They are unwilling to take risk. You need to take some financial risk to start almost any business. The money won’t come rolling in right away unless you are extremely lucky. You need to be willing to stay the course.
3) They think it will be easy. Juggling work and motherhood is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I thought it was easier when I worked in a traditional job by far. However, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
10. How do you balance work and motherhood? Can you share with us some of your time management tips?
1) Have a plan. If you just wait for work time to happen, it never will. Plans may fall through if kids don’t nap, get sick or nanny cancels but at least you get it done more often than not.
2) Be organized and stay organized. Your work time is precious. If you have to search through files and organize yourself every time you sit down, you waste that precious work time. Be ready to work efficiently as soon as you sit down. Don’t answer your home phone just because you’re home.
3) Work on the fringe hours of the day. You’ll get a lot of work done before your family wakes up or after they go to bed.
11. What is the most enjoyable part of your day?
When my kids wake up, we sit on the couch and snuggle together. It’s a great way to start the day and keeps me going!
12. If you had your time again, is there anything in business that you would do differently?
Hire the right attorney from the start. A good attorney and a good accountant are priceless.
13. Finally, your five keys to success?
No fear of failure
CNEI – Constant Never Ending Improvement
Hire people that are more talented than me
Believe that anything is possible
Realize that I’m human and sometimes good enough will have to do
14. Stroller Strides has grown so quickly in just a few years. Tell us how you took it from a home business to a national franchise?
Just after starting that first class, we started getting requests for classes all over San Diego, so we kept adding more. By the end of the first year, we had over 12 classes and 1000 moms participating in San Diego. During that first year, we got requests for classes all over the country. I had no idea at the time how I would accomplish that one. Then one of my instructors said that she was moving and wanted to start classes in her new town. I agreed and gave her all of the plans to run her own classes. She was a hit. We then decided to release 10 “beta” locations across the country to see how it would work in other cities. We learned a lot, tweaked a few things and then they were a hit. We hired attorneys, worked with consultants and joined the International Franchise Association. We are now franchised across the country and have nearly 200 franchisees.
15. Now that you have moved well beyond home business, do you still work from home or do you have a corporate office? What about your employees, are they mostly moms?
Believe it or not, I still work from home. We bought the home that we have because we knew that the office would well fit all of our employees as they come and go. I have 12 employees who all have keys to my house and come in throughout the week. They too are home based but come here for meetings or to get special work done. It's a little strange but it works for all of us. All of my employees are moms! We had a couple who were not but have become moms since starting with us. We are a very "fertile" company - no joke!
16. What is a typical “day in the life” of Lisa like?
Wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and grab coffee that has been pre-set and ready. Get on my computer and work on emails from about 5:00 – 6:30 when my kids wake up. I will do the mom thing and get their breakfast, pack my son’s lunch, get them dressed, etc. My son will go to school and then I will take Rachel to Stroller Strides class 3 days per week. My nanny meets me after class and I head right to the house to work. These traditional work hours are when I schedule my meetings, phone calls, etc. I work until about 4:00 when my son comes home from school. I then do the mommy thing again until they go to bed. Luckily, my kids go to bed early (about 7:00). I then work from 7:00 – 10ish and go to bed and it starts all over again.
17. What advice do you have for others starting their own home business?
1) Think about WHY you want to do this. It will help you stay on track. My purpose was so that I could have a career that was supportive of motherhood. This purpose has totally driven many decisions about how I’ve grown the business.
2) Be passionate about your idea
3) Learn from others who have grown their own company. ASK ask ask questions. There are so many answers out there. NO reason to reinvent the wheel
18. What are your absolute favorite products or resources that you can't live without in your business?
Earnware.com is our web based business center that I can’t live without. I get my emails, phone, fax and my entire office virtually anywhere I can get internet. Every wahm needs fast internet, google.com to learn and a cell phone!
19. How do you strive to achieve a work/life balance?
I schedule workout time for myself a few times / week just like I would any other appointment. I also have rules for myself that I am very good about keeping. For instance, I won’t take night appointments even though they would be much appreciated by other moms. My day is long and I need to draw the line somewhere. When I’m with my kids, I do my best to truly be with them and when I’m working, I stay totally focused on work. You do NOT have to answer your home phone just because you are working at home. Save personal calls for when you are driving on errands.