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Finding A Balance

By Debra Cohen

Two years ago I left a career as Vice President of Sales for an international publishing firm in Manhattan for a slightly less glamorous pursuit--motherhood. From an economic point of view, my decision to give up my career was a difficult one considering that my husband and I had just purchased our first home only months before. However, after many long discussions, we both agreed to tighten our belts because the sacrifice would ultimately be worth it.

After a few months of full-time motherhood had passed, I realized that while I still wanted to be at home, I missed the stimulation of a career not to mention the income. I felt that my life had gone from one extreme (full time career) to another (full time motherhood) and I needed a more equitable balance in my life. I also wasn't completely comfortable with the notion of not contributing to the family funds when I knew that I was a capable and productive individual. I started to do some soul searching and created a mental checklist of what I enjoyed, what my abilities were, and what I was willing to invest both personally and financially in a career.

At the same time as I was evaluating my career options, I was facing a challenge all too familiar to homeowners across the country: How to find reliable home improvement contractors? I spent many afternoons waiting for plumbers who never showed andlistening to pest control experts trying to sell me services that I clearly didn't need. When I finally did stumble upon a talented professional who I felt I could trust, I kept his/her name close at hand for future reference. That's when my idea for a home-based businesscame to me and I decided to launch Home Remedies™.

Home Remedies of NY™, Inc. is a comprehensive Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) which fills two important needs in the home improvement marketplace: 1) An HRN is a reliable resource for homeowners seeking dependable home improvement contractors such as painters, plumbers, carpenters, etc., and 2) It is an "outsourced" sales and marketing force for the contractors represented in the network.

On a personal level, I knew that I could make this type of business work because it would capitalize upon my sales, marketing and organizational ability as well as satisfy my desire to feel as if I was helping others in some small way. The business could be operated out of my home, would require a minimal capital investment and would provide me with the stimulation and the income I needed.

Just a few months later, after consulting with lawyers, insurance agents, accountants, family and friends, I put together a business plan and set up an office in our basement adjacent to my daughter's playroom. While the surroundings were far less glamorous than my former office in a posh midtown Manhattan duplex, they were functional and served my purposes to say the least. I scheduled my workday around my daughter's daily routine--morning tv hours and naptimes--and made the most of after dinner hours and weekends when my husband was around to help out. I found that with limited hours in the day to devote to my business, I was using my time more efficiently and was stimulated by the feeling of being productive again. It wasn't long after I had my network of contractors in place and started promoting my services that my phone was ringing with calls from homeowners!

Now, just two years later, Home Remedies™ has served more than 300 homeowners in Nassau County, New York with jobs ranging from bathroom renovations, pest control and nursery design to floor refinishing, party entertainment and chauffeur services. I've become a resource in my community for reliable independent contractors who can handle virtually any household task. Both the contractors represented in my network and my clients have come to value my services and best of all, my days are productive and stimulating.

When I look back at where I was just a few years ago, I realize how fortunate I am that I was able to find a balance between career and family that worked for me. Although I acknowledge that my accomplishments thus far were largely due to hard work, dedication and persistence, I also think that being able to listen to my instincts about what felt right to me and what didn't has played a large part in my success thus far. As far as the day-to-day balancing act of running a home based business and full-time motherhood, I simply try to get as much accomplished as I can each day without compromising my reason for staying at home in the first place--namely my family.

Debra Cohen is President and founder of Home Remedies of NY™, Inc. For more information about the HRN business, visit her website at or contact Ms. Cohen via e-mail at or by telephone at (516)374-8504. Be sure to mention that you read about her business at the Bizymoms website.

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