Create A Business People Believe In
And watch angels fight to invest
I believe in what you are doing.
If I were to give you a large chunk of cash, what kind of return could you get me?
Those are things people said when they approached me about investing in my company. Unsolicited. This happened in two waves, in amounts up to six figures.
And? I said no to all of them.
When someone you offers you money, the immediate response is to say yes. What greater confirmation can you have that your business model is the right one than to have people buy into it? But there are major ramifications to taking someone’s money. For starters, they have a say in your company. Yes, you can do a straight up loan where you pay them 8% interest and they have no voting privileges. But the minute you take that money, you are locking yourself into a specific path. And if you change that path? Expect objections.
People do not like change. They would like for things to stay the same forever. Of course, that is impossible. But they will exert strong pressure on you to stay in exactly the same place. Never mind if market factors have changed. If your personal situation is now different. They want exactly what they bought into. And sometimes? The thing that felt so right three years ago suddenly feels like a train about to crash into a ravine.
That is what happened to me. I created a business designed to help parents get back to work. The premise was simple. 100% of people have their worlds rocked when they become parents. For women, the work they were doing before they had a child suddenly is no longer a good fit. But how do you transition to a different position? By leveraging relevant skills to work with a small business owner, adding on experience and getting a reference for a new position utilizing your newly fledged abilities.
I have seen it happen over and over. People get hired for bookkeeping, a constant headache for small businesses. They do social media for the business for a year, put it on their resumes, interview and get hired by big companies. People with degrees from fashion institutions work as receptionists for a year and then get hired by a major style brand. It does not matter how you get your foot in the door at a company — what matters is the experience you can put on your resume. And small businesses? Are much more likely to let you wear multiple hats than large organizations that want you to do your job and only your job.
Will you get paid less? Absolutely yes. But think about it this way. Your time at a small biz is a paid apprenticeship. You get to test out a field that interests you at zero cost to yourself. If you don’t like it? You walk away. But if you love it? You have a stepping stone to bigger things.
When I founded the Metro Moms Network® in 2010 with an executive team of six amazing people with expertise in editing, business, finance and technology, the goal was to connect local parents with opportunities to transition to new careers. Word spread like wildfire. I had parents and businesses approach me on the street looking to connect. Send email asking for meetings. We had plans for an app to add value to our biannual expos, website and magazine. Franchise requests poured in, some from overseas. We were changing the world, making a positive impact on families.
And then Hurricane Sandy hit, damaging the homes of my team members. Including my own residence. Suddenly, the energy formerly devoted to empire building was spent on rebuilding. Battling soaring construction costs and reluctant insurance companies. Over the next two years, everyone moved, both physically and psychologically. Our core audience left the area. The company became an afterthought.
But something else happened. I became a celebrity overnight. Because I retained cellphone power throughout the hurricane, I got the attention of people all over the world. The Associated Press interviewed me. Reuters. Yahoo! News requested an article that I typed with a flashlight trained on my dying laptop and submitted via my phone’s internet connection.
As my company faded away, my personal star rose. And I came to realize that I could accomplish the same goal of helping parents transition to different careers just through being me. So that is what I did.
And because I never took angel cash? I was free to let go of the reins and put my company on hiatus. Will it ever reemerge? Who knows. But whether the Metro Moms Network® flourishes or becomes a footnote, there are no strings attached. No investors to send quarterly reports to. No anxiety. What will be will be. And businesses that grow organically? Tend to be the ones that endure.
Kathy Zucker is an international social media Shorty Award winner, mother of three and a startup founder at companies including the Metro Moms Network®.