“You look so familiar. Where do I know you from?” Comments I hear from strangers several times each year; but I assure you, I’m no one famous.
My name is Teena Rose — the gal with a familiar face. =]
I’m the mother of one daughter, Rachelle.
What some might not see beyond my familiar exterior is that I was a teenage mother, and a high school dropout, so the fact that I’m now a successful business owner and book author seems a tall tale. I share some of my story because I feel it’s important for you to know we all take interesting journeys, starting in one place and finding ourselves in another.
My company and the inspiration behind it
Starting a business is difficult under the best of circumstances, but when you’re a single mom, lack the proper education, and have never been exposed to business ownership in your life, well, entrepreneurship is somewhat a tiny blip, countless oceans away.
There’s one pivotal moment in every girl’s life when something happens to change her life’s course. For me, that was when I met and married my husband — truly the love of my life.
I was married about a year when I began putting business ideas to paper. I named my business A+ Resume & Typing Service in 1996, but didn’t start operations until 1999 — later changing my company name to Resume to Referral. I often coach new business owners on overcoming the challenges faced just trying to get our butts to the starting line. After all, I probably know more about “delayed business start” than anyone.
For me, the delay was brought on by an uncomfortable mixture of doubt and lack of confidence. After all, why was my business going to succeed when so many others fail? Why would people use my service? What would attract them to me; after all, there’s nothing particularly special about me? Yup, all these questions and concerns flowed through my head, causing me to be immobile.
Another concern for start-up delay was my lack of knowledge on how businesses work. I needed to understand each facet, and ultimately wear many hats; i.e. close sales, negotiate client contracts, complete projects, design a website, write emails, navigate through the countless advertising opportunities, make clients happy, and so on and so on. Overwhelming right? It didn’t help that some of my family thought I was a bit crazy. My mom, for instance, was baffled that people would pay me to write resumes.
My husband was active military too, which also added a layer of complexity and fear.
I wish I could say that one moment in time, or something said to me became that one boost of inspiration. My “kick in the butt” moment was sudden, unexpected unemployment. That’s it! You see, I was still pondering starting a business in early 1999. I had taken the big step of acquiring a business license (surprising, I know!), when I abruptly quit my job after becoming fed up with their unprofessional business practices. Quitting my job was certainly crazy. That one crazy action however thrust me into business ownership — face first!
My start-up costs and when my company became profitable
For those who read my book, or maybe follow my blog, you know I started my business slow … very, very slow. As mentioned, I didn’t have a friend or family member in business so I lacked any resource to tap for questions or ideas. I started completely on my own, all alone. I started by reading every business book I could get my hands on — and quickly discovered there weren’t many industry-specific resources for those wanting to write resumes for a living.
With a non-existent advertising budget and limited equipment, I started and began to grow my business. I shifted from a home office to a real office (paying crazy amounts in rent!), stayed there about 3 years, and eventually moved back to being home based in 2005.
First years’ sales were sad — embarrassing actually. It wasn’t until my fourth year in business after a lunch meeting with a colleague that I was plucked out of my comfort zone and shifted operations into high gear. From then forward, I thought of my business as a quality, high-value entity instead of a hobby that merely produced egg money. Thankfully, I hit profitability during the second half of my fourth year.
What I struggle with
I struggle with many of the same issues as many others; i.e. how to optimize output and increase revenues without hindering customer relations and quality of product. What also keeps me up at night are the cruel time demands of social networking. How can I effectively leverage online networking to increase sales while enhancing company image? How do I keep up with all the communications channels and content demands placed on me, as business owner?
My current business goals
My main business goal at the moment is to survive during this uncomfortable recession. Many businesses (resume writerincluded) have been affected by the changing buying patterns and cost cuts of consumers. My secondary goals include expanding my online presence, while increasing the positive impact I have on jobseekers’ job-searches and careers, which means a continued drove of professional development for me. A professional resume writer knows there’s always more to learn. =]
My favorite business books
I love many of Martin Lindstrom’s books, including BRANDsense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound and Buyology. His books delve into the topics of neuro-marketing and why people purchase from one over another. I also read about customer relationship management, relationship building, online marketing, and e-commerce — no favorite book titles or authors there.
Who I idolize and why
Honestly, the closest idols I have are the stay-at-home moms and dads who build their home businesses in tandem with raising their children. These parents put their corporate careers on hold or behind them to be at home with their children. I feel, now more than ever, our children need parents who aren’t locked into 60- or 80-hour-a-week jobs. At-home businesses such as resume writing definitely offer the flexibility needed by many.
Advice I offer new mom entrepreneurs
If you’re serious about becoming an entrepreneur, be consistent and persistent with your efforts. The challenge for most parentpreneurs is the running of the business in tandem with raising small children. It’s been some time since I’ve had to worry about my business in relation to my daughter, but now that I have grandchildren, I routinely revisit the challenges parents face when trying to handle daily business operations while tending to the needs of small children.
The following was excerpted from my book, “Start, Operate, Profit! The Ultimate Resource to Building a $100,000 Resume-Writing Business”:
6 TIPS TO HELP YOU WHILE WORKING ALONGSIDE CHILDREN
Devise solutions that work best for the age of your children and without putting strain on them as well as you
1. Utilize baby gates and ensure enough stimulants are available for the child. Make special movies or story tapes available as a treat during scheduled client appointments or callback times.
2. Schedule clients only in the evenings when small children can be watched by a spouse or older sibling. This setup can be a win-win situation for you and your client. The timeframe caters to you and can easily work well for clients with hectic daytime work schedules as well.
3. Take full advantage of afternoon naps. It can be a wonderful window of free time to conduct client consultations or complete pending projects. Children oftentimes sleep between 1-3 hours so schedule appointments with clients during that timeframe. Leave room for error, meaning if your son normally goes down for a nap at 2:00, schedule phone consults for 3:00. This way, you’re covered should you be off your schedule that day, or maybe, your son doesn’t exactly want to take a nap on queue.
4. Utilize live chat software through your website, giving you instant communication with prospects and clients. Chat software enables you to type responses to questions, allowing the kids to make noise without disruption to those on the other end of the chat.
5. Let your answering machine pull some of the weight. Record a phone message that requests email addresses or initial email contact from callers. This way, you can respond to callers without actually speaking. A perfect solution for those who have difficulty finding quiet times to return phone calls.
6. Use a cordless phone or cell phone allowing you to easily walk outside or into a quiet area of the house when answering calls. I’ve conducted countless phone consults while sitting on a toilet (lid down, of course!) or sitting, leaned up against my dryer in the laundry room.
Okay, here’s another:
Work in intervals. Answering email 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there is perfectly fine when juggling work and family. The benefit of working at home is the ability to set your work schedule alongside your home life, so shifting between personal and professional to-do’s will become part of your new workday.
How can we connect? (Email, Twitter, Facebook, website, etc.)
* Connect via LinkedIn; invite me to your network: admin (at) resumetoreferral.com
* Give yourself a tweet, follow me on Twitter; http://www.twitter.com/teenarose
* Business blog for fellow resume writers: ResumeBiz.com