Kim Lavine, entrepreneur and ‘Mommy Millionaire’ author, shares her advice
Many working moms dream of coming up with one big business idea that can change their lives. And some become successful entrepreneurs. Kim Lavine, author of “Mommy Millionaire,” is one of them. Lavine launched her company, Green Daisy, in 2002, after her husband was laid off from his job. What was her kitchen table idea? The Wuvit. It’s a cloth massage bag filled with grain. With this simple product, she was able to raise capital from angel investors in 2006. The company developed new products, including a successful line of pajamas, and branched out into other lines of lifestyle products.
Lavine was invited on TODAY to discuss her book and success. TODAY also asked her to share her tips for how mom entrepreneurs can balance work and family:
Tips for balancing life with love
1 – Don’t apologize for having kids! Children are special angels from heaven whom God sent you. What’s wrong with this world when you have to apologize for having children beside you as you work? You’re Superwoman. You can manage kids, find your husband’s car keys, and close million dollar deals at the same time. Be proud of yourself!
2 – If you’re going to be a Mommy Millionaire, you must accept the fact that you will have to burn down your house and build another one after ten years. This is especially true if you are the parent of young boys. At the end of the day, as long as we’re all happy, healthy and safe, I really don’t care how clean my house is and what kind of car I drive. My success as a mother isn’t measured anymore by how clean my house is or how well decorated it is, but by how happy my children are.
3 – The argument between working moms versus stay-at-home moms is a moot point:This is the twenty-first century. The technology of email, cell phones and the Internet have empowered us in new and liberating ways, which will radically transform the 9 to 5 workday world and family world. Never before has it been so distinctly possible for us to have it all.
4 – Just because people have more money than you, doesn’t mean they’re any happier than you.Though my mother-in-law was what most people would call “broke” most of her life, I have never known a happier person than her. She taught me that love of family is what really mattered, and it doesn’t cost anything to love.
5 – Understand that just as money can’t buy happiness, a lack of it can’t take it away.With every challenge that was levied on me, all I had to do was stare into the beautiful healthy faces of my kids sleeping to feel gratitude. I would thank God for every breath they take, every smile, every “Mommy!” screamed with glee at seeing me, every cute, naughty, funny thing they did produced a pure joy and happiness that no amount of money could buy — or lack of money, could take away.
6 – Understand that business for most people isn’t so much about money, as it is about their hopes, dreams and aspirations.At the end of my journey, I found the real payoff; I had filled in that aching black hole of being away from my children not by choice but because of a job, with an unlimited ability to be with them along with an understanding that everything they did, said, messed up, or broke, was given to me as a special gift from God to make me laugh, cry, and love in new and more profound ways every day. Even if I failed, I figured, I’d never be the same.
7 – You need a minimum of $20,000 and a well-written business plan to start even the smallest business venture.People may tell you otherwise, but this is the truth: no bank will lend you money unless you’re willing to invest a minimum of $20,000 of your own money in your business. And how are you going to have the unique and unparalleled experience of having a millionaire Angel Investor tear up your business plan and throw it in your face, which actually happened to me, if you don’t have a business plan?
8 – Nobody ever got rich by spending money.You should resist every temptation possible to sign expensive leases on warehouse and office space at start-up. Forget about fancy office furniture until you can pay cash for it. Some founding Googlers are still working on the same sawhorse desks they started out with! Work out of your basement or garage for as long as possible. If it’s good enough for Bill Gates, it’s good enough for you.
9 – Becoming a millionaire means learning to value passion and ideas, where others only value degrees and job titles.Ask any seasoned investor what the single most important factor in their decision to invest in a company is, and he or she will almost always tell you that it comes down to the person who’s running it, a person who has ideas and passion. That’s what separates the winners from the losers.
10 – Be a positive, big picture person, always striving to work for the highest good of all parties involved, and you can’t help but succeed.A person will achieve success in direct proportion to his ability to let go of negativity in favor of all that is positive. Being negative is easy; being positive is what’s hard. I’ve never encountered one successful person who didn’t have this quality. My motto is: “No sissies, no cowards, no complainers, no criers, and no quitters. Especially no complainers.”
11 – Everything happens for a reason. Have faith in this, even if the reward isn’t immediately, or even distantly apparent, it will become so. It took me a year to see that the worst thing that ever happened to me, was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the lowest point of my life, I discovered God’s providence was around me every day. Another saying I’ve heard quoted by successful entrepreneurs: There are no atheists in foxholes.
12 – Raising money is the hardest thing an entrepreneur has to do, and nobody anywhere is teaching anybody how to do it.Lesson number one in starting your own business is “Cash is King.” Don’t ever stop looking for cash; you’ll never find enough. Constantly dealing with a cash shortage at the beginning is not a personal reflection of your inability to run a business; it’s just part of business!
13 – Believe in yourself; never stop having faith in yourself or your vision or your product, even if other people tell you you’re crazy!For every one person who told me I was crazy, ten people told me I was going to be a millionaire after trying my product. And all the “you’re crazy” people came at me at the delicate, scary, risky time of start-up, where most people would have given up.
14 – It’s a time of great possibility, and you can be part of it!Experts predict that the next five years will give birth to a new entrepreneurial age, in which young companies will produce new ingenious products and devise new strategies to take their products direct to consumers as retailing giants experience temporary stasis from their mega-mergers. The world is becoming one big global economy faster and faster every day. This can be a good thing, as long as we capitalize on the strengths which are unique to America: innovation, design, cultural exportation. We need to develop foreign markets and export our products to emergent countries around the world that are hungry for anything American. Even a small business can do this because of today’s technology.
15 – There is $20 billion available every year in private equity from Angel Investors alone, and it’s growing at an exponential rate of 20 percent each year.Private equity is as close to “free money” as it gets. Angels invest money in your company in exchange for stock, which you don’t have to pay back! Never before has it been so easy to raise start-up capital for your business! Get out there!