First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jill Salzman: We are making the most of it. It’s been a wild ride. I had COVID-19 in March, and we’ve been quarantined ever since. (I wrote about it here.) There are days when we’re pretty sure that we’re going insane, but we try to laugh everything off as we go. All of it beats having a virus that makes it really hard to breathe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Founding Moms
Jill Salzman: I’m a serial entrepreneur who ran two unrelated businesses before launching my current company, The Founding Moms. I didn’t intend to launch it. I was searching for a community of women who had businesses and babies. Ten years ago, it was really hard to find anyone who identified as a mom entrepreneur. So, I put the word out via Meetup.com, opened a meetup for us, and we met monthly. It wasn’t until we were about 200 strong 6 months in that I realized I was onto something…and ever since I’ve been following my members’ requests and building out offline masterminds and online resources for every mom entrepreneur around the globe.
How does The Founding Moms innovate?
Jill Salzman: We strive to meet our members’ needs, and we’ll launch literally anything they request. We are fortunate to have members that we’re in touch with daily because they shape the company we run. We’ve put out every piece of content marketing you can imagine, from a podcast to a blog to daily emails to webinars to Facebook Lives, and more. And we just ask, ask, and ask again what folks are looking for. Then we come up with the answers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jill Salzman: The pandemic has affected so many of our members, but we try to offer strong leadership to keep them afloat. Most are having a challenging time trying to get work done while helping their kids get through remote learning. A lot have seen business losses. Few have seen big gains. But one thing became very clear to me: everyone needs community during a pandemic. You can’t go through this alone. We’re all so thrilled to have one another, which is helpful even to commiserate together.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jill Salzman: We’ve made a lot of choices to do things differently, but they weren’t difficult. We’ve launched several new programs and panels to address the current times. I’ve shifted how and when I send my newsletters. The tone of our business has completely changed to adjust to the times and not appear tone-deaf. Change is always hard, but as entrepreneurs, it’s a lot easier — we always have to go with the flow, you know? The greatest lesson is always how hard the change might be for the team or myself, and yet how much our members appreciate addressing these things head-on.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jill Salzman: In the moms-in-business industry, we have a lot of competitors. There are age-old organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners and, of course, SBA’s SCORE organization too — they’ve been around a lot longer, serve a larger swath of business owners, and people really trust them. The reason we’ve been able to stay in the game, however, is because we are such a small niche — moms and entrepreneurs — and we give all of our business education a fresh take on how a business doesn’t have to be boring, and business suits need not apply.
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