This guest post was written by Mary Kathryn Johnson of Parent Entrepreneur Success.
All of Fire Nation knows of the “Baby Effect”, and we all have our stories of exactly what that effect has had on our own lives and businesses.
The Baby Effect is a major life event, typically the birth of a first child, that pushes us to take immediate, intense action, thereby igniting amazing entrepreneurial success.
It’s where the “Ah-ha” meets the “Get ‘er Done” at rocket speed.
We know the stories of our favorite online entrepreneurs, and their “Baby Effect” that produced their success.
But, do we know what happened after the Baby Effect was no longer, well, effective?
The Easy Part
My own baby effect happened in 2001.
I fell when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, and landed with 2 broken legs.
Talk about things not going to plan!
My birth plan certainly didn’t call for going through my last month of pregnancy, labor and delivery while hopping around with a pink cast on one leg up to the knee, and a blue cast on the other.
My husband didn’t plan on bringing home the bread, cooking it, and cleaning up the mess for the next two months, either. He certainly didn’t plan on cleaning a bedside commode twice a day… sorry, TMI?
I wasn’t able to walk on my own two feet until 12 weeks later, when my baby boy was 6 weeks old.
• I couldn’t carry my newborn anywhere.
• I couldn’t pick up my toddler.
• I couldn’t take a shower.
• I couldn’t take a bath.
• I couldn’t drive.
What I could do was laugh… a lot!
I had a bedside commode, a walker, sponge baths and my husband to help me with the essentials.
Laughter was my only option… otherwise the crying kicked in.
This situation taught me that if I could get through this, with my sense of humor intact, I COULD DO ANYTHING!
If I could delivery a baby while I had two broken legs in casts, I could start a business, right?!
18 months later I started the first online Novelty Maternity Store, MommyLoves.com.
I was extremely motivated, and absolutely obsessed with the goal of staying home to raise my boys. Pursuing this amazing business idea, and focusing on every step required to bring it all to fruition was My Baby Effect!
Any obstacles I encountered simply reminded me that I wasn’t 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs anymore, so I could handle everything else.
The launch was successful, and orders started pouring in.
The “Baby Effect” was in full swing, and my family and business were swinging right along with it!
The Hard Part
One year later, and I now had a job, not a business.
To be more specific, I had a sweat shop, and I was the only sweat labor!
I did everything in my business:
• I ordered, unpacked, and entered every piece of inventory.
• I created every design.
• I printed every shirt.
• I created every receipt.
• I entered every order into Quickbooks.
• I created every shipping label.
• I packaged, and boxed every order.
• I communicated with every customer in my community.
And, that was the key to keeping this thing going – communicating with my customers.
If I was just making shirts, and packaging them up to ship, I really had no purpose to my business other than making money.
Sure, I had flexibility in my time, work space and production, but if I didn’t have a connection with the people buying and wearing my products, I didn’t have anything to keep me going through what happened next.
The Really Hard Part
We all know what happened to our economy starting in 2007.
Retail was the canary in the mine shaft for that economic poisonous gas we all breathed for a few years, and MommyLoves started gagging like everyone else.
Then it started dying.
Sales dropped by half the first year, and then by half again the second.
This was the true test of surviving beyond the baby effect, Fire Nation.
If I hadn’t developed a relationship, a community of pregnant women and those who love them, I would have quit, closed up shop, and gone in search of some non-existent job to support my family.
Instead, I adapted my business to a passive income model – I outsourced my entire operation except my customer communication!
Enough about me, what about JLD?
You are on the EOFire blog, so you know John’s story, but for the record, it’s here.
I think we can safely say that John’s initial reason for starting EntrepreneurOnFire no longer exists for him (30 minute commutes, feeling suffocated by his J.O.B., etc).
At +/- $300,000 per month in revenue, within five years he could retire in his mid 30’s and paddle the Bay all day.
John no longer needs a 7 day a week podcast in order to tolerate his half hour commute.
He no longer has a half hour commute, and he no longer has a job.
So, why does he continue to produce the very thing he so desired more than 2 years ago, even though he doesn’t actually need it himself any more?
John has attracted, and provided a home for entrepreneurs just like him. And, every time someone in Fire Nation sends a heartfelt, “Thanks!” John is paid in ways beyond currency.
Every time a member of Fire Nation, or a prior student shares a success story right out of the pages of the success manuals found on EOFire, it is like those words are oxygen fueled kindling to the fire that keeps John going strong.
The Community is the Key!
John could just sit in his living room, recording and publishing podcasts, producing content, and selling products/services without providing a home for and engaging with his listeners.
For Mr. Dumas, and all of us like them, that would just be another job. John has interviewed highly successful entrepreneurs who created businesses that were just jobs… every single time, the interviewee shared his/her own melt-down, and discovery of what was missing in their lives.
The communities, and their abundance mentality… that is what keeps entrepreneurs on fire beyond the baby effect.
Seeing my shirts on beautiful pregnant bumps, and having my customers submit pictures of themselves wearing my designs to shows like Good Morning America… That’s what kept me going beyond my own Baby Effect.
When we get past the requirement to satisfy our personal needs, we realize that the purpose for our work is well beyond us.
Our true purpose is to help those who trust us – those who rely on us to keep providing tools, resources and inspiration for their success.
So, Fire Nation, what communities are you building that will keep you going beyond your baby effect?
Mary Kathryn Johnson is an Entrepreneur, Mom, and the Host of Parent Entrepreneur Power. Mary founded the first online Novelty Maternity Shirt Design and Retail Store in 2003, and has become a Mentor to Parent Entrepreneurs who wish to raise their families while building business success.