I can remember when I began thinking that I wanted to work for myself.  The endless hours I put in at a job I no longer felt satisfied in, grew increasingly, year by year.  The routine of waking up the kids, getting them ready for school, getting ready for work, driving the kids to daycare, and then work…..followed by driving in traffic to go get the kids, and then rushing in the door to make dinner and help the kids with homework, cleaning the house and finally collapsing in bed at 11 pm began to suck the life out of me.  I missed out on a lot.  School functions, time for myself, and smiling.  I felt numb, tired, and emotionally spent. Sound familiar?

That is the life of a single mother.  I did that for many years, day in and day  out.  And my increasing dissatisfaction,weight gain, and health issues grew.
The push for me to work for myself came when I started to lose hours at work.Around the same time, my children were now in junior high and no longer needed transportation to school, and I had less constraints at home, since they were old enough to take care of their basic needs. The Heavens seemed to make the opening for me, it was time to grab it!

What do I want to do?  Can I support myself? What business can I do with no training?  How do I fund this venture?

Once I was willing to even entertain the idea, the thoughts began to flow, and the creation of my business began.  The idea started while assisting my brother while he was on vacation.  I went over every day to care for the cats and take care of his plants.

Ah Ha!

I decided to become a pet sitter. 

It was perfect for me, low overhead, minimal instruction was needed, I had the car, and more than anything, the desire to make it work!
I created my business cards, and with a refund check from my home loan company, I purchased a website and domain. It was a miracle, how that check just appeared in the mail.

At the end of the first full month, I had my first client.  Lyn Olsen.  I will never forget her, as I walked out the door and realized I forgot to ask for her house key.  I couldn’t pet sit her dogs if I couldn’t get in!  That was the first, and last time I made that mistake.

I struggled at first.

Not understanding Google, and keywords, and pay-per-clicks, I ended up dumping in $25, $50, and sometimes $75 into these campaigns that seemed to get me nowhere with new clients calling, but highly frustrated and financially strained.

I couldn’t understand the how-to-seo articles I tried to read, it was written in not-English format…. or so it felt.  “I think they do it that way on purpose, so they just have my money and don’t have to help me succeed,” I told my mom at lunch one day.

So, I struggled through the SEO issues, not fixing keywords on my page, having someone help me create a good campaign, give me advice on some organic seo fixes that could help me gain web traffic, it hurt me to not understand it all, because the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook.  I had a mortgage, I had 2 teenagers and an electric bill and food to put on the table.

I found myself spending more time trying to drop off business cards at pet stores, and veterinary offices, to generate business.  I had a call or two a month, but it wasn’t as frequent as I had hoped.

One night while in a what-to-do panicky moment, I looked on the web for basic tips on how to get web traffic, or something like that.  And I came across a blog from a man named Mike, in Tennessee.  His blog was written in terminology I didn’t quite understand, but he seemed to care about people in small business, and that’s all that mattered to me!  So, I sat in bed late that night and poured my heart out in an email, and I even laid out the single mother card.  I need help! I don’t have any money!  That is probably not the best closing lines of an email, but it was honest.  It was real, and it was enough to get his attention.

He normally charged $500 a month for clients, and he managed their blogs, their content, their click campaigns, and it sounded great.  Problem was, I didn’t have $500.  I had bills and two kids. I begged him to help me.  “I will do the work,” I said.  So, he agreed to give me specific tasks that would help my website gain traffic. He charged me $99 a month, and I was so grateful.

I was to create blogs, with specific words.  I was to get my website designer to change some things on the website to make it more Google and pay-per- click friendly. I didn’t know what a robot.txt. file was, but I didn’t have one.

I was feeling defeated at first.  And I had to ask my dad for money, so yeah, that made me feel even more of a failure.  But I stuck with it.

When Mike could get time in, he would call me, and we went over some more tasks for me to do. Within a month, the phone was ringing a few more times.  And that increased, with time. 

You can absolutely succeed in owning your own business. I was a pet sitter for 10 years.  In that time, I also helped my mother start a Concierge Business, and helped 3 other women become pet sitters.  
Know what it is you want to do, figure out your budget for the business in start up costs, as well as what it will take to maintain it.
You can do it.  And women should do it.  My children saw how strong and determined their mother was.  I was present for school functions and learned to prioritize my time.  Life slowed down, because I was now in charge of it.

My life has now come full circle, as I married someone who now helps the small business owner in making their dreams a reality.  When Shane sat down to reinvent himself, and decided to become an SEO specialist, I told him about my experiences.  Being a single mother, nowhere to turn, needing money to flow in, I even cried.  So, he has made it his goal to be budget friendly, so that everyone can receive the assistance to improve their website traffic.

Don’t give up on your dream, if you are sitting in this familiar boat I was once in, there is help for you. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!!

Why do I suggest small business entrepreneurs hire a seo specialist?  Because there are tasks that need to be performed on a website for it to be search friendly.  There are other tasks performed to help boost your visibility on the web, and with someone on your side who knows how to help your business grow, wouldn’t you want that?  Let’s say you spend $99 for monthly help, yet you receive 8 client calls that you didn’t have before you hired a specialist!

Here are my tips for women who want to start their own business:

  1. Decide what it is you want to do and do your homework.  Look at websites of others who sell that item, or run that office, or do that service.  What do they charge? Who is your competition?
  2. Do you need a business license or a trade certification before starting?
  3. Do you have funds to start the business?  If not, can you write a grant proposal, or start a go fund me page?
  4. How will you manage your business and family obligations?  Do the kids need to be taken to school? What times will you operate the business, and then turn it off, for family time?
  5. What will you do in the meantime to support yourself financially until you are generating income from your business?
  6. Meetup.com is a great resource for small business owners, most towns now have groups dedicated for women in business, new business startups, and referral programs. Spread the word!
  7. Craigslist is free advertising, and yelp is a good resource too.  Google local will let you create a page for your business, all for free.
  8. Get yourself a good SEO specialist who can help you get your website on the web, and track your progress, from the get-go.  I waited too long to reach out, and I think I would have been successful sooner had I just reached out to someone who could help me. Sometimes you must spend a little money to generate more.  I paid mike $99 and it paid off.  I had clients calling.
  9. If you have naysayers in your family, or circle of friends, keep your business news to yourself.  Sometimes they mean well, but their fears of us failing sounds more negative than helpful. Tune out the negativity.  Be positive.  Immerse yourself with positive people who build you up.

You can do it.

All my hope for your success!

Andrea Phillips