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As a self-described serial entrepreneur, Jill Salzman struggled to balance her two businesses with her responsibilities as a mother at the beginning of her career. Feeling overwhelmed and lonely, Jill created an online meetup for moms going through the same experience. This small meetup of 20 women grew into The Founding Moms, an online community for mom entrepreneurs that has exceeded 30,000 members in more than 200 cities around the world.
Since launching The Founding Moms in 2010, the biggest lesson Jill has taken away from her business’s growth is the importance of collaboration.
“There is no way you can build a business alone,” Jill said. “You have to reach out. You have to learn how to be vulnerable with somebody else and share with them not just the stuff that’s going well but the stuff that’s not going so well and ask for help.”
In addition to running The Founding Moms, Jill provides coaching and consulting services to members of the platform. She also hosts her own podcast, “Why Are We Shouting?”, where she tackles questions pertinent to mom entrepreneurs.
Jill said she finds her clients often wait too long to admit they need help with their business. Seeing this, she encourages all entrepreneurs to be more open when talking about their challenges and to not be scared to ask for advice.
“My first piece of advice for any entrepreneur always is literally just go talk to one person about what’s really going on in your business. That could be anyone in your life,” Jill said. “The practice of saying out loud what’s bothering you helps to awaken this area inside of you that you have been just shoving and pushing down.”
When advising clients, Jill said many business owners hold the misconception that other entrepreneurs are your competition, which makes them wary to share their ideas. However, Jill confirms that business owners will always get further when they choose collaboration over competition.
On top of sharing ideas with other business owners, Jill said an important key to her success was attending events and networking with other entrepreneurs. By learning about each others’ businesses and challenges, entrepreneurs can exchange helpful contacts and build networks that help them achieve their goals.
“The only way that other human beings can connect with you is generosity, serving one another in a way that can help one another,” Jill said. “Just being yourself and being open to the world helps you find the people that you need.”
After almost two decades of running her own businesses, Jill acknowledges that entrepreneurship can be mentally and emotionally draining. To navigate this, Jill encourages business owners to be patient when first starting out and to lean on others for support when times get tough.
“A small business owner is somebody who is ready for a mini roller coaster ride throughout this career,” Jill said. “If we can just limit that rollercoaster ride to not have such peaks and valleys along the way, we’re going to feel more solid and stable, but we need to know that they’re going to come.”
In addition to networking and collaborating with other business owners, Jill’s tips for riding the entrepreneurial roller coaster include:
- Take time for yourself. As an entrepreneur, you might feel pressure to be productive at all hours of the day to make your business a success. However, it is important to leave space in your schedule for personal time to avoid burnout.
- Be present outside of work. It’s easy to be distracted thinking about the list of things you have to do for your business, especially when you’re not working. Even if it feels hard, always try to be present in your relationships outside of work and connect with those around you. This will give you more energy when working on your business.
- Stay optimistic. When first starting your business, it could take some time before your big break. It’s important to stay positive and persistent even as challenges come your way.
- Engage your customers for support. In addition to asking other business owners for advice, it can be especially insightful to ask for customer feedback. This can be in the form of a “submit feedback” box, a survey, or even a simple question during daily customer interactions.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Jill, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.