LUNCH MEETINGS WITH A BABY -- IT CAN BE DONE
I have a baby. I have to go to work. At times the two collide. When I can't find childcare, which happens often, my baby comes along to lunch meetings. This is not a happy mixture. As any mom can attest babies don't cherubically sit at a business lunch quietly playing with Cheerios. My baby fits neatly in the especially active and temperamental category.
From months of having to negotiate how to actually talk at a business lunch meeting with my baby in tow I have learned a few things.
• Take the baby to lunch hungry. When the meal starts give your baby her bottle or finger food, this will eat up ten to fifteen minutes of the lunch.
• After she eats, pull out every baby toy that she likes. This should take up another five to ten minutes.
• Now pull out the big guns. Lock your phone and hand it over. Tack on another ten minutes.
• When she wearies of that offer car keys, another five minutes.
• Need another ten minutes of peace - pull out your wallet. Let your baby set every credit card you have free. Trust me babies love this.
Master a calm face as you continually pick the toys off of the floor. Create an expression that telegraphs that it's no big deal that every few seconds or minutes you are breaking eye contact because your face is under, not above, the table. Your associates will follow your lead. If you're relaxed, they will be too.
If there is a poo, access the situation. If it's stinky and the baby has made lots of noise with the effort immediately excuse yourself and change the diaper. Pray the restaurant has a changing table. If it's a small one that only you can smell because you are after all the mom and you probably smell poo even when it's not there wait until you get to the car.
Through the many meetings I've attended with my baby I've developed a strong opinion on clothing. Wear a patterned dress with leggings and flats. The pattern will hide the inevitable baby goo from the mashed up Cheerios and teething biscuits. The leggings and flats will make it easier to maneuver around the floor picking up toys and to make a quick exit. Quick exits are necessary half the time with a baby in tow.
Do not expect your lunch to go smoothly with any baby over three months old. Anticipate that with a few tricks you will be able to have conversations with your associates and with a baby in tow communication is a miraculous thing.
DOG BISCUITS MAKE BONES
When Nini Casey started her organic dog business she naturally developed a five-year business plan - revolving around her children.
Yeah, the part about growing your business as your children grow is a little unusual. But mom entrepreneurs are changing the face and structure of small businesses across the country. About 50 percent of all small businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, according to the Bank of America, and that number is expected to grow as more educated women leave the workforce. That means the way business is done will change too.
Look at Nini's story. She started making organic dog biscuits four years ago when her children were one and three. She knew she wanted to spend as much time with them as possible so she planned her schedule and business development to reflect that wish.
"I've been able to stick to my business plan as a mother owned, mommy operated business simply by enjoying mommy-hood and never losing focus on priorities," Nini says.
For the first couple years she planned to perfect her brand and recipes and sell to small retailers. She also decided to outsource much of the baking for the first two years because of the constraints on her time.
The first year she worked when her oldest daughter was in preschool and hired a babysitter for six hours a week to look after her youngest. When business got hectic she'd go to bed late and wake up at 4 am to get all the work done.
The second year she worked eight to ten hours a week while her youngest daughter went off to preschool. She continued to outsource the baking.The third and fourth years she worked fifteen to twenty hours a week while her youngest daughter entered the second year of preschool and her oldest entered elementary school. She brought her baking in house and purchased commercial grade equipment.
This year marks her fifth in business and both her daughters are in elementary school, which amps up the number of hours she can devote to work. Basically all of the time the girls are in school she can work, which is why she went after a national grocery store commitment this year. Hannaford is caring her product. She said even with Hannaford she's starting off slow. Her biscuits will be in twenty stores to begin with so she can wrap her arms around the production and sales rhythm. Once she understands how the biscuits are selling then she can expand.
Nini says she's not sure where Hannaford will take her but "I'm going to let it happen naturally. Rod's Pawz has taken its course of success without too many goals, maybe that's the secret."
That said Nini does have big dreams for her business, "I actually have dreams that someday Rod's Pawz will be a great part-time employment opportunity for the girls and their friends as they work their way thru high school and college - stay tuned."