By Robert Pagliarini
Tribune Media Services
My latest book has received endorsements from best-selling authors and thought leaders, as well as praise from readers. However, there are some who read "The Other 8 Hours" and get angry. Yes, angry. Some have said they are "furious." They complain that they are too busy, and it is too hard to start a business with very little money. While they are busy complaining, Jeanne Cygnus is busy ramping up her business. ...
Cygnus works full time and is a full-time mom -- she shuttles her kids to and from activities, makes dinner, and spends time with family. Not so long ago, she had an idea. Cygnus' day job is a private practice counselor for new moms with lactation issues. She works with moms individually and also has group classes. She saw a need in the market that nobody was effectively addressing -- what to do with moms going back to work who still want to breast-feed. The majority of companies don't have programs available even though up to 80 percent of new moms return to work.
Cygnus started LactCorp, but she faced three challenges. First, she had very little time to devote to the new venture. She said she "got good at finding spaces in my day to focus on the new business." She said that while the other moms were chatting at kids' events, she was going through paperwork and launching her business. She had to rearrange her schedule, limit computer time, go to bed a little later and clump activities together. Bottom line, she said she "eliminated dead waiting time" from her day.
The second challenge Cygnus faced was not having enough money. As a Cre8tor, she had to get creative. Aside from the cost to form an LLC, she has invested less than $1,000 in the new business. She also has hired her two children. They represent Cygnus' shipping department.
Her third challenge, and probably the most significant, is that she's an expert on lactation but admits she is not a businessperson. Her knowledge and gumption got her so far, but when a big HR consortium came knocking, she knew she needed some help. Cygnus didn't need a $5,000 business plan or a lot of expensive business theory. She needed specific questions answered efficiently and cost effectively.
So she turned to a unique service called LivePerson, which connects experts with those needing help. Cygnus was familiar with LivePerson and trusted the service because she is a LivePerson lactation expert herself. After looking through LivePerson's small business expert database and reading reviews, she selected Clayton Gilman, a highly reviewed business coach that charges $2 per minute (LivePerson typically earns a 38 percent commission on live chats and 30 percent on email sessions for most topics).
Cygnus asked Gilman pointed questions about what she needed to do in order to partner with the HR consortium. Gilman, she says, was a huge help. She said she "would be lost" without Gilman's guidance. Because she works her side business "after hours," she loves that she can initiate a live chat with Gilman until the wee hours of the night and get answers she needs.
With very little time, money or business acumen, Cygnus' success is inspiring. She is signing the deal with the HR group and projects gross revenues of nearly $2 million this year. And because of her recent success, she has three different investors willing to cover any up-front costs her business will face as the HR partnership takes hold. Should she take the investor's money? Sounds like a question for Gilman. ...
Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose" and the national best-seller "The Six Day Financial Makeover." Visit YourOther8Hours.com