Jodie Benveniste knows the value of PR and social media, having used both successfully for her business Parent Wellbeing. She has appeared on national television programs through to top parenting magazines and even used the Facebook group option to help write one of her books. Here’s her story…
What were you doing when you decided to create your own business?
I was about to finish a research contract I’d be working on for the past four years. I’d recently had my first baby and moved back to Adelaide from Sydney. I was working part-time as a psychologist and also doing my own writing.
What inspired you to start the business? When did you officially start it?
I found the transition from person to parent very challenging! Most of the parenting books focused on the technical aspects of caring for my baby, but I was looking for reassurance. I wrote a book, Little Bundle: Comfort and inspiration for baby’s first year, which applied my knowledge of psychology to the experience of becoming a parent. It maps the emotional and highs and lows, and helps you realise you’re not the only one dealing with sleeping problems, feeding issues and mothers-in-law! The book was the start of the business. That was January 2008.
What was your start-up cost? How did you acquire the money and what did you use it for?
It cost around $5000 to publish the book and set up a website. I took the money out of our mortgage!
What was the biggest obstacle?
Unfortunately, a book is not a business. Once I’d published the book, I had to work out what my business was all about. It’s taken a few years and a couple of wrong turns to work it out, but I now feel I’ve got a business that can help a lot of parents.
How did you rise above the tough days? Those days when people said no, things fell through or someone said they didn’t “get it’’.
It is tough because you are the engine. If you stop, so does everything else. You have to go for it, make mistakes, fail, pick yourself up and try again. But most importantly, you’ve got to see everything as a learning experience. It also helps if you can surround yourself with some key supporters who will encourage you no matter what.
How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
It took three years to be profitable, and four years to pay me a salary. Up until then, any revenue was going straight back into the business.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What is the downside?
I love the creative challenge of building a business. Creating products that really help people, learning how to communicate the value, and really delivering. It is incredibly rewarding. The downside is that it’s really hard work, and some days you feel so far away from your goals.
How have you been using social media to grow your business?
I use Facebook to connect with parents, Twitter to connect with colleagues and business partners within my industry, and my blog to offer interesting info to parents and my database. My biggest success with social media was writing my book, The Parent Manifesto, with a group of 80 parents in a private Facebook group. They read the book as it was being written, gave feedback and contributed their stories. The incredible community which formed amongst the group was the inspiration for our product: The Parent Manifesto 12 week online program.
How have you been using public relations to grow your business? What strategies have you used?
I am a regular commentator in the media. I’ve built up relationships with journalists and editors through personal contact and media releases. PR is a great way for more people to learn about my business.
Where do you work from?
I have a home office. But it’s getting a bit squeezy now because there is often three of us working from one room!
Who are your entrepreneurial role models? What’s so inspiring about them?
I admire people who make things happen. People like Emma Isaacs of Business Chicks, Naomi Simson of RedBalloon, and Gail Kelly of Westpac – they are all women with amazing energy and personal drive, who are also mums.
How have you acquired the skills and knowledge you have to make your business successful?
My qualifications as a psychologist are fundamental to my business. But learning business skills has involved lots of reading, asking questions and trial and error!
What’s the best piece of business advice you ever received?
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough!
What is your favourite product/service that you offer?
The Parent Manifesto is our foundation product. It’s about helping parents to create their own parenting approach based on their values and beliefs. It is a book, but it is also a 12-week online program that really helps you to create positive change within your family. The feedback we’ve received from parents has been phenomenal. Many have described it as life changing, which is very humbling.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to work the hardest you’ve ever worked, to feel like you’re failing every day, and to not make any money for years. If you’re still keen, go for it!
Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author, and the director and founder of Parent Wellbeing. She has been featured on national TV, newspapers Australia wide, on ABC and commercial radio, and in all the top parenting magazines. She is affiliate lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, and is editorial advisor for Family Fun Magazine. She is also mum to two young children. Find out more about The Parent Manifesto and her 12 week online program here. For more information, visit www.parentwellbeing.com.
Where do you work from? An office at home? Your dining room table? Or do you have an office outside the home?