Who is Jill Salzman?
Who knows? I surely do not. What I do know at this point in my career as a serial entrepreneur is that I’m a risk-taker who loves to launch businesses, a woman who is proud to do it with kids in tow, and one of the few experienced small business owners who will admit that there is never a day that goes by that I think I’ve figured it all out. I’ve launched 3 successful businesses, co-host a podcast, I’ve been called one of Forbes’ Top Women In Tech to watch, I’ve given a TEDx talk, I’ve written for the New York Times, regularly appear on TV, and I’ve traveled the world speaking to audiences about entrepreneurship. And yet, I still don’t know what I’m doing.
How did you start your career and what did it take to become one of the Top Women to Watch In Tech (Forbes) and a Champion Small Business Influencer?
I ran a catering company for my parents when I was 10 – my first official company. In high school I created a magazine and a record label. But the launch of my first business as an adult was in 2005 – I managed bands and sent them out on tour. I loved the music business and had come from Corporate America working for a record label, Elektra Records, so I thought, “Of course I’ll know how to manage bands.” It was absolutely not the case. But that was the time that I caught the entrepreneurship bug. Taking an idea that merely exists in your head and turning it into a profitable business is one of the most incredible things we can do. So I forged ahead, figured out the music management thing…and two years later, launched a baby jewelry business. I’m now running The Founding Moms and really love what I do, helping mom entrepreneurs figure out in a short amount of time what I had to figure out over the course of years.
What motived you to start a career as the founder of The Founding Moms, a community for entrepreneurial moms?
Nothing motivated me. I started it by accident. While I was running two businesses at the same time, I was pregnant with my second daughter and I freaked out. How is one woman supposed to run two businesses with two babies in one small home office? I went to Meetup.com and launched a meetup near my home by asking any woman in the area who had a business and a baby to come meet with me over coffee and tell me how they were doing it. Little did I know that I’d meet more than 5 women. Now, 10,000+ members later, I’m just sorry that I didn’t reach out any earlier! There are an awful lot of us, all around the world.
You started the community only a handful of women. How did you create the amazing network of 10,000 moms you are today?
Lots and lots of helping hands. When one member approached me at our first Founding Moms’ Exchange (which is what we call our meetups) and asked me to open in a location closer to her across the city of Chicago, it occurred to me that I could open up a Founding Moms’ Exchange anywhere. So I began to reach out to women in New York City, then Los Angeles, and soon, Australia, Germany, Singapore and Mexico, and every time I found a Host to lead the charge in her city, we opened a city. It’s been a slow and steady build-up of the 10,000+ members we have today…and growing!
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is always how to serve our growing membership with the right resources and at the same time making sure that every mom entrepreneur around the globe knows that we exist and that we are here for her. The more success we have, the more we realize just how much work lies ahead.
What has been the most satisfying experience in your journey?
By far, it is the connections our members are making. Each time that I attend a Founding Moms’ Exchange or launch a video course in the Founding Moms Community (our online portal), if I see a woman elated about an idea that came to her from talking to a fellow member or if there are two members partnering on a new business venture, it makes my heart sing.
What advice can you give to women that are seeking to have live both paths: mom and entrepreneur?
If women are seeking to live both paths, mom and entrepreneur, I think they are approaching it incorrectly. It is one path. There is a myth that we entrepreneurs cannot become moms without giving up a lot. Or that a mom cannot be an entrepreneur without badly affecting her family life. Neither is true. If you approach mom entrepreneurship as the way to go – you work and raise your family interchangeably – it removes the exhaustive idea that you have twice as much to do. The more you incorporate the kids into your business, whatever that business may be, the more success you will have in all areas.
What will be the biggest challenges in the next years?
The biggest challenge that a mom entrepreneur must always face is herself. She is very good at getting in her own way. She creates obstacles to stop her from progress. There are so many resources out there now to build a business! But the biggest challenge always lies inside of mom entrepreneurs.
What can readers expect from your most recent book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs?
I wrote the book as a great bathroom read! It’s available in paperback as well as an audiobook, too. The first half of the book is for any entrepreneur, male or female, on tips and tricks for launching and growing a business. The second half is specifically for moms who want to learn how to build their businesses with their kids around – how to incorporate them rather than try to work around them, which we all know never works. I’d been reading a lot of business books and not relating to most of them – they were too dry, boring, and not inspirational or understanding of my needs. I wanted to write something that other mom entrepreneurs could relate to and get a lot of practical, actionable advice, too.
Is there a relevant challenge that you’ve found in being a woman in the business world?
Yes. I, like so many women, have made the mistake of undervaluing myself and my products and services. Being a woman in the business world has its challenges, but none more dire than not charging enough for her worth. It’s a problem that runs rampant among women business owners and I hope that there is progress on it in the years to come.
As a great leader and an inspiring woman, what would you say to those who are starting their own business?
Go meet with other women and discuss your business (or business idea.) It only takes one conversation to find encouragement, confidence and reinforcement that what you want to do is worth doing. We all have doubts. It’s part of the entrepreneurial journey. It’s how you choose to overcome them that matters.
What would like your legacy to be?
My two beautiful daughters are my legacy. May they grow up to understand the confidence, self-worth, and resilience that we all have inside of us – and carry them loudly and proudly throughout their lives.