Interview with Dana Malstaff - How to become a boss mom
Dana Malstaff is the founder and CEO of Boss Mom, a community of passionate moms and entrepreneurs. As you may have guessed, Dana is a mother but also a brand and content strategist, podcaster, author, speaker and coach.
In this interview, we chat with Dana on how she started Boss Mom, the strategies she used to market her business, how she balances family life, being a mom and growing a business at the same time. Dana also shares with us her advice for moms willing to start their business.
What's special about Boss Mom?
I started the Boss Mom movement when I wrote my first book, but it has grown into something more amazing and life-changing than I could have imagined. Here at Boss Mom we believe that there is a specific way to start, run, and grow your business that ensures your business doesn't end up keeping you from your family. We call it the Boss Mom Method and we want to be your favorite place to get resources, community, and guidance to grow your business the Boss Mom way.
Boss Mom isn't just about having business & babies, it's about embracing the complexity of our lives and not feeling guilty that we not only want to be amazing parents but amazing entrepreneurs and leaders. Boss Mom is about creating a judge-free space where we can cry one minute, and come up with a brilliant idea the next. You will not only find amazing resources here at Boss Mom, you will also find your friends, your clients, your mentors, your collaborators, and so much more.
Why did you start boss mom?
I started boss mom because I felt like starting a business meant it took away from my love of my children and when I realized that showing my children what a good life lived looked like was important and showing them that doing what we loved can be financially viable then I began to realize that it made me a better parent to pursue things that were important to me, and it was important to me to create a business and impact lives. I wrote the Boss Mom book and it gave birth to a community, to a business and to a purpose.
How did you start it? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur?
I had been doing consulting work. I always worked at startups. My step dad was an entrepreneur so I had seen what entrepreneurs looked like. My biological dad owned an auto body shop so I saw what being a business owner looked like. And I grew up in a MacGyver family where we were constantly building things and fixing things and figuring things out, so I was naturally groomed to be a problem solver. And entrepreneurs are problem solvers.
I was made to be an entrepreneur through the upbringing I had. When I quit my final corporate job to become a consultant, I spent 2 years trying to make it work. I had good skills but no real sellable brand and therefore it was a lot of work to simply sell myself. When I wrote the Boss Mom book, that's what launched the actual brand which allowed me to draw the people in and know that they were my people. They understood that I got them and they got me which helped to create trust and build my expertise and space and help the community and business grow and thrive.
How did you validate your idea?
I went into other facebook groups that were not my own and started asking really thoughtful market research and focus group questions to understand who my market was, what they wanted and what they got excited about.
From there I took that information to help decide what was in the book, what it looked like, and we built up excitement for the book idea first and from there, started our own community once we had validated the idea and allowed other people to help us make those decisions.
How did you finance your project?
Before I quit my job, we had saved, so I was able to not make money, but then I immediately got pregnant which slowed down the process of growing the business. We didn’t need outside funding since I was not starting a brick and mortar business.
It was more of a consulting business, and therefore did not need a lot of funding. We then took the money I would make from clients and content to help fund the business. I was very fortunate to have some personal funding to help and a lovely husband who had a great job who gave us a little bit of extra freedom.
How did you market and promote your business when you were launching? What was the most effective strategy?
We used a 3 part strategy. First, the Boss Mom podcast was our authority platform which allowed me to share my point of view as well as bring influencers who I wanted to be associated with and other Boss moms who I wanted to validate what we were doing through their stories onto the show and built clout.
Second was getting featured 1-2 times per week consistently on other peoples podcasts to help broaden my visibility and build trust through those interviews.
Third was building the Boss Mom Facebook group so that the community could start to connect with each other as well as be a focus group for us and a platform for us to talk about what we were doing.
Those 3 things together helped in nurturing the audience.
The fourth part was that we did flash sales. We sold small items and flash saled them and in the beginning those would yield $10K flash sales which would help finance more marketing and finance all the things and then on top of that a small percentage of people would go into our group coaching program which was a higher end 6 month program but the flash sale component was essential.
How long did it take you to start getting the first results and see you could create a viable business?
I had spent the first 2 years consulting and helping people create content and launch courses and things like that, but once the Boss Mom book was published towards the end of 2015, results started to happen immediately. Once the book was out and I had a brand, rather than just me being a good consultant, things started to grow. They obviously grow super fast now, but after the book, they started to grow and yield financial results.
How do you organize to run your business while at the same time tackling all the challenges of raising your children and family life, being both a good parent and business owner without burning out?
I call it the one bucket method and I talk about it in my first book, the Boss Mom book. The one bucket method means that I don't have a business bucket and a family bucket and a spiritual bucket and a health bucket... I don't have buckets for each thing and then I figure out the priorities for each of those things. I have one bucket.
And that one bucket means that every single day and every single week I have to decide, what are my priorities for my entire life? Sometimes my business takes priority and I have to make sure that everyone else is taken care of so that I can free up that space for work. Sometimes my kids take priority. Sometimes I take priority.
Each day and each week I make conscious decisions about what is important in that particular time to focus my energy on and then because I intentionally set my priorities, I don't feel guilty about where I spend my time, and because the guilt is not there, it allows me to be more productive.
I believe that this allows me to be a better business owner, a better parent and to fluidly move between things that sometimes have priority over the other. I don't always do this perfectly, but I understand that consciously setting priorities every single day helps me know that I am a loving parent and entrepreneur, who is just human.
What has been your business revenue progression?
I don't really share my numbers but I will share that we hit 6 figures within 8 or 9 months of launching Boss Mom. I was under 6 figures as a consultant. We hit just shy of 7 figures by 3 years in. And then I got a divorce, and then my dad passed away and all of these things so we have been teetering around that space and even going backwards a bit, but we are set to surpass the 7 figure mark by a little bit after 2020.
What are the main ways in which you are able to monetize your business?
That has been a progression in itself. Number 1, we started with small price product flash sales. The Boss Mom Academy 6 month group program has been a good 50% or more of our revenue up until recently.
We then moved to the Nurture to Convert Society Membership and the membership model and have been working to monetize that. That is $47 per month, which, because we have a big enough audience and are working with more volume. It allows us to work with a higher number of members instead of with a higher price.
Then we also have in membership upsells that can happen. So the membership is our main source of revenue right now. I also do high end consulting with individuals and businesses which makes up about 25% of what I pull in. But the goal by May of 2021 is to have our membership be 80% of what our revenue is.
What are the most useful tools/platforms that you use for your business?
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
I like being an entrepreneur because it allows me to not be limited in my creativity, to be forced to make decisions about what I want in my life and what I want to be known for, which is scary but also completely invigorating. There is endless possibility.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur? And how do you deal with it?
Getting out of the momentum trap. I spent years dealing with clients and revenue from one on one, or “do it for you” or “do it with you” content. To be able to create evergreen content, the content that allows you to make money in the future and continues to make you money everyday, it’s hard to make time for, but once you do, that is when the brilliant things start to happen.
Remind yourself everyday that the little things that help you create an evergreen system are the ones that will make all the difference in the future. The leveraged content that you can use over and over again, that frees you from the binds of having to be on social all the time.
What are your business goals for this coming year?
I am working on growing the Nurture to Convert Society to a $2 million product, working on my 4th book and a side project with a partner on a new app.
For a mom interested in starting her business, what would be your advice and the first steps to take as a beginner? What would be a good business type?
For most boss moms, the easiest way to go is to become a virtual assistant, to do the “done for you” work and to really understand what you are good at and what you enjoy, and then to move into the done with you work, and eventually into course work which you can scale up.
I usually tell my moms to map out what their opinions are about their industry, their life opinions and their strategy or tactics that they recommend. The more that they can understand their own opinions or their own ideas, the easier it is for them to build authority in those spaces. The worst thing you can do is do so many things that you confuse the market and never actually grow.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The constant simplifying, which has not always been a good habit. The habit is to consistently review my priorities. Reviewing my priorities over and over again, continually helps me say “no” to things, and helps me realize when I am doing things to procrastinate or avoid something or when I’m not doing the thing that’s going to move my business ahead the most.
What's your favourite quote?
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller
“You gotta risk it to get the biscuit.” the movie Fired Up
Any good book(s) to recommend to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
Learn more about Boss Mom at www.boss-mom.com
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