I started my business on my kitchen table to supplement my teacher's salary and provide my mother with work as a returning-to-the-workforce, depressed 50-year-old coming through a divorce. These were my goals. Who knew where I was to wind up?
This notion of having a business serve its employees and its customers became the foundation of my company's mission — and the reason for its success. Coming from the world of education I had much to learn about business. What did profit mean? What was my true cost? For the next few years I schooled myself, worked full-time and mom stuffed envelopes. We were a team.
Six years passed and with my original two goals met, a daughter arrived. Keeping my job in the south Bronx was out of the question. The commute was too far, my husband was too worried, and I couldn't bear to be away from my daughter for 12 hours. What was I going to do for a salary? My next goal took shape.
With more time and greater determination, I sat for hours at that kitchen table building a foundation that today helps to support many families both economically and by nurturing the growth of the individual. I knocked on doors, sent flyers, and made calls as my little girl cheered me on, all the time knowing that I was going to have a business that would support my family. I also knew that I would ensure that neither I nor any of my team would have to miss a school play, soccer game, or bedtime story. I spent my daughter's waking minutes with her enjoying childhood and her sleeping hours while working right there. I was exhausted, but grateful.
My husband was growing tired and a bit jealous of the time he was missing with our daughter. He was traveling and significantly under-appreciated at his corporate job. My next goal appeared. With my husband’s corporate experience and business-savvy MBA we could together grow this business to places I could only dream of reaching myself. Magazines did not have the sex appeal that the glamour of big corporate life did, but our daughter’s smile convinced him to take the chair next to me at the kitchen table.
At first, and for what seemed an eternity, we struggled to make ends meet. We borrowed from relatives, ran up our credit cards, and bartered for services. Our second child arrived without us having health insurance. We still kid him that he was the most expensive child. Our lowest point came when we needed to drive an hour to borrow ten dollars for diapers and milk. Despite the challenges of daily life without sufficient resources, we knew there was no turning back. The economy was challenging and jobs hard to find. We were even more determined to stick with it. Our son was born with medical requirements that took much time, therapy, and attention, not to mention that he didn’t sleep. Tensions grew tighter and resources grew fewer.
When you reach the end of your rope, your angels find you. My life preserver came by way of a small customer who revealed that her company wasted too much money on periodicals, and asked what we could do to help. Our angel came dressed as the director of purchasing for Drexel Burnham. I called and she asked to see me. This marked a significant shift in my business from small and individual subscribers to huge corporate accounts. Our Drexel angel, Linda, mentored me and helped to shape a company that would provide value and service to companies all across America.
One person’s faith in my goals and dreams enabled me to build a company that would balance work/life. It would mean that never would team members miss a day in their children's lives. Since then we have lived our lives in gratitude for these gifts. My husband has coached for the fathers who couldn’t, served on boards and committees to improve community life, and has been my partner in my work/life for the last 20 years. I have worked to honor my gifts by ensuring that the parents in our company will never have to decide between their children and their work/life. To honor Linda, I keep my hand extended and my heart open, as she did in mentoring women on their journey.
Women who own a business shape those businesses to meet the needs of their work/life. We strive each day to bring value to our clients and support the women that build the future.
What are you doing in your business to REALLY serve your employees, customers and your community? Your success depends upon it!
A Women-Owned Business • www.csms-usa.com • Ramsey, N.J.