When mother Di Ana Ford finally decided to take some time out for herself by heading to a day spa in the desert with a friend, she didn´t realize that not only would that trip give her the rejuvenation she so desperately needed, but it would also spark a creative idea that would turn into Spa Girl Parties (www.spagirlparties.com).
Spa Girl Parties hosts in-home spa parties for the tired girl who can´t get out to the spa. These include themed-parties, such as the Sole-Survivor Party for tired feet, the Spa Bliss party featuring soaks and scrubs and lotions, and the party that every tired mother craves: The Dripping in Chocolate Party, complete with delicious foot scrubs and soaks made of Dutch Chocolate Decadence products. Spa Girl Parties also sells a line of luxurious products; such as a facial care starter set, chocolate sugar scrub, and multi-fruit night crÃ¨me.
Di Ana was no stranger to the business world before launching Spa Girl Parties. She had previously run a Wedding Manufacturing/Distributing Company that created and brought to market unique products for the wedding industry. But she says about that business, "I was really wanting to do something where there was more interaction with other women and where I felt like I was making a difference."
Though the company officially launched in August of 2005, Di Ana spent a year conducting research and laying the ground-work. Her advice for a successful business launch? To get your business set up properly right from the beginning. ". . . file for your corporation papers, file to trademark your name/logo, etc"?¦ Get a bank account set-up, separate phone lines, logo designed, website created. Lay the ground-work first. But, don’t be extravagant; you can start up a business without spending a fortune."
Di Ana currently works out of the home and uses her basement as the warehouse to store supplies and do shipping and receiving, though if the business continues to grow she anticipates using a small warehouse within the next 9-12 months. Spa Girl Parties currently has 98 consultants working for the company.
The downside of owning a business is the same as working at home for Di Ana-the tendency to overwork. It is easy to check emails at 4 in the morning, or to work late at night since you don´t leave the traditional office setting behind at 5 PM.
And the benefits? The freedom of scheduling and the ability to use her creative side. "I’m always thinking of new ideas and ways to do things and I can just do them – I don’t have to get approval from a “department”. And the freedom is so nice, if I want to spend a day with my son when he has a day off school – I do it – I may work late into the night after he is in bed, but that’s okay!"
Her tip for moms working from home? Isolate the office into an area of the house where you can close the door and keep everything separate. Also, get up and get ready for work as though you were working out of the home. Eat breakfast, shower, get the kids off to school, and even put on make-up so that you physically feel ready to tackle the day.
Di Ana offers the following tips for running a business:
1. Track everything. Di Ana keeps a simple notebook in which she lists daily the tasks she needs to accomplish and the calls that she needs to make. She then tracks her conversations and makes notes in the book throughout the day.
2. Outsource when you can. This eliminates the need to hire additional employees while giving you the flexibility to use people who also own their own businesses. These outsourced jobs might include graphic designers, advertisers, marketing experts, and product suppliers. Spa Girl Parties uses a lady from Ohio to write press releases and the newsletter, a lady in Washington to train, and a recruiter that lives in Wisconsin. They are all stay at home/working moms and Di Ana says, "I couldn´t do this without them."
3. Research, research, research. Find out what others are doing that is similar to what you plan to do and learn from them.
4. Network. Find associations within your industry (for instance, Di Ana belongs to Direct Selling Women´s Association). Also, share ideas with other women within your industry.
5. Find good vendors. Remember, they are a reflection of your business. One tip: Find something that you like and then find out who produced it. And shop around. You don´t need local vendors; in fact, Di Ana shopped local printers when living in California but wound up hiring a printer that lived in Florida. Even after shipping, the catalog cost about half of what the company in California had quoted.
6. Talk, talk, talk. Tell people what you are looking for. Often they can help you find great resources, products, and other businesses with whom to work.
7. And lastly, Di Ana says JUST START. " People always ask me how did I start, how did I know what to do – I didn’t know what to do – but I just started. I started researching, asking questions and searching and one thing will lead you to another – but if you just sit around thinking about your idea or “wondering” how am I going to do this – you won’t get anywhere."