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Entrepreneur Jill Salzman Launches Online Business Portal for Moms

Jill Salzman, who's on her third successful business venture, decided five years ago that she wanted to talk to moms who had both a business and a baby to see how they were making it work.

After all, the Chicago-based mother tells mom.me, "I was pregnant with Baby No. 2 and very tense about how to do it with two kids."

That's when she launched The Founding Moms, a series of community meet-ups that started in Chicago, where moms were invited to network and find support as entrepreneurial women. Those meet-ups have since expanded to 47 cities in 10 countries.

"We keep opening up in different cities because I cannot believe what a universal need we have to meet other women who understand the crazy."

Today, the mom of two daughters, ages 8 and 5, has even bigger news. Salzman has launched The Founding Moms Community, a portal for entrepreneurial moms that's the online extension of The Founding Moms. The community, sponsored by small-business payroll company SurePayroll, will feature video courses, workbooks and interactive webinars that cover everything from social-media strategies to tax tips.

"It's really going to be a community where we're going to have a forum where everyone can talk to one another," Salzman says. "You can get emotional support — that I'm excited about — and you'll be able to barter or hire one another."

Ashley Van Nevel, multichannel marketing manager at SurePayroll, agrees that the partnership is a good fit and says that her company will play an active role with the moms.

"We'll join in with that community, so they'll be able to reach out to us and ask us any questions, whether it's strictly payroll related or something that has to do with HR," Van Nevel tells mom.me. "We'll be able to interact with them and respond to any questions they have and really be an advocate for them."

We also talked to Salzman about the challenges of starting a business, what moms need to know, and where she sees her new venture in a year.

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What do you find is the top challenge for moms who want to start their own business?

A lot of people in traditional business formats, particularly educational areas, don't ever like to talk time management, or emotional support or how to handle it all. So we do a lot of talking about that at our Founding Moms Exchanges. And then really at launch, if you're asking about startup, a lot of [the focus] tends to lean in the grouped-together sales/marketing/branding [area]. "I have this great idea, I know exactly how to do it inside of my home office or my regular office, but how am I going to get it out there? How am I going to get customers in line?" Which, all across the board, is a business question.

(Pictured below: The 2014 Founding Moms Conference in Chicago)

At what point after you started your businesses did you first feel successful?

My first business was a music-management business, so I sent bands out on tour. I'll be perfectly honest instead of sounding all grandiose: The first time a check came in, I felt successful.

Then two years later, I launched a baby jewelry business where I sold anklewear that had bells on them for little babies and toddlers. I definitely felt we hit a home run and I would be able to retire because we'd landed in People magazine. It was a big coup. Gwen Stefani put them on her kiddo. So I literally thought I'd be on a beach in Tahiti. That felt really great.

But in 2011, I sold that business. To have someone buy your business and say, "Hey, I believe in you so much I want to spend a lot of money on it"—it feels really good.

I'll be perfectly honest instead of sounding all grandiose. The first time a check came in I felt successful.

Did you go to Tahiti?

You know what's really funny? I never thought about it ... but I did go to India. We ended up doing a big trip to India, because how else do you celebrate?

What are three things moms should have before starting a business?

They should have support of some kind. If it's not from their spouse, it's from friends, or a business support group, something where they can talk to other people about it. That, I think people don't think about. They should have a good sense of what their brand voice is. And the third thing I want to say is [they need] a desire to just do it, and not sit and plan and think and business-plan their way out of actually launching the thing, which happens too much.

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What "mom" sacrifices did you have to make for any of your business ventures?

I want to say that it's the same sacrifice for anybody working in corporate. Really you're sacrificing some time to focus on other things. So if you're a full-time mom transitioning, you're going to focus slightly less on family life and slightly more on your biz. But I don't really look at it as a sacrifice if you're launching something you enjoy doing.

What are you hoping will happen at the end of a year?

Other than a million people joining, I hope that not only internally does it bring our current members together more often and in more ways than one, but I hope that all the women who should belong to Founding Moms Exchanges—but don't have one locally or don't have time to come to the one that is local—will be able to participate and learn online. There are lots of business portals and online communities for the general folks in business, but it's such a great niche to be among fellow moms who get the whole "time management, running a business, having kids" thing.

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