How do you keep your toddlers entertained when your Saturday plans get rained out? How good is that new party place that just opened up? Hulafrog, a web site for parents looking for things to do with their children locally, aims to answer just those kinds of questions.
And it’s growing, fast. Sherry Lombardi and her co-founder, Kerry Bowbliss, launched with a prototype in the summer of 2010. Using only word-of-mouth for marketing, they landed 15,000 unique visitors in their target market of 29,000 households with children under 12. Hulafrog is now in 27 towns in 11 states. By 2016, the company plans to be in over 700 markets.
The founders have few employees, instead relying on a large workforce of contractor moms who launch Hulafrog in their own communities. “We have learned that mompreneurs offer amazing talent, skills, and experience in exchange for being willing to work for less than equally-qualified professionals,” says Lombardi. “They are dedicated, enthusiastic and get a lot done very quickly.”
Mompreneurs represent a very talented and motivated workforce-;and not only for businesses as family-focused as Hulafrog. They also represent buying power, and they know how buying decisions are made. There are a lot of them, and many have have MBAs or amazing professional experience that will help you grow your business.
Mompreneurs are looking to work, but do not want the constraints of the office jobs they left when they decided to stay home and take care of their children. They are more likely to be willing to forgo large salaries for the chance to grow their own part of your business in a way that makes sense for them. They bring a lot of experience from their previous work lives and from running their households (mini-businesses!). They are hungry and they don’t waste time.
How can you harness the power of these women for your business? Lombardi suggests these tips for recruiting and engaging them in your growth strategy:
Partner for long-term success. Invest in your mompreneur’s success, and she will ensure yours. At Hulafrog, mompreneurs are paid commission-only, and they get half of the revenue they generate. They are also encouraged to grow Hulafrog’s business through recruitment referral fees and a share of revenue received from referrals.
This financial incentive program is less transactional than it seems. Hulafrog promotes a partnering approach where the mompreneur feels part of the excitement and success of growing a business. They are responsible for their Hulafrog business in their community. They are creating those long-term relationships that result in recurring revenue. They are bringing in the sharpest folks they know to ensure that the company fulfills its growth targets. And they are getting rewarded for doing so.
Focus on enablement tools. Hulafrog’s founders have centralized most of their business. Every local Hulafrog site has the same look and feel. Every Hulafrog experience is the same. To make sure each Hulafrog grows the same way in each community, the founders have devised a launch methodology that they teach online. The courses take each new recruit through the process of launching her local Hulafrog business, week by week. She finds out what local business and organizations to target, how to sell, and how to market.
Create a feedback loop. Create a growth environment by embracing iterations with a purpose--the purpose being growth and success. Mompreneurs are fantastic about looking at an issue from multiple perspectives. Make sure to give them a feedback loop so you can learn from them. What iterations did they need to make? What worked? What didn’t? How did they improvise without going off-message or off-brand? This feedback helps you know your business, your stakeholders, and your competitors better than anyone else.
Mompreneurs are talented. They are smart. They are resourceful. They are used to multi-tasking and getting things done so much more quickly than everyone else. What are you waiting for?