When my husband and I entered our house with our newborn baby, we looked at each other with a look of terror. Where were the adults who knew what they were doing? That lack of confidence led to a long and meaningful relationship with Parents Magazine. Many years later, when one of my kids went on her first date, my husband and I looked at each other with that same look. Where would we find advice? I was in search of the sequel to Parents Magazine.
Periodically, I would revisit my wish for a magazine for parents of tweens and teens. "So make one," he would say. To which I would respond: "I don't want to make one. I want to read one."
Then, five years ago, college entered the picture. My oldest was about to start her freshman year at a university six hours away and I was not coping well . . . at all. I kept thinking about my magazine, but seriously? I was a stay-at-home mom of five and had been for almost 20 years. What did I know about publishing a magazine?
Still, I found myself talking to other moms: friends, neighbors, women I accosted at the grocery store. I discovered that there were many moms out there who, like me, were looking for help with raising teenagers.
A few months later, I had a business partner and a team of moms. In those early days, we had a former lawyer (that's me), banker (my partner), social worker, speech pathologist and architect. It was the perfect recipe for a successful magazine launch, right? Not so much.
But what we lacked in experience, we made up for in passion--and we certainly knew a lot about teenagers. Between us, we had about 20 of them.
So, we started to learn about the magazine industry. We met with friends and friends of friends. There was no one beyond our target; we would naively (and bravely) pick up the phone and ask for a meeting. It didn't take long to discover that our conversations fell into two camps: 1) there were the people who thought our idea was brilliant--mostly educator types and other folks involved with teenagers--and 2) the people (read: men wearing suits) who were very skeptical that two women with no business background and no business plan (and no idea how to write one) could succeed with a print magazine in an industry that was rapidly shifting away from paper. Oh, and did I mention this was all happening smack dab in the middle of the recession?
Well, we chose to listen to the first group (and ignore the second). Seventeen years after I birthed my first child, I birthed a magazine, a feisty baby named Your Teen.
With perseverance, tenacity and just plain old sheer will, my partner and I have built a business. We never followed any traditional path, mostly because we didn't know that there was one.
This year, I got a chance to participate in Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. After just one week of class, I was red-in-the-face embarrassed by my deficiencies: risk management plans, business accounting, forecasting . . . so many things I didn't know.
Twelve weeks later, I'm astonished by how much I have learned and, what's more, I am keenly aware that our magazine, like any child, is a miracle.
In the end, passion helped two naïve moms start a business and build it. But Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses will help us soar.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.
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