Christine Deehring returned to work at her Fortune 100 company after the birth of her daughter, but when she did, she knew her time was limited. Her passion was with her side hustle. During the evenings, she put time into growing her own company: Bump Boxes. She supported this dream with the income from her day job, investing her time and a portion of her steady salary. In April 2015, feeling overwhelmed with the demands of her full-time CPA work, she took the jump, deciding to put all of her focus into her company.
She then turned her side hustle into a bonafide business, one that actively supports women and gives other companies the opportunity to join in the movement. How was she able to make the switch? According to her, these 5 steps were absolutely key to her growth. Read on to see how you can learn from her success.
1. Define your key vision
Deehring began with business canvases. Canvases are one-page visuals of your business model, which can describe, design, challenge, and drive your vision. A typical template organizes your plan into nine areas: key partners, key activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure, and revenue streams. This was Deehring’s foundation, or blueprint, to support her dream.
“When you launch something,” Deehring says, “You’ve got to put it out there, then make pivots and adjustments along the way.”
With her business model in hand, she focused next on finding business partners and vendors.
2. It takes many “No’s” to get to “Yes”
In the beginning, vendors turned her down. They gave her two reasons: First, her company was unheard of and incredibly small. Too small for them to believe in. So she responded by crafting a marketing strategy. She approached vendors with a clear picture of how Bump Boxes would become the top pregnancy subscription box service in the country. She gave them the opportunity to not only partner with her, but to get involved in the vision by joining the board. Because she learned from the ‘no’s’ — rather than get crushed by them — she was able to communicate her vision clearly, and vendors became eager to jump in.
The next step was funding.
3. Plan for financial hurdles
Gender disparity in financing is real. The numbers paint a dismal picture, even after the slow progress we’ve made through the gender equality movement. These stats come from the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee:
- Women only receive 4.4% of small business loans, even though they own 30% of small businesses.
- Those that are approved are only receiving 16% of conventional loans and 17% of SBA-backed loans.
- Women only receive 7% of venture funds.
Even when women get approved, they receive smaller sums than men. We have to work harder to get the same access and opportunities as male entrepreneurs.
Deehring began by investing in herself and bootstrapped in the beginning. She also “took on a very small angel round,” she said. When you invest in yourself, she found, you take on “even more of a sense of ownership and urgency.” You focus on growing and scaling with this in mind, questioning each investment — whether that’s the direction you want to go, and whether the bet is one you’re willing to take.
“In starting your own business, there is a lot of sweat equity up front, and you may have to work a couple jobs to get things off the ground to sustain you or your family. But if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen regardless!”
For other women founders and small business owners, she shares this important advice: “CASH IS KING!”
“Pay attention to your cash and where it is going. Make sure you never run out and you have a reserve for a rainy day. You can’t grow and scale without it. It can be your best friend — or your worst enemy.”
4. Stand out in the crowd
Deehring built an uncommon aspect into her business plan for Bump Boxes that allows businesses to support working moms in a unique way: a corporate gifting service. A larger number of businesses today are doing better at supporting working moms by providing them with more assistance than the required-by-law break time for pumping. Businesses must stand out in the current culture in order to attract qualified candidates such as working moms. The Wall Street Journal reported that 3.4 million people quit their jobs in April 2018. People in the current workforce feel confident that they can find bigger and better. For working moms, better means companies that support families and a positive work-life balance. When a corporation adds the Bump Box gifting service to their list of benefits, it may help them stand out as a firm with unique maternity wellness perks.
“We’ve worked with so many companies, both nationally and internationally, to help them create a connection with their expecting parents,” Deehring explains.
An extensive study by Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY analyzed nearly 22,000 global, publicly traded companies, worldwide, and found that those that had 30% of women in leadership positions add 6% to their net profit margin. When businesses create an environment that supports women and specifically moves them up the ladder, it equates to financial success.
Bump Box service specifically creates an impact on employees, according to Deehring: through connection during a critical life event!
“By creating the connection,” she said, “you can increase employee retention and engagement extremely quickly, because you are there for the most pivotal point in their life: parenthood!”
5. Build other women up
Running a business in the pregnancy and baby space means that Deehring works with countless other mompreneurs. They’ve become part of her personal community. “We ask each other questions, help promote each other, and do what we can to help each other’s success in our industry.”
She believes in being a part of building women up and supporting their businesses. “It’s extremely important to send the ladder back down and help other women in an earlier stage with the knowledge you’ve gained along the way.” In this way, her story echoes the vision of HER Magazine: celebrating the contributions of women, learning from those who came before us, and lifting up those who follow after.