Mom Leaves Corporate America to Launch Her Online Business & Now Helps Others to Do the Same
A big welcome to Debra Cohen the founder of Home Referral Network. Learn about Debra and her business in her featured Mompreneur Interview below.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a mother of two daughters and my husband is a Science HS teacher. I used to be the VP of a Spanish language aviation magazine in Manhattan but, after my first daughter was born, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her every day.
Where did the inspiration Home Referral Network come from?
Shortly after leaving my career in Corporate America, my self-esteem plummeted and our bills started to pile up. As much as I loved being home with my daughter, I missed the stimulation (not to mention the income!) of a career. I couldn’t find a part time job that coincided with my husband’s schedule so I decided to try and find something I could do from home.
At the same time, my husband and I had recently purchased our first house and–like many homeowners– we were struggling to find reliable home improvement contractors. When I finally found a good plumber, painter, electrician, etc. I felt compelled to share his name with other homeowners in our community. I realized that if we faced this challenge then other homeowners must as well. I decided to try to create a business to fill this need in our community and launched Home Remedies of NY, Inc., a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) linking homeowners with pre-screened, reliable home improvement professionals.
After a local paper wrote an article about my company, my business took off faster than I had expected. I received calls from contractors and homeowners outside of my operating area as well as other entrepreneurs who were interested in starting a service like mine. That’s when inspiration hit again. Rather than take on more work than I could handle, I decided to help other people set up HRN businesses like mine on Long Island and refer work to them. Once the concept worked locally, I set out to expand across the country. To date I’ve helped 300 people (90% of them are moms) launch successful Home Referral Network businesses like mine all over the US.
What kind of approximate start-up costs were involved in getting your business from concept to launch mode?
I launched my business with a $5000 loan that I took from my husband’s retirement savings plan and I used that money to purchase a computer, refurbished fax machine, printing and postage. I tried to do as much as I could on my own in the beginning and also enlisted the help of friends, former colleagues and SCORE counselors. By keeping expenses low, I was able to repay my loan in less than 6 months!
Who is Home Referral Network for and how does it benefit them?
Home Remedies serves two important niches in the home improvement market:
1. My business is an outsourced sales and marketing force for local contractors.
2. And, a free referral source for homeowners seeking reliable home improvement professionals.
The HRN Business Packages also provide a turnkey system for moms who want to start a home based business like mine but don’t want to start from scratch. I know firsthand how challenging it can be to launch a new business (especially when you’re a mom too!) which is why I documented all of the “how to’s” for others to follow so that they can get up and running successfully and also get the support and guidance they need.
Please provide one business tip that you feel can really help a mom entrepreneur with her business.
Outsourcing is key. As a business owner (and a mom) it’s impossible to handle everything on your own. You need to identify what aspects of your business you do best and outsource the rest to professionals so that you can maximize your time and work efficiently. Whether that means hiring a virtual assistant, a webmaster or a babysitter build a network of people who can support you, your family and your business.
1 thing you do for yourself to unwind from it all?
I go to the gym for at least one hour every morning.
Share a website you like to browse just for fun:
Ebay. I love to hunt for bargains!
Share a favorite book:
Home Remedies, is a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) that pre-screens and refers home improvement contractors (i.e. painters, plumbers, carpenters, kitchen remodelers, etc.) to local homeowners. Contractors in my network pay a pre-negotiated commission for work secured which means that my service is free to homeowners.
Once Home Remedies was up and running successfully I realized that the concept appealed to other entrepreneurs (particularly moms who wanted to launch a business from home so I know market my business as an opportunity to moms who want to launch an HRN business like mine in their community.
Connect with Debra Cohen
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