As a new mom, I struggled to find good child care and on a flexible schedule. I wanted sitters who were trustworthy, reliable, skilled and background screened - and available when I needed them. But instead of just hoping for a solution, I created one - and in doing so I created a million dollar business along the way.
A Brief Description of SeekingSitters
''Easy, Safe Babysitting Solutions'' is the compay’s motto. Our unique web-based service, now in nine states with twenty-three franchise territories, offers just what our motto says: It’s as easy as going online to order a babysitter of your choice, knowing that the sitter has been thoroughly screened and has CPR and other credentials. Having peace of mind that whenever you want to leave home, you never again have to worry about your child and who’s caring for them. Testimonials from our members and our professional sitters are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the company’s ability to offer part-time jobs for college students and to offer expedient service on-demand for busy parents who can pay by credit card and trust us to send qualified, creative babysitters into their homes. SeekingSitters nationally has hundreds of members and we have signed on almost a thousand thoroughly screened and qualified babysitters.
There was a need that had to be filled
In 2004, I took over my parents’ private investigation firm and had trouble hiring and keeping good babysitters to watch my child a few hours each day in lieu of having them in a full-time preschool. So I hired my son's preschool teacher to “sit” on a regular basis; but when I ran a background investigation on the teacher I was shocked at what I found. She had numerous criminal records even though she had passed the state’s background check, and was working in a local preschool! I thought, on face value, that this pre-school teacher would have stellar credibility and character – that was a wake-up call. I pulled our son from the preschool and started seeking out qualified sitters that passed my stringent background checks and could work around my schedule.
The 7-Hour Business Plan
After I found sitters who passed my stringent screening for my own family, my friends wanted me to do the same for them. Then, while on family trips to Denver and Austin, my husband and I had the same problem all over again: there were no qualified on-demand babysitters to relieve us when we wanted to go out in the evening. We talked about this dilemma on the seven hour drive from Austin back to Tulsa. We wrote our business plan down on the back of a coloring book and launched our website that night. SeekingSitters was born! We immediately incorporated our investigation skills into the background investigations of the babysitters and realized that what would really set our company apart from any other babysitting service would be our own in-house private investigators that thoroughly screen all sitters and members.
Facing challenges along the way
Life’s challenges for a working mom are no greater or no less when you’re an entrepreneur. It’s your attitude that counts and that balances out the stresses of life. The greatest challenge we’ve had in creating and building our business is managing our time so that the business doesn’t interrupt our family life. We’ve been blessed with our company because it has awarded us with the luxury to still work at home and be with our children. We now have an office building in midtown Tulsa where my husband David works the Tulsa SeekingSitters franchise, and I handle the franchise operations from home. The company’s business model is designed for the working mom. It helps provide a balanced option for women who want to work but also be there for all of their child’s special moments.
My advice for women who aspire to own a business:
NEED - SEED - HEED - LEAD - SPEED
1. Is there a NEED ?
Is your business idea unique and how much of a demand would there be for it?
2. Is there a SEED ?
Do you have ''seed money'' to support the startup costs of your business? If you don’t have the start-up do you know where you can obtain it through grants, loans or investors.
3. Will you be able to HEED the advice of others?
Are you able to ask for and listen to advice? Can you sacrifice the proverbial ''blood, sweat and tears'' it takes to give birth to your very own business?
4. Are you ready to LEAD ?
Can you lead others in following you through your business start-up, including your family? By leading, can you weed out superfluous things in your life to make room for the time it takes to start your business and to establish a near perfect business plan and still have time for your family?
5. Can you launch your business with SPEED ?
Once you have set your business plan in place and have started up, how quickly can you promote it? Timing is crucial in presenting a new business to the world!