In Conversation with Pamela Hirsch of Baby Quest
Describe your business in a few words?
Baby Quest Foundation is a non-profit charity awarding grants for assisted reproduction.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Years ago, I took the leap to get into the for-profit world because I wanted the challenge of creating something. With Baby Quest, I saw a need and wanted to “fill it.”
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was owner of a branch of The Princeton Review test prep company and was involved in its inception. Before that, I had been a teacher briefly.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Even though I had been a sorority president in college and head of some clubs, I gravitated at first to a teaching position. After a brief time there, I realized I needed to start something from the ground up and be in charge of something I created.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Considering I began The Princeton Review in 1985, the strategy was different – printed brochures, little internet use, limited emails. A few years after beginning, I looked back at my initial marketing items and was embarrassed. Even then, things had radically changed. Now with Baby Quest, I see such a difference in marketing with social media, internet access, and a completely new world of terms that I sometimes think I’m way too old to learn!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I learned to delegate…or at least I try! When running The Princeton Review, I had reached a plateau in revenues. I hired an Executive Director and released some control. Under his guidance, we thrived, adding employees and growing revenues. I was named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc 500 list of fastest growing private companies in 1994. With Baby Quest, I rely on the wisdom and expertise of one of our grant recipients who is a social media expert. That is a side of the charity that needed help from someone else….and I knew I could not tackle it.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Currently – it’s the more than 100 babies that Baby Quest has brought into the world. Personally – it’s my two daughters and four granddaughters….nothing in business could equal them.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Since I haven’t hired anyone in a long time, I will relate this question to selecting grant recipients….a truly difficult task. We ask finalists how they can be great ambassadors of the charity. They submit a video to respond. It is their sincerity and urgency that shine through and let the committee know we’ve made good choices.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
In March, many of the fertility clinics were closed. When they began opening, Baby Quest offered Resume Grants… awards to help those whose cycles had to be started again after an interruption, creating additional financial need. Fortunately, most practices took good care of their patients. However, we saw a definite downturn in applicants for our April 2020 grant cycle. That completely reversed itself recently when we saw an overwhelming number of applications for the cycle ending September 9th. It looks like the fertility practices are back in full operation now.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Baby Quest hopes to continue growing to increase awareness of infertility. We want anyone needing financial help to know we exist. We just saw the birth of baby #100 so we hope to add to our totals in the years to come.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
It’s been a year of learning how to deal with the circumstances of Covid-19. We are hosting a virtual fundraiser on November 18th. It’s certainly not what we’ve done in the past, but what can be done in the present. It’s been challenging to deal with the restrictions, but I feel our network of volunteers has grown closer…thanks to zoom.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
You will work with those who make work easy, but there will be others who aren’t as motivated or dedicated and can disappoint. That’s to be expected.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Grounded? That’s questionable! Baby Quest has had terrific support from friends, influencers and an army of those associated with the infertility world. We could not survive without their help.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Considering my office is in my house, I am the absolute worst example of maintaining a work/life balance. In fact, because of Covid-19 and the restrictions of isolating, that balance has become even more skewed. I should take tips here, not give them.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a Certified Pilates Instructor. That’s what happens after you sell one company (The Princeton Review) and find yourself without a career…at least briefly until I started Baby Quest.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. I feel better if I work out in the morning… whether it be Peloton, running, Pilates.
2. I get more accomplished if I have a to-do list… even if it is in my mind. I need a plan to stay organized.
3. I need to take breaks… such as “When is lunch?”
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
When I grew up in central Illinois many years ago, my mother’s goal for me was to graduate from college (which I did) get married quickly (I did) and stay home and have children (not so quickly). I did not fit into that mold… happily. I am so thrilled that today’s women have choices. I’m happy that, despite being from another ‘culture,’ I was able to challenge myself to create something, especially Baby Quest. Being an Entreprenista is a tremendous honor to know I have grown. I hope that I’ve set an example for my daughters and granddaughters to follow.