In Conversation with Sara Alter of MOMENT Consulting
Describe your business in a few words?
MOMENT provides business coaching to support the growth of mom-owned startups.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I started my first business based off of consumer demand for a product that didn’t exist. I can say the same for my second business as well! The concept of creating a product from scratch and profiting came from a personal belief that was instilled in me in a very young age – that I could do, and be anything I set my mind to.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I started my first business when I was 19 years old and have continued to build off of that experience for the last 20 years. I began with a personalized quilting business in college, moved to NYC and worked in the executive search field in consumer and financial services for a handful of years, and eventually went back to my entrepreneurial roots, to found a first-to-market personalized nail polish business, Pretty Please Nail Polish, which was in operation for a decade. While I started consulting for women owned businesses on the side in 2013, I officially launched my consulting firm in 2020, with a focus on supporting mom entrepreneurs as they create, launch and scale small businesses.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Looking back I can see that it was in the cards all along. As a kid I would create made-up businesses. I was always creating craft accessories to sell to friends and family. And when it came time for me to apply to college with a major in apparel design, I convinced my high school to create a personalized fashion curriculum for me so that I could bulk up my applications geared towards my specific area of interest. I would say I’ve always thought outside the box and had an entrepreneurial spirit about me.
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?
I ended up launching my business in the early days of the pandemic but I had put out feelers for months leading up to the shut-down. I started with word of mouth marketing, talking to local mom friends to get feedback and to really bring them into the process of launching this business. It provided me valuable information about what they were looking for as moms, and as consumers, and it also created a connection to the mission I was planning to support. From there I began to grow my social media presence, email list, and continued to network through friends and family. The initial response after the website launch was overwhelming and I was at client capacity within a few weeks.
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?
Ha, how much time do you have? One stand-out mistake I made was not having potential business partners sign a non-disclosure agreement and other legal documents before disclosing private details about my products and services. They took my private company details and used the information to launch a competing business with the same products and almost identical messaging. It was a nightmare. The takeaway is that, no matter how small your business, or how new you are as a business owner, always legally protect yourself and never feel ashamed to take those precautions.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My kids! But professionally, continuing to run a business through all of life’s ups and downs – miscarriages, difficult pregnancies and deliveries, and now raising two kids 16 months apart and being a working mom.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Right now I’m a solopreneur and I outsource work to creative partners when my clients need additional support. My go-to question is: How would you describe your (creative) process from consultation to deliverables? While I’m curious about the work flow, what I’m really trying to understand is what systems do they have in place – if any – and if they are accountable when it comes to time management, feedback, and follow-up. This tells me a lot about a person’s work-ethic, priorities, customer experience, and how they will handle themselves around deadlines.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
My industry has exploded! Between unemployment, lay-offs, and an increasing number of women having to step away from their careers to be at home with their school-ages kids, the online coaching and consulting space has taken on a life of its own. Women are taking their experience from previous jobs and packaging it up to offer virtual coaching and support services across all industries.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
In the near future I will be sharing new coaching programs and resources. In the next few years you may see a podcast, a book, and I hope to grow my team to bring on more talent, and offer more in-house services to our amazing start-up community.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
2020 pulled the curtain back on motherhood, and I think one of the biggest lessons, for me and all working mothers, is that managing a career and a family is nothing to apologize for. Going forward, I think mothers will own and embrace their dual roles and wear it like a badge of honor. As they should.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That you shouldn’t do it alone! I used to pride myself on wearing so many hats in my business, and while the experience was priceless, and got me to the exact position I’m in today, I now also understand the critical value of having support, of hiring up, and of investing in yourself and your business education along the way.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Work! Having something creative and inspiring to dive into every day to distract from all of the ups and downs that this year has brought us, has been a lifesaver.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I do. The best and only thing that has ever worked for me is to completely map and out compartmentalize my days. I schedule in work time, personal time, family time, and unless something big comes up, I try my best not to blur the lines. This takes time and practice, especially when you’re running a business but as you begin to understand the flow of your business and how it can work with the flow of your life you can anticipate when you need to really show up and when you can really shut off. But if I’m being perfectly honest, most entrepreneurs never fully shut it off!
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m pretty introverted and any kind of public speaking, like doing live interviews, even on social media, makes me pretty nervous. Hoping in time, and with more practice, that feels easier!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Wake up at the same time every day and get dressed – even if I’m switching from pajamas to loungewear.
- I block out my entire day by activity like work deliverables, social media engagement, client calls, and even personal calls, so I can stay on track.
- I rarely if ever watch TV during the day – even during lunch. It makes me feel lazy so I reserve it for after-work hours.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means that I’m a woman with entrepreneurial vision, drive, insight, and follow-through.