After 18+ years as a business owner, I am uniquely qualified to work with women transitioning from executive to entrepreneur. The business development strategies, productivity tips and ParentPreneur® success rituals I teach were not learned second hand in an afternoon workshop. They were not learned in someone else’s certification program.
These are hands-on, battle-tested techniques through many years of constant learning, A/B testing and a fearless pursuit of what’s new and next. Years of attending live events, reading, diving deep into new SEO/SEM/SMM platforms, website data analysis, Google Adwords and online marketing to learn how it ticks for the benefit of my clients and customers. This happened through actual application and development in real-time with paying clients who have experienced phenomenal growth in their business. (Testimonials)
Visit my corporate marketing page to learn more about overall projects or check out my LinkedIn page for some of the long-term projects. To learn more about this ParentPreneur journey developed, read on.
“Whatever you’re going to do, OWN it.”
That’s a quote from my grandfather, Terrence E. O’Neill, who instilled the idea of business ownership in me at a young age. He meant that as “own it” as in having a personal stake in it, own your actions and ideas. And also “own it” meaning, own the company! That made a huge impression on me as a girl in the early 1970s.
I started my first business when my oldest daughter started preschool so that I could have more time with her, maintain a flexible schedule and still earn my own money. Never really part of the 9-to-5 culture, it was natural at the time to find a way to make money working from home. This was in the days of dial-up Internet and before it was cool to be a work at home parent. Using skills learned on the job and in college as a pre-Physical Assistant major, I started a medical transcription company.
Quickly, this grew into a subcontractor position with several companies and outsourcing work to what we now call “distance teams” as a way to leverage my time and money. My largest team was 400 medical transcriptionists and editors in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and India.
Teaching other women how to grow their medical transcription businesses, whether as an independent contractor or small business, became a serious focus early on. The ability to use the skills we already have to earn enough money to decide how we want to parent was life-changing. I made it a mission to share tips and tricks with any mother who asked. The time of short maternity leave, sending kids to daycare and missing out on all the moments we can never get back, had to change.
The most popular topics at the time were
- How to network with others in my industry.
- Where to find legitimate work/clients online.
- What technology/equipment do I need?
- How to market skills?
- How to manage the work-life-parenting challenges?
These days we would label this as consulting or coaching. At the time, I was only trying to be of service to help other moms enjoy the same freedom I had. Other business owners contracted me, independently and as a profit-sharing employee, to manage, operate and market their medical transcription companies. Earning more than I would have made as a Physician Assistant, I took a break from college.
Suze Orman, personal financial advisor, and author, once said that women should be in control of their financial destiny. One part gut feeling, one part self-preservation, I always kept that in the back of my mind.
If I knew then what I know now, those arrangements and opportunities would look a lot different. Several missed opportunities due to lack of understanding, resources and simply not being tapped into the right networking communities is what drove me to the business I have today. Lessons learned the hard way. More on that later.
It wasn’t until a medical website design company approached me to edit and manage their online patient education library that I even thought about doing anything else. This contract position soon turned into optimizing content for medical websites, SEO, social media marketing, Bing, Yahoo and Google Adwords, training staff and doing webinars to train new web hosting clients. I was paid to talk – my 5th-grade teacher would be so proud. It became a web of cross-referrals and constantly evolving projects. It was a very exciting time!
On a personal note, everything changed. By this time, my youngest daughter was born two months after 9/11, and we dealth with back-to-back deployments for the next nearly 5 years. The girls and I, we were the ones “left behind” with the primary breadwinner half a world away with no real control over the finances. Military wives around the world have the ever-present “What If” syndrome.
I thought my focus was providing for my children, protecting myself in the “What If” scenario.
I thought working longer hours meant working harder, which should lead to more money. Right?
A 90-hour work week while out of town at an all-star cheerleading competition with my two girls changed everything. Sure, I was still there to watch them, working late into the night and again in the morning before they got up, working from my phone in between competitions, answering emails and making calls, What on earth was I doing?
My core principles were missing – I wasn’t leveraging my time. I had fallen back on trading hours for dollars. I wasn’t spending quality time with my girls.
Thankfully, I listened to my grandfather, my family…and Suze Orman…and never gave up on my ability to earn my own money.
If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have missed out on so many opportunities. I was so consumed with putting food on the table, getting my kids to school and activities and recovering from a failed marriage, I did not look up from my computer screen to see my true potential. I allowed other people to decide my worth. I let other people project their insecurities on me, which I claimed as my own.
“Victims don’t get things done,” Barbara Corcoran, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” judge recently said in an interview. I did not want to own that space so I made a series of consecutive, consistent, sound decisions that led me to where I am today.
People often talk about the success at the top of the hill yet they don’t talk about the hard times in the valley. Ever optimistic, I’m not afraid to share those really sucky times when the lemonade is just that – sour.
Doubling Down on the Mindset
By teaching someone else, you change the future of two people. It’s true what they say that by taking the focus off yourself, your true passion is revealed.
I know NOW who I am and how I want to help other ParentPreneurs succeed in business. It took some time, some major GUTS, serious soul searching, lots of mistakes…OK, many, and a complete overhaul of mindset as a mother, a woman, and a business owner.
There is a point in one’s career when the drive to succeed is more about the impact we can make on other people than the money or the temporary struggle.
Fear. Self-doubt. Imposter Syndrome. Lack of resources. Saving other women from the mistakes I’ve made as a business owner by not identifying opportunities and not reinvesting in myself is what drives my message on a daily basis from a position of empowerment. It’s not all about marketing strategy, website optimization, data analysis, the latest social media channel or live streaming technique. My mission is bigger than that.
We have a responsibility to those who have gone before us, those who have invested in us, to fulfill our potential and leave a legacy…to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Now 18+ years later, I’ve helped hundreds of women start their businesses and consulted on over 1,200 private and public companies making me uniquely qualified based on my own experience. The business development strategies, productivity tips and ParentPreneur success rituals I teach were not learned second hand in an afternoon workshop. These techniques were not learned in someone else’s 90-minute program.
These are hands-on, battle-tested techniques through many years of constant learning, A/B testing and a fearless pursuit of what’s new and next in my industry. I soon learned the value of investing in myself, my business and really great mentors.
Forging your own path – that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur.
An O’Neill Tradition Since 1906
I’ve been KellyO since about third grade after discovering I was the only Kelly in my small parochial school in Anderson, Indiana. My father, aunts, uncles and almost all my cousins attended the same school with me being the youngest one. (I’ll let that sink in for a minute…I had the same teachers as my dad.) It seemed more efficient to simply put KellyO on all my class papers. It stuck and I’ve been using it ever since. Who knew that small step in efficiency would end up being a cornerstone of a business later in life? (Learn more about Productivity)
The O’Neill family didn’t hand me millions of dollars to start my first business nor did I inherit a huge company. They did instill the entrepreneurial spirit in me at a young age. My great-grandfather started O’Neill’s Floors in 1906 which remained active through three generations until the death of my Uncle Patrick O’Neill in 2009. Several O’Neill across seven generations now own some type of business, large and small. It’s just how we grew up.
My grandfather, Terrence E. O’Neill, often said, “Whatever you’re going to do, own it.” He meant that as “own it” as in having a personal stake in it, ownership. And also “own it” meaning, own the company! That made a huge impression on me as a girl in the mid-1970s.
“Whatever you’re going to do, OWN it.”
My first business venture was in high school when I learned the power of bartering my expertise as a dance teacher to pay for my dance classes, costumes, and fees. Discovering there is a far better system beyond trading hours for dollars at a young age completely changes your outlook on how to earn money. I knew in the back of my mind I had within me what I needed to succeed.
Some families raise their kids to be doctors, dentists, lawyers or encourage them to go to business school. There was always an underlying message, although unintentional at the time, that small business ownership was a way to control my future. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I knew I wanted to own my own business.