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Divorcing Divas – It’s Not the End…It’s the Beginning! By Christine K. Clifford

On the recommendation of a mutual friend, I met a total stranger for a cup of coffee on April 22, 2010. Sharing stories of our divorces (her first; my second), I came to realize how challenging this experience is for most people: where do I start? Who do I speak with? Where do I turn for help?

I also realized that I was approaching my divorce from a position of power: I was the one who filed for divorce. But Barb, who had been blindsided after a thirty-three year marriage, said she could hardly get out of bed in the morning. And it occurred to me: what about all the people who feel as though their lives have come to an end? Can I provide the tools to help them feel like they can move forward?

Within our two hour meeting we came up with the concept of our company, Divorcing Divas: a company to provide encouragement, inspiration and empowerment to people going through the difficult process of divorce. Through support, education, resources and hope, we would show divorcees that they can find life~ and a good life~ on the other side.

But that’s not all we did in that first two hour meeting: on paper napkins we wrote our slogan, tag line and mission statement; jotted down an agenda for our first all day educational conference; chose a date; and had a list of potential speakers. The only problem? Because of our divorces, we had no money!

Barb Greenberg and I were so convinced that we were on to something that we took a huge risk: we both committed to invested $2,000 in our start-up. I immediately went home and purchased the URL that day, contacted my patent attorney (yes, it was available!), and started soliciting website designers.

Next I asked my recent college graduate son Brooks if he would be willing to design a logo for us… for free! He said he was definitely up to the challenge—the least he could do in exchange for the college education he had received!

We went to our bank, Wells Fargo, and opened a business checking account with our $4,000 investment.

Barb started interviewing hotels to host our venue (not free!). We had to sign a contract guaranteeing at least $8,000 in revenue!

Together the two of us started calling individuals that would have the content we were looking for as speakers and presenters—financial planning, the legal journey, emotional support, well-being and even humor—but also be willing to speak… for free!

The wheels were in motion. But we quickly made our first big mistake: we hired the wrong guy to design our website. In fact, I broke my cardinal rule: it takes money to make money. Not having much money, we first went with the low-cost provider. Our needs were out of his league: online registration; a shopping cart; a content management system. We lost almost three weeks trying to find another.

Again, we hired a mid-level designer to do the work on our site. Time was running out. We only had four months until our first event, and now we were under contract with the hotel. He took over two months to design the site after telling us he could do it in two weeks! We were now down to three months to market and sell tickets to the event.

We officially launched our company on June 21, 2010, and as soon as the website was up and operational, I started contacting the media with a press release I wrote myself. A good friend who is a Public Relations expert took a look at it and made suggestions. Success! The media was fascinated by our concept. I secured two appearances on our local NBC affiliate, and was interviewed in several Twin Cities print publications.

Five months from that fateful day in the coffee shop, we held our first event entitled Happily Ever After on September 25th. We sold Sponsorships ranging from $10,000 for the Presenting Sponsor (Thrivent Financial for Lutherans) to $1,000. We sold out our 35 Vendor Tables (at $250 each) within three weeks. And we charged $225 per person to attend the all day event.

The result? Over 200 people attended that conference. Barb and I paid ourselves back for our full investment and made a small profit. We made a generous donation to our non-profit partner Tubman (www.Tubman.org), a women’s shelter in the Twin Cities. And we invested in having our event filmed so we could have a powerful video clip to show the potential Sponsors and Vendors for our next event to be held on February 12, 2011 entitled Be Your Own Valentine!

But the greatest gift of all? It came as a comment on one of our Evaluation Forms from the first event. It read, “When I arrived at your conference, I was petrified with fear. I am leaving today knowing that your event saved my life.”

Today Barb and I have an active Committee of eleven who manage everything from Vendor Tables to In-Kind Donations (for door prizes, raffle items, and live auction items to raise money for Tubman) to passing out fliers and postcards. We have strong partnerships with a printing company, a new webmaster, graphic designers and Vendors.

We’ve used social media to attract everything from Committee Members to attendees, to Vendors and Sponsors with services on Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, and LinkedIn. And we send out Press Releases and story ideas to media contacts both locally and nationally on daily basis.

We increased our visibility for our next event by securing one of our “celebrity” News Anchors from NBC to serve as our Honorary MC for the day. We submitted and were approved for Continuing Education Credits from the MN Board of Psychology, the MN Board of Social Workers, the MN Board of Marriage & Family Therapists, and are awaiting approval from the MN Board of Nursing. We feel this adds tremendous credibility to the content we are presenting at our conference.

Our goal is to secure large corporate Sponsors, such as a Merrill Lynch, that can help us take our conferences on the road nationally. We are branching out by holding an event in Duluth, MN, a northern city about three hours from the Twin Cities, and have had inquiries to host in cities such as Phoenix and Chicago.

Barb, as President of the company (I serve as CEO), also offers small workshops on various aspects of divorce. And as authors and Professional Speakers, we have already created a DVD of the keynote speech I presented at the first conference, as well as I have written a book which I hope to have published by the end of next year. Barb had already written a beautiful book about her experience entitled After the Ball: A Woman’s Tale of Reclaiming Happily Ever After.

Barb and I believe that with the full day conferences, product sales, workshops and other business ideas we have brewing, that our annual revenues should reach $300,000- $400,000 in the next two years.

What did we do right? We never stopped believing in ourselves. If you believe in yourself, your product, your service, your company and your cause, anything is possible. It’s not the end… it’s the beginning.

Christine Clifford

Christine K. Clifford, CSP
CEO/Founder
Divorcing Divas, LLC
16526 West 78th Street, Suite 312
Eden Prairie, MN 55346
(612)720-4974 (cell)
(612)922-0195 (fax)
christine [at] divorcingdivas.net
www.DivorcingDivas.net
www.Facebook.com/DivorcingDivas
www.Meetup.com/DivorcingDivas
http://twitter.com/divorcingdivas
It’s not the end… it’s the beginning!

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