The stories and articles on this website are the result of a journey that began in 2003. My first dream was to be a teacher but there were too many rules. A Masters in Computer Science led to a career in technology, and a 29 year career working for IBM across multiple disciplines and around the world. That came to an abrupt halt six weeks before retirement, when I was laid off. Needing to escape corporate America and used to being a trailblazer, I started a handyman business. This was done with no idea that building a business is a lot harder than building a house!
Building a Business with Handyman Tips
My articles started as follow-up emails following phone calls with my handyman customers. It didn't take long to realize lots of homeowners had similar problems and could benefit from the information I was sharing. That required upgrading my handyman website in order to publish articles online, which happened in 2006. You can see the introduction of the “Handyman Library” in the navigation below (one of my early checklists archived by the WayBack Machine).
Once I learned how to use WordPress, it was easier to continue writing my articles there starting in 2008.
Now I'm sharing my business owner journey starting with the evolution of my websites. My new web developer needs this information to clean up more than 1500 pages of content and 3500 photos.
Experience Shared to Build 4 Walls 1 Roof
When you're still learning a new business and industry, why start a second business?
My recognition as the handywoman in NH, led other women serving homeowners to ask me for help with their marketing. Most new business owners have no idea how costly (time and dollars) marketing is. Using what I'd learned for my handyman business, I was able to help these women. 4 Walls 1 Roof was created to promote everyone's business. We shared the cost of a website with a page for each business, business cards, magnets, a booth at NH Home Shows and so much more.
4WallsOneRoof.com (and later 4Walls1Roof.com)
Home Tips Evolved As the Housing Industry
4 Walls expanded the scope of information homeowners we shared with homeowners. Your home is a huge investment, so it's important to start thinking about how to protect it from the decisions you make when buying it, to maintenance, decorating and other home improvements. Our group continued working together for several years but problems in the housing industry meant many 4 Walls members had to give up their fledgling businesses.
Now it was time to figure out how to continue offering the same homeowner information, and make the business self-sufficient. The first shift was to move from 4 Walls focusing on member businesses, to highlighting the 5 content categories we wrote about – buy/sell, remodel, maintain, decorate and enjoy your home.
My goal is to make the homeowner experience more positive through education. To make it easier for all homeowners, and especially women, to work with the home professionals in maintaining and improving their homes. Each group depends on the other, so why not work together in partnership.
HomeTips4Women.com (started as HomeTips4You.com)
and … MarketingTips4Pros.com
… and HomeDirectory4You.com
The funding for this business was based on home professionals paying an annual membership to be in the directory (Marla Esser's directory listing). This model is similar to Angie's List but different from Home Advisor which charges for every lead they send to a home professional. My challenge was trying to do this myself, without bringing in outside investors.
Ultimately I had to decide which of these three businesses I wanted to be in, a heart wrenching decision given the emotional investment I'd made in all of them. My decision should be obvious. I decided it was time to focus on meeting the needs of women homeowners, to help simplify their lives with the best information possible.
Wow, I never imagined how many websites there'd be as I learned about building a business, although we're talking about two legal entities and four business models. It's time for me to focus and excel at one business! I hope you'll support me on this journey.
What does it mean to support me? The short version (more to follow) is I make money when you click on affiliate links and ads on this website. You actually don't have to buy the exact product I shared. For example, by clicking on any of my Amazon links I earn a small commission on your purchases for the next 24 hours (and you pay the same price regardless).
PS Words of encouragement (leave a comment below) also appreciated as this was a tough story to share. You see when you're building a business, there's usually no blueprint like you have to build a house. Hoping you found my journey helpful in understanding why building a business is so darn hard!
I have gone through the evolution of my busineses also and have thought of it as re-inventing myself as the market and my needs changed. It is a challenge. It’s good to hear that I am not alone in dealing with the difficulties in sorting out what my business is and isn’t.
Maria, Yes it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in making mistakes as we build our business. It’s definitely a lifelong journey, where we have something to learn every day. Best of luck with your business.