Jennifer Moorehead is the CEO of Science Explorers, an award-winning company that provides inquiry-based science programs to children ages 4 to 11 through afterschool clubs, summer science camps and assemblies of various kinds. As a successful, self-made entrepreneur and a working mom, Jennifer shares her thoughts about making it in business today with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange:
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
My strengths are sales and marketing, but I actually was very limited on the skill set needed to run a business. I surrounded myself with people that were adept in the areas that I was not, such as bookkeeping, operations and personnel. We found that as I interviewed people, my enthusiasm (sales skills) would sell them on the company. Today, I stick with what I do best and focus on sales and marketing.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today?
(That would have to be) managing costs and overhead. It’s a delicate balance that has been made that much more fragile given the current economic climate.
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Make sure you have a business plan, and surround yourself with people that you want to become.
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
Word-of-mouth advertising is priceless…and great customer service too.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
After realizing I was a “hands-on learner,” I became very passionate about taking inquiry-based science to ALL elementary-aged children. It’s very rewarding to be part of someone’s “ah-ha” moment…even when they’re only 7!
After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?
Balancing costs is imperative in any business, keeping overhead down while growing the business…every year I learn something new, even after 11 years in business, but I also have learned from my mistakes, which is also critical.
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
The greatest benefit of working from home is being here for my children. It’s also the biggest drawback as they often forget that I actually am running a company with employees. Early on I had my company in our family room that has a French door at the entrance. I would lock the door and hold up “cue cards,” such as “Stop fighting,” “Take the dog out” or “I’m on the phone with a customer”…Sometimes it worked, sometimes they ignored my “cues.”
What is your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
Someone told me that “Showing up counts,” and it does. Every start-up business needs dedication and hard work to make it successful.
More about Jennifer and her company:
Started in 1999 out of Jennifer’s garage, Science Explorers has provided challenging and exciting inquiry-based science programs to children between the ages of 4 and 11 in ten states and five European countries to date. The company has received numerous awards through the years, including the Penn State Ben Franklin Partnership’s “Best New Business Award” in 1999, the Central Pennsylvania Technology Council’s “Making a Difference” award and SCORE’s “Business of the Year” award for 2007.
One of Jennifer’s primary goals is to see Science Explorers’ programming offered in every U.S. state. She’s one step closer to achieving that end ― the company is currently rolling out its national licensing program and an 11th state has just come aboard.