Monday, March 14, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Debra Cohen -- Home Remedies® of NY, Inc.

This week I want to introduce you to Ms. Fix It herself, Debra Cohen.  Debra started Home Remedies® of NY, Inc., a Homeowner Referral Network® (HRN) linking homeowners with pre-screened, reliable home improvement professionals Debra is offering one free hour of consultation time (a $200 value) for anyone who purchases the Complete or Best Value Business Package.  Click here to view each of the HRN Business Package options.  Make sure to let her know Inspired by Savannah sent you.

Name:  Debra Cohen 

Company Name/Product/Service:    Home Remedies of NY,  Inc. Homeowner  Referral Network (HRN)

Company Location:  Hewlett, NY

Company Website: or _www.homeownersreferral.com_

Twitter Handle: @ hrnbiz

Age of Company:  15 years

Favorite Inspirational Quotes: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at 
actually begin to change.”

Favorite Book: The E-Myth


Tell us a little bit  about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages?  Your hobbies? Etc.

I'm a mother of 2 daughters (15 and 12) and live with my husband on Long Island, NY.  I enjoy all types of exercise, reading and travel.

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

My husband and I had just purchased our first house and we were  struggling to find reliable home improvement contractors.  When we finally  found a responsible contractor, I felt compelled to share his name with other  homeowners, neighbors and friends.  I decided that if we were having this  problem, then other homeowners must also face the same challenge and decided to try and create a service that would fill this need.   After months of  research and planning, I took a  $5000 loan against my husband's retirement  savings plan and launched Home Remedies® of NY, Inc., a Homeowner Referral Network® (HRN) linking homeowners with pre-screened, reliable home improvement professionals.

It took about 3 months to launch Home Remedies® and it wasn’t long before I began to receive inquiries from homeowners and contractors outside of my operating area interested in working with me.  After an article in our local paper, I also received calls from other entrepreneurs interested in launching a business like mine.

Rather than trying to take on more work than I could handle, I decided to document all of the “how-to’s” of my business in a comprehensive manual so that others could duplicate my business.  In 1998, I wrote The Complete Guide To  Owning And Operating A Successful Homeowner Referral Network© and I now market  it individually or as part of an HRN Business Package to other entrepreneurs interested in launching a business like Home Remedies® in their community.   I tested the waters by helping three other entrepreneurs establish HRN’s in  neighboring communities on Long Island and, once they were up and running  successfully, I decided to market the HRN business nationwide.

There are now 300+ HRN's like mine operating across the country and more than 90% of them are run by women.

What is a typical work day like?

I try and create a work schedule around my children’s schedules which means that I work in the early am before they wake up and during the hours of 9-2 when  they are at school, and sometimes after dinner or bedtime.  The majority of  my time is spent on the phone following up with my contractors and  homeowners about pending and current jobs, estimates and  appointments.   

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 

In addition to having very little start-up capital, I had no experience in  home improvements at all.  Also, while I had a lot of hands on experience  working for someone else, I had never run my own business.  I decided  to set up a Board of Advisors to help me with questions/concerns I had  about running my business.  I asked a few contractors, an insurance  agent, my attorney and a few other business professionals to join.

What did you do in your past work life?

I was the Vice President of a Spanish language aviation magazine based in NYC.  It was a very glamorous career.  I traveled worldwide.

What have been some of your major successes? 

Home Remedies named one of the "Top Ten Businesses To Start" by Small  Business Opportunities.  Home Remedies also named as one of "Start-Up Nation's Top 10 Home-Based  Businesses".  My business has grossed more than $3 million to date and there  are about 300 HRN's operating nationally.

What have been some of  your major challenges?

Starting my business was the greatest challenge.  Money was tight  and I was terrified of failing.  I also didn’t want to tell anyone about my  idea in case it didn’t work.   I remember discussing the risks of  launching a
business with my husband one night and he said to  me:  “Then don’t do it.”  I knew that not trying at all  would be worse than trying and failing.  After weighing all of our  financing options, we decided that taking a loan against his retirement savings  plan was our best bet. 

On those impossible days, what  motivates you to keep going?

My desire to succeed and to help others.  I find a great amount of  satisfaction in helping people--even if it's by just finding the right  contractor.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? 

I organize my day into blocks of time devoted to my business, my family and myself.  When you know that you have a limited number of hours to get  something done, you're much more productive.  I also dedicate one hour each day to exercise which is the only time of day when I completely clear my head and focus on myself.

What is next for your business?

I haven't decided yet.  I'd like to make the HRN business more of  a household name so that homeowners nationwide will know to look for  one in their community as a resource for finding trustworthy  contractors.

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs  that are starting out  and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a  business?

If you’re considering the launch of a new business, first do a  little soul  searching and figure out what you're willing to invest personally as  well as financially.  Success doesn't come without hard work and a little 

Also, chose  a business that capitalizes on your strengths and  allows you  to do something that you love.  If you enjoy what you do, it's  more likely that you'll succeed.

No comments :

Post a Comment