My early years in NYC were spent marketing myself as an actress. When you market yourself, YOU are the product and unless you have an agent and/or manager to help (which I did not), no one but you is working to sell you. I put together marketing materials like my headshot/bio, and postcards to take with me on auditions. I submitted these materials along with self made acting reels to countless agents and casting directors. Having talent was one thing. Being able to sell yourself is quite another. To be an actress in NY, you have to have thick skin and a short memory. You hustle hard and get used to a lot of rejection.
Never enough acting jobs to cover the bills, I relied on my position as a nanny. I often put on plays with the kids and encouraged dramatic storytelling and lots of dancing.
When my short-lived career as a struggling actress began to switch focus into "the other side of the business" when I landed an internship with a major casting director, worked in the office of an off-broadway theatre and ultimately landed a full-time job with a talent agency, I was only able to nanny on the weekends. My salary at the talent agency was barely enough to get by on. I needed to keep making my own way.
I don’t remember exactly when I had the idea, but at some point it dawned on me to connect performing artists with families that wanted more from child care. What parent wouldn’t want reliable, safe and entertaining childcare from some of the most creative artists of NYC!? Broadway Babysitters was born. I secured the website BroadwayBabysitters.com, and incorporated immediately. While continuing the job at the talent agency and nannying, I started to build Broadway Babysitters on the side. I literally had no clue what it was going to take to make this happen, but I learned along the way. From work at the talent agency, I knew great actors who needed side income already and I was also already connected to an upper Manhattan network of families who were always in search of great child care.
I hired a developer out of India to help me build an intricate website that could connect subscribing families to our star roster of babysitters. I discovered how frustrating this process can be when your developer struggles to speak any English. Many conversations were lost in translation and the process took much longer than it should have. But it was finally completed and at a fraction of what I imagine the cost WOULD have been had I hired within the US.
In the meantime, I hired my best friend to do the graphic design. If you want to stay best friends, you probably shouldn’t hire your best friends to help you with your business. I’m only half kidding, we’re still best friends, but I did learn that working with my most talented friends require careful considerations and clear, set boundaries.
I recruited, certified, and marketed my star roster of babysitters.
I created a game plan and hit the streets (quite literally) to spread the word to the appropriate demographic of families and I met with concierge after concierge at high end NYC hotels who needed sitters for their guests.
I even hired my first independent contractor to help me get the admin work done.
Broadway Babysitters was officially rocking and rolling.
The problem was……
In theory, this concept was brilliant! I still believe that to this day. In fact, I’ve since sold the website domain and it is someone else’s thriving business.
However, I realized I had a passion for the idea and the execution of it but then when it came to that day to day running of the business, it wasn’t something I felt truly excited to do. Had I already been a savvy entrepreneur, I would have figured out how to expand and grow the business by delegating better, being a little less risk adverse, taking out a loan, and finding an investor. I don’t remember those options even crossing my mind at the time. I didn't have a mentor to bounce ideas off of. I was in this on my own. I didn't know who to ask for help and I wouldn't have felt comfortable asking even if I did.
So, although the business was making a small amount of money and technically a success, I decided it wasn’t fulfilling or as meaningful to me as I hoped it would be. I made the decision to dissolve the company. In retrospect. I think it just got too hard to do alone.
I don’t get hung up on regrets, but I do regret not pushing this company further. I threw in the towel too early. But, you don’t know what you don’t know, and while I learned so much in building this company, I just didn’t know enough as a young entrepreneur.
Starting Broadway Babysitters was a terrifying and exciting and maddening and incredibly rewarding experience. But, after just a short lived time, it was on to the next....
…..the story behind Body by Hannah coming sooooon