Reaching Back Through Time to Help a Single Mom Living in her Parents’ Basement

About 14 years ago I moved back home into my parents’ basement to have my first baby. I was single, pregnant, and my work experience entailed a varied background between being a white-water rafting guide and being a waitress. At the age of 25 I was on the express train to Nowhereville.

I have to say I had (have!) the most supportive and awesome parents on the planet – they never once judged me for what I had done, embraced me and my daughter in stride, and took care of us until I could get back on my feet again.

My DadMy father especially has always believed in me – even when I messed up. As long as I have been alive, he has always worked for himself. Maybe that spirit of entrepreneurship rubbed off on me, or perhaps I was just in sheer desperation for a better life for my new family. So when I told him that I wanted to start a crafting business in his home, he immediately got to work helping me to put together a plan. If it ever occurred to him that I was flying by the seat of my pants and had NO business experience, he never showed it.

In 1995 there wasn’t much internet to speak of. The SBA did have a website back then, and I spent hours there learning what I could. I signed up for a local community college course on business basics, and learned about marketing, taxes, & legal issues. And that was pretty much all the training I could get on the budget I had to work with.

So to be honest, where I learned the most about business was truly on-the-job training. I found markets and stores to carry my products, bartered custom designs for dental work, wrote press releases, and even got on the front page of our local paper (woo hoo!). About a year later, I finally understood what it took to run my business and actually make money at it. But I realized that in order to get the experience & knowledge I really needed, I was going to go have to work for someone else.

Yes, my first business failed. Pretty badly. But if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The lessons I learned in that first business have been a rock-solid foundation of knowledge that I still rely on today.

My Days as a Single MomBut there has always been a part of me that wished I could go back in time and find a way to teach myself then what I know now. Not so much because that business was so important, more because I can still identify with being that lonely, scared single mom with nowhere to go for the help I so desperately needed.

Quite honestly, that experience has been one of the biggest driving forces behind the creation and growth of Sparkplugging. I remember speaking at SOBCon 2007, and talking about why SEO was so important to me. Sure the traffic was great, but I said the real reason that I wanted people to find me was because I wanted to reach every other single mom living in her parents’ basement wondering how the heck she could create a better life for herself.

(OMG I am absolutely bawling my eyes out while I am writing this!)

Fast forward to last year, I had an idea to start an online university. One that taught things like blogging, eBay selling, freelancing skills, even crafting business classes. A university that was affordable for everyone that had access to a computer and could trim just a few bucks out of their grocery budget every month. And a university that taught people how to start businesses that took micro-amounts of money to get started.

In short, a university built for single moms living in their parents’ basements.

It took me a long time to figure out how to do it. At first it seemed like an insurmountable task. I just didn’t have the resources to do all of that work while running my own business. But thanks to my coach Marla for pushing me to get outside of my own self-imposed limits, I found a way to build it – with the help of the team of experts that were already behind me 100%.

So it is with great emotional, professional and spiritual pleasure that I announce the opening of SparkplugU today.

On an emotional level, I am thrilled and excited to bring my dream to life.

On a professional level I am proud to have put together such a fantastic, quality resource for my community.

But on a spiritual level I feel like I am finally doing what I was put on this earth to do – getting real business help to those who need it the most.

I guess the good part of it for all of you, is that while SparkplugU was inspired by my past, you don’t have to be a single mom to benefit from what we have put together. We’ve launched with six classes that I know first hand that many of you have wanted to learn more about:

Diversify Your Income Workshop with Wendy Piersall & Marla Tabaka

Podcasting Bootcamp – Strategy Through Implementation with Kelly McCausey

Fearless Financials – Getting Past Stuck with Starla Sireno

Introduction to Starting a Blog Network with Wendy Piersall & Easton Ellsworth

Write Press Releases to Grow Your Business with Susan Payton

Organize Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity Workshop with Brandie Kajino

And this is just the beginning! I have so much planned for SparkplugU that my ideas keep me awake at night as I get excited all over again about what kind of impact we can make.

I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity to work on this with the Sparkplugging team and to work with you as SparkplugU grows. I feel humbled and honored that my authors have come together to help bring this idea to life, and even moreso I am grateful to all of you readers for your encouragement, support, links, Stumbles, tweets, calls, laughs and friendship.

Sparkplugging & SparkplugU wouldn’t be what it is today without you.

Thank you. :)

Comments

  1. says

    Boy, can I relate. :) I’m doing pretty good for a former teen mom, huh?

    Wendy, your site is so awesome and so good – I can’t help but be proud of you, and I just follow along!

    Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself “Wow, I can’t believe I am where I am!” ? I know i did that at least twice this week.

    Andreas last blog post..Signup filters changed

  2. says

    Wendy, I have said this before and I will say it again. You truly are an inspiration. It is an impossibility that anyone can visit Sparkplugging.com or SparkplugU.com and come away saying “I can’t”…Thank you for believing in moms everywhere.

  3. says

    That’s beautiful, Wendy. :-)

    I’m not going to comment on the new site cuz I’m pretty sure you would see the comment on Problogger. Although I’m no mom (obviously) and I wasn’t looking to start a home business, I was taken in by your story, what you have gone through and what you set out to share with the world. And I’ve been following your journey ever since. And I’m glad to see you have the opportunity to share even more with the world with SparkplugU.

  4. Easton Ellsworth says

    Thank YOU, Wendy. Thank YOU.

    I am honored to be a part of the faculty for SparkplugU. I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned the hard way with others who want to have an easier experience. I truly appreciate your effort to keep the price affordable, too – I promise you’ll make some people’s days, months, years and maybe even lives through this.

    You will never fail because you decided long ago to succeed and you are one of the strongest spirits I’ve ever met.

    Keep inspiring us, Wendy!

  5. says

    Very inspiring and I`m thrilled with this new development, I`ve already promoted it on my blog! (then I realized there is an affiliate program . . . even better!).

    As for failing . . . I doubt there in an entrepreneur out there who hasn`t failed with at least one business idea! I know I have, plenty of times. But each failure teaches us and helps us move forward, as you have plainly shown. :D

    Genesiss last blog post..Investing In An Education

  6. says

    Congratulations! I’m glad it all worked out well for you with your family and everything and now with SparkplugU! Its so great to be able to accomplish something that really means something important to you!

    Trishas last blog post..Friday Favorites

  7. says

    For all single parents out there, I think you expressed the emotions that are felt when we find ourselves in that place where we are handed a plate of responsibility that we feel we can’t handle alone; yet there we are, seemingly on our own.

    I think the most successful people in life come to realize that no one can do it alone. It takes great courage to show others your weakness. Then it takes more courage to ask for and accept help. But to truly succeed, giving back is the key. You obviously understand that concept. I wish you great success.

    Your site is awesome.

    dmaries last blog post..Help for Single Parents

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  1. [...] With Blogging: Michael Martine lost everything and describes how blogging helped him start again. Reaching Back Through Time To Help A Single Mom Living In Her Parents’ Basement: A great story by Wendy Piersall about the death of her first business and how it inspired her to [...]