Carrie Morris, Ninja Mom Of The Month May 2009

by Nicole Mangina on May 12, 2009

Carrie and I have been friends for close to 15 years. She is one of my best friends and someone that I completely admire.  She is that great balance of drive and getting it done while truly caring about the people that she works with and making sure that she is creating the right experience for them.  She really gets into the space of each of her clients to find out what their unique needs are and then goes about accomplishing the goal for them.  It is great to watch her work.  She is completely open and honest with her clients about their needs and what it will take to accomplish them and relentless in doing whatever it takes to make that happen.

Carrie is the owner of the nanny recruiting agency Nanny Pro’s Inc. here in the Seattle area.  I’m venturing out a bit this month in my interview because although Carrie is not in real estate, she owns her own business, is completely commissioned based and does it all while raising her twin boys Max and Ollie with her husband Vinny.  Trust me, she gets customer service and how to build a business so it’s worth listening to what she has to say.

Here are some of her insights with being an entrepreneur and a mom all rolled into one:

Having worked in the corporate words and then also on our own, what are the pluses of going at it on your own when being a parent?

Prior to having my twin boys (almost five years ago), I worked in the corporate world for nearly 15 years.  I enjoyed my career immensely but upon having babies it became quite clear that I needed some flexibility in my schedule and working on my own affords me that luxury (and I do consider having a flexible schedule a luxury item!).  Working with a large team of inspirational and motivated individuals was a gift and making the move away from my career and my team to launching and then managing my own business was a difficult transition to make. The perks are significant, however, and the opportunity to work from home, raise my babies and spend quality time with my family has been a gift and total blessing.  There are many pluses to going at it alone from being your own boss, managing your own schedule and doing things the way YOU want them done vs. having to follow corporate structure and policy.  There are also fewer politics involved when you are running the show. you simply have more control over your destiny and while raising children you really appreciate having SOME control back in your life.

What are your ‘best practices’? Meaning what makes you successful and keeps you focused?

Ah, ‘best practices’ or do you mean, what would I do differently had I to do it all over again from the beginning?   I have learned so much in terms of what NOT to do.  From the start, and given my background, I would say to anyone leaving their corporate job / life behind to start their own business DO NOT FEEL GUILTY or LESS THAN WHO YOU ARE in the process.  Your career is NOT who you are.  Leaving your career behind to pursue another life passion and that should be the most positive and enjoyable experience (from a career standpoint).  Not everyone has the guts to walk away from salary, benefits and job security (well, more the former than the latter since no one really has job security anymore) to step into a world that is, let’s be honest, unknown.  Let’s face it, starting your own business is risky!  Definitely write a business plan and create a budget!  This leads me to my next key lesson learned ~ do not go broke starting your business.  Be realistic, sensible and above all else ~ follow the “crawl, walk, run” methodology.  I didn’t spend any of my own money when I started my business.  I began with a handful of clients, offered them a great, introductory rate (based on all of the research I did, I found the sweet spot of pricing and service) and built my business on referrals!  As I started to build up my client base and make more money, that’s when I decided to launch a website and develop new services.  Finally, my lesson for anyone who’ll listen ~ do not fall prey or victim to the all mighty dollar.  Your business may take years to get set up properly and it will likely take years to turn a profit.  Go into this with ‘eyes wide open’ and do not get discouraged by mistakes make ~ because truly that is how we learn and grow.  Stay focused, stay passionate and stay true to what your original and overall business goals are from the beginning (with some fine tuning in between) and you will find success!

What are your biggest challenges in your business?

I would say my biggest challenge with my business is simply staying on top of all of the pieces, from managing the day to day operation, to making sure employees are happy and productive to ensuring that all the operations are up to par and that nothing falls between the cracks.  Having the time to do it all is a challenge but time management is difficult for many working parents so I know I’m not alone in that.

How do you work your schedule?

I pretty much work seven days a week, but not all day. I find mornings are great for getting organized, making follow up calls to vendors and / or new clients, making sure my team is set up for success in their day, etc … Afternoons ~ the phones start ringing off the hook and I head out to pick my boys from Pre-K.  Upon arriving home, my boys are actively playing with their dad (who’s home in the afternoons from his contract job) and I am back at my desk managing clients, candidates and daily operations.  Evenings are extremely busy with new client visits and / or candidate interviews. Before that, however, I get to enjoy dinner with my family and help get my boys to be (bath time, read to them, etc).  It’s a great schedule, actually, and the best part is  I can move it around pretty seamlessly.

What are your support systems in your business and at home?

For the first 2 1/2 years of my children’s lives, we hired a nanny to help with our boys and wellbeing while my husband and I worked. Today, my husband (who recently landed a great part time contract gig) helps with after school care of our boys.  If I don’t have any appointments in the afternoon ~ I enjoy taking them to soccer practice or to the park or to Starbucks for our ‘date-afternoon’ where they get chocolate milk and mommy gets a singe vanilla late.   If I have appointments in the afternoon, my husband picks them up from school and takes them to the zoo or brings them home so mommy can love them up before her 3pm call with the new client.  It’s a great system!  Of course, if I didn’t have my husband to rely on ~ we would do what we’ve done for the past few years and hire a great nanny!~  That’s my business after all!

How do you and your husband work it, to make sure that your businesses are on track, that you get time with the kids, time together, personal time, etc?

Some of this is covered above but in terms of balancing personal time and / or our relationship ~ that’s an area that I must admit sufferers from time to time.  We focus so much on our kids and then our jobs / businesses that we sometimes forget to focus on one another or ourselves.  It’s something we try to focus on but get caught up on the day to day.  In my business I am constantly reminding clients / families to invest in the occasional date night and for moms to get out and go for a walk while they have their nanny on the clock.  I need to take my own advice in these two departments.

What is the biggest issue you run into with other working moms and what would you say to them?

I think working moms and dads should take a break every once in a while, step back and look at all that they accomplish in their day and in their lives and then CELEBRATE!  Go for a walk ~ grab another working mom and take her to lunch ~ celebrate with your children by going to a special outing and don’t tell ANYONE (make it a surprise for the kids and enjoy your time with them.)  I believe that life is what we make it and I believe that LIFE should not be all about your work, job or a paycheck. We get one shot and we better make the most of it.  Working parents are not a dying breed. We are the majority player in this game called life ~ we need to ‘feel’ supported and yet we are the first ones to let ourselves down in the process.  So, SUPPORT YOURSELF and take care of ‘you’ in the process!

Thank you Carrie for sharing all of your thoughts and insights with us!  If you have more questions for Carrie about how she runs her business or are in need of a nanny you can contact Carrie at 425-681-5165 or carrie@nannyprosinc.com.

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