When the economy got rough, these five women got tough by creating their own successful companies. Feel free to steal their secrets.
By Ellen Parlapiano
Michelle Abt, 51
Business: Balance Health Communications (balancehealthcommunications.com), develops Web sites and custom publications, launched September 2007
Investment: $4,000 for supplies and computer upgrades
2009 earnings: $105,000
A stay-at-home mom, Michelle needed to generate income when her husband's computer company lost business. But she was reluctant to give up afternoons with Andrew, 18, Olivia, 15, and Matthew, 12. She and a friend, Nicky, had been talking about starting a health business together.
Launch time: One day, sitting in her dermatologist's waiting room, Michelle saw patients signing up for an e-newsletter. "I realized we could produce these for busy doctors," she says. "I called Nicky and said, 'I've got it!'" then pitched the doctor during the exam. She agreed to look at a proposal. In a week they landed the job. "My dad said, 'Tell people you can do it, then figure out how,'" says Michelle. While working for a hospital client, they saw an opportunity to help doctors create Web sites. The company is now a full-service health marketing firm, also offering all kinds of printed materials and arranging community events.
Payoffs: It took a while to learn what to charge. "We didn't cover expenses with our first client," says Michelle. They got savvier. And as medical records and communications become more computerized, she believes more MDs will need a Web presence—and her services.