A Wild Web Woman is a woman who lives a happy, healthy lifestyle while running a primarily web based business. This month’s featured Wild Web Woman is the awesomely inspiring Renee Wood. Renee is the founder of The Comfort Company, a web-based business specializing in meaningful sympathy gifts. She founded The Comfort Company 15 years ago after becoming frustrated when trying to find a sympathy gift to send to a family member.
Meet Wild Web Woman Renee Wood!
What inspired you to launch your web-based business? I didn’t initially start out to launch a business at all. For me, entrepreneurship was an accident. I had a need, created a product to meet that need and then realized there was a universal need and organically created The Comfort Company to meet that need.
How has your previous employment experience aided you professionally? Professionally, I was a medical social worker and worked with patients dealing with end-stage renal disease as well as in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This gave me hands-on exposure to people who were experiencing loss. This employment experience helped me too – not just be comfortable dealing with people who were grieving – but also to the lack of sufficient ways to commemorate loss.
Do you weave your values into your business? How? Yes, 100%. We are working moms and our job description actually makes the statement that our families are our priorities. We give time off for volunteering and our employees are free to come and go at their own discretion for appointments, sporting events, school functions, etc.
What is the best part about being a web-based businesswoman? There are just so many good parts! Take today, for instance….I have been working from home all morning. I am still in sweat pants. Although I do work full time, the hours are flexible. I have a great deal of control over my schedule.
What is the most challenging part of being a web-based businesswoman? I think most web-based businesswomen are entrepreneurs. And as a whole, we are really terrible at delegating tasks and tend to take on too many facets of the business which really should be outsourced. There is a degree of isolation that comes with being a web-based business, so I do think it’s important to find associations or groups to meet with periodically. And I am the sole decision maker. For a woman who struggles with decisiveness, this can be challenging.
What is your favorite way to unplug from work? I will begin my response by saying that it’s really difficult for me to unplug from work simply because I enjoy it. But I do know it’s necessary to put boundaries on my home and work life. I would have to say reading. I am a voracious reader. I love being anywhere that books are.
How do you maintain your health? I try to exercise regularly. In the warm months, I relish running/walking outdoors. I also love yoga and am trying (unsuccessfully so far) to learn how to meditate.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments? I am pretty proud of acting as my own PR company and scoring an appearance on Oprah and having a feature in Good Housekeeping magazine.
What is the wildest thing you have ever done? To know me is to know I am totally risk-averse. So my wildest thing would probably be cave-diving (spelunking) in college. No way would I ever do that again! It involved swimming underwater through tunnels and hoping there was air when you came up! One day, though, I really want to go to Cowgirl Camp!
What helps you increase your productivity the most? Keeping the equivalent of a bullet journal. A place where I can just dump the contents of my brain and deal with them in a structured manner.
Do you have any personal “wild web” role models? If so, who? I am a huge fan of any woman who creates a business out of the dust!
What are some risks you have taken that resulted in positive outcomes? The biggest risk I have taken is pursuing a web-based business as opposed to returning to the traditional workplace. This has been the most positive and rewarding risk to date.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date? I’ve learned that people are really willing to help. So ask lots of questions and listen to a lot of advice, but in the end, you need to allow your own voice to be the loudest.
How do you maintain a work/life balance? I’ve not found balance. What I have found, however, is peace with the imbalance. For years I carried a great bit of guilt with me over not being able to do it all. Build a business! Raise four babies! Bake cookies for the PTO! Chaperone field trips! Care for aging parents! Deal with a traveling spouse! Emergency appendectomy! Exercise! I think you get it!
The secret for me in balancing everyday life while operating a thriving web-based business is simple. I gave up excellence and set my sights on “good enough”. I may not be a perfect mom, but I am good enough. Store bought cookies for the meeting aren’t ideal, but they are good enough. Two miles might not be enough exercise, but it is good enough.
I have been liberated by this thought process. And to be honest, I was only accomplishing good enough anyway, even when I strived for excellence!
Business-wise, where do you see yourself in ten years? Still working, for sure! But I’m really interested in pursuing a more creative life. So I am hoping to be doing more product development, creative writing, etc.
Where’s your favorite place to work from? I feel very fortunate to have a home and work space I love equally. I must admit that I do my best work in solitude.
How do you make your home a productive space to work? The honest answer is, I don’t. I do have a designated office in my home, but it’s not set up as productively as it could be.
What is the #1 piece of advice would you give to someone who’s aspiring to run a web based business and be a Wild Web Woman? Don’t succumb to analysis paralysis. If you want to know all of the answers or steps you need to take ahead of time, you will NEVER begin. Just take the first step and then the step after that. One of the best analogies for building a business comes from how E.L. Doctorow feels about writing a novel: “It’s a bit like driving in the dark. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Just start.
Name a few product that you absolutely cannot work without or love having around you! I absolutely love having Dermalogica hydrating mist by my desk. When I’m feeling tired and need a pick me up, I spray it on my face. It is hydrating, has an aromatherapy scent and is a great pick me up.
Renee, thank you sooooo much for sharing your wonderful web-based business wisdom with our readers!!!
If you would like to suggest a wonderful woman with a web-based business to be featured, please contact us!