Running your own business is not for the faint-of-heart. It takes a brave individual to deal with tight budgets, sleepless nights, and round-the-clock problems. It’s tough to stay ahead of the pack, not to mention staying on top household of eight (including four boys!). The fridge maintenance alone could be a full time job for most.
So why the massive puff piece? Well, she’s is My mom. With Mother’s Day around the corner, this is my way of saying thank you! - for putting up with me and providing the pretty smile. I wouldn't be Verge Pipe Media's "Poster Boy" without her.
We've also had the pleasure of calling her a client. It’s been exactly one year since she opened a new office and one year since VPM helped her steer Whitehead Orthodontics into the social + mobile world.
Her goal: to reach people who may be searching online for orthodontic care AND grow relationships with patients their families the way they prefer to communicate.
Good news: I was able to leverage my sonship and convince her to appear on camera. Interview to follow!
Tweet questions directly to Dr. Stephanie Whitehead - @str8nem!
What motivates you both as a Mother and a businesswoman?
I think being a Mother is the greatest job I could ever have. My life is blessed beyond belief by the privilege of giving birth and loving 4 incredible children. My whole life changed forever when I became a mother. Everything I do is better because I am a mother. I went to school for a long time to become an Orthodontist but I think I have an advantage in the field because I am a mother. I can understand and relate to the mother's and I truly love the children. I have always only worked 3 days a week so that I could be there for all of my children's activities. I have a wonderful husband and we have been able to work together to raise our children and be there for them.
What do you love most about your career?
The think I like most about my career are the relationships I form over the years. Orthodontics is about a 2 year process so I get to know the families. They come in once a month so I get to watch the children blossom into young adults with this beautiful, confident smile. I was always taught growing up to give my best in all that I do, to work hard and to strive for excellence. I am also attentive to details, so this choice of profession has been a good match for my personality. I try to love my children and my patients and encourage them where their gifts are. I think I have the best of both worlds.
If you had any advice for other mothers looking to start their own business, what would it be?
My advice for young mothers who want or need to work is to make your children your first priority. Get a good support system to help you - someone you can trust to be with them when you can't be. Someone who loves them and is attentive to their needs. Our children want and need us more than they need things. Raising your children is your first job and is the most rewarding job you could ever have.
After a long workday, what do you do to unwind?
After a long workday, I want to come home and spend time with my family - whatever that means - a baseball game, a meal together or a walk around the neighborhood. I also like to cook. Cooking is relaxing to me. If I am stressed, I can make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and all is well. I love to watch the cooking channel and read cookbooks. I have recently started baking cookies and taking them to the office for my parents and patients.
What's the first thing you do every morning?
I am a morning person so I wake up at 5:15 almost everyday. I love to see the sun rise and I have a lot of energy in the morning. On the days that I work, I get to the office before everybody else so I can read the Bible and prepare for the day. That is usually the time when I Tweet for the first time from the scripture I have read.
What's the best book you've read recently?
The latest book I have read is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. I had heard about the movie but I love to read the book before I see the movie. I think some of the details are lost and I like to interpret it in my mind's eye first.
You've been practicing successfully for over 20 years. What drove you to make changes?
I knew after 24 years practicing in the same location, it was either time to retire or to "up my game". After a lot of thought and prayer, a wonderful opportunity opened up to move the practice to a location very close to my home and near the schools where my children had attended. It has been a great new adventure. Along with the new office, came new technology. It has been fun and I now realize a much needed step to reach the families of this new generation.
How are you using social media for your business? What kind of results are you seeing?
My college children and computer savvy husband are the ones who taught me how to incorporate social media into my practice. We updated the website to make it mobile friendly. We created an office Facebook page which I regularly update. I tweet and maintain a blog about Orthodontic related topics. The way people search for an Orthodontist has changed. We still get referrals from dentists and other patients but a lot of people search online or on their phone and I wanted to have a presence there. Since we took a dive into the social world, we have see an increase in new patients as a direct result to content we post online.
You were recently voted "Best Orthodontist" by the Hoover Sun. Tell me about that.
This was a highlight of my career and it was the result of an online presence and our patients voting. We promoted the nomination and voting through social media and in spite of being the newest (and smallest) orthodontic practice in Hoover, our patients voted and we won. We consider them family. They are super engaged with our team, and it's a joy every time they come visit us.
Why do you think social media is important?
I know technology and social media is part of this generation's everyday life so it is easy for them to incorporate it into their businesses but I encourage all businesses to use it as a marketing tool. They way people communicate has changed since I started practicing. At our office, we value relationships, which requires 2-way communication. If our patients and their family hang out on social media, we need to be there too. Also, I've found out that social media is the best way to keep in touch with patients after they get their braces off. I ALWAYS love it when they come back to visit me, but now I have a way to stay in touch!
Any advice for small business owners looking to get social and/or mobile?
It's never too late to learn. Before I started, Facebook confused me, let alone Twitter or smart phones. It took a little coaching to get started, but now I have the hang of it. I'm blogging regularly, Tweeting, Posting of Facebook and taking Instagram photos on my Galaxy S3. I love it!
Authors note: Verge Pipe Media would like to pay tribute to social-savvy MOMprenuers everywhere. We tip our hats to you! Bravo.
Author: Micah Whitehead is the Social Architect and Creative Director at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.