Monday, October 6, 2008

Wanna buy my side business?

Besides my part time job, and my full-time freelance career, I own another side business. I started it when I had my first baby and was looking for new challenges. The first year, my business did very well, and it justified about a third of my work time. Then the competition came in and it didn't pay as well anymore, so I kept it going but didn't put much time into it.

Six and a half years later, I still own and run the business, but barely spend much time on it. It's called Movies for Mommies, and I own the license rights for my area. Basically, I rent out an independent movie theatre every other week in the afternoon (used to be every week years ago but that doesn't make a lot of business sense anymore), and screen a grown-up film, and moms (and dads) with their babies come to watch a film. We make it all infant friendly, setting up a change table with free wipes and diapers, stroller parking, bottle warming, giving away samples and prizes, and bringing in speakers for short presentations before the film. Moms love us, and I have terrific word of mouth and great goodwill. I have a hostess who is at the theatre every screening, and most weeks I get 70-100 grown ups each screening.

Movies for Mommies has now expanded (I was the first licensee outside of Toronto) and we are now in five provinces. We now have national sponsors and national advertisers. I have local advertisers too, but not very many.

At the start, I was all over the city talking to moms groups, landing baby stores as advertisers, looking for RESP companies as sponsors. But after a few years, I stopped doing much marketing. Things tick along without my efforts, and my time gets better rewards working in PR. I still program the movies, deal with the theatre owner (!) and send out a weekly e-mail newsletter. I like picking the films and writing the e-newsletter, but all the rest is a bit tiresome. And I feel like someone else with more enthusiasm would do more for Movies for Mommies.

But despite discreetly putting out the word in "baby business" circles, I haven't found a buyer. So I keep it all ticking along. Mamma Mia got a good crowd this week, and The Women is coming next, so that should be popular. But with all the time pressure on me lately, it really seems like I should make a move to sell it.

I think one of the most frustrating things about owning this business is that I spend a lot of money to bring in a film for other people to see, but I don't have time during a weekday to sit and watch a film, so I don't get to see it until it comes out on DVD. I still haven't seen Sex and the City.

So, wanna buy my business? ;-)

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