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Indie Business Network: Why I Love Being an Indie Girl

Recently, I talked a little bit about why you need product liability insurance before you start selling or giving away your soap, and I just knew I needed to catch up with the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild and the Indie Business Network to get the full details on the perks of being a member of each one!

I’m a member of the Indie Business Network, so I know so much about how valuable this organization is. However, I wanted to make sure to get the details straight from the source and sent an email over to Donna Maria, the CEO of the Indie Business Network to ask her for all the info.

Here’s what she had to say about the Indie Business Network:

Donna Maria from Indie Business Network
Donna Maria from Indie Business Network

MS: How did Indie Business Network come to be?

Donna Maria: It wasn’t long after I learned how to make soap and cosmetics of my own that friends and family members started asking me if they could buy things from me. At the time, I was an attorney in a Fortune 500 company, and I would come home from work around 8 in the evening and make soap until long after midnight. I was hooked.

I soon quit my job to open a retail store in my hometown of Washington, DC. I also began connecting with other people who sell the products they make — today, I call them Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs. These people were extremely talented, but they were very uncertain about how to marketing and sell their products. I had a bit of a business background, so I began sharing my experiences and tips with them. It wasn’t long before I discovered that the Internet was a great way to teach people how to be successful in business, so I launched the Indie Business Network on January 16, 2000, to do that.

We offered some of the first online classes on the Web using rudimentary telephone conferencing services. I made cassette tapes of my teachings so people who did not have Internet access could order them and listen to them at home. It had just kept growing every year, and today, we serve Makers who make all kinds of products: soap, cosmetics, jewelry, perfume, candles, baked goods and other artisan-made products.

MS: What is the mission of Indie Business Network? What drives you to accomplish that mission?

Donna Maria: IBN’s mission is the exactly same as my own personal life mission:

To empower and encourage people to maximize their potential through small business ownership.

It’s what I do, and IBN is one of the many vehicles I use to do that.

What drives me is the will to use my life to ensure that no person (women in particular) ever feel as though they must depend on a a third party to secure their future. Those third parties can be jobs, spouses, or external situations of all kinds. My life purpose is to make sure everyone within the sound of my voice will know that they can create something by hand from scratch, and use it to support themselves and have fun in their lives.

indie business networkMS: Indie Business Network offers a slew of benefits to it’s members and boasts itself as a community. What are some of the benefits of being a member of IBN?

Donna Maria: Here are the most popular and visible benefits:

  • Product Liability Insurance
  • Mentoring and coaching through our Member Success Calls and Access Q+A Coaching Calls
  • Discounts on ingredients, supplies, consulting services and small business training classes
  • A secret members only forum where member CEOs Mastermind and share resources and encourage each other all. day. long.
  • Indie Beauty University
  • Discounts on one-on-one coaching with me
  • An archive of training resources in every category an entrepreneur needs to be proficient in: social media, FDA regulations, leadership, productivity … our focus is not on making products but on make money selling them.

indie business podcastMS: One of my favorite things about being a member of IBN is the Facebook group and monthly coaching opportunities. How do you choose topics to cover on your monthly Success Calls?

Donna Maria: Topics are generally selected because I see a need in the membership to learn something in particular. Members ask me questions, often privately and sometimes in a group setting, and topics are selected based on their needs. It’s important that I not only provide resources for things I consider important, but it’s more important to provide resources that members tell me is important to them.

As a podcaster, I am always stumbling on new ideas and business models. I answer questions from members *and* the public on my podcast. If you have a question about how to grow your business and make more money, you can ask it here: http://www.indiebusinessnetwork.com/question/

If I answer on the podcast, I’ll plug your business and website!

MS: On social media, you are always pimping IBN members, their products, and their stories, which I love because I feel like I’m meeting new IBN peeps every single day. How do you keep up? How does a member of IBN get on your roll call list for promotion via social media?

Donna Maria: LOL, pimping. I’ve never thought of it that way, but I guess it’s true. I am a pimp for my members. Yep. That says it all.

Well, one of the benefit of being a member is we use our audience of over 50,000 people through the blog, podcast, iTunes, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to spread the word about the great things our members are doing.

I keep up because I have two wonderful assistants, Megan and Jan. They do a lot of the heavy lifting so I can focus on coaching and mentoring.

There are several ways to get our attention. Here are 4 easy ones:

  1. Buy #MyMakerBox (http://www.MyMakerBox.com) because you get over $100 in surprises and business resources for less than $40, and we promote you as a buyer
  2. Share what you are doing via our website contact page at http://www.indiebusinessnetwork.com/contact
  3. Join our secret forum (which we tell you how to do when you join) and share your news there.
  4. You can also just Tweet me at @indiebusiness and we can easily ReTweet your awesomeness!

MS: The HSCG has an annual conference that the industry loves, does the Indie Business Network have any gatherings or events? 

We have ongoing virtual events throughout the year. We have two large physical annual events.

The first is #IndieCruise Mastermind (http://www.indiecruise.com), an annual Caribbean retreat where we have speakers and enjoy Masterminding our businesses on hot beaches and warm, blue waters. We have a blast. I work hard and then I play hard, and I love to bring other Indies along with me. #IndieCruise has ailed to nearly a dozen islands including Cozumel, Belize, Cancun, Jamaica and Haiti. In 2015, we are going to St. Maarten, Coco Cay, and St. Thomas with an optional excursion to the amazingly beautiful island of St. John. I cannot wait!

Our other event is coming soon, and it’s called #MakerShine, a two-day extravaganza for Handmade Entrepreneurs to learn from each other, examine different business models, sell their products and celebrate small business ownership. I am keeping details under wraps for now, until we launch. You can be the first to get all the details by signing up at http://www.MakerShine.com

MS: I’ve noticed a lot of IBN members get together in their own cities, does IBN facilitate this in any way?

Sometimes people get together on their own, which I encourage. It is critical that all Makers be connected in their local communities, so I remind our members to do this as much as possible.

From time to time, we do have local #IndieMeetup gatherings. Our most active region right now is the New York area where Christine Laureano and Roberta Perry lead a group of people who get together regularly to Mastermind and share ideas and help each other grow.

If any member is reading this and would like to lead a local group, let us know via our website contact page at http://www.indiebusinessnetwork.com/contact

mymakerboxMS: Recently, Indie Business Network launched My Maker Box, and I was super thrilled to be involved in the very first one. Can you tell us a little bit about My Maker Box?

Yes! We were thrilled to include you in our first ever subscription box, Kenna!

My Maker Box is the monthly subscription box “For Makers, By Makers.” My Maker Box is curated monthly at the Indie Business Network and it handmade products from across the nation, plus coupons for Business Success Resources.

Each box contains at least $100 in products and coupons for services offered by the best creative consultants around — all for just $39.97. Subscribe here http://www.mymakerbox.com

My Maker Box has contained items like customized ear rings, personally autographed books, organic herbal tea, natural deodorant, handmade soap, lip balm, bejeweled book marks, potpourri and more!

MS: What is your favorite thing about being the founder and CEO of Indie Business Network?

My favorite thing is that this is the perfect job for me. I created it from the ground up to be fulfilling personally, to work well around my life as a wife and mother, to allow me the freedom and flexibility to grow on my own terms, and to “Break all the Rules, Build My Own Corporate Ladder, and Create the Life I Love!”

MS: If someone is on the fence about joining IBN, what should they do? Is there a resource they can check out? A phone number they can call?

Absolutely! We love talking to Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs. There are many ways to reach out, and we always reply. Here are a few options:

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10 Responses

  1. Kenna, thank you for including the Indie Business Network and my comments and input in a blog post. I am humbled and honored to be included here at your blog where you are doing so much to inspire and information people who love making and selling products. It’s a very exciting time to be a small business owner and I am thrilled to be able to work with you and also have so much fun learning, sharing and growing together!

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