Showing posts with label Starting a Surrogacy Agency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Starting a Surrogacy Agency. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

Branding Your Surrogacy Agency

Once again I go to the Internet to say what I want to say to you without the writers cramp. My brother, Derrick, is in the branding and marketing business and he quotes this topic over and over to big and small businesses alike. I found this article on www.MoreBusiness.com. It's all true especially with a surrogacy agency. Please use the word 'services' wherever it says products...you will see that it reads the same way!

http://lamotheservices.com/

How Can Branding Help Small Businesses?
An effective branding strategy creates a ‘pull’ for your products. (Services) This eventually is very rewarding financially since you save a lot of time and money that would otherwise be spent trying to ‘push’ your products.(Services) Read on to realize the effectiveness of branding for your small business.

Branding your products, your business - and even you - basically means that you are assuring people that whenever they buy any of your products and services, they are assured good quality and great service.

It means that they not only are buying your product (and Services), but also getting peace of mind for years to come.

Branding the Right Way

Proper branding will ensure that people want to be associated with your company. They will feel proud and happy after buying your products and will also want others to know that they have purchased your products. Simply printing your logo in every place possible does not ensure branding.

Following up with other marketing strategies and delivering quality products to match your branding strategy will ensure that your name is on customers’ minds when they set out to purchase a product.

Building up a brand name takes time, effort, and a great deal of patience. You must know what products your customers want and need. You must also be able to deliver them consistently. Your strategy will depend on the type of product you are manufacturing or marketing.

Once you start marketing your product and get some market feedback, then the next step is to analyze the information (negative or positive) that you have received. Conducting surveys is a great way to get the most unbiased information.

Surveys can also give you insight as to what your customers really want and expect. Once you have that information, don’t just sit on it – follow up with a concrete plan of action.



Be Aggressive – And Smart

Develop and promote your company logo and slogan aggressively. Price your products competitively and increase your market presence by advertising in any medium that fits in your budget. Some inexpensive forms of advertising are print media, such as flyers and brochures, and the Internet.

You should print your logos, slogans or any other punch line wherever possible including business cards, letterheads, invoices - and even on the emails you send out.

Along with great marketing, your sales should also increase. Increased sales are necessary if you want your brand name to become well known. Your customers must be happy with the quality of your products and services. If they are, they will slowly link your product with your logo. This is how you will know that your branding efforts are working.

Once your target audience is made aware that they are at an advantage when they buy your products rather than those of the competition, then they will prefer to purchase from you.

Be Consistent

Your branding efforts should be consistent - and once your brand name is embossed in the subconscious minds of your target audience, then you will have succeeded in branding your business. You will then be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Branding is not easy, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. However, persistence backed up by good quality, great customer service, effective advertising will yield results.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Starting Your Surrogacy Agency, Do You Need a Partner?

When starting any business the thought of a partnership may cross your mind, if even for a minute . Would it be a relief to have someone by your side to share the responsibilities or a burden to have to ask someone else what they think should be done?

When Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC was first started in 2003 I was leaving the employment of an attorney's office and was thinking that I could offer a better service than what I had previously experienced both in the workplace and as a past surrogate. Everywhere I turned people said that I should open a surrogacy agency. I had worked on the "inside" and had met Intended Parent's and surrogates who believed that I had what it took to walk someone through an entire surrogacy program. I was affiliated with professionals who said that they would support a surrogacy agency. As a matter of fact, SCF was the first agency in Florida that was not connected to an attorney's office. Purely independent of Clinics and Psychologists as well, meaning that we were open to working with all ART professionals nationwide. Any IP who had a favorite Clinic could come to us and be matched with a surrogate and return to their own Doctor for treatment.

I decided that operating a Surrogacy Agency the way I envisioned it should be run would take more then just one person and I asked one of my friends, a surrogate and strongest supporters, Sita, to be my partner. She said yes and we were off and running.

What YOU need to do is decide what your vision for your business is and what you are willing to devote to it. Are you basically wanting to control every aspect of the business including start-up finances, book keeping, marketing, advertising, recruiting, management, materials, media, invoicing, all phone calls, filing, Internet web sites, e-mailing, interfacing with professionals, attending conferences, printing, attending meetings and follow up, etc.? I sure didn't! Having someone else to share the burden can be invaluable. Do you want to work 24/7? You will if you are alone. What if a family member is sick and needs your undivided attention? What will happen to your clients then? Family vacations might be a thing of the past if you don't have someone to cover for you. I think you can see which side of the fence I sit on here. I know wonderful small agency's run by a single person but they have to outsource (hire an answering service, a book keeper etc.) and limit their services and the number of clients they can take on so that they can give quality time to their customers.

Before you think that you can start up on your own and then add someone I would think again...that is HARD. Adding a new partner after start up, one who didn't go through the growing pains with you and did not risk any financial investment, may not have the commitment to the company that you have.

This is your ultimate decision...GOOD LUCK!
http://lamotheservices.com/

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Information Gathering for Your Surrogacy Business: The Intake Sheet

I am going to start talking about forms...I know that most people might like to use the computer exclusively but what happens when or if your network is down? Your computer has crashed? You just want to talk on the phone in the other room and not have to read off your lap top screen? This is where the Intake Sheet can come in handy. It's the first bit of information gathered from an Intended Parents or potential Surrogate when they call you directly. Have several copies on hand, one sheet for IP's and one for GC's. These sheets should be only one page long and it should help you determine eligibility for your program and later as a reference page. This is also a great tool to use so that you don't miss any important initial questions.

Both IP and SM sheets should have this general contact information:
Name
Address
Telephone numbers
E-mail address

IP's looking for a surrogate:
Age(s)
Health Reason (because it has to be a medical/physical reason by law)
Using a Clinic? RE? Name and location of each
Already have children? How many?
Single or married/partners
Using Egg Donor?
Using Frozen Embryos
Want Surrogate to travel?
Gestational or Traditional
Location of surrogate
First timer or experienced
Race/religion/marital preference
Financial Expectations

Leave some room at the bottom of your form for additional Information: And there will be if you talk to your Prospective IP's and find out all that they have experienced.

Surrogate looking for IP's:
Age
BMI
Children
Pregnancy or birth complications
Taking medications?
Other health issues?
Married or single
Insurance?
Race/religion
Selective Reduction ok or not
Traditional or Gestational
First timer or experienced
If experienced, details
Base Fee expectations if any
Willing to work with the following:
Gay/single/married with children/partners/only women/only men/International/

Additional Details

You can add on other questions if you like. After your conversation if either the IP's or the Gestational Carrier (GC) seems to fit into your program or what you are looking for THEN have them fill out a complete packet and have them include photos if possible. This packet of information can be compiled and then mailed via US postal service or you can have online forms. Whatever you choose to do just make sure that you have enough information to assist you in making a good match.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Psychological Triggers That Win Sales and Influence Customers/Clients for Your Surrogacy or Egg Donation Business: Trigger 6 Scarcity




Scarcity the least favorite tactic in our field of egg donors and surrogacy. We are already struggling with "Scarcity" of qualified surrogates and although there are more women willing to be donors, Indian, Jewish, Asian and Red headed-blue eyed girls may be few and far between! Because the field is already flooded with Intended Parents waiting for that perfect egg donor or surrogate, there is no need to start a panic. Most of our clients are well aware how hard it is to find someone that they really feel a connection with to carry their baby or find that donor who has the genetics they long to have within their own child's DNA. Having said that, "specials" still can bring more clients to your door. "Free" psychological evaluations for a limited time, Lowering agency fees for National Infertility Awareness Month, Exhibit Booth specials if IPs sign up during a conference. All of these have expiration dates that compel people to make a decision and hop on board.

On the donor or surrogacy side of things, offering referral specials and certain times of the year that may be higher then the norm sometimes attract more attention. (Extra money for the holidays, education or a special family vacation anyone?) The point here is not to use smoke and mirrors or tricks but to genuinely show how far your business is willing to go...for a limited time.

The flip side of this "tactic" is if you have to many clients waiting for surrogates or donors, you will need to slow things down. Removing all offers or specials from your website, post the waiting period time frame to the public and then just work with the clients you do have and make them as happy as possible. When you are back to full speed, you will receive testimonials from delighted clients and a stronger reputation to share. Being as upfront as possible will keep your integrity in place and a smile on your client's face. 

Be sure to check out Triggers 1: Reciprocity, Trigger 2: Commitment and Consistency, Trigger 3: Liking, Trigger 4: Authority, Trigger 5: Social Proof!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Running Your Surrogacy/Egg Donation Agency: Your Phone System

So you have your intake forms ready for people who find your number on your web site....and they call you....on what phone? Your home phone? Your cell phone with that catchy little hip hop beat? or are you installing a separate line or using an answering service? Let me start out by stating you had better NOT be using your home phone number! NO NO NO! Hard to get any more unprofessional then having your 5 year old run to the phone when it rings and yell MOOOOOOMMMMM all through the house to get your attention. Ahhh NO!

The cell? I personally like the business cell phone method. You can carry your 'office' phone in your pocket and won't have to miss a call. You may start to refer to it as your ball and chain but that is how things are when you start up your own company anyway! You are always tied to it! Back to the phone. IF you are going to use the cell....or a second line for that matter, I assume you will have voice mail. Do not have anything on that voice mail recording but YOUR pleasant and professional voice giving out directions on how to leave you a message so you can get back to them ASAP! Voice Mail is the perfect place to make a short and sweet plug for your business as well: "Thank you for calling ABC Surrogacy Services, A full service matching and relationship management company! We are sorry that we can't take your call right now but if you will please leave your name, message, number and a good time to return your call, we WILL get back with you as soon as possible." (here you can leave a notice if you have one) "Please note that we are closed this Monday for Memorial Day." (or whatever) Simple and effective. With unlimited plans out there, this is a very cost effective way to work.

Why not try a professional answering service. This service would be real people picking up your calls and then forwarding them onto you...they act like they work in your office for you and gives that big business feel. I am not sure that I would recommend the expense for a start up but if you have no partner this might be helpful.

Any of these ideas are a home office/Tax write off...which is something you need to take into consideration when you are setting up your business.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

ETHICS in Owning an Agency by Guest Blogger Brooke Kimbrough of 4 Sisters Surrogacy Agency

This past weekend I spent two days in sunny southern California with 150 of some of the most educated, respected and experienced professionals in the world of surrogacy.  The conference was put on by S.E.E.D.S (Society of Ethics for Egg Donation and Surrogacy) and covered topics from legal practices to medical risks and everything in between.  Throughout the two day conference, a consistent theme was the ethics involved in surrogacy and egg donation and the responsibility of all players to uphold these ethics. 

With the media focused on the failures within our profession, often times these anomalies within the community overshadow the enormous amount of reputable agencies, attorneys, medical doctors and metal health professionals in the field.  With over 200 agencies within the U.S. alone, how would one not well versed within the community be able to determine the agency's ability to provide quality services?  How would an intended mother be able to insist on using an ART(assisted reproductive technology) mental health professional when she was unsure that such a thing existed? The answer came to me as I sat listening to a review of a sensationalized case currently prevalent in the media regarding a non-compliant surrogate and a now father of triplets. 

Ethics or moral philosophy is the branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. (wikipedia.com). Within the surrogacy community, the idea of "right" and "wrong" often fall within a gray area open to interpretation and personal moral beliefs.  So how, as an agency owner for example, do I best practice ethics and serve my community in the most professional and morally positive way?  What are the moral guidelines I should follow when I enter into a gray area?  How do I lead by example for fellow agencies to follow with ethical decency? The answer lies within the name itself; E.T.H.I.C.S.

"E" is for Excellence.  ASRM guidelines exist as a baseline for the practices of surrogacy.  These are the bare minimum of standards that should exist within your agency.  These guidelines, while they hold no legal standing, are certainly an excellent jumping off point for standards that should upheld within your agency.  However, do you want your agency to do the bare minimum? The answer is "no". Your clients and colleagues expect that you are serving your community with excellence.  So, when there is a question of whether a surrogate is qualified or if an intended parent's criminal record should preclude them from using your agency, refer back to "excellence" as your standard practice.  Live above the basic guidelines of ASRM and serve your clients and community with excellence. 

"T" is for Transparency.  As an agency, transparency is key to providing excellent service to your clients.  Did your surrogate fail a MMPI test several years ago but has since made some life changes and passed her most current screening?  Do your intended parents have multiple surrogates? You need to be transparent about all information so that both your surrogates, as well as your intended parents can make informed decisions.  Being transparent allows for each party to be able to clearly see their path and to feel informed and supported throughout the process.

"H" is for honesty.  As a new agency owner, honesty is an essential part of my profession.  Be upfront and honest when you interview IPs and Surrogates.  Be clear about your surrogate availability, provide accurate timelines and be clear about fees and potential additional costs.  By leading by example, you can in return expect honesty from your clients as well. Let your clients know that dishonesty in any aspect of the process will be grounds for breech of contract and elimination from the agency.  Being honest as an agency owner makes for journeys that have clear and appropriate expectations and end with satisfied clients. 

"I" is for Instinct:  Instinct is a feeling that is often disregarded because it can lack physical evidence.  However, instinct is at the core of our ethical and moral compass and should not be overwritten.  If you have a "bad feeling" about a particular set of intended parents, there is no harm in explaining that the agency is unable to handle their case.  You can feel free to refer them to another agency who may be better equipped to handle their particular circumstance or personality.  In the end, this is a service based industry with long term clients.  You have to spend a lot of time and emotional energy on each case and it is completely acceptable to not utilize that energy on a case you do not feel 100% committed to.

"C" is for Connectivity:  Being a small canoe in a very large ocean can be lonely, overwhelming and frustrating.  Connecting to your clients and their needs is the first step in providing quality service.  However, it does not stop there.  Connecting to peers and professionals within your community helps protect you as well as your clients.  Understanding that while you may have vetted your surrogate, the mental health professionals that you work with are another qualified set of eyes who may be able to spot potential issues.  Your attorneys are there to provide quality contracts and to follow through with legal deadlines and requirements.  Connecting yourself with qualified colleagues can help your agency stay on course through the uncertain seas of surrogacy. 

"S" is for Stewardship:  Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care (Merriam-Websters).  Just as your surrogates are to act as stewards for their IPs unborn child, you as an agency owner, are equally responsible for carefully and ethically managing the complete surrogacy journey. Set up systems that keep detailed calendars and records.  Be organized and proactive in managing and overseeing the process and journey.  It is your job as an agency owner to keep everyone involved walking in the same direction, down the same path, towards a happy, healthy baby.  

In trying to manage an agency that is above board and morally sound,  E.T.H.I.C.S is a sure fire way to make sure you are always on the "right" side of any gray area.  By being ethical and moral leaders within our profession, we can be sure that our clients are receiving the best possible care. Additionally, we can ensure that our growing fellowship is being led by a group of honest and trustworthy professionals who can guarantee a more positive and ethical representation of our amazing community.


Brooke Kimbrough is the owner of 4 Sisters Surrogacy Agency in Roseville, CA.  They work with exclusively with California surrogates and domestic intended parents in personalized surrogacy journeys.  She can be reached at brooke@4sisterssurrogacy.com or on their website www.4sisterssurrogacy.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Surrogacy and Egg Donation Agency Owners Fail: Sticking to the No Refund Policy



I know how this sounds…refunding money is never something you want to do but there are times when you have to even if it states quite clearly in your agency retainer agreement that there are NO REFUNDS. We had a no refund clause in our retainer agreement when my partner and I owned Surrogacy Consultants of Florida. However we found out quickly that our policy could not be set in stone.

Before I talk about refunds here I want to make a mention about your income. Intended Parents pay your bills. You are counting on their money to run your program all in the name of helping them reach their dream of parenthood. This is a good and needed service. However, if you mismanage your money, your income, it will come back to haunt you. I work with both large and small agencies and I have found that some live ‘hand to mouth’. Not a good idea. What I am about to suggest maybe hard for some especially if you are counting on living on the income that your agency is providing you. Do not spend any retainer money that comes through your office until your IP’s are matched with their donor or surrogate AND their contracts are signed. Not one penny. Bank it. This money may need to be refunded and if you spend it then where will you be?

Here is my refund ‘what if’ list:

*What if the surrogate/donor doesn’t want to work with the IPs that chose them? (and the IP’s don’t see any others they want and would like a refund)

*What if the surrogate/donor doesn’t pass the medical evaluation? (and the IP’s don’t see any others they want and would like a refund)

*What if the clinic rejects the donor or surrogate for failure to follow medical protocol or other reasons? (and the IP’s don’t see any others they want, don’t trust your pool of GS or Donors any longer and would like a refund)

*What if the Intended Parents have a medical or financial issue of their own and need to back out of your program? (After just a few weeks and they are not matched so they would like a refund)

*What if you find out the IP’s are delusional and YOU want to give them a refund after a few weeks of trying to please them and you see that it’s an impossible mission!?

*What if the donor/surrogate is not mentally able to perform their commitment and back out before contracts are signed? (and the IP’s don’t see any others they want and would like a refund)

There are quite a few scenarios but you get the picture. A refund maybe in order. If you can’t rematch, have a difficult client, someone is threatening to sue unless you do refund, or the surrogate/donor has been disqualified, someone may be asking for some sort of refund. (full or partial) If you don’t have any money in your account then this is the place where your reputation is put on the line. I can assure you that your clients will go on message boards to complain about you and your services, they will call their RE and attorney and they may even bring you to small claims court. Having their retainer money on hand could resolve a lot of problems.

If you manage your income and have a ‘cushion’ in your account equal to at least 3 retainer payments you will rest easier. Remember refunding is a hallmark of great customer service and if you have truly done all you can to make your client happy and a refund is the last resort then just give them the money! You will learn from this encounter and find that refunds are few and far between but less painful when you have the money set aside ‘just in case”.



Monday, November 23, 2015

Quick Tips for Surrogacy Agency Owners-If You Are Struggling Call for Help

Just because you are struggling does not mean you are failing BUT if you don't get some help THEN you WILL fail. Recognize when you need to call someone in to give you a hand. Even if you have to hire your kids to lighten your load around the house so you can concentrate on your business, do that! You can't do it alone. So ask for Help! (LaMothe Services is a great place to ask if you need assistance with your marketing, social networking, exhibiting, blogging and more!)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quick Tips for Surrogacy Agency Owners- Running Your Own Agency Isn't Easy!

Owning your own agency isn't easy. It isn't simple. It isn't a hobby or something you do in your "spare time". There is a lot involved in a surrogacy journey. If you were/are a surrogate or an Intended Parent and want to "do things better" or "offer a better experience" you can...but remember you only know the part of the journey that affected you. What you need to learn are both sides of the coin of the surrogacy experience and then everything in between: the mental health component, the legalities in the USA, the recommendations of the ASRM, FDA and the ethics that everyone should be aware of. Have you thought of the paper work, the marketing, the advertising, or how you get paid? Do you understand the complexities of the relationship between the families involved in a surrogacy match? What about back ground checks, mediation and medications? Research your options and then come talk to LaMothe Services. We are here to help you reach your goal of helping others! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Quick Tips for Surrogacy Agency Owners- Novice (Surrogacy/Egg Donation) Agency Owners Often Ignore Signs They Are Headed For Disaster


New Agency Owners can improve their odds by avoiding some of the common mistakes that hound those who seek to buy or start their own businesses. A few of those mistakes include:
• Starting an agency for the wrong reasons. Some people are drawn to owning an agency because they like the image that being an entrepreneur evokes – someone who is rich, famous, smart with lots of free time. That’s not exactly the best motivation, and the image they have in mind isn't going to mean a lot when the reality of what it takes to succeed sinks in. Often, these people are good at the technical work they do but ill-equipped to create, run and grow a agency.
• Taking advice from the wrong people. Anyone launching a new agency or buying an existing business or franchise definitely needs advice. But that advice should come from people most qualified to give it, and that’s not necessarily Aunt Stella or your friends from college. New agency owners need to make sure they have wise and learned people weighing in on each component of their business but it needs to be the right people. A lawyer shouldn't give advice on the balance sheet, and the accountant shouldn't weigh in on growth strategy.
• Underestimating the time requirements. Most would-be new surrogacy or egg donation owners probably assume they will work long hours. They are wrong. They won't work long hours. They will work long, long, long hours. Outside of an act of God or just blind good fortune, business owners work more hours than any other category of employment. That can take a toll. The good news is that, as the boss, you can come and go as you please, so I also recommend setting aside time for yoga and meditation. That will help keep you fit and perhaps relieve some of the stress that is especially high in the early weeks and months of starting your own agency.
These points are just the tip of the iceberg and that is why LaMothe (business consulting) Services are designed and developed to support your dream of owning your own agency. When you make an appointment for a free consultation, all information gathered is then formulated into a program specifically designed to resolve problem issues using LaMothe Services as your partner. We are willing to sign non-disclosure documents to make you feel comfortable in allowing us to assist you in managing and solving your most delicate business problems.
LaMothe Services specializes in Surrogacy and Egg Donation agencies and other Third Party Family Building Companies. We can also assist other businesses with customer service, organizational, social networking and marketing support issues. Call 727-458-8333 or e-mail LaMotheServices@aol.com for your free 40 minute phone consultation. Ask about our Fall Special that will end on November 30th. I look forward to hearing from YOU!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Quick Tips for Surrogacy Agency Owners- Remember that YOU are the Walking Advertisement for Your Surrogacy Agency!

Remember this statement below. It is so important, now that you own your own agency, to be that inspiration to others...to instill confidence in your ability to guide and manage a surrogacy journey. Be your own wonderful self even when you are away from your office. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Now Is As Good A Time As Any....To Ask for Help!

Now are you ready? Contact me and we can see what the future holds! My Fall Special is running until the end of the month! Check it out by clicking HERE! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

10 Signs You Might Not Be Ready to Start a Business Found on FOXBusiness by Susan Payton

Before you quit your day job and dive into entrepreneurship, take a moment to think about this major decision. While, certainly, becoming a business owner is an exciting endeavor, it’s not for everyone. And it’s a long-term commitment. You’ll pour blood, sweat, tears, and money into a business, and if it doesn’t work out, you won’t recoup that investment.
If any of the following ring true, you might not be ready to start a business.
1. You’re passionate, but you have no plan. While passion is a cornerstone of a successful small business, it’s simply not enough. You also need a plan for how you’ll make money and grow your business. If the idea of developing such a plan bores you or stresses you out, it might not be a good fit.
2. You don’t have any money. Starting a business is not a “get rich quick” endeavor by any stretch of the imagination. It may be months — or even years — before you turn a profit, and in the meantime, you’ll need enough cash to pay your business expenses and your personal expenses.
3. You have a really neat idea, if only the market wanted it. Unless your idea solves a problem or serves a need, you’ll have a hard time finding customers for it. Remember the dad from the Gremlins movies? He was constantly inventing solutions where there were no problems. A machine that took an egg out of a bowl and cracked it simply wasn’t something the market clamored for.
4. You’ve got major life changes happening. Maybe you just got married. Or had a baby. If you’re in a transitional stage in your life, starting a business will add to the already high levels of stress you’re experiencing. Entrepreneurship might be better later down the road.
5. You just want to be your own boss. If the appeal of not having an overbearing boss to answer to is your driver for starting a business, consider this: your customers will be your new bosses. They’ll dictate what you do and how you do it. If they don’t like what you’re selling, they won’t buy it. And you won’t have the stability of a paycheck as a safety net.
6. You’re the breadwinner in your family. Shifting from one salary to support your family to an erratic, virtually existent entrepreneur’s paycheck is one many families can’t stomach. If your family finances will suffer if you quit your job, wait until you have money saved for this endeavor.
7. You have no experience in this industry. Although you’ve worked as a lawyer for years, you’ve dreamed of opening a cupcake shop. If you’ve got rockstar baking skills, that might help you survive, but if you have no experience in leasing retail space, buying baking supplies, and managing staff, you may find yourself struggling.
8. You want to do what you love. Why would that be a reason to not start a business, you ask? The truth is, few business owners do that thing they love 40 hours a week. In the cupcake shop example, you may find that, while you really enjoy the baking portion of the work, you’re actually doing very little of that in between your admin responsibilities. You’ll be busy creating employee schedules, making deposits at the bank, and calling your suppliers. Someone else will have to handle the baking.
9. You don’t know much about business. While you don’t need an MBA to be a business owner, it helps to have a basic understanding of marketing, accounting, management and finance. You can take continuing education courses at your local community college, read books and blogs, or simply teach yourself. But without a solid business foundation, your house of cards may crumble quickly.
10. You’re not excited enough. Going back to the first example here: you absolutely should be passionate and excited about starting a business. You should be able to see yourself working in that business for decades. You should be willing to do whatever it takes — work 80 hours a week, moonlight while keeping your day job, see your family less — to realize your dreams of business ownership. If you’re not, it’s not worth the pain of starting a business to find that out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The First Step~Considering Your Business Choice

So you have been a surrogate or Intended Parent and think that you can do just a good a job as the other professionals that assisted you with your surrogacy journey. (or not...you could have been an Independent and feel that others can learn from your mistakes or your success) you have friends who come to your for advice and childless couples who ask if you know anyone that would consider carrying for them. You can do this kind of "connecting 2 and 2" and actually make 4, however that is not all the ingredients needed to have your own surrogacy business or ANY business for that matter.
I am going to use this section of my blog to spoon feed potential new agency owners. Some of my advice is from making a success of Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC and the mistakes that were made as well. (I hate to admit mistakes but if it will help YOU...)
Lets start with the basics. Do you have the business plan, money, ambition, time, compassion, connections, education, experience, flexibility, ability to network and the support from those around you? A 'NO' answer to any of these things sends the first red flag! Do you know the first people who suffer when you start a service based business like a surrogacy/egg donation agency? Your Family! Your Children! Something to think about. Unless you are doing this matching 'thing' at your own expense I suggest you don't expect to get your first pay check for a year or more. The business comes first and therefore any money coming in at first must feed the business. (more on that later).
I really am NOT trying to talk you out of this wonderful enterprise. Being an agency owner is fulfilling, exciting, a wonderful way to meet great people and work with others who have the same goals and desires BUT it is a commitment. And that's the first step....
Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/

Monday, November 30, 2009

Washington State Surrogacy Laws....For Those Who Asked!


Although I am not an attorney, people now are asking me where can I find information on Washington Surrogacy Laws? This is because I now live in Washington State as opposed to the "Surrogate Friendly" state of Florida. Below are the Washington State Surrogacy Law Highlights...note that compensated surrogacy is illegal.

Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/














Surrogate parenting — Contract for compensation void.
A surrogate parentage contract entered into for compensation, whether executed in the state of Washington or in another jurisdiction, shall be void and unenforceable in the state of Washington as contrary to public policy.

Surrogate parenting — Compensation prohibited.
No person, organization, or agency shall enter into, induce, arrange, procure, or otherwise assist in the formation of a surrogate parentage contract, written or unwritten, for compensation. (this is why I don't have an agency located in Washington State...beware of anyone who does and accepts money for their services!)


Establishment of parent-child relationship.
(1) The mother-child relationship is established between a child and a woman by:

(a) The woman's having given birth to the child, except as otherwise provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260;

(b) An adjudication of the woman's maternity;

(c) Adoption of the child by the woman;

(d) A valid surrogate parentage contract, under which the mother is an intended parent of the child, as provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260; or

(e) An affidavit and physician's certificate in a form prescribed by the department of health wherein the donor of ovum or surrogate gestation carrier sets forth her intent to be legally bound as the parent of a child or children born through alternative reproductive medical technology by filing the affidavit and physician's certificate with the registrar of vital statistics within ten days after the date of the child's birth pursuant to RCW 26.26.735.


(2) The father-child relationship is established between a child and a man by:

(a) An unrebutted presumption of the man's paternity of the child under RCW 26.26.116;

(b) The man's having signed an acknowledgment of paternity under RCW 26.26.300 through 26.26.375, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged;

(c) An adjudication of the man's paternity;

(d) Adoption of the child by the man;

(e) The man's having consented to assisted reproduction by his wife under RCW 26.26.700 through 26.26.730 that resulted in the birth of the child; or

(f) A valid surrogate parentage contract, under which the father is an intended parent of the child, as provided in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260.

Surrogate parenting — Definitions.
As used in RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260:

(1) "Compensation" means a payment of money, objects, services, or anything else having monetary value except payment of expenses incurred as a result of the pregnancy and the actual medical expenses of a surrogate mother, and the payment of reasonable attorney fees for the drafting of a surrogate parentage contract.

(2) "Surrogate gestation" means the implantation in a female of an embryo not genetically related to that female and subsequent gestation of a child by that female.

(3) "Surrogate mother" means a female, who is not married to the contributor of the sperm, and who is naturally or artificially inseminated and who subsequently gestates a child conceived through the insemination pursuant to a surrogate parentage contract.

(4) "Surrogate parentage contract" means a contract, agreement, or arrangement in which a female, not married to the contributor of the sperm, agrees to conceive a child through natural or artificial insemination or in which a female agrees to surrogate gestation, and to voluntarily relinquish her parental rights to the child.


Surrogate parenting — Custody of child.
If a child is born to a surrogate mother pursuant to a surrogate parentage contract, and there is a dispute between the parties concerning custody of the child, the party having physical custody of the child may retain physical custody of the child until the superior court orders otherwise. The superior court shall award legal custody of the child based upon the factors listed in RCW 26.09.187(3) and 26.09.191.

Surrogate parenting — Provisions violated — Penalty.
Any person, organization, or agency who intentionally violates any provision of RCW 26.26.210 through 26.26.260 shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Target Your Market!

You know, when I started this blog I thought it would be pretty easy to "go in order". First you should do this and next that. Well, there are so many things that need to be done almost at once. Design for example. The Design of your website, your business cards, your banner, your brochures and your logo. Now I am not saying that you need all of these to start on day 1 but you do need a combination depending on your market strategy.

You have the name. You have decided to go at this alone or with a partner. You have an LLC, Tax ID, DBA...whatever....and now you really have to think about marketing materials. (which is that list above) So now think about your "target market", who you want to attract to your business. Intended Parents: yes, Potential Surrogates: yes, Professionals (RE, Attorney's, Clinic staff etc.) in the ART field: yes, (If I have to explain what ART means then you need to go and do your homework before you even think about opening THIS kind of business!) Other Agency's: yes (YES! If you are only doing surrogacy then it would be great to attract the attention of egg donor agency's that have IP's that need someone to carry those eggs or other agency's that you can network with) So it looks like you have a large market to target even if you are only going to market the state you are currently in. (I hope that state is surrogacy friendly!)

Now start thinking about your marketing materials. They should all have something in common....design perhaps? Color? Logo? Font? I will give you my 2 cents next time!

Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What is a Tax ID and How to get one

I just love the Internet! Robert Longley has already done the hard part and wrote out all the information needed regarding Federal Tax ID numbers and all I did was cut and paste them here! Thank you Robert!

Sharon
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/


At some point your business will need one of these
The government form you're feverishly filling out has a blank demanding your business's "Federal Tax ID Number" or "Employer Identification Number (EIN)." Unfortunately, you don't have one. What is a federal tax ID number, does your business even need one, and how do you get it?
Q. What is a federal tax ID number?

A. A federal tax identification number (also know as an employer identification number or EIN), is a number assigned solely to your business by the IRS. Your tax ID number is used to identify your business to several federal agencies responsible for the regulation of business.

Q. Does my business need a federal tax ID number?

A. Any business offering products or services that are taxed in any way must get a federal tax ID number.


If your state taxes personal services, or if you are required to collect sales taxes on your sales, you need a federal tax ID number. All the government forms you will be required to file for your business will require either a Social Security number or a tax ID number.
It's safe to say that any business that has employees and/or pays any kind of taxes will need a federal tax ID.



To set up a federal tax ID number (also called an Employer Identification Number, or EIN), contact your nearest Local IRS Field Office, or call the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Hotline at 800-829-4933.

The form you'll need to fill out is IRS From SS-4 and you can download it directly from the SBA Web site.

If your business does not have employees, the IRS recommends you label the top of the form SS-4 "For Identification Purposes Only."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Choosing a Structure for Your Business~More Options

I thought it would be a good idea here to tell you about corporations. Here you can see the pros and the cons. Feel free to investigate on your own using the Internet! There is so much information and you can make an inform choice!
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Choosing a Structure for Your Business
Small business owners should consider the advantages of both a corporation and a Limited Liability Company (LLC) when forming a new company. Selecting the right structure can help you maximize your chances for success. Though corporations and LLCs can both help protect personal assets from business debts, they differ in the following respects:

Advantages of a Corporation

May issue shares of stock to attract investors
Corporate income splitting may help lower overall tax liability

Advantages of an LLC

Has no limit to the number of owners
Owners can report profit and loss on their individual tax returns
Not required to hold annual meetings or record minutes

Disadvantages of a Corporation

Double taxation of corporate profits and shareholder dividends
Must hold annual meetings and record minutes
S Corporations have restrictions on number of owners

Disadvantages of an LLC

Cannot engage in corporate income splitting to lower tax liability
Cannot issue stock


Note: LLC owners can elect for the IRS to tax the LLC as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation. Owners make this election through the IRS after the company forms with the state.


Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/