By Margaret Webb Pressler
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Lisa Anthony's professional life changed after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
During an impromptu prayer service at her Catholic church that day, Lisa was struck by the huge burden faced by an inexperienced priest trying to provide words of comfort. She rushed home and banged out the prototype of a news-letter. Her aim was to help Catholic priests reach out to their parishioners with advice and insight on their faith.
Six years later, that moment of inspiration has become a business with nearly $500,000 a year in annual revenue.
In the late 1990s, Lisa earned $145,000 annually as publisher of a group of news-letters that tracked federal regulations.
When the business folded in 1998, she was out of a job at age 38, just after adopting a second daughter from China. "I was totally freaked out," she recalls. But the newsletter community around Washington is tight-knit, and she soon landed at a highly profitable newsletter in Winchester, Va., that served schools. Around the same time, she married Kenny Price, a home inspector and carpenter.
But a year after Lisa began running the education newsletter, the owner decided to sell. Lisa got a "low six figures" bonus for handling the deal. She used the money to launch a newsletter out of her house.
The publication she sketched out on 9/11, Growing in Faith, included "practical ways to implement your faith -- things like how to get more prayer into your day, which is a hard thing for many of us who work and have families," she says. It also offered information about Catholic practices, a Q&A on tough issues (Why do I need to go to confession?) and lessons from the Gospel. She used only authentic Catholic sources and doctrine, so parish priests would accept it.
Lisa sent her prototype monthly newsletter to 17,000 parishes across the country in November 2001, at a cost of $8,000, each one personalized with the names of pastor and parish. The $175 annual subscription price includes the right to photocopy the newsletter and distribute it to parishioners.
Lisa got $42,000 in subscriptions right away.
"That was huge," she says. Even bigger, though, was the launch of a sister newsletter she started in 2002, Partners in Faith, aimed at Catholic parents and distributed through Catholic schools nationwide. The number of subscribers for the newsletters has grown dramatically each year, Lisa says.
Kenny Price, who is not Catholic, quit his job in 2003 to help Lisa with the business. They now have several part-time writers. Much of the company's annual revenue is profit, Lisa says. She and Kenny rarely work more than a 40-hour week out of their Winchester home. They also have the flexibility to care for their 10- and 13-year-old daughters, one of whom has special needs.
"This is the first time that I have been able to incorporate my faith into my career," Lisa says, "so I can't say I'm surprised it's the most successful thing I've ever done."
Did you have a sudden inspiration that led to a profitable business? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.