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Daughters' severe allergies inspired this mom's business

Don't quit your day job ... yet. Or, at least wait until you talk to Carol Roth, a small-business advocate, "recovering" investment banker, and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." In a new digital series, Roth takes on would-be entrepreneurs who want to abandon their careers for new small-business ideas. Here, she analyzes Jennifer Kurko and her allergy-friendly cosmetics line called Kiss Freely. Should Kurko quit her day job? Here's what Carol had to say.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. That is certainly true in the case of Jennifer Kurko, a licensed clinical therapist whose two daughters' life-threatening food allergies led her to create a line of cosmetics free from the top eight food allergens called "Kiss Freely."

Since turnabout is fair play, I had to give her some of her own therapy -- business therapy, that is.

Now, I can understand her passion for creating the product. Many natural products still contain allergens that can cause serious repercussions for those with such allergies. That being said, the need for the product doesn't always justify a great business opportunity.



In Jennifer's case, I'm simply allergic to her business plan. She is expecting it to take her five years to get to $200,000 in sales, which doesn't justify a full-time effort, especially since she is overestimating profits by expecting 40-percent profit margins. Maybe if she doesn't get paid at all she can justify that, but most consumer product businesses don't drop anywhere near 40 percent to their bottom lines!

I also have to pick on Jennifer for doing something that a lot of women do -- thinking small. On the other side of the spectrum, some entrepreneurs (truth be told, mostly men) would project a multimillion-dollar business in five years. That would probably be too aggressive, but it would be reaching for a bigger opportunity. This is a major problem where women are often too risk averse and often don't grow larger companies because they are worried about disappointing if they miss a projection. While I am not advocating for being unrealistic, it is important that women like Jennifer come up with credible plans to pursue larger businesses that warrant full-time attention.



Jennifer Kurko and family
Source: Kiss Freely
Jennifer Kurko and family

Jennifer was evaluating setting up her own manufacturing plant, which would require a substantial investment. Not only is this not justified by her plan, but it splits her focus -- and her dollars. It would mean that she needs to not only educate people about this new product, but also figure out how to manufacture it AND market it effectively. That's a lot to take on for any business, especially for an allergen-free peanut-sized opportunity.

The business doesn't seem to have any proprietary elements. Cosmetics is an incredibly crowded market with major players -- even in the natural space -- and if food-allergen-free cosmetics become a real opportunity, there's no reason why one of the big guys can't add a competing product to their line.

The bottom line for Jennifer: Don't quit your day job. It's a great side project and if she can catch fire with an endorsement that boosts sales and rejigger her business plan to be a more worthwhile opportunity, she can reconsider.




If you're an entrepreneur looking to turn your hobby or "jobbie" into a full-time career, we want to hear from you. Email: AskCarolRoth@cnbc.com.