According to research, 81% of women who own a small business are solo Mumpreneurs.
As someone who has started not one, but three small businesses from home while on maternity leave from her standard 9 to 5 gig, I wanted to share with you my seven top tips to help you start a business between cooking, cleaning, washing, feeding, and generally being Mum.
(Note: Yes, two of those three start-ups are now defunct, so I’ve learned a few hard lessons in the past five years.)
Here are my seven top tips for Mamas starting a business:
1. Look To The Future
In other words, do you really want this? I’m in no way implying you should stop before you start, but consider everything on your plate and whether you are truly passionate about your idea. If you think in 6 months time the novelty could wear off and you could find yourself wondering wonder why you started, perhaps your motivation and ‘why’ is not authentically aligned to your true purpose.
Starting a business is not for the weary and easily distracted. If you think you might ‘get over it’ quickly, I’d think again. That’s exactly what happened to me after investing a big chunk of time and money in to an online magazine that died a painful death after only 6 months. Looking back, I should’ve known!
2. Evaluate The Need
Coming up with an idea because it’s trendy and could make you a fast buck unfortunately isn’t a good enough foundation to build a sustainable and meaningful company.
Instead, ask yourself, how can my skills, attributes and experience fill a need for others? How can I be of service? If your concept can enhance someone’s life, go for it.
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3. Understand Your Motivation
Management and Leadership Expert Simon Sinek is the Author of an excellent professional development book called, ‘Start With Why’ (click here to watch his TED Talk.). In a very simplistic explanation, understanding ‘Why’ you’ve started the company allows others to connect with your story, believe in the product or service and join you on the journey.
Not only is it important for your audience to understand why the company started, but everything you do, develop, write and offer needs to come from your ‘why’ as well.
Your ‘why’ will get you out of bed in the morning and keep you going when motivation wanes, inspiration is dead and your bank balance is screaming for mercy. Ask yourself, why are you driven to start the business? Then review tip 1 again.
4. Keep Your Business Baby and Real Babies Separate
This tip is one of the hardest to follow, I won’t lie, but it could arguably be the most important. When you first start a business it will suck every spare extra hour and minute out of you. Working late nights after your babies are in bed, stealing 20 minutes here and there to check emails, review plans, write posts, make phone calls, etc… can be the only way some start-ups get off the ground (mine included), however before too long these 20 minute intervals start over lapping with your child’s book time before bed or playing outside and eventually you start missing family time completely.
Businesses can come and go, but your child’s willingness to play tea-parties and hang out with while they’re young, Mummy does not. Therefore allocate dedicated time to your business when you can and when you’re with your family, you’re with them 100%.
5. Develop Long & Short Term Plans
Yes writing a business plan is a no-brainer, but this tip is aimed towards brainstorming your short and long-term goals so you can develop a realistic action plan and build your business slowly and sustainably.
Having an idea of where you want the business to be in five to ten years time will allow you to break it down further and develop a plan for the next 12 months to two years. Short-term goals will not only help you achieve the big picture plan, but reduce the overwhelm and pressure to get it all done yesterday
6. Don’t Expect Overnight Success (You’re Not One Direction)
So now, you’ve got the brilliant idea, the carefully strategised plan, a super cool website and a solid budget to see you through the next few months or more, but you won’t need it because as soon as this order of stock arrives or you hit publish on those Facebook Ads, you’ll see the money rolling in. Right?
Unfortunately the reality, is more…well…real.
People need to find you, hear about you, recommend you to others and develop a relationship with you (or should that be your brand?) before they part with their cash. So expecting to go from start-up to success quickly could set you up for bitter disappointment, or worse, turn in to self-doubt and disillusionment if you believe the speed of your growth and number of fans on Instagram determine your product’s viability.
Yes social media plays a big part in today’s business world. Yes, overnight stories can happen, but the best strategy to survive those first few months (and years) is to believe that anything worth your time, energy and investment is worth plugging away for and will be still exist in years to come – not fizzle out like a one-hit wonder.
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7. Follow Your Intuition
When it comes to making a decision to move your business forward and grow, only you know exactly what path you’re on and what you hope to achieve (see tip 5).
Ask both your head and your heart for their advice, then do what FEELS right to you. It may not be logical or the way other’s have done it before you, but when you feel like it’s the right thing to do, the risk is often worth it.
Besides, the very definition of ‘Innovation’ is a new method, idea or product, so stay true to your new way of doing things and be a blaze your own path.
Are you building a business? Let me know in the comments below, what is one thing you wish you knew when you started or would like to know more about now?