Carrying on our flexile working theme our guest blogger today is Inge Woudstra, an expert on working mums and founder of the web portal Mum & Career. She’s offering advice on the realities of setting up your own business.
Starting a business – is it for you?
What does it take to start a business? It sounds like a great option for working mums. You are your own boss, you can fit it around the children, you can keep your brain engaged and add to the family income. Here’s what it takes from my experience of two years in business supporting working mums.
Imagine..never again explaining to your boss why you are leaving early, never again trying to reach mad targets set by a corporate bureaucracy, or trying to survive an important meeting after a sleepless night.
Imagine…working at your own pace, zero commute, and lounging in the garden while working on your laptop.
Imagine..improving your finances. No childcare costs, and an opportunity to start with little investment – only in case you offer a service of course. Add to that, that soon you could have a bit of extra income, for you to spend on anything you like, next you could pay for anything you like and soon after, financial independence!!
Imagine, in the long-term…perhaps you could even be a millionaire. After all, we have all heard these stories about a lady selling her business for a couple of million, right?
But what does the real world look like when you start a business? Is it really possible, and will it work for you?
I would like to give you a reality check, here’s the key things to consider.
- 1. Time – How much time can you make available for your business
First of all many women underestimate how much time they spend running their family. All the little tasks you do to keep everyone else’s life organised take up time and energy: waiting at the school gate, organising a playdate, paying rugby classes, finding a tutor, ferrying children, naming uniform and just keeping track of the family diary.
Sit down and check how much time you could free up in an average week. When would you be working? You could work before the children wake up, during school hours, when they sleep in the evening, during a lunchtime nap.
To add some more work-time, you could try arranging (free) childcare e.g. once a week with a friend or family. In addition, you could consider giving up some of your non-business activities.
Do you want to give up your weekly coffee morning with mummy-friends? Do you want to move your sports to weekends or late nights? Could you outsource cleaning, shopping and gardening or schedule it in more efficiently (e.g on a Saturday while your husband and children help you).
- 2. Money – How much will you earn?
This might sound like a hard question to answer, surely no one knows how well your product or service will sell. Actually it’s quite simple. In all cases I have seen, your earnings will be directly related to what you put in.
Of course, you need a product or service people want, and you need to have the right mix of skills to sell it. But then you need to put in the time to make it happen. No matter how good your product, it’s not going to sell if you don’t put in the time to market it. Trust me, no one made a business successful overnight, with no effort.
Each of the women I have met that became very, very successful have worked over 60 hours a week on their business. No lounging in the garden, no cancelling clients after a sleepless night, and setting high targets for themselves. That holds true for a ‘simple’ franchise concept or network-marketing business, but also for a free-lancer or someone offering your own product.
If you can only free up 20 hours a week, your earnings are going to reflect those 20 hours. That’s absolutely fine, and you can certainly run a business on 20 hours a week. Just adjust your income expectations.
So is it possible, can you be a working mum with a flexible job that pays the bills?
I would say a resounding yes. Yes, you can drop the childcare costs, you can skip the commute, you can have much more flexibility, you can pursue your passion and have just accountability to yourself, help out in school and spend a lot more time with your children.
However you need to manage your time really well, efficiently plan household-tasks and work hard in the hours you are not with your children, which can often include evenings, early mornings and weekends.
Will it then pay the bills? It certainly could, but expect it to be 2-5 years, and be prepared to go one step at the time. I love it!
Want to know more? Are you ready to get started, just looking for ideas, or ready to get your business to go more professional? Why not join us for the BIG Business get ready on 3 October, 9.30-14.30 in Twickenham – with everything you need to kick start a business for women start-up, all in one place.
Or just check out our treasure trove of free resources at the Mum & Career Portal
Mum & Career offers career support services to professional working mothers. We have plenty of free resources and a popular monthly event-listing with events for mums with ambition. It is a true one-stop shop showing how to combine career and children.
- Combining a Career with Children (parentalchoiceuk.com)
- Soaring childcare costs see parents working for nothing (guardian.co.uk)
- Denmark Offers Free Childcare To Encourage Parents To Have More Babies (washington.cbslocal.com)