Women with children who have been out of work for a period of time can sometimes lose confidence in themselves after selflessly putting their family first for a number of years. It may seem as though finding your dream job is over as the continuous demands of motherhood take hold. Mothers need jobs that can be relied upon, that are rewarding and sustainable as well as being possible to fit around a hectic lifestyle. The best alternative in many cases when it comes to flexibility may be setting up your own business. Here are some important areas to consider when doing so:
1. Find your niche
Your niche may be a product or a service, something new and innovative or even an age old idea. Ultimately, what sets you apart is your edge. If you offer better customer service, a wider range of options, lower prices or simply are the only qualified professional of your kind in a 2 mile radius, all of these play to your strengths. Think about your idea, about the competition and what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is. In general simple ideas are more likely to succeed than complicated ones, but at the end of the day you must have something that makes your business idea unique. Simple tips are to be attentive to your environments, be observant, so that if you have heard several people say “Oh, I wish there was a … around here”, you can consider filling in the blank. Not every successful business idea is revolutionary.
2. Carry out your research
Once you have the concept it is time to try it out. If it is a product, make a prototype and test it on your friends and family. The more objective the tester the better as they are less likely to be biased and overly positive. The same applies to a service you want to offer. Be wary who you share your idea with, but in general you will have to be partially open in order to test it out. Take criticisms constructively. No great business was right the first time, it is a process of refinement and perseverance. Finally, make sure to keep records. This will help you look back at what you have done, mistakes you have learnt and will add structure to your plan.
3. Make a business plan
In the early stages you may have encountered a few hiccups along the way. Comments you didn’t initially like (but learnt from) or other practicalities that were unforeseen. Believe it or not, this is good. You will have no-doubt had your determination and desire tested, along with your ability to adapt and problem solve. You will need these skills in the future. If you have been lucky enough to sail straight through this stage (we all envy you) bear in mind it won’t always be this easy. Many of the people we have contact with dread making a business plan. It is actually an extremely useful tool that is sometimes overcomplicated and over-analysed. Simply put a business plan is a description of what your business will do and how it will carry this out profitably. If it can clearly describe this and support it with some facts and figures you have ticked most of the boxes. There are many templates with easily marked sections that can be downloaded and completed to aid your plan. What is important though, is that you have a clear idea of how you are going to make money from this idea or “business model” as it is known.
4. Play to your strengths
Many people feel limited by some qualification they have obtained, experience they have built up, or role they have performed in the past. When it comes to being employed, it is likely that these factors are taken into consideration. However, in the world where you run the show, you can do and be anything you want to. Dedicating yourself to a business idea you dislike will be an uphill battle. Starting up a business is a lot of work, both physically and emotionally. To last the distance you must enjoy what you are spending your time doing.
5. Leverage your network and benefits
In the early stages of your business, you are likely to need all the help you can get. This ranges from advice coming from friends and acquaintances, to funding or premises and also childcare. More often than not, we underestimate what is potentially possible and available. Be open with people and explain what you are doing and need. There is a huge range of services, information and even funding available for small companies. Government schemes such a Start-Up loans or other grants available can give you a funding boost in the early stages. Looking at former colleagues and friends you may even find partners to start up the business together.
Mum Plus Business is a free online resource dedicated to helping mums develop flexible careers. The site offers everything you need when looking to develop a flexible career. We offer a free partnership service to help local mothers form business contacts and partnerships. Our job board features flexible jobs and franchise opportunities and we also have a directory of recommended service providers. www.mumplusbusiness.co.uk