So why would you want to set up your own business?
Yes indeed, why would anyone and why do you feel the need to do it after recently becoming a parent? You must be mad?
Well not necessarily there may be many reasons.
It might be:
• You have always wanted to be your own boss and now is a good a time as any.
• As much as you love your baby you feel you will go mad if this is all you do
• You have a unique business idea and now is the perfect time to implement it
• You are wanting more work life balance with your child and your work.
or it could be as simple as
• You just need to do something for you!
I think it is really important that you have “something for you” – I think I felt that having a child or two I just went from being Emma, a senior art director handling big budgets and people listening to what I thought to “Mummy Emma” wiping bums and snotty noses and nobody listening to anything I said.
When I first went into business and met other start ups I could not believe the number of women I spoke to who used the word CONFIDENCE or lack of it. It was like an aliment had popped out when your baby does ( regardless of a natural birth or C section) but many MANY strong , independently minded women after having a baby felt cursed by lack of confidence. This is why I think it is cool to have some thing for you.
I would love to say that having your business and taking it out into the world that you receive a magic want from HMRC that takes the Lack of confidence away. But it’s not true. You just have to work through it. The more you do the better you feel, I think we all feel like a fraud sometimes, and it’s not just women either. I guess you just have to pretend that you are the person you want to be go out and be ballsy, put on a smile and get on with it.
I digress, so you have your baby and a fab business idea, what do you now do and when do you do it?
The first thing you do is learn how to manage your time. I can not stress how important this is. And the best time is when baby sleeps you can get on and focus.
If your baby doesn’t sleep – well that could be a problem – I remember having Fred in a bouncy chair at my feet and I was bouncing him to sleep with my left foot asthough he were the pedal on an old singer sewing machine. It wasn’t ideal but it did allow me to get on the computer for an hour at the kitchen table. Result
I really wouldn’t recommend sitting at the computer, baby in one hand, typing with the other – it will just get both of you frustrated. He/she will cry which will make you want to cry. The best time to seriously think and work is when your baby is happy. The DVD Baby Einstein was played quite a bit when Scarlet was little I have to admit it and I know my friends owe some of their success to cbeebies, but we did find time for music class and the park. So have time with baby and have time to you.
If you have toddlers or preschool kids then sort out something and if you can make it regular.
You can always pay – put them in nursery for a day or so but that is expensive. Try a kid swap with someone from your anti natal class. Have two kids one after noon each week etc. it might be a mental but it could also be nice too . I can’t stress enough if you’re serious about what you do, you will do it better if you are not feeling guilty about spending time with your nippa.
So in the best case scenario, baby is asleep or round a friends and you have two maybe three hours to yourself so USE THIS TIME WELL.
I know how tempting it can be to just put a wash on or do the washing up. If you have toddlers your house is probably a mess- leave it. Don’t tidy up or think you will spend ten minutes doing your online grocery shop – it will inevitably take longer than you think and before you know it you have checked a few emails clocked in to see what your neighbour is up to on Face book and the time will have flitted away.
Make a list or a mental note of things you can do when baby is awake and what is best to do at night. If you work form home you need to be disciplined. Move to a room where you won’t be tempted to do other things.
So to the helpful stuff
• Plan your time – we do things that are we can split up tasks: things we need to do and things that we would like to do. It is important that we spend time doing tasks that are relevant and need to be done straight away. Guess what we tend to spend the most time doing? Precisely.
Keep a work diary along side your family diary so you can plan time around what is happening with your kids – I know this sounds basic but as your kids get bigger they will be doing more and more activities and it is always good to know which hours are yours.
• Research you market
Look for others with similar ides and trial them
What makes your idea better?
Get to know your market and your audience .
If there is a similar product or idea out there already – admire them- follow them on face book and twitter and then find a point of difference that you can do but they do not.
• Are you selling a product or a service?
• Ask yourself do I need qualifications of certifications testing ?– How do you get them do you need insurance? conform to EU or British standards – look into it, and work out the cost and the time it will take to acquire them.
• Do a SWOT test on your bus idea Strengths , Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I can talk about this another time but it is a really simple way of assessing things.
• Get some one else a close friend you have share your business thoughts with to do it for you too. It will be interesting what good things they see in you that you don’t see in yourself.
• Friends and family are great for sound boarding a new idea, but they can also be the worst as they love you and are proud of you so they will always say they think it’s great.
• Ask yourself what you want from your business?
How much time do you want to spend on it? What do you expect to get back from it, how much money do you want to earn?
• Set yourself a goal. It can be a monthly one, or a five year plan.
You might to earn enough money to go on holiday once a year and that is fine.
You might have the best idea for a non alcoholic margeritta and want to sell it to Coco Cola in 5 years time – what ever you want from your business is your choice. You don’t need to have a million pound company to be happy – just do what you want to do.
BUT DO WRITE IT DOWN. Or summarise it in a picture and print it or draw it and pin it to your wall to remind you.
I have to say that I say all these things in full knowledge that these were things I never did at the beginning and I wish I knew what I do now – I basically jumped in at the deep and treaded water – which is one way of doing it but really I think not the best.
• So all these sorted you need to think MONEY
How much will you need to set up? How are you going to make what you expect to and when will you get it? So really do what I never did at the beginning and build a business plan and start to think about cash flow- don’t just throw a load of money at it and hope for the best! Hu hum.
I have to say that there are lots of government schemes for start ups
Where you can get up to 15K if I remember rightly and also have access to a load of advice.
Virgin offer a Start up loans scheme and give you a free mentor too which is fantastic A mentor Is a great idea.
There is also the SEIS, Seed Enterprise, Investment, Scheme where you can raise up to £150 K, get tax back or is tax exempt and it is backed by the government which means there is less risk to the investor.
The princes trust
and Federation of Small Business where last year 70% of their members got funding and investments.
• Trade Mark your product and name, logo?
Your probably all ready have a super catchy name – so find a good IP lawyer and trade mark it. Believe me if you are serious about your company or brand a few hundred pound spent here will save you hours of messing around later on! You might think you have the most innovate name that no one will ever have it – you will be surprised! There is a company own it www.own-it.org/ that can help in these situaltions
• Give your company a mission statement
Rockabye-Baby have a manifesto which is “ enough if the mainstream cute we want bright and bold colours that reflect the joy and creativity with in every child and their rock star qualities too”.
• Summarise what you stand for in three words
We stand for FUN FASHION and ATTITUDE.
• Have your 1 minute elevator pitch
“We design and make cool baby clothes that have a musical theme and are made to make parents smile. They are from 0-10 years and loud and proud and come packed in record sleeves.” You never know who you might bump into in a lift.
• Think of WHY you do or make, not what you do or MAKE – it will give people a reason to support you and share these WHY reasons with you to become loyal customers.
One of my favourite brands is Tom’s shoes that found a village in India where children can only go to school if they have shoes. The majority are too poor so with Tom’s shoes every time you buy a pair they donate a pair to a child in the village.
• Write all this down.
In six months or six years time so much will have happened you will forget. Document why you are doing this and what you want and where you are going.
Then armed with these missions and plans forget your lack of confidence, shu away your inhibitions and get out there and do it.
You may need a plethora of things, staff, investment, a desk but what you need first and foremost is a positive out look an true self belief. It works wonders.