Are you a mum who wants to know how to start or run a business?
Running a business and being a mum, can be the ultimate juggling act.
It can feel like you have dozens of balls in the air at all times and it it would just take one small hiccup for one of those balls to drop (trust me I know a little bit about this).
This feeling can create a constant feeling of anxiety and being on high alert, which is in direct contrast to the reason many mums decide to start their own business.
Many of us start out because we want the flexibility to work around our family commitments and spend more quality time with our children. Despite our best intentions though the stress of running a business can actually take you away from your family.
So we’ve all heard that starting and running a business is hard, but you don’t really know until you’ve done it.
Just like the skit by comedian Michael McIntyre on ‘People with kids think they know, but they don’t’. You don’t know…until you know.
You will most likely discover that having a business is HARD! It’s REALLY HARD at times – it may be harder than anything you’ve ever done.
Yep, harder than catching your child’s vomit in your hands, harder than sitting through 20 hours straight of Peppa Pig episodes, harder than getting your kids to sleep past 5am on Christmas morning – that kind of hard.
Now if you’re still with me and I haven’t completely put you off the idea of starting and running a business, then thumbs up emoticon to you, because the other thing about having your own business is that it can also be INCREDIBLY REWARDING!
The trick is to mimimise the frequency and intensity of those times when you feel like you are juggling family and business. Juggling will have to happen sometimes but it doesn’t have to be a regular occurrence and it’s possible, with planning and commitment, to minimise the chance of those balls dropping.
Here are our 5 top tips for mums running a business
1. Know your purpose and goals and never lose sight of them
Without sounding like I’m taking you on a spiritual retreat to Byron Bay – which would be nice – your business should help you achieve your ‘purpose’.
As far as I’m concerned your ‘purpose’ – your reason for being on this planet – should be the ultimate guiding factor for creating a successful business.
Your purpose may be ‘to be the best mother on the planet’, it might be to ‘help others understand nutrition better so they can live bigger, healthier lives’. For me my purpose is ‘creating content that delights and helps others achieve their purpose’.
Now you probably think I’ve got a bit off script here, but stay with me for just a bit longer.
You see most people start out with a business idea first – something that makes ‘sense’ to them based on their skills, experience and potential revenue.
But sometimes just making ‘sense’ isn’t enough.
Your purpose needs to come before the idea. It needs to mould the idea or help you evolve your current business so you can achieve your purpose.
Don’t make the mistake though of confusing purpose with your business vision.
Your purpose is not a vision statement for a business, because your purpose relates to all parts of your life – which includes your business by default. Since your business may represent say 50% (or more) of your life in terms of time and energy, than your business must be attuned with your purpose. If it’s not, you are spending a lot of time and effort on something that isn’t helping you reach fulfilment.
Whereas businesses that help people reach their purpose, are more likely to be successful (or so people way above my credentials say).
So how do I figure out my purpose? This may take some time. You may need the idea to marinate for a while before it comes to you. As a starting point though ask yourself these questions:
- What are you passionate at?
- What energises you and makes you happy? What gives you joy?
- What do you love doing? AND What are you (or do you want to be) good at? REALLY good at!
This will bring you closer to your purpose. Seek out books, inspirational videos, ask your family and friends the questions above. You may not even know that your eyes literally light up when you talk about a particular subject, but people close to you can tell you.
Once you understand your purpose, you’re getting closer to a vision of what your business will look like.
You do need though to set yourself some clear personal and financial goals for the business.
Ask yourself why you want to go into business in the first place, and write out your goals.
Once you’re clear on your purpose and goals, have them in mind at all times as you run your business. Keep coming back to them to ground you and give you direction on making decisions and prioritising.
Ask yourself in everything you do, is this taking me closer or further away from my purpose and goals? If the answer is no, analyse why and what needs to happen to turn it around?
2. Have a separate work space
If you’re working from home it’s incredibly important to create yourself a workspace that is separate from other parts of the house where you can be distracted or disturbed.
So when you’re in your ‘work’ space, you’re working. When you’re not in that space, you’re not working.
Your dedicated area should create a clear line between work and family life.
3. Have boundaries and stick to them
What are your negotiables and non-negotiables? For me, I never work weekends. So even on the occasion I have to stay up late at night to work (which is not my norm – I’m not a night owl), it’s okay if it means I’m keeping my weekend clear.
If you only want to work with certain types of clients, or work specific hours (such as school hours), let your boundaries be known and stick to them.
4. Have a routine and follow it
Setting yourself a routine and plan for each day will help you stay on track and enable you to make arrangements for childcare and other family commitments if needed.
Of course, I’m the first to admit that things don’t always go to plan – it’s almost guaranteed your child gets gastro on that day you have an important client meeting scheduled. So you do need back-up plans, but the fact you have a plan and a routine means it’s easier to get back on track when things go pear-shaped.
5. Stay connected
Working from home or at odd hours by yourself can be isolating at times.
You should create or find a network of likeminded individuals that you can call on or connect with on a regular basis so you can stay connected to your stakeholders, industry and sanity. You may like to join a networking group, meet up for coffees or even have a friend or mentor who you can call when needed. You can also try social media groups and pages.