More and more mums are giving up their careers and choosing to start their own business from home. Flexible working hours, a potential to earn more money, to follow a dream or to be at home for the children are just some of the advantages tempting mums to be mumpreneurs, but choosing a home-based business has its own share of challenges and is not the easiest path to take.
Jo Bates started her own business when she couldn’t find a UK thumb sucking solution for her 5-year-old daughter so she started making her own fabric thumb guards. Her business Thumbsie proved to be a great success and she was really proud to be nominated for Families Online Homepreneur of the Year 2016.
Here Jo talks about the common challenges that women face whilst trying to raise children and build a successful business at the same time and how they be overcome.
Ask yourself why
Before you decide to start your business, you have to ask yourself why you are doing it. Becoming a mumpreneur because you are disillusioned with your current job or corporate life, or because you want more flexibility, is really not enough.
Starting your own business can be tough so if you have a real “why” or there’s a “need”, it will really help when you are faced with challenges. What are you passionate about? What skills do you have? Is there a need in the marketplace? Often businesses are started from a need not just a why. When my daughter gave up on trying other products I realised that there must be other parents wanting a solution too – therefore there was a real need to start Thumbsie.
Not enough time
One common reason that mums want to become mumpreneurs is they think they will have more time with the children – this is often the opposite.
Finding time to look after your children and fit in everything else is challenging enough as a mum, so to then juggle the responsibilities that come with setting up a business and making it successful at the same time, is even more difficult.
Try to realise that you don’t have standard working hours and you will need to fit things in when you can. Be kind to yourself and try not to be ‘supermum’ all the time! Don’t try and be a business success overnight, accept that it may take time to build things up so that you can manage your time effectively, and grow with the business. Try to keep a balance, try to select times when you are working on the business and stick to it so that the children don’t resent you working all the time.
Guilt plagues mums up and down the country. When you are trying to build up a business you will feel that it requires absolute focus, time and energy and that can conflict with raising a family. Time spent on the business is time away from your children. Then there’s the all important “me time” that you need to allow yourself so that you can refresh, re-evaluate, and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. This can be really tough for mumpreneurs.
Learn to say “no”, don’t try and do it all. But when you do say “yes” really give it 100% attention. Don’t try and do your child’s hair whilst emailing a client! Build blocks into your day off when you are going to do things and this will help you keep structure and focus. Have realistic expectations of what you want to achieve in a day and do it. It won’t always be the most idyllic of family lives but try to think about what you are achieving – your own business and bringing up some great children.
Getting the life work balance right
It’s not just mumprenuers that struggle with this, working mums do too. It’s important to have structure in your working week so that you get the right balance.
Set aside time for when you are going to answer customer emails, order new stock and write new blogs.
Prioritise time for the family. This may seem obvious but if you don’t make a conscious effort to have some non-negotiable family time, this can have a negative effect on your relationship with your family. Develop a ritual around the family and give them quality time to chat with you as often as possible, be there for them. Family meals are a great opportunity to do this.
Above all, make sure you schedule in some “me” time, book a massage, a night out with the girls or some retail therapy – it all helps.
Jo Bates, Director of Thumbsie Ltd, has been juggling being a Director of a successful event management company in London 3 days a week, raising three girls and running a household whilst being a mumpreneur for over three years so knows these challenges only too well.