For many parents, running their own business and having the ability to fit work around the family is the answer to their dreams. Coming up with the idea for a business can be the easy part -- the tricky bit is getting the business up and running.
Family-friendly-working expert and author, Antonia Chitty, says a successful business is all about planning. In her book, The Mumpreneur Guide (released on 1st September 2009), Antonia gives top tips to help turn the dreams of a business idea into reality. "It is important to start a business by first planning how it will all work. Get it right early on and you will not only find it easier to succeed, but you will save yourself time, trouble, and often money," advises Antonia.
Based on her work with hundreds of successful mumpreneurs, Antonia has the following tips to get a business off to a flying start:
1. Support - who can help you out? You are not the only person starting up or running a business. Join a women's networking forum or group, such as: www.giantpotential.ning.com or www.mumsclub.co.uk. Contact your local enterprise agency, they have business advisers who give free advice and can arrange free business start-up courses. Join an online forum, such as www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk or www.a1businessforums.co.uk, where you will find an enormous number of people running their own businesses and willing to share their expertise.
2. Expenses - what will you need to spend? Try to estimate what resources you will need over the next year and take a broad view by looking at possible longer-term expenses in the next five years. Allow a certain amount to get your business going, e.g. business stationery and a simple website plus e-mail address are essential investments. You will need access to a computer. Most businesses need a phone number: you could get a second line or an additional number on your existing line so you don't need to use your home number. You may also want to use a mobile specifically for business.
3. Equipment - will you need more than a PC? If you are making or creating something, or offering a service, you may need more equipment. Plan out the basics of what you will need and guesstimate how often you will need to replace things. You may need to move from using basic home office equipment to something more robust: if you offer a home ironing service you could find your iron needs replacing more often. Another example is that industrial sewing machines can help you work faster than domestic models.
4. Location - where will you work? Most mumpreneurs start their business in the home - there can be tax advantages if you set aside a room part of the time for business. If you are selling products, be aware that your stock will grow over time and this can take its toll on your living space. Look at the cost of renting a unit in the local business centre. While your plans may be for working from home it helps if you know the approximate cost if you do need more space. If you are catering from home your kitchen will need to meet health & safety requirements. If you offer complementary therapies or beauty treatments from home, you may need to redecorate one room, or some mumpreneurs remortgage to create an extension to house the business.
5. Marketing - how will you boost your business? Allow a small budget for advertising and promotion. You may want to start by running off flyers on your home printer, but you will soon find out that it is cheaper to order in bulk from a printer. A small budget for promotional materials, and a little bit each year for a carefully planned advertising campaign can make your business grow. Factor this into your pricing from day one and you will avoid the dual dilemmas of no promotional budget or having to raise prices to create one.
6. Stock - what suppliers will you use? If you are going to sell a product you are likely to need money to invest in stock. Before you can spend you need to find suppliers, which can take time and involves persistence and detective work – finding suppliers is an ongoing job. You are likely to have to pay for your first order in advance and be subject to a minimum order value. Once you have built up some trust you may be able to get credit and improve the payment terms.
7. Time - how much time can you devote? Resources don't just involve money: think about the time you need to start your enterprise. Most mumpreneurs say they invested every spare moment into getting their businesses going in the early years. Be creative with your time: think about your business when you are cooking dinner or bathing the kids. Think about your day and work out how you can carve up your time. If your children are young, then start by working during nap time. As your children get older you will have more time to devote to your business, such as when they are at school.
"Starting a business is an exciting journey and one with lots of decisions to be made along the way. Investing some time in planning upfront, including what you need to do and what you need to put in place will pay dividends later on," advises Antonia. To find out more go to The Mumpreneur Guide.