Have you considered starting your own business from home, but wondered how to fit it in with everything that comes withbeing a parent? Susan Payton is using all her skills and experiences (as a celebrity PA, as well as an events co-ordinator and managing her own buy-to-let property portfolio, alongside being a parent) to help other parents who want to work from home and be their own boss.
She has founded website The business of mums, which offers support and inspiration to other business-minded mums. Susan knows better than anyone that although taking action when starting a business is critical, it is not enough on its own and that self belief, wellbeing, support and inspiration are all essential ingredients for success.
1. CREATE A BLUEPRINT – "Before embarking on a new business venture, get really clear on what you want. What type of business would suit you and your lifestyle? How do you want it to fit in with your family commitments? Also think about your core values – what is really important to you? And why do you want to start a business? Take time out to really think about what you want, early on. Build a solid foundation, create a strong vision with clear values and use it as your blueprint."
2. BUILD A TEAM - "That doesn’t have to mean hiring lots of people, but think about your support network and the people that you need on board to help you be the very best version of you! Whether it’s a coach or mentor, another business owner to ask advice from, a mum to share childcare, a personal trainer, people that inspire, encourage and motivate you or even teaming up with another business-minded mum to swap skills and exchange ideas with, build a team around you so that you feel supported and energised."
3. RECOGNISE YOUR STRENGTHS & SKILLS - "As well as any specific skills or training you have from previous careers, don’t underestimate the impressive set of skills you will have acquired as a mum running a busy household – time management, budgeting, organising events, juggling diary commitments, admin & paperwork, as well as communication and negotiating skills! Think about all the experience and strengths you already have and how you can bring these to your new business."
4. HAVE A ROUTINE - "Structure and routine is essential if you are running a business as a busy mum. It also helps to focus the mind. When the kids are at school, stick to a routine as you would for a day in the office. Ensure a productive day by setting work times and taking breaks. Also dressing for work can encourage you to get into the right mind-set for a successful day. When the kids are off school, set a routine that works for everyone. Having clear boundaries between work time and family time, allows you to be more productive and focused."
5. FIND A NICHE – "Identify exactly who your customers are and what their particular problems are. This is a critical step in your start-up process and needs careful thought. No business can be all things to all people and a well-defined niche market can see your business stand out from the crowd and allow you to resonate with your target market. The more specific and focused you are, the more you will understand your customer and their needs."
6. DO YOUR MARKET RESEARCH – "Nearly half of businesses that fail, do so because of lack of demand! Before you invest any money into your new business, make sure there is a market for your product or service. So much research can be done online these days. But also talk to the people who are going to be your typical target market, set up a focus group if you can, and listen to feedback."
7. FUNDING – "The good news is that, if you need to raise finance to get your business off the ground, there are more ways than ever to do so – including start up loans, government grants and crowdfunding. Check out startuploans.co.uk – a government backed initiative to provide affordable finance, free mentoring and support for start ups. To find out what government grants are available, try using the business finance support finder, too."
8. MARKET YOUR BUSINESS – "No-one is going to buy a product or use a service they don’t know exists! There are lots of free or low cost ways to market your new business, so decide on a plan that includes a range of different ways, including word of mouth, testimonials (preferably video), social media, newsletters, blogs, networking at business events and trade fairs, public speaking, PR/editorial in local press and radio, free samples/demos and partnering up with other businesses for promotions."
9. DESIGNING A WEBSITE – "There are over 130 million websites in the UK alone, so if you want your business to succeed and grow, you need to be part of the action. As a start-up you might want to use one of the free or low cost website building platforms like Wordpress, Squarespace or Shopify. If designing your own website, give careful consideration to colours, layout and good quality images that show your products and business in the best possible light."
10. DON’T FORGET YOUR CUSTOMERS – "Don’t make the mistake of spending so much time on finding new customers that you forget about the ones you’ve already got. Always think about how you can retain your customers, keep them engaged, remind them you are there and offer incentives to use you again. Refer a friend campaigns can also be very successful."
For more great tips on starting a business and to connect with and swap skills with other like-minded parents, visit www.thebusinessofmums.com