For Mom Entrepreneurs, From Mom Entrepreneurs: Tips on Starting Your Own Business
What you do is hard. Juggling kids, spouses, work and home (while still attempting to maintain some sense of self) is a delicate and difficult act, and more than a few times, some of those balls will get dropped. As a mother, you’re used to picking them up and getting them back in the air — with grace, determination and care. For this reason and many others, mothers have the necessary skills that translate effectively into the realm of entrepreneurship. And like raising children, it isn’t easy, but the results are so rewarding.
So, consider this our letter to you, for moms, from moms. We’ve asked some leading women entrepreneurs to share their best tips on the dos and don’ts of starting a business while navigating the joys and the hardships of motherhood. Because who says you can’t have it all?
Momtrepreneur Do: Just Do It
Our fears and insecurities aren’t good for much except holding us back and making us doubt our ability. This is the first thing to overcome when asking yourself if you should really take on the responsibility of starting a business while managing a family. The best way to get past this? Give yourself permission to take that first step, and begin planning your dream career as an entrepreneur.
Priska Diaz, founder and CEO of Bittylab, says it’s important to stay focused at this stage, but also, have fun with your big idea: “Set clear, elaborate goals. This is where you get to daydream, and don’t be shy about shooting for the stars.” Diaz says the hard work of research and learning will come later, but at this stage, it’s vital to let your imagination soar.
Momtrepreneur Don’t: Let Your Personal and Business Time Overlap
It’s easier said than done, but creating a clear delineation between time spent with family and time spent on your business will benefit you in the end. Maintaining a work/life balance is crucial, but when you try to do everything at once, you can’t give your all to any one thing.
Allison Baggerty, founder of Inspired Budget, says it’s important to draw a line in the sand. “By setting clear boundaries, you’ll be able to tackle your business to-do list guilt-free. When I first started my business, I didn’t have a clear or set schedule for when I would be working on Inspired Budget. As a full-time teacher and mom, my hours were limited. Instead of setting clear working hours, my business bled into my everyday life. I could not separate the two and that caused everyone in my family (myself included!) to become frustrated. Have a schedule for when you’ll work on your business and stick to it!”
Momtrepreneur Do: Spend Smart
You have to spend money to make money, but it’s important to make sure you’re spending it on the right things. You can start a business on a budget, but where you choose to spend your money is just as important as how much you spend.
Dr. Kerry Boyle, owner of Integrative Acupuncture, says it’s wise to make the right money moves now, so you won’t rack up even more costs down the road. “Invest in professional help. It’s worth it to spend money on lawyers, accountants, professional graphic designers, etc. When you’re successful, you’ll have to redo stuff that you skimped on, so invest in doing it right the first time.”
Momtrepreneur Don’t: Overspend or Depend on the Business to Support You
You don’t have to have loads of extra cash lying around to start a successful business. While it’s important to invest in your business, as noted above, it’s also imperative that you don’t create a financial burden that negatively impacts the whole family. Equally important is understanding that you won’t likely be able to make enough to quit your day job in the first year.
Kathryne Valentine, founder of Worthmore Negotiations, says it’s best to avoid throwing all your cash into your new business up front. “Good ideas rarely need five figures of funding. Start off with a few hundred dollars and challenge yourself to make money from that, then reinvest that money to grow the business. Depending on the type of business, know that it may be 2–12 months before you are generating enough cash to take a salary. Plan accordingly.”
Momtrepreneur Do: Make It a Family Affair
The best part of owning a business as a mother is setting an example for your children. When they see your determination, hard work and perseverance, they will be more likely to develop those qualities and use them in their own lives. The best way to do this? Get them involved in your business from the start.
Dr. Boyle says no matter what age they are when you begin, there are plenty of ways they can learn real, useful skills, so someday they can grow up to be “just like mommy.” “Involve the kids in your business as much as possible. My kids have been worn on my back while infants in the office, played in the back office as toddlers and now count inventory, dust shelves and vacuum the office as elementary school-age kids. I’m proud to be a working mom with my own business and love to teach the kids about it. I look forward to them answering phones and solving tech issues in their teen years, and who knows — maybe one of them will take over one day.”
Momtrepreneur Don’t: Be Afraid to Ask the Hard Questions
Owning a business, like having children, is full of unexpected challenges. While it’s important to dream big and believe in yourself, you also need a healthy dose of reality to be prepared for the hard times. While you’re planning out your big business idea, take the time to do research and soul searching, and make sure you have an answer for all the tough questions.
Danielle Tate, founder and CEO of MissNowMrs, says that just as all moms think their children are beautiful, it’s easy to put on blinders when it comes to your business. To avoid this, you need insight from people you can trust. “Ask if your baby is ugly. Once you have a business idea, go against your desire to protect it. Ask everyone what is wrong with your product/service. Ask what they would do differently. Ask why they would not buy it. Ask what competitors they know of. This information is gold and will help you design a profitable business instead of a startup money pit.”
Just as you experienced when you were expecting your little ones, this time is full of thrills and excitement, but the hard work is waiting just around the corner. Still, as a woman and a mom, know that you are equipped with the skills you need to start a successful, thriving business. And when you’re ready, our Complete Guide to Starting a Business will help you get there.