Most new moms will tell you the thought of starting their own business crossed their mind at some point during maternity leave. It seems like an unattainable dream: working from home, doing something you love, AND spending more time with your family? Obviously there are many factors to consider, but it all starts with an idea and a whole lot of passion, as our own Carla Schneider can attest. But how does one take that great idea and turn it into a successful business? We’ve done a little research and found some key tips to put you on the path to mompreneurship. If this is a move you’re considering, read on…
Our Top 10 List for Future Mompreneurs:
Draw from your own experiences. In the case of Wubbanub, necessity is truly the mother of invention. When Carla’s son was a baby, his pacifier would always fall out of his mouth when he went to sleep. So, she sewed a favorite stuffed animal that he liked to cling to onto the pacifier. Problem solved. After being stopped countless times by fellow parents, she knew her invention (perhaps the world’s first parent hack?) was worth pursuing, and her entrepreneurial spirit took flight.
Also consider Melissa Kieling, the ingenious mother who created a $14 million dollar company by patenting her idea for a freezable lunch bag, the PackIt. She writes: “Look for inspiration everywhere. Make note of all the things that frustrate you in your daily life, then research creative ways to address those inefficiencies.”
Follow your passion. At the end of the day, there must be passion behind the concept. Owning your own business is one thing, but do you have an idea that you simply can’t stop thinking and dreaming of how to make a reality? What attainable goals will help you get there? Make a list and keep it somewhere easily visible to stay focused and determined.
Involve your family. When starting a business from the ground up, it’s important to have your family’s blessing from the get go. You’re going to need their advice and support along the way, and children deserve to know what’s up, especially if they’re asking for a snack while you’re taking a call with a potential new client. It takes a village to raise a child AND a business.
Lauren Thom, creator of Fleurty Girl in New Orleans, first began her business with just her tax return and a little help from the best and cheapest kind of labor available; her kids. “You have to make family a part of your business… I’ve always considered my kids to be my board of directors.”
Establish an online presence. Chances are, you’ll be marketing a product or service as a mompreneur, and you’ll need a visually appealing, clean-looking website to showcase your business. Hire a web developer, or if you’re computer savvy, do it yourself with a site like SquareSpace. Then, it’s time to get social! Create a Facebook page for your business, and continue the free marketing with social media channels like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and SnapChat. And while you’re online, research grants for women-owned businesses to see if one might be a fit for you.
Put yourself out there. Author and entrepreneur Christine Comaford-Lynch writes, “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.” Join a supportive networking group for mompreneurs. Ask questions. Get social on AND off-line. Stay in touch with your new, like-minded connections. They will inspire and motivate you in this new venture.
Baby steps. Simply put, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small and scalable to prevent blowing your budget and losing steam early. Take time to develop a business plan and track your progression.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Unfortunately, this is an all too common part of human nature, but it doesn’t mean we can’t resist feelings of envy. Stop selling yourself short. Give a shout out to your own accomplishments. In pursuing mompreneurship, or any goal, it’s important to take note (and celebrate!) every step of your progress along the way.
Don’t quit your day job (yet). If you feel like you can balance everything, which might mean a lot of late nights, don’t give up your job just yet. Use the extra income and any benefits advantageously to give yourself a healthy head start and help reduce the growing pains of the early days.
Do what you love, love what you do. If inventing the next great thing isn’t in the cards, then scale back your career to something you enjoy and spend the extra time with your family. For instance, if you love baking but just don’t have the capital to start one of your own, take a part-time job at a bakery. You never know who you may meet or if the owner will invite you in someday as a partner.
Don’t give up. Carol Cooper of Ready Set Go Now, a line of play therapy toys for special needs children, says, “Many times I’ve asked myself, Carol why do you keep going? And then I think about why I started in the first place. I recall the smiles on the children’s faces and the heartfelt thank yous from their parents and I pull myself together and press forward.”
Choosing the path of mompreneurship is a leap of faith, no question. It will be challenging and stressful, exciting yet tiring, and ultimately, rewarding. A strong support system of family and friends, and a whole lot of passion, will have you well on your way to making your own hours and contributing to your family’s financial well-being. We know you can do it. Best of luck in this new endeavor!