The Mother (or Daddy) of all inventions – how to be a great mumpreneur (or dadpreneur)
Firstly, if you’re a dadpreneur or a wannabe dadpreneur, that’s cool – I’ve just written this focusing on mumpreneurs, so swap the she for he and the mum for dad, and it’s all yours, well mostly. The reality is that the term mumpreneur really describes someone who has prime responsibility for their children and is running their own business.
You see, being an entrepreneur is being an entrepreneur and at the end of the day there’s no difference in the basic tools or rules. However there are frequently different motives as to why someone becomes a mumpreneur and different constraints en route to success.
Why does someone become a mumpreneur?
This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but perhaps covers most situations:
- You already had your own business pre-children, and now you’re combining running the business with responsibility for your children.
- Going back to your employment just doesn’t give you the flexibility you need, but money is tight so running your own business offers a solution.
- Much as you love your children, you crave the intellectual stimulation of work.
- You’ve have a great idea – often this is a gap in the market spotted as a result of your new circumstances.
- The idea of going back to a job working for someone else just doesn’t appeal.
- You’ve always wanted to run your own business and now’s the opportunity.
How to do it, step 1: Choose your business
Your new business needs to dovetail with your other commitments, but don’t let that limit you unnecessarily. If your commitments inhibit what you think you might be able to do, consider whether there might be another way of achieving your goals – finding a business partner, enlisting help, employing someone…
Carefully analyse your skills and experience. Consider whether you can turn your interests into a business. Look at what others do, and do it better or differently. Or fill a gap you’ve identified.
How to do it, step 2: Test at low cost/low risk
This, in my opinion, is an essential early step in any entrepreneurial business. It’s all about keeping the risk you’re taking to a sensible manageable level. Don’t plough tons of money into product development, or marketing, or premises or anything else until you know there’s a market out there of sufficient size that’s going to buy your product or service in sufficient quantity to justify the risk of such expense.
We’ve all seen on Dragons’ Den, the entrepreneurs that have ploughed their life savings, a remortgage on their house, their children’s inheritance, into an idea that has little chance of making any serious money. DON’T DO IT!
There’s nearly always a way of testing the market without incurring enormous expenditure, and if there isn’t, perhaps you should think very carefully about whether the risk you’re taking is worth it. Personally, I wouldn’t.
How to do it, step 3: Work out a business plan
I know people who hate the idea of creating a business plan, or think it’s a boring thing to do. If this is you, then I would suggest you rethink becoming a mumpreneur. Because it’s a critical step, and it doesn’t have to be highly complex or difficult to do. It creates clarity of thought process, it allows you (and others) to challenge your assumptions, as well as see how the essential money side of the business is likely to work.
Start by writing down what it is you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it. On the finances, focus on cashflow – what money is coming in and when, what money is going out and when. Normally this is done on a monthly basis, but if cash is going to be tight, you could do it on a weekly or even daily basis if necessary.
Take a reasonably pessimistic view on sales, recognise that if you’re giving credit terms, many/most customers will not pay within the required time period, and don’t underestimate your costs. Then ‘stress test’ your assumptions – what happens if sales are not what you think they will be, what happens if costs are higher, and so on.
Once you’ve completed your plan, it will provide the framework for what you’re doing in business, and the goals to be aiming for. Then keep it updated with what actually happens, and keep re-planning based on your newly acquired real-life experience.
How to do it, step 4: Build knowledge, expertise and support
Know everything there is to know? Unlikely! So talk to others who have skills and expertise that you can learn from and be guided by. This might be expertise in your particular sector or in business in general, but there’s normally plenty of it around. Build a network of business savvy friends, work contacts and mentors where you can also either delegate or outsource business tasks – you can’t always do everything alone, and doing so may be a false economy.
Take time to build a support infrastructure, whether it’s partners, other family members, friends and/or others – so you have options if a child is ill, or you need extra childcare, or don’t have time to do the weekly shop or cook the meals.
All through this process, what we’re trying to do is maximise the chances of success, and minimise risk. So do bear in mind that friends and family will tend to share your optimism and may not be as honestly critical of your plans as you really need!
How to do it, step 5: Ready to ‘go-for-it’
The most significant factor affecting the success or otherwise of your business will be you.
As a mumpreneur you have a finite time available for work, therefore you need to work smart. Very smart. Your planning and organising skills will be critical, your focus on what matters essential, and your discipline in the use of your time will be crucial.
Your effective use of ‘demi-downtime’ will help considerably with both having a break from work and time for ‘free-thinking’ in order to be creative and productive. So plan some demi-downtime into your daily schedule.
Work the network of people you know – friends, neighbours, other parents, ex-work colleagues – you might be surprised how many people you know, and some of these may become your customers or refer you to potential clients. It’s frequently a highly effective way to achieve some early sales.
Your interpersonal skills will be vital to maximising sales. Even if you’ve never sold before, you probably practice many of the necessary skills without knowing it, in your relationships with friends and acquaintances. Always remember that top sales people listen a lot more than they talk, and that people buy from people – which means they buy from people they like. And a key skill in getting someone to like you, is to like them.
Remember also that the web, social media and mobile technology are your new best friends. These technologies have opened up countless opportunities. Gone are the days where one needed huge capital to launch a business. A mumpreneur can now easily work from home, to her timescales, utilising mobile and cloud systems and create a successful online brand supported by credible social media usage. Indeed, some social media vehicles such as Pinterest and Etsy lean heavily towards supporting the home craft worker which includes many mumpreneurs.
How to do it, final step: ‘Go-for-it’
We should end with the words of that great mumpreneur Anita Roddick. A particularly inspirational piece of advice for all entrepreneurs, male, female, mums and dads was:
“If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just”.
Share this post:
Can work really be fun?
Can work really be fun?