Gillian Nissim, Founder of WorkingMums.co.uk, gives her advice to mums who are looking to start a business.
Starting a business is difficult enough, but add children into the equation and the challenge is multiplied. Here are a few tips from Gillian Nissim, Founder of WorkingMums.co.uk, herself a mumpreneur who started her own business.
Childcare is key when running a business
Launching a business is extremely tough if you don’t have clear, child-free time to devote to it. Fitting work into ‘nap times’ or while the children are watching cartoons on TV is not a realistic option. You need to get regular childcare – whether it’s friends and family helping out for a few set hours a week or more formalised arrangements with a nursery, childminder or nanny. Not only will this give you clear, quality time to spend on your business, it will also help you to separate work from family in a positive way.
Plan your time carefully
Planning in advance will ensure that you always know where you are and can fit everything in. That sounds very regimented but it also includes planning time for relaxing and having fun.
Starting your own business is a lifestyle choice. You can’t just switch it off while you go on holiday. Equally, it can give you a great deal of flexibility in terms of how and when you work. It may mean a few late nights every so often, but it also means more quality time with your children and the ability to be more flexible around their needs.
Write a business plan
It will enable you to get all of your ideas on paper in a logical format, so you can prioritise more effectively. In particular, a plan can help address areas of weakness and those that need further attention.
Do your research
Identify your target market and the need for the service you’re offering and check out any competition (and there will always be competition) – how can you offer a better, cheaper or more effective service or product? Will you be able to take a slice of that market? And, importantly, can you make money from what you are planning to do?
Working from home
Having a separate room that you can use as an office is invaluable (if not essential) and shouldn’t intrude on your day-to-day living. Technology has made it much easier and cost-effective to work from home. In my experience having broadband internet is essential. I also use a Voice Over Internet Phone (VOIP) for my business line, which is very cost effective.
Make the most of your contacts
From family and friends, to mums at school and former colleagues – I’ve really benefited from (and am very grateful for) the advice and hands-on help I’ve been given.
Get a business mentor
When I was planning the business, I made use of the internet and business support offered through organisations such as Business Link and The Prince’s Trust. Through these organisations I found an excellent, free mentoring programme that provides business advice from industry professionals. My mentor is great – he tells me all the things my husband does, but somehow I seem to listen to him more!
Starting a business can often take longer than you think. With children in the equation and a household to manage, unexpected illnesses and other priorities can often mean ordinary tasks are not finished as quickly as you’d like. If you can, take your time and get it right – it’s worth it.
www.workingmums.co.uk launched Gillian Nissim in April 2006. The service provides mothers with a growing database of flexible job opportunities and gives employers access to qualified candidates. Over 22,500 candidates and over 1500 employers are currently registered with the website.