Working and running a family

Do you have children and want to use your skills and earn an income? Here are some tips for business mums.

Here are some tips for business mums from SmallBusiness.co.uk and Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk.

It’s not uncommon for “mumpreneurs” to start and run businesses from home.For many of us, the catalyst to start our own business has come from having children and wanting (and needing) to use our skills, earn an income but at the same time maximise the flexibility we have to manage work and family life. Working from home can seem like the perfect solution.

For example, it can significantly reduce the logistical complexities and stress of getting to and from nursery, school and the office on time and it can enable us to better manage work and family life – and find more cost effective childcare solutions. In addition, for start-ups and young businesses, being home-based helps to reduce the costs and overheads renting office space can bring.

Advances in technology, including broadband, skype and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), are making it easier than ever to run a business from home – and to employ home-based workers.

If it works well, it can bring huge benefits such as increased motivation, reduced travel costs and reduced sickness leave. But working from home doesn’t suit all types of people (or all types of business) and there are definite issues to consider to ensure working from home is right for you. If you’re thinking of running your business from home, here are some points to consider:

  1. Childcare is key. Homeworking is difficult with children around, even if they sleep for long stretches, or are good at amusing themselves – don’t kid yourself into thinking you can get a business off the ground by working in nap times or while they’re doing jigsaws. Working from home can certainly help you be more flexible with the childcare you have but you need to make sure you structure your childcare arrangements clearly. You need to get regular childcare – whether it’s friends and family helping out for a few hours a week or more formalised arrangements with a nursery, childminder or nanny to ensure you have clear quality time to spend on your business. It will also help you to separate work from family in a positive way.
  2. Do you work well on your own? Some people find they need the stimulus of other people around them and feel isolated and demotivated on their own. Working from home needs a great amount of self-discipline and you also may need some tactics to help ease the isolation of being home-based. For example try to ensure you get regular face to face meetings with clients and suppliers (particularly if you’ve got no employees in the early days), networking events are good for this and getting together socially (and by instant messenger) with fellow home-workers can be motivating too.
  3. Do you have the right technology in place to help you do the job? Finding a good and reliable broadband internet provider (one who also provides good IT support) is essential, and if you’re working from home, having a reliable source of IT support will pay dividends too. You may be covered by the deal you have on your computer for computer-related problems. There are also a host of internet-based sites which help with IT support such as homeworking.com – and remember to back up your files regularly.
  4. Think about where and how you’re going to work. Working from home can make it harder to separate work from family life. Having a separate space to work in – ideally a separate room – is invaluable.
  5. Get organised. Working from home, running your own business and your family – means being really organised and planning things in advance. There are always time when things go off kilter – whether for family or business reasons – but if you have planned and you’ll find it easier to get back on track.
  6. Get help. There are lots of great sites offering information on setting up a business from home – not forgetting of course smallbusiness.co.uk itself!

See also: A mumpreneur’s account of flexible working and its benefits – Nicola Bird, founder of JigsawBox.com, explains how she juggles her business and being a mum

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