When you are up at 3am with a crying baby, thinking about running a business seems impossible but it might just be the perfect time to start. Children have a great way of bringing the important things in life into perspective – the time you have with them is precious and you don’t want to miss that for a job that you don’t love. With all that free time (looking after a baby is just sitting around all day, right?), now is the perfect time to find your passion and turn that into your career.
Just do it!
The hardest part is that first step in making the decision to start your business. There are a million reasons that you will be able to list to not do this but do yourself a favour – throw out your pro and con list. You will be hard-pressed to find a woman who regrets her decision to turn her passion into a full-time business.
Now is the perfect time. You are not relying on your income while you are on maternity leave so there is no pressure to for your business to rake in the money from day one. Yyour brain will appreciate the opportunity to be used for something other than calculating how much formula needs to go in a bottle. And you will have plenty of time to research and plan on your phone while you’re feeding/rocking/settling your baby.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Use every second you have in between feeds, nappy changes and midnight cuddles. If you don’t even think about your business for two weeks, don’t be disheartened, start working on it again in those 20 minutes between when you carefully place baby in bed to when the crying starts again. Research how similar businesses have set themselves up, stalk their websites, Facebook, Instagram, look at how they market themselves and who they are collaborating with.
Write a business plan. It might feel like you’re back in school but get a template for a business plan online and work through it so you have an idea about what your expenses will be. Don’t spend too much on unnecessary expenses to start with – overheads like an office, a receptionist, a book keeper are ones that you can do without and manage yourself for your first year. As long as you have a computer and a phone, you can do everything from home.
Make connections – the right ones
Running a successful business will not be your creation alone. It will be the accumulation of your hard work and the help that other people provide you that will help build your career. It is important to collaborate with people that will not only help with your business, but that you respect and connect with on a personal level. Ingenuine relationships will fall apart and won’t add any value to your business.
There are many, many, many business groups out there promoting themselves as the ‘best way to connect and bring in business’. Don’t sign up for every group and don’t sign up for the first group that you find. Take your time in finding the groups that connect with you. Reach out to people that inspire you – ask to take them out for a coffee. Find people to collaborate with, partially to help your business, but also to make connections with people so you can support each other.
Adjust your expectations
Starting a business is hard work. Don’t be fooled by the posts on social media that ‘I made six figures in my first year!’ or ‘I started my business and the customers came flooding in!’. Most businesses don’t make a profit for their first two years so expect to break-even, or maybe lose a little, for the first year or two. Your clients are not going to turn up on your door-step, you will need to put time and effort into building up your brand and drawing in your customers.
Set yourself small goals at the start that don’t rely on things you can’t control, like trying to make X amount of money in your first month. In your first two weeks, aim to connect with someone over coffee that can offer you some advice. In your first month, aim to have published a blog post on a relevant website. It is important to set goals, but it is also important that they are achievable.
Embrace the mum-guilt
Here’s the hardest part – the mum-guilt. There will be times that you are typing away on your laptop to look down and realise that your baby was smiling at you, but you were too distracted to notice. There will be times when you see other mothers posting about their wonderful day bonding with their children over finger paint and macaroni necklaces, but your children were in day-care all day and they come home throwing tantrums and refusing to eat their dinner. There is no cure for the mum-guilt. You just need to embrace that it is part of being a working mother. It’s okay to have a passion other than your children and it’s okay to take time for yourself every now and then.
And there are positives. The time that you do spend with your children will be that much more precious. Your children will become resilient, they will spend valuable time at day-care learning and socialising. And they will be raised to respect, and expect, that women can be great mothers and have a great career at the same time.
About the author
Nicole Jevtovic is a family lawyer and mum to three under three. She started Clarity Family Law Solutions in the early morning hours of feeding and in between naps with the hope of taking the stress out of the separation process for those going through a difficult time. And she is still dealing with embracing the mum-guilt of splitting her time between her two passions – her work and her children.