You have a dream of starting your own business, but, what if you want to start a business but you’re a mother? Can you still do it?
YES! Yes, you can!
According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, there are 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generating trillions of dollars worth of sales. Of those millions of women-owned businesses, 1 in 3 are estimated to be owned by MOMS, according to a WorkingMother.com article. And a Small Business Trends article states that 72% of startups that run from home are women-owned.
These are pretty awesome numbers! You mothers out there, you are not to be underestimated. So, what does it take to start a business as a stay at home mom? It takes the following six things:
- Family involvement
- Dedicated space
- And, it Takes Hard Work
Planning is so important in business! Don’t skip this step. 78% of small businesses fail because they don’t have a well-developed business plan (source: Preferred CFO) It’s so critical to have a business plan! Why? Because a business plan is like a roadmap for your business. With the correct components, it’ll show you where you are and where you’re going. With proper and realistic information, it can be used for so much more than just asking for a loan, investment, or lease.
Here is a quick list of some of the components from a business plan:
- Industry and market analysis shows you the state of your industry and your market
- Describes your mission, vision, goals, keys to success, and strategy
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Competitor analysis
A business plan is crucial for you to better understand your business, your business environment, and most importantly, to show how you will be a sustainable business. So where do you begin with your business plan? You need to begin with the research. There is a lot of research involved when writing a business plan. The main things you’ll want to research are your industry, your market (including target market), and your competitors. No matter what the business is, you need to know how the industry is doing, who your clients are, and who your competitors are.
All of this information can be found online, however, you may have to pay to access some of the more reliable industry and market information.
Your competitor research can be done for free. The way you want to go about doing it is by checking out their website, social media presence, service/product offerings and prices, who their customers are, and what their customers are saying about them. From that information, you can create a strengths and weaknesses list. Some weaknesses may be that they don’t have a well-defined customer base, their website isn’t user-responsive, they have no social media presence, etc. On the other hand, a strength might be their robust social media presence.
Once you have this information you can come up with a competitive advantage. How are you better than they are? What will you be doing differently? Will you be servicing an area of the market they are neglecting?
Next, you need to figure out who your customers are and create a customer profile. The best way to do this is by answering the following questions:
- Who is your typical customer?
- How old are they, what’s their age range?
- Where do they hang out?
- How can you reach them?
- What’s their income level? Do they have the disposable income to pay for your product or service?
This information is so crucial to have! Don’t go into your business blind. Instead, know your industry, your market, competitors, and customers.
You need to be organized because you’re going to be juggling your kids, meals, cleaning, play time, etc., and on top of all that, your business. Starting a business isn’t easy and it’s even harder when you factor in the responsibilities of a mother. So, you need to organize your time.
It also means that you might be working while your kids are sleeping. This can be done in different ways, but what I found worked for me was putting my kids to bed at 7:30 pm. After they were asleep I would work, sometimes until 1:30 in the morning, and then I would wake up at 5 am before my kids woke up. I would also work when my kids were playing. I would organize client calls when my husband, mom, or sister was around to help me watch my kids.
I had to organize my children’s schedule and my schedule around theirs. I would organize meals, play dates, etc. And by so doing I was able to spend time with my kids and work.
3. Family Involvement
Having family support is important for your stress and sanity levels. Like I mentioned, my family and husband were and still are very supportive. They would help me when I had client meetings or when I had a lot of work — not to mention those times when my kids would get sick. My mom (and my husband for that matter) would be able to take care of feeding them for example or making sure they slept.
So, sit down and talk to your family. Tell them about your business, what it is you want to do, why you’re doing it, how they can help, and get started! You can even show them your plan so they see you’re serious about this.
Budgeting can be difficult, especially if you’re like me and you like to spend money rather than save it. But you have to budget. Sometimes that means making some sacrifices and actually spending the time to find out how much things will cost. Don’t just guess.
A somewhat simple way to write out your expenses is by putting them into two categories, non-recurring and recurring expenses. Non-recurring expenses are those expenses that you either have to pay once or once a year. These are things such as your business name, licenses, permits, domain names, vehicle, phone, internet, utility, scanner/copier, smartphone, laptop, marketing campaign launch, etc. Some of these you pay once a year, but they are considered non-recurring because of the amount of time between paying for it again.
Then there are the recurring expenses. If you’re starting a home business, consider that you can take tax deductions for your home office, so keep clear records of your spending. Some recurring expenses for small home businesses are:
- Utilities (electricity, gas, water)
- General supplies
- Vehicle expenses
- Repairs and maintenance
- Accountant fees
- Legal fees
- Membership and affiliation fees
- Bank fees and charges
- Website/website hosting
- Social media marketing
- Miscellaneous (for any extra expenses that might come up)
Maybe you’re asking, rent, utilities, how is that going to factor in? Well, you can actually calculate how much of the utilities you’re using for business within the square feet of your home. If you meet the IRS qualifications, you can deduct the space you use for your home-based business. Just remember to consult your accountant.
By having all of these expenses written out, you can see where your money is going, and when it comes time to do your taxes, it won’t be as difficult.
5. Dedicated Space
You need a dedicated space to work. Personally, I had my desk and workspace in the corner of the playroom. I had my desk set up and all my things in that space so while my children were playing, I could get some work done.
But to be honest, I mainly worked at night after my kids were in bed. I would put them down for bed at 7-7:30 pm, so I would get a good 4 hours to focus and work. Sometimes I’d work till 1 in the morning depending on the workload.
Just remember, this dedicated workspace is for you. Don’t use the dining table or the TV folding table in your living room. Section out space for you to go and work. This will also help your mental game. By having this space, you’ll get the sense of “going to the office” and treat it as such. When you wake up in the morning, get dressed, go to your office and work.
6. It Takes Hard Work
Starting a business takes a lot of hard work! Add to that all of your other responsibilities and hard work is an understatement. But not impossible.
I just showed you how mom-owned businesses are growing. You can succeed; you can start your own business as a mother, and you can be successful at it! Just remember why you’re doing this. Personally, I’m doing this for my kids, for my husband, for my family back in Cuba, and for myself. And I do it because I love business.
I just told you how I had to work while my kids were asleep or when my husband would come home after work, etc. Just know that after a while you can work more reasonable hours, once you start making money, you can hire someone to help you or outsource certain operations. Or when your kids start going to school, you can work while they’re out. It does get easier, for a mother, but it still takes hard work — it just adapts.
Your dream is possible!
It is possible to live your dream, start your business, and choose the future you want to live. But it’s going to take planning, budgeting, family, dedication, and hard work.
If you want to start a business but aren’t sure where to start, consider these three industries: finance, insurance, and real estate. According to Small Business Trends, these three have the highest success rate. If none of these three industries interests you, you can try:
- Freelance writing
- Graphic design
- Web consulting
- Turning your hobby into a business (i.e. crafts, sewing, buying vintage clothes and selling them, etc.)
- Social media marketing
If you already have a business idea but need financing and want to get a small business loan, I would suggest going to a smaller bank. They work one-on-one with you to help you get approved.
And don’t forget, you can do this! Just remember why you’re doing it.
Why are you thinking about starting a business? Have you found a problem you would like to solve or an underserved market? Comment below.
About the Author
Kasia Olivares is a business plan writer. She provides her services through her website, Practical Business Planning.