10 Tips for the Budding Mumpreneur
There are almost 1.2 million ‘mumpreneurs’ in the UK and their numbers are rising fast, research reveals. In the last two years, the number of self-employed women increased by 10 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It is a great way to take control over your working hours and spend more time with your children while still being able to contribute to the household income. If you are a mum and want to run your own business, here are the top 10 tips:
1. Work out your priorities
Is your main objective to earn a higher income or are you just trying to find a way to spend more time with your children? List what factors are important to you and what you expect in return from running a business.
2. Think about your hours
Be realistic about how many hours you can devote to a business. Remember that young children are unlikely to understand “mummy’s working” so factor in child care costs and write down which hours are possible. Whether it’s 12-2pm each day during nap time, 7-9pm in the evenings or 6-8am before the children get up (if you’re lucky enough to have kids that sleep in that late) or a combination of different time slots.
3. Research the marketplace
This is a key requirement for all new businesses. Will people want to buy your product or service? Is it unique? Is your pricing competitive yet reasonable? This is where maternity leave can be a great space to safely test the water and put out the feelers for your new business. You can slowly begin building a client base during maternity leave to see if your writing services were pitched correctly.
4. Write a business plan
This doesn’t have to be a 10,000 word thesis but you need to set out your aims and objectives - and the steps to achieve them. Pop into a local Business Link centre or Enterprise Agency for some advice - some offer free start-up courses and they’re a great source of information.
5. Don’t forget to market your business
Many new business owners forget one vital factor when setting up - you need to tell people about what it is you do. Sit down and work out advertising, marketing and PR strategies - this can be thoroughly researched online but it is also a good idea to attend key events to further promote your business. Maintain this by setting aside some time every day to focus on marketing. Work out what will work for your specific business - it’s critical to success.
6. Get online
Every business needs an online presence. Design a good website, start a Twitter account in your business name, blog, blog on other sites, start a Facebook page. You don’t need to be a technical wizard to get a website up and running - there are plenty or third party providers such as Weebly and Squarespace where you can easily build a website and get your virtual presence out there.
7. Get registered
This is where things can get a little tricky. You have three months to let HMRC know you have set up as a sole trader (in other words, become self-employed), otherwise you could be fined. But it could make more financial sense to form a company. This is where I’d recommend getting some advice from a specialist accountant - the best financial set up for you and your business can feel like a legislative minefield - these people are the experts and will save you a lot of time and stress. Which leads me onto my next point…
8. Keep good financial records
If you start your own business, whether as a sole trader or a registered company, you will need to keep financial records to complete your tax return. The HMRC website is a good source of information but it was at this point I held up my hands and called in the accountants. I went with specialist freelance accountancy firm Nixon Williams - they dealt with everything from setting up my business, offering me advice on the best way to operate and a dedicated personal accountant who I can bug with all my endless questions for a fixed monthly fee. No nasty fines, extra costs or surprises from the HMRC - which has taken away one of the most stressful elements of setting up my business and, for fellow busy Mums, it’s something I’d heartily recommend.
9. Make the most of every client
It is easier to sell to existing clients than attract new ones so make sure you entice them to keep coming back for more. This is just as applicable for services as it is for products - good communication is key and make sure you sort out any complaints quickly. Is the customer always right? Yes.
10. Get help
Before setting up, assess your skill set and work out what skills you may be lacking. You’re a busy Mum and you’re setting up a business - outsource as much as possible to keep your sanity in check and allow you to focus on what you do best - your business. I’ve already mentioned the advantages of signing up a good accountant but you may need to enlist experts to help with online marketing and sales efforts, designing a website or maintaining your blogs.
Once your business is up and running, remember to keep focus on your ideal work/life balance. Running a business can easily take over everything so make sure you put your work away, spend time with your family and set time aside to relax. After all, isn’t that one of the main motivations for every mumpreneur?
Rachel Smith is a technical writer for Nixon Williams Specialist Contractor Accountants
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