21 May 2014

Tips for juggling a startup business and children

With more and more women starting their own business, we look at tips to help juggle starting up a business with motherhood.

According to the Office of National Statistics, there are now more than 1.2 million self-employed women either working full or part-time, and this number is rising at almost three times the rate of self-employed men. Added to this almost three quarters of ‘mumpreneurs’ started their business before their child was two, says Empowering Mumpreneurs, a support organisation for working mums.

So why are more mums deciding to create their own business?

Mums need more flexibility

While many of the reasons mothers start a business are the same as for other entrepreneurs, mumpreneurship also offers:

  • increased flexibility. Working for yourself promises more flexibility and a better lifestyle. You don’t have to rush to and from work, hoping you won’t get caught in traffic and be fined by your childcare provider for being late. While it doesn’t necessarily give you more time, you can allocate your time how you want, which is more important than ever when you have a family to care for.
  • reduced costs. Working for yourself rather than an employer can substantially reduce the costs of childcare as well as commuting to and from work. With childcare rates rising in recent years, it can seem like you’re working for almost nothing – particularly if you have more than one child.  
  • improvements to your self-esteem. Almost half of British mums think that having a family has hampered their career progression and many mothers who go back to work for their employer feel they have to work harder to prove their dedication to the job. If you’re the boss and work for yourself, you don’t have to feel like you’re letting anyone down for working part-time and can fit your business around your commitments, not the other way round. 

Tips on juggling both jobs

  1. Be passionate about your business. This applies to all start-ups, but is especially important for parents with young children. If you’re exhausted from not having enough sleep, you still need to be motivated enough to devote time to your business. If it’s not something you’re passionate about, chances are you’ll find excuses and your business will suffer. This is why many experts suggest you build your business around your interests and what you’re good at. Also, if you’re already good at it, you won’t need to spend extra time (that you probably don’t have) learning something new.
  2. Research and plan. Just as with any business, you need to know what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it. Write a business plan, make sure you register your business and take out appropriate insurance.
  3. Be realistic and consistent. Set out how much time you can devote to your business and make sure you stick to it. This will vary from person to person. Some lucky mums may be able to fit in work while their child is sleeping, but many find it only works if they devote specific days or half days to focus on their business. Figure out what will work for you and set a routine and then stick to it.
  4. Separate work and family life. You may find it easier to focus if you physically separate your work from your home life. Set up a home office or perhaps try coworking, which is a flexible option that also reduces the potential isolation of working from home. Read more about how to maximise your home office space here and about our coworking service here.
  5. Start slowly. Take it slowly and build your business up. If you’re stressed, you won’t enjoy the extra time you have with your child/children as much. It’s easy to underestimate how much time and effort it will take to make your business successful, so don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by setting unrealistic goals.
  6. Use time-saving technology. There are literally thousands of apps out there to help you remember thing, save time and money, so make the most of them to help your day along. 
  7. Get help if you need it. Even if you are an expert in your field, you may not be as skilled in everything that owning a business entails. Consider outsourcing tasks to save you time and money in the long-run. For example, a virtual office package may help you to maintain a professional image for your business or enlisting help to market your services or products could help your business to grow much quicker than if you did it yourself.