How to Start a Business as a Mom
Congratulations! I’m so excited you’re interested in how to start a business as a mom.
If we were having coffee, and you confessed your desire to start your own business, I would grin. I would tell you you’re in the right place. I truly believe starting your own business is one of the greatest paths of self development you can take. Business hold a sacred container of growth and introspection that challenges, rewards and fuels us like no other. Helping amazing women like you step into business and start one as a mom is one of my greatest joys.
Because you are a mom, I know this means you’re serious about this. You’re already busy raising and growing great kids, so if you are even thinking of stepping your foot into the business arena, it means there’s change that you see in the world that is needed. And if that change is just within your family, that you need a flexible work life that works for you so you can be present for your kids, amen, sister.
Designing a business that works with your ideal life is what I’ve been striving after in my own life for the last 8 years. And what I want to tell you about it is this – you can’t get this wrong. The trick is to design a business that can grow with you, one that is based on your unique talents and abilities, can bring in the bacon so you can feed your family, give you tasks you are lit up to do, and bring customers you love to serve right to your door.
I know you are passionate and ready to dive in, but there’s a few areas that you should take into consideration in this transition before you get started. What you need to consider when starting a business as a mom is three key things – your current employment situation, your financial situation, and your mindset.
Your current employment situation
One of the first things to consider when starting a business as a mom is your current employment situation. Whether you’re employed as the stay at home mom (which is totally a job, btw), or you’re working for another company, launching into your own business will change the course of what you’re willing to and available to do within these jobs. So let’s explore both of these and the options you have.
Employed as a Stay at Home Mom
If you’re currently MOM and in charge of the children in your nest, I want to remind you this is a job in itself. It is a job! This job is one of the greatest we will ever take on, and if you are maxed out just doing that, there’s no shame in that. This is our most important job and while it might not be a paying one, it’s crucial.
Make sure before take on any more on your plate – like a new business or job – that you have enough capacity to do so. (If you need help building capacity and thriving in motherhood, I’ve got a 10 day course on that called Wild Motherhood!)
Building a business alongside raising great kids is going to take significant mental capacity, time blocking like a boss, being open to learning and child care. Make sure you can create at least 8 hours in your week to take this on. If you can’t even find time for take care of yourself, work on building this self care and regular periods of creation before you launch into business.
Employed Outside Your Home
If you are currently employed outside of your home, there are a few options you should consider. I know the Internet will “rah rah” tell you to quit cold turkey from your job. However, if you’re playing the long-term game, the job that you already do may provide you with stability while you build your business. This isn’t anything to scoff at.
If you’re already employed and happy in your job, there’s a few different ways you could transition. You could side hustle and try the business you’ve got in mind while you still continue in your full-time career. You could also consider asking your employer if you could work part-time instead of full-time while you establish your business.
I think it’s a good time to also look at the other perks that you get from your job. Like group health benefits, vacation, use of vehicles. If you’re stepping off the curb from it, consider all of what will need to be replaced – not just your salary.
“I Quit” in a blaze of glory already.
Listen, I respect that you followed what felt right for you, and I hope you’ve got your runway covered. If not, it’s time for a two-pronged approach.
One – Crunch the math on what is possible on what income – expenses is coming in. This may mean cutting back on some of your variable expenses, eating what’s in your cupboard or saying no to social engagements. Your job is to minimize expenses as much as possible. Things that have worked for me: couponing, growing my own food, staying home, library books.
Two – your second job is to find some ways RIGHT NOW to make cash flow into your family’s budget if there is a deficit. This might mean doing this that you don’t LOVE to do, but this is what will allow you to keep going in the meantime. Reach out to colleagues, friends, and family on what paying tasks they might have for a person like you. Take a one-day a week job, deliver newspapers, just get creative and bring in a little income. Things that have worked for me: being dayhome for 1 extra kid, doing tech tasks for clients, doing joint one-off projects with fellow solopreneurs, teaching workshops, shooting photography.
Your financial situation
The second thing to consider when starting a business as a mom is finances.
I’m not even going to lie, I ignored everything financial when I started my business. I leapt off the curb from my full-time job without any savings, runway or safety net. I left my job on a Friday, and on the following Monday morning, I sat down with my first clients and got started (I had 2 lined up). With retrospect, I really regret this choice. It meant that I didn’t give myself any time to build my own business, get clear on how I wanted my schedule to go, what clients I love to serve, and the work!
So I struggled with a schedule that wouldn’t quit, clients that didn’t quite fit and were demanding, not knowing my salary came from profit not revenue, as well as learning all the mistakes that I made without any security. I made so many bad decisions because I needed the revenue, and I needed it yesterday. My intuition said no, but my brain said yes, you’ve got to feed your family. Let’s just say my intuition wasn’t wrong.
So please… don’t make my mistakes. In learning how to do it right that I have put together since then, here how I do it now and:
Figure out what is enough
If you don’t already know, figure out what is the base amount that needs to flow into your household so that you can continue to live your life comfortably. Take into account any revenue sources – your partners’ income, baby bonuses, and your expenses – within reason. If you are already not meeting your targets comfortably and can’t put any money into savings, do the side hustle thing. If you can put some money into savings, start to do so. There are two types of savings you need to be doing – runway savings and business fund savings.
Build yourself a runway
Businesses aren’t built overnight, they take time to grow, just like any good plant. Build yourself a runaway of 3-6 months of household budget so you can take the time to really dig in without the pressure of having to earn revenue right off the bat. This allows you to make decisions about your business from a place of peace – not panic. It’s the greatest gift you could give yourself.
Build yourself a business fund
The overhead for having a business can be really low if you know what tools to use. (I certainly have my favourites!) However, there is going to be cost to start a professional website (even if it’s just buying a template), hire a little help or invest in a beautiful planner to keep you organized. Build yourself a business fund so you can invest in your learning, templates, and support off the bat.
Open a business bank account + check your borrowing needs
One of the things I learned (and was shocked by) is that banks don’t always love us entrepreneurs. We’re risky because our income comes from us and it can be unpredictable. If you want a safety net to your runaway, or have other big plans that will require borrowing, before you quit your on paper job, consider applying to this. Open this discussion with your partner about any borrowing you may to do in the forseeable future.
Also, the first thing you’re going to need for your business is a shiny new business bank account and business credit card, so open that in your name. (Don’t worry about a company name yet, you can always change it later).
Educate yourself on the nitty gritty of financials
I highly recommend getting educated on business finances before you hop into business. My fellow Canadians over at the New School of Finance have this Sole Prop School that will set you up for success. We have to do this work so that we can clearly understand our finances before we step into business. This is an area that many of us aren’t on top of, and it can compromise your effectiveness to sell your services at optimal pricing, stay informed about your overhead + expenses, and make sure you’re profitable before giving yourself a salary.
Your key mindsets
The third thing to consider when starting a business as a mom is key mindsets you need to have.
The reason I’m still in business is simple – I’m just too small to fail. I’m focused and I need a lot less profitability than the average company to succeed. I work from my living room, and the occasional coffee shop, so I don’t pay rent. My overhead is low – I only pay for the digital tools that I really need. But more than that, personally, I have 4 key traits that keep me going even when the going gets tough. I learned them at the feet of the master entrepreneur himself, my dad.
The 4 key traits as an entrepreneur you should adapt are mastery, resilience, creativity and adaptability.
We don’t start businesses based on skills we want to have. We base our businesses on skills we already have, experience we’ve already gain, and the knowledge that is already within us. I find a lot of entrepreneurs wants to throw out their entire history. Yet, the reason why we are sought after is that we are masters of our craft. This is important! We have a lot of other skills to master in business like sales, marketing, project management, and make our clients happy, don’t give yourself two learning curves. Teach what you know, base your business around what you already have practiced and refined. You already are an expert.
Gosh, there are so many times I could have given up. There’s months where my canning shelf full of the canned goods from our garden, coupled with meat from our neighbour and whatever else we could scrounge up is what was for dinner. As entrepreneurs, we have to accept reality. There will be ebbs and flows within our business and the cash flow of that business. We have to be resilient and smart so we can weather these.
I have never created anything that was truly great unless I was under constraints. I was usually rocking the reality that my runaway had ended (or would do so shortly). These constraints are where creativity and ingenuity really start to thrive. Creativity encourages us to think outside the box and do it our way. We must look at challenges with various perspectives to gain insight into innovative ways we could solve the problem.
The best people I see with this as my neighbours who are farmers. Farmers use what they’ve got. When the pasture fence breaks, then they fix it what what they have to just keep the animals in. There’s no concern about whether it looks good – the only one thing matters – function. We learn how to launch, offer + learn quickly with the “good enough” version and then we iterate from there. Take the key pieces, launch them and see what you learn. Then do it again. And again. And again. Use what you’ve got, and give yourself rewards for finishing fast (cake!).