This is unlikely to shock you, but when I had a baby, everything changed. My priorities, my sleeping habits and how I spent my time. The first few months were a haze of sitting in a chair, pacing the floor, the streets, and spending 89% of my time in a red dressing gown that should have been replaced three years earlier. Pre baby, I lived a life of spontaneity, I never planned too far ahead and enjoyed being flexible and open to opportunities. I worked for myself as an actor, coach, speaker and writer and always had more than enough work. Plus I seemed to have enough time to fiddle around with graphics, watch endless You Tube videos and potter around shops.
Now my baby pal is here and likes to spend his time poking his head in the washing machine and putting cucumber up his nose and exhaling, I have to be strategic and time efficient. While motherhood has brought out a new maze of ‘fine lines’, a distinct lack of core strength and an occasional inability to remember people’s names, on a more positive note I now have a lioness quality. When it comes to my work I’m just not that scared anymore. I am laser focused, I know what I want and I know what my version of success looks like.
When maternity leave is coming to an end, all the questions follow… Do I go back to work? Do I go part time? Should I be freelance? How shall I figure out childcare? These questions are then frequently followed by a quiet voice that says “Or shall I start my own business?”
As a coach, I help mums to do the same and create their version of this. Invariably, this involves providing support as she transitions into a new business. When maternity leave is coming to an end, all the questions follow… Do I go back to work? Do I go part time? Should I be freelance? How shall I figure out childcare? It can be all consuming. Frequently, it isn’t long before a quiet voice says “Or shall I start my own business?” This is promptly followed by a combination of, “But I have no idea how to do it and I’m not sure it will work” or “Is now really the right time to be starting a business, I don’t know if I have enough money, time, energy?” Or comments from family members when and ideas is suggest such as, “Don’t be so ridiculous, starting a business is very stressful” or “How will you do that with the kids, that sounds risky.”
Sometimes external noise can play havoc with an action plan and we don’t move forward. Instead we convince ourselves we should wait. Maybe until the kids go to school, or until the baby sleeps through the night. The list goes on, and in short, there really isn’t a perfect time. Instead you should start planning, exploring and brainstorming now, and here’s how…
Top 5 tips on starting a biz
1. Get clear on the idea… The more specific you can be in the beginning, the quicker you will be able to get the answers you need to take you to the next stage. Don’t worry about knowing every single answer, learn as you go. Brainstorming will be your best friend. Ask yourself the basics in the beginning. Who is your target audience? How will you make money? What do you want to want to achieve from the business? Why are you drawn to your idea? What help do you need? I don’t have endless excess hours so I have figured there is someone who has found the answer already. You could have queries around cash flow, renting retail space, figuring out what to charge- so finding someone who has experience or knowledge to break down the process will be very useful.
2. Start to schedule time… Parenthood can be all consuming and although I now feel like I could write a GSCE syllabus on multi tasking – I know I am more focused when I am child free and have a clear headspace and work area. Even if you start with an hour a week, you know it will be your time to work on your business and it is non negotiable. Family life will always ‘swing ball’ crazy challenges so planning ahead will accelerate your progress.
3. Get help… Tip number one covers the external help but what about in your life? What would make things easier for you? A cleaner? An online grocery shop? (Both are crucial for me) What could you delegate or politely say no to? What could you remove from your to do list? Exploring a new business idea will require time and energy but is completely possible, you just have to make time for it by perhaps nudging some stuff out the way.
4. Connect with others and get accountable… The mama world of Instagram is extremely friendly and supportive. I have learnt so much at networking events and by reading blogs featuring interviews with inspiring women. There are plenty of women who are looking to collaborate, reciprocate and share value, so reach out and ask smart, strategic questions, even if it feels scary. Getting an accountability partner can be hugely beneficial; it can simply be a ten minute Skype chat where you share what you are working on or a focus group that offers you a space to test your idea. Either way, a regular check in will help you to keep on track.
5. Set yourself mini goals… The launch of your business may be a year from now, but how can you optimise the time between now and then? Create a timeline for yourself that states miniature deadlines so you can tick off as you go. This will keep your momentum flowing and your work focused. Whenever you can, write your ideas down, rather than letting them linger in your head.
Finally, just keep moving forward and asking yourself open questions to get unstuck. Why am I procrastinating? What do I want to achieve? How can relieve the situation quickly? Who do I know who has the answer? I look forward to reading about you and your business in the near future.