5 Tips for Starting Your Own Business From Moms Who've Done It

5 Tips for Starting Your Own Business From Moms Who've Done It

Heed these wise words from experienced mamas before venturing out on your own.

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

In many ways, starting a new business is similar to being a mom. It’s hard work – often harder than a corporate job – and can suck the life out of you in return for an uncertain future. At the same time, it can be immensely rewarding and offer moms the flexibility and creative outlet they need.

Here, successful moms who started independent ventures offer tips for moms just starting out with their own businesses, or considering a transition to self-employment.

1. Write down your idea and what you want to accomplish. So you have an idea for a service or a product. That’s great! But why do you want to turn this into an independent, profitable venture instead of just going back to your job?

Putting your goals in writing can help you see clearly, says Meghan Khaitan, who founded MyBuckleMate, which makes belts easy for kids to fasten. Khaitan was lured by the challenge of launching a product, in addition to potential profits. The more she got to thinking about her new idea, the more she realized that it could help many people – not just parents of young kids. “I designed MyBuckleMate to make it easy for anyone to buckle up in the backseat with one hand,” she says. “Whether you're a child or a senior, or if you live with limited mobility, motor planning difficulties or arthritis, buckling up is important, because it saves lives.”

2. Ask yourself: What am I willing to do? You may want to work for yourself because you love the idea of choosing your own hours and having a flexible schedule. But going into business for yourself -- and actually generating new business -- could require more than just sitting at home by a computer. So if, for example, you want to start a line of baked gluten-free goods, would you be OK with selling brownies at a local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings to generate some buzz? Grainne Kelly, creator of the BubbleBum inflatable car booster, suggests asking yourself the following:

Do I have the stamina for something that’s going to be 1,000 times harder than I thought?”

“Do I have the financial backup?” (As it is unlikely that you will make money for at least the first year or two.)

“Who can I find to mentor me?”

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3. Consider working for a firm. If going at it solo seems a bit daunting, there is also the option of getting started with your new business as an independent agent or contractor. That’s what Michele Presley did when she decided to trade in a corporate PR firm job for a new career as a matchmaker. Starting as a matchmaker is easier … if you begin as a contractor for a larger firm, like the one I worked for, that will train you and then support you through successful building of your practice,” she says. “That way, you don't have to worry about marketing, finding new clients, billing issues, or any of the other usual headaches that come with running your own business.” However, it’s still important do your homework before you start, by thoroughly researching your market and competitors, and creating a business plan to anticipate challenges and opportunities, she adds.

4. Be prepared for new-business challenges. Starting your own business is a very rewarding experience, but not without unexpected turns, says Khaitan. And nothing about it is easy -- whether you’re trying to secure clients, fulfill orders, get paid on time, or deal with dissatisfied customers. The best way to handle this is to try to remind yourself of your primary purpose.

“Even when I did not know what my next step was supposed to be, I always knew that my goal was to provide all infants with the opportunity to flourish, and that’s what has been my biggest motivation,” says Hindi Zeidman, founder of the Ollie Swaddle. “So, my advice would be to always remember your underlying goal or passion ... This may mean writing it down and hanging it somewhere you can see it on a daily basis, which is what I do.”

5. Set boundaries. Starting a new venture is so time-consuming that you may feel frustrated. “Early on, self-discipline was the biggest challenge for me, carving out separate mommy vs. work time and trying to stick with that,” says Presley. “Working at home makes this especially tough, because you might be deep into a project when you're suddenly needed as mom in spite of your ‘schedule.’”

The best way to keep your house in order and family happy is to be clear about boundaries from the start (such as not checking email during dinnertime or working on Sundays). With that in mind, know that you may have to occasionally make exceptions.

What intrigues you about starting your own business?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/pixdeluxe

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