As a mom, your schedule tends to center around your kids more often than not. From school drop-offs and pickups to ballet recitals and lacrosse practices to checking homework and cooking dinner, it can feel as though you’ve lost some of your own interests and aspirations in the hectic shuffle of being a parent. And while you wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything, there’s a spark of ambition inside you that’s begging to be let out. Mom entrepreneurs or “mompreneurs” juggle the pursuit of their career goals without sacrificing time with their families; the flexible work hours enable moms to still be available for their kids while the freedom of being their own boss creates a sense of identity outside the label of “everyone else’s caretaker.”
So, aspiring mom entrepreneurs, if you have an idea that has the potential to become a full-fledged business venture, follow these pointers for turning what often seems like a pipe dream into reality:
Clarify your time and financial commitments
When you enter the initial planning stage of your business, it’s crucial to first determine your priorities. Begin with the question, “How much time and money am I able to invest in this undertaking?”
Review your household finances and compare them to your estimated startup expenses. Figure out where you can reduce costs if needed, and be realistic about what you can afford to spend on this endeavor. Be firm about how much revenue the business needs to generate and create an actionable strategy for reaching that goal.
Now move on to addressing the time factor of this equation. If your mornings are devoted to errands, and your afternoons are spent chauffeuring the kids around, there might only be a few hours in the evening to spare for your business. After the kids’ bedtime, you might feel tempted to pour a glass of wine and turn on Netflix, but starting a business requires energy, discipline and motivation. Even if you work for a brief window of time in the evenings or early in the mornings, clearing dedicated time in your routine communicates, “This matters, and I’m doing it for myself.”
Look for networking potential all around you
Even supermoms like you need a support network to offer guidance, encouragement and practical assistance. You might not have enough time in your schedule to attend a networking function, but that’s where virtual networking comes in to play: you may find it’s a lot easier to log on to a Zoom session from home. Additionally, you can build on the connections that already surround you. Casual encounters and ordinary conversations with the people in your existing circles might lead to some helpful feedback or much-needed expertise.
Reach out to that creative friend who’s always sharing her DIY projects on social media and treat her to virtual coffee in exchange for the opportunity to pick her brain. The neighbor who’s been running a small business out of her garage for years? Ask if she’ll mentor you on the basics if you’re unsure how to get started.
You can also involve your significant other in the process — even if he or she just entertains the kids for a couple of hours, so you can work uninterrupted. Or, you could take it a step further and seek out professionals or fellow mom entrepreneurs who can fill the gaps in parts of business you might be less familiar with (think accounting, IT, etc.).
Identify if there’s a niche for your business idea
As a mother, you have unique insight on what products or services can make another parent’s life easier, so capitalize on that firsthand knowledge. Do you wish there was a meal delivery subscription for all-natural baby food? It’s possible that other moms have the same thought. Would you do just about anything for a device that soothes a fussy toddler on airplanes? Chances are, you’re not alone. Alternatively, you can draw from your prior work experience. My work as a sonographer helped me identify a niche in the market that ultimately led to the success of my own startup company.
Before moving forward with or dismissing your brainstormed ideas, conduct some research to determine if the product or service doesn’t already exist, then engage with people in your network to find out whether it’s something they would purchase. This can help narrow down your target market and ideal customer. If the research generates enough potential interest to sustain your business idea, then you might just discover it’s an idea worth pursuing.
Test out small markets before trying to expand
When you’re ambitious and enthusiastic about starting your own business, the impulse can be to leap headfirst and strive for the high-profile opportunities. While it’s true that risk can produce reward, you still need to create a realistic pace for yourself. Test a prototype on friends and relatives, experiment with local artisan fairs and trade shows, promote the business on social media, or use an inexpensive platform like Etsy.
Building your foundation on a small, manageable scale is a chance to hone your craft, fine tune the business model and gain visibility with customers. Once you have brand awareness in the local sector, this gives you a more reliable springboard to gradually take on those large-scale markets. If you attempt a shortcut, finding success isn’t out of the question, but you’re more prone to burnout, as working moms are 28% more likely to experience burnout than fathers. This will leave you feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and uninspired to continue pushing forward in your endeavor.
Stop waiting for the “perfect moment” to launch
Perhaps your inner dialogue sounds something like this: “I’ll start a business when all the kids are in school,” or “I’ll give it a shot when they reach a more self-sufficient age.” This is a common thought process among aspiring mom entrepreneurs who are often naturally wired to put dreams on hold for their children. But, if you expect all the moving parts in your life to organize and align themselves perfectly, the “right” time to launch a business will never come.
Accept that balancing motherhood with entrepreneurship is messy, chaotic and difficult.
You learn from mistakes and missteps, but this doesn’t brand you a failure. Perfectionistic tendencies can hinder you from growing, expanding and developing as an entrepreneur. Give yourself the permission to be unqualified and don’t be afraid take the first step. After all, your idea could be the opportunity of a lifetime.