It seems ideal to have a business of your own (where you can work online) as your young children play at your feet. But is that the reality of Mumpreneurship? Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work gives a detailed breakdown on the fundamentals needed to get a Mumpreneur business going.
Motivation – All business owners start a venture because they are motivated by an idea, a desire to succeed, or the drive to earn more money. But in the case of most Mumpreneurs, there is the added motivation of wanting to ‘have time for my kids’. It is not unusual to find Mumpreneurs who schedule their work time around the children’s schedules. That explains why many of them are up earlier than others (or sleep later) as they work on their business during the children’s sleeping hours. This motivation is important, as it helps remind the mother why she started the business in the first place.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Marketers talk about this all the time: the point of difference that can make your business stand out in a crowd. For Mumpreneurs who run small businesses, having a USP is even more essential as they try to fight competition against the ‘big boys’. Competing via price alone can only be an effective strategy for some time. As a Mumpreneur business, the USP could be the factor that determines whether your business succeeds or not.
Money – Before embarking on your business venture, make sure you have money set aside for a rainy day. Unless your business is merely a hobby, you are likely to want a business that generates income. The earlier stages of starting up will require monetary investment. Even an online store will incur basic set-up costs. Besides the start-up capital, the decision to start a business is going to put a temporary dent on the family income arrangement. It is advisable to put aside an amount of approximately 6 months of your last-drawn income (if you were previously working) for family-related emergencies. Realistically, your business will need at least half a year or more before it starts generating a healthy income stream.
Prioritisation – Unlike an entrepreneur who wants to rule the world, a Mumpreneur may turn down business opportunities that have a negative impact on her other life priorities. Many Mumpreneurs will share that their journey consists of ‘constantly shifting priorities by being aware of the important people (big and little) in your life who need you.’ Your business, though important, is sometimes not the top priority, unlike a regular entrepreneur. As your priorities in life shift, the amount of time and effort your spend on your business is likely to be affected as well.
Responsibility – Most (though not all) Mumpreneur businesses start as a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Whatever the management model, one thing is certain – manpower is limited in the earlier stages of setting up. As a new business owner, you find yourself responsible for all errands, big or small. If you cannot afford to hire someone initially, you may be the only person who can reply to customers’ emails and other business matters. Running a Mumpreneur business requires a great deal of commitment. You (and sometimes only you) are responsible for the success and failure of the business.
Enthusiasm – Being a Mumpreneur means being your own cheerleader. That big, enthusiastic smile you see in the mirror will be the best lifesaver during the more challenging times of business management. When things get rough (as they often do in the business cycle), you really need to have belief in yourself and your business in order to keep going. Besides, customers tend to gravitate towards a business manned by an owner who believes in his own products or services. The more enthusiastic you are, the easier it will be to reach out to potential customers.
Networking – A business network is obviously a must for any entrepreneur. The saying “It’s about who you know” has some truth to it. Having a strong professional network allows you to tap on expertise that may save time and money. However, as a Mumpreneur, do not underestimate the importance of a social network. Finding like-minded mothers or female entrepreneurs can often act as a support system to bounce off ideas, share frustrations or even collaborate. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for networking opportunities. You never know where it might lead you.
Education – As a small business owner, you will quickly realise the extensive amount of learning you need to do. Whether it is because of a lack of funds or a personal choice to have more control, you will find yourself picking up new skills. Not every area of your business can be outsourced. In many situations, you will also discover that having some basic knowledge (for example, website design) of various aspects is advantageous. Have a mindset of being ready to learn, unlearn and relearn. The business world is constantly evolving and those that can adapt quickly enough will find it easier to survive and thrive. Sign up for courses, read up and ask experts for advice. Keep learning.
Understanding – Many successful Mumpreneurs credit a supportive spouse and family for their success. The truth is, every woman’s time and energy is limited. Add on the duties of motherhood and suddenly, you are overwhelmed. Before even embarking on the entrepreneur journey, have a discussion with your partner/husband. There will be times when you need his support – physically, emotionally, psychologically and even, financially. Some businesses, including online ones, run 24/7. Emergencies may arise and the support of your family and their understanding can really help to minimise your stress.
Revamp – The beauty of running a business is the ever-changing environment –new competitors, new consumer behaviors, new product lines, and new markets. At various points in your entrepreneur journey, you are going to see a need to revamp or make adjustments. Even your role as wife, mother, and daughter will revamp from time to time.
Ultimately, not every mother who chooses to start a Mumpreneur business will succeed. But a mother who decides to take on the challenge, is bound to learn new skills, experience unique opportunities, overcome unprecedented obstacles and become better for it. Best of all, many Mumpreneurs talk about having control. You dictate your schedule, you dictate how you allocate your priorities and you choose the path you want to go down.
Mums@Work is organising the country’s very first Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Award. It will recognise up to 6 inspiring women who have successfully started a small business and continue to be amazing mothers. Nomination for the award starts now and ends on 2 August (nomination is free). This award is for the ordinary woman, doing extraordinary things! To find out more, visit: www.singaporemumpreneur.com
About The Author: It is no secret that Sher-li wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. Besides climbing Mt Fuji and publishing a book, she thinks her biggest achievements are giving birth to two kids who keep her busy with their energetic pursuits (which include ruling their mummy’s world).