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As a stay at home mum to a chaotic but terrific toddler, starting my own business always seemed WAY too difficult – so I kept putting it off. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard work, but the truth is, it CAN be done. So many amazing parents use the extra time at home to start a business and it thrives… because we’re parents. We have eyes in the back of our hand and are excellent multitaskers – both of which are handy skills when starting a business as a stay at home mum!
My rainbow rice business is definitely still in the very early days – I’ve broken even and am now in a profit making situation, but it’s most certainly not paying the mortgage any time soon. So, alongside my very own tips for starting a business as a stay at home mum, I’ve asked some of the most hard working mums I know to spill all about their business, too!
Beth, the digital marketing specialist behind Yellow Sunday Digital, and mum of one, stresses the importance of time:
“My top piece of advice is to be realistic with your time, and don’t forget to make some time for yourself.
One thing I’ve found at the start of running a business and having a toddler was I rushed to get everything done the whole time he was napping, and I never took a moment to breathe.
I burned out pretty quickly, so I’ve learned that you have to set goals that are manageable and not overwhelming, and make sure you save some time in the day (even 15 mins!) to just sit for a bit!”
Amy, founder of The Cotton Shop, home of beautiful handmade organic cotton baby toys, is keen to remind start ups that success doesn’t happen overnight, and originality is key:
“Be patient, but also be original. It’s very easy to start a business, but standing out and being original is what will make your business successful. I think it’s this urgency we have in our culture nowadays: 1000 followers doesn’t happen overnight. Good things take time. You need to GROW a business and figure it out as you go. There is no manual.”
Let’s face it: sustainability sells. The current generation of hard workers and big spenders are tech savvy, ethically conscious and environmentally driven. In a world fuelled by the demand for what we want at the click of a button, it’s sometimes difficult as a customer to remember the many factors behind receiving our goods that have an impact on the environment.
As a mother and an avid online shopper, making better decisions to save the earth and the oceans is constantly on the back of my mind – whilst I have a long way to go, and a lot to learn, it is an important value I hope to pass down to my son, so it is something I must practice daily.
It is important for your business to reflect your own personal values, and from a business perspective, being eco-conscious is key. For me, being eco conscious means choosing fully recyclable and re-usuable packaging: my rainbow sensory rice orders are packed in a resealable envelope for ongoing storage of the rice, and then sent packaged in postal boxes which are fully recyclable. I also order my materials in bulk, to avoid unnecessary deliveries.
If you’re unsure where to start with being eco-friendly, packaging is always a winner – and a very easy swap. Check out to Lil Packaging, who aim to make all of their products sustainable, recyclable and reasonably priced,
“My top tip for starting a business with a young child is to have “work” days” or a routine that suits you. I struggled for so long trying to work around my son until I said okay I’m not working when I have him. I may do some bits whilst he naps but I mainly only work when he’s in childcare or when my partner is home. Its definitely made me feel more in control & less frustrated.”
If you sell a physical handmade product, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you have quite a few orders come in at once, or over a short period of time. To avoid being in a state where I am constantly needing to produce individual orders of rainbow rice, I bulk make popular colours, so I have a small stock of these available and ready to go. For any bespoke orders, or if I’m a bit low on ready made stock, I ensure to overestimate my turnaround time. I would personally prefer to tell people it would be a 2-4 week turnaround and it arrives in 1 week, than tell them 1 week and it arrives late. As a stay at home mum starting a business, this allows me plenty of movement on timings for family time or emergency parenting situations!
Amy, a Virtual Assistant and Digital Project Manager, reminds us of an important yet often overlooked factor that is key to starting a business as a stay at home mum: ourselves!
“Do your research but also trust in your own abilities. If its a skill you can do for an employer then it’s a skill you can offer self employed as your own boss. Your unique selling point is yourself, yes there may be plenty of others doing the same thing but there isn’t another you! There is no one doing things how you do them, and someone will pay for that service.”
This is another tip for those who sell physical products – put extra effort in on the packaging! People are much more likely to pick up their phone and create organic content, for example by sharing on social media, if they are ‘wowed’ by the unboxing experience. Have a professional logo created (my branding was created by the talented April at Yellow Sunday Digital!) and include some kind of thank you note. Have a business card? Pop that in. Include a discount code for repeat orders, or in return for a photo on social media. What extras could you use in the unboxing experience to make it truly special – could you include a small free item, or gift wrap the item? You’re looking for quick wins here – as a stay at home mum starting a business you might not have a marketing budget to stretch to social media promotion, but by going over and above on the packaging, you are encouraging more organic promotion.
These wise words from Amy, blogger turned co founder of larder. – a catering service providing mouth watering grazing boxes, really hit home for me.
“I think we spend far too long wondering whether we can, if we are able, would it be a risk worth taking. You’ll never know the answers unless you just go for it. Just like anything in life, you’ll face challenges! You just have to remember why you are doing it. I went from spending every day all day with Rupert, to then devoting all my time to the new business as it got going so very quickly. Rupert didn’t like it at first, it was such a big change for all of us and he definitely went off me for a few weeks! That was probably the toughest part, but I just had to keep thinking how important the change was for all of us and what kind of example I was setting for him. Just think – when you’ve built what you set out to build, you’ll have more in the way of self confidence, resources and time to spend with the ones you love. It’s worth it.”