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How to start your own business without sacrificing your family or your life savings

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I am often asked for my opinion on the recent trend of the ‘mumpreneur’, and whether or not I am offended by the term. As far as I’m concerned, being labelled a mumpreneur is something to be proud of, and not something to shy away from. Whilst taking the leap into the unknown can be scary, for me, starting out on my own has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, having a positive impact on my personal life as well as my professional one.

However, starting your own business can sometimes be lonely and it isn’t always plain sailing, which is why I am so excited to be joining Plusnet Pioneers, a new initiative between Plusnet and startups.co.uk, offering a series of events, advice and mentoring to help small businesses grow.  Having expert knowledge and support can make a massive difference and I hope this initiative will inspire some of the business owners of the future.

Don’t get me wrong, starting your own business is one hell of a ride ,but there can be bumps in the road.  However, here are a few things I wish I had known myself BEFORE I decided to start my own business……

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Never be afraid to ask for advice – whether that’s from your friends, family or former colleagues.  The worst anyone can do is say no, but the chances are the person will have fresh ideas, a new perspective and knowledge which you can then use to help your business. According to a new study, 85% of small business owners often feel they are ‘winging it’ when trying to compete in competitive markets. To avoid this, build relationships with as many people as possible who have trodden a similar path to yours and learn from them.  There are also plenty of free resources available for anyone looking to get more information on starting a business.

Put yourself first

I know so many intelligent women who have turned their back on their former careers because of a lack of flexibility from their employers.  Many women feel that companies do not do enough encourage mums to remain in the workplace and many have been forced to choose between their careers and their family. Whilst starting your own business won’t necessarily work for everyone, it has allowed me to structure my time in a way that best suits me. Being my own boss has allowed me to take control of my diary, allowing me to work around my schedule and that of my husband and four children. I certainly would not have been able to travel the world with my family this year without the flexibility that being a mumpreneur has afforded me.

Finding the right work-life balance:

One of the hardest aspects facing a new mumpreneur is finding the right work-life balance. Working for yourself means that you have the luxury to determine the balance that best suits you, but it’s important to establish your priorities first. Have a pie chart and work out what percentage you want to spend on work, family and fun (I sometimes forget the exercise portion!) and adjust it awhen you need to.  It is a great way to make sure you spend enough time working on business opportunities, without missing out on the precious time with my kids.

It’s also important to clearly separate your time. When I play with my children, they are my absolute sole focus, and when I am working, I am working. Trying to do work and be mum simultaneously never works for me – you will only ever end up doing both poorly.

Go at your own pace:

Thankfully over the past decade, the traditional suit-wearing stereotype of a successful business owner has been busted, with the UK in particular proving to be an amazing place for a large array of new and quirky startups.  A number of successful businesses have started life in a home kitchen or garage, with the need for further funding only necessary once the initial concept has outgrown its surroundings. By starting small there is no immediate pressure to deliver results. You can grow the business in your own time, and – most importantly – you are never financially risking the roof over your head.

You don’t need to spend your life savings funding your business:

The first question to ask yourself honestly is do you really need funding?  Is there a way of just getting going with a minimum viable product to test the market?  Once you KNOW you have something that people want and you’ve proven it then It’s SO much easier to raise money.  If you believe in the strength of your business idea, there are plenty of ways to find funding for it without sacrificing your own savings.  Admittedly, the amount of funding options out there can be confusing and two thirds of small businesses believe that ‘new’ sources of finance are not accessible.  However it is actually much easier than you might think, and the fact that there are so many optiosn should be seen as a good thing rather than something to be frightened of. 

For example, crowdfunding is now massively accessibly and is a great way for some businesses to raise money.  Platforms like Kickstarter not only provide investment, but also give you a pool of funders who believe in your business and want you to succeed!

I am absolutely passionate about getting more people into business and as part of my involvement in the Plusnet Pioneers campaign, I will be taking part in a free panel discussion on funding at their Birmingham event on Wednesday the 8th of March, tickets for which can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/plusnet-pioneers-presents-funding-masterclass-for-small-businesses-tickets-31225994791

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