Don't worry, you're not crazy!
As a busy mum with two kids, (a four year old and a two year old plus a husband!) it is quite a balancing act to launch a new business in the midst of one of life's busiest seasons. I did it and you can too! You're not crazy. Well maybe just a little bit... and that's why I like you!!
So how did I get started?
Over the last 4-5 years I have been working on my hand made, hand screen printed homeware products just as a hobby. My little kids were quickly growing up, and even in the midst of the chaos of parenting, I knew it was right for me to start a business. So late last year I started an online store and began selling products through https://krystolbrailey.com, retailers and in the next few weeks I'll even be at local markets too! Along with these online and retail sales during these last few months lots of family and friends have been ordering my products too. A big 'thank you' to everyone who is on the journey with me - I love you and wouldn't be here without you!
It is exciting to have a growing business and while I don't have the perfect business, I have made remarkable progress over the last 6 months since I started to seriously prepare to launch a company. Here's how I've found a way to make it work...
1) Get inspired
Tip one: First of all, you must have a dream. Each person has different dreams and visions and it's essential that you can see a future with your business thriving and multiplying. Also, it is vital that you understand why your business matters - it's been so important to understand the heart of my business which is creating beautiful environments by bringing nature's beauty indoors so that quality family moments can occur. Your vision of the 'what' and the 'why' will inspire both you and others!
Action points: Start a Pinterest 'Inspiration board' of pictures of your dream products, your target audience and your ideal workspace. You should review this vision board once a month to keep your heart visually engaged with what your mind is probably thinking about late into most nights. The vision board helps you know what you are doing in your business, where it will ideally take place and why you are doing it. Vision gives you clarity on your end result, your next steps and the immediate motivation to move ahead!
I found it really powerful to write an inspiring vision statement that describes, defines and directs the creation of your business.
2) Get organised
Tip two: There is so much I could say about getting organised. I love this topic! The main point that I want to emphasise here is that you need to organise a work space, and set aside work time. It is really important to manage both your calendar (digital and/or paper versions) and business space, (whether that is studio at home, or your dining room table, or an office). As a mum and entrepreneur you need to maximise your efficiency at the daily tasks like meal prep or laundry through the clever use of systems. The key benefit of increasing your efficiency at daily tasks through systems is so that you've got more time for the kids, and for your partner, and not less, all while keeping the business moving forwards!
Action point: Batching is a great practice I use where I bundle together tasks so that I am most efficient with my time. For example, you can make meals in bulk at least once a week to save food prep. A great spaghetti can be made for 8 instead of four with minimal extra effort! Little time savings of 10-15 minutes here and there really add up during a week. It may seem little, but big doors swing on little hinges!
3) Get a team
Tip three: Build a team that will support you and value your baby, I mean your business. Your business is however, just like a child. It will need a village to help it reach it's full potential. Your business team should include people who can help you leverage your strengths and uphold you in areas of your weakness so that your business will grow, develop and thrive. Each business might need a slightly different team but key roles in your business team might include:
- Web Designers
- Brand consultants
- Marketing consultants
- Legal advisors
- Insurance advisors
- Business mentors
Not all of your business team members will be paid at first, and where you can get quality advice from your network. I would strongly recommend not skimping on paying for good advice or quality work. When I design my website my husband had a 'first go' and website design, however we both are so glad that we got the professionals in to set up our store using Shopify as our e-commerce solution - Thanks again Cadence Media!!
Also, this business team includes your partner/husband too! Go on your business journey with your partner and take the time to explain the current step, your financial hopes (and fears) and how they might even be involved.
Action point: List your business contacts from your existing network. Identify any gaps in your team. Ask your existing contacts who they would recommend and make some calls, do some online searching and see who you can get to your team. There are amazing networks that exist among mothers in the business community. Just ask around for what you need and you'll be surprised and how many recommendations you'll get from your existing network.
4) Celebrate your progress
Tip four: I wrote a blog recently celebrating my first three months of running an online store. I totally believe in the power of celebrating progress! For example, I can clearly remember walking to buy more postage bags in my first week of the business and an order came in that I saw on my phone that was 3-4x larger than any other order. I was excited to say the least! My husband and I were dancing as we walked along to the Post Office that day with the sheer joy of the moment!
Action point: Stopping every week to think of one thing to celebrate is a great habit that keeps you focused on the progress you are making, despite ever growing to-do lists. Celebrating doesn't have to cost lots of money, but the intentional, thoughtful celebration of milestones is very worthwhile, particularly during your first few weeks and months!
5) Look after yourself
Tip five: Launching a business as a young mum, is slightly daunting, and can be very overwhelming at times, so I want to encourage you to stop and focus on taking care of yourself during the journey of being an entrepreneur.
Running a business can be fun and inspiring, but gosh it is a LOT of hard work too. On the hard days, keep working hard, but rest well too as you can. A key part of resting is to actually stop 'doing business stuff' in all the gaps life has and just be with your family. Go for a walk together, visit a playground, stop in at your favourite cafe or restaurant and just be together. I regularly plan activities that allow me just to be 'mum' for my little ones. Even if it is just a half hour visit to 'home park' (my kids favourite park at the moment), my kids absolutely love it and then we can head home together as a stronger unit and keep powering on with business work without any guilt hanging over my head. But enough about the kids... Honestly, I love that moment when they are asleep in bed at night and I can have some dark chocolate and a cup of tea - that's my happy place!!
Action point: Designate regular time to just be mum and not feel constantly stuck in 'multitasking mode'. This will benefit your motherhood and your business as you give specific and attentive focus to each important area at the appropriate time. Basically, buy yourself chocolate!
6) Know your season
Tip six: I get that there is 'a season for everything' and the key thing about being a busy mum and business owner is that 'everything' can feel like it is screaming for your attention. A key thing I've found is to know how to prioritise activities based on their importance so that you can silence those screaming 'to do lists'.
As a small business owner you must know your next steps of action, your 90-day season plan (each season has 90 days in it). Sure things will always come up, whether its a good sales opportunity that you weren't expecting or a crisis customer service issue you need to deal with, but whatever happens, know your season so that you can prioritise the right activities for that season.
It is vital that you, as the leader of your business, can clearly identify what season you are in so that you can manage all the screaming voices that come at you. The voices might be good ideas, whose time hasn't quite come yet, so write them down in a list so they won't be forgotten, but they can be ignored for now.
Business do have different seasons, and so does parenthood and marriage. Understanding which season your business, children and relationship with your partner is in will be crucial in determining what makes it into your next 90 day-plan.
Action point: Write out a 90-day plan for your current season. The 90-day plan should have 2-3 key initiatives to develop and implement. Make stuff happen that is right for this moment. You can do this for your business, your children's stage of development, and for the growth of your relationships.
Seasons don't last forever. What do you need to do to 'get in flow' with this season? How can you make the most out of the current circumstances you are in?
7) Be emotional
Tip seven: Yes, that's right, be emotional! My final tip for being a successful entrepreneur and mum is to express your feelings quickly. You will definitely have tough days and it is okay to be sad or angry because running a new business while juggling marriage, clients, kids etc. IS hard. Being emotional is helpful, being trapped in an emotional state is not helpful. Don't chain yourself up by getting looped in one emotional state. Emotional freedom allows you to take each day with its high and lows (and lots of the boring stuff in between) and respond emotionally in an appropriate way. It is good to celebrate when things go well, and it is okay to cry if you feel bullied by a supplier, or get angry if your products get damaged or lost.
Action point: A great skill to learn so that you are resilient in business (and in life) is to feel and express each sad or frustrating emotion and them impress a new thought on your mind so that your emotions will follow that new thought. For example, you might feel angry at the way a supplier tried to push you around in a phone call, however when you have had a deep exhale, a clench of the fists and a walk up the hallway and back, then think about that upcoming holiday you have planned. As you mentally 'camp' your thoughts on your next adventure away, your thoughts will bring an uplifting mood. Let those good feelings wash over you and keep going forwards in your daily business tasks after that. Don't get emotionally trapped just because you had a hard moment. Be emotionally expressive not just trapped in one emotion.
Well done for making it this far - it's my longest blog so far. If you are serious about launching a business during your motherhood years, you are not crazy, but in very good company! There's a growing community of passionate, inspired and busy mums who are making it work.
Personally, I am finding there is growing satisfaction in life that I am now experiencing by adding in a creative expression of my design talents into what was already a challenging life stage. This creative initiative has challenged and stretched me. I have cried, laughed and been delighted when my dream has become a reality. I couldn't recommend running your own 'mumpreneur' business more highly, however, that does not mean it is easy. You'll need great people around you and you'll need to look after yourself.
As always though, I can encourage you that you are not alone and that together, as busy mums we are strong and courageous. We WILL find a way to grow our businesses together. Let's be brave and bold! I can see you succeeding in life, motherhood and in business!