Five tips for starting a business with a baby
When Jane Maudsley was six months’ pregnant, her partner had an affair and left her. She was devastated, and to make matters worse, as a self-employed singing teacher she wasn’t entitled to any maternity leave.
But Jane didn’t let that defeat her. She reluctantly returned to work when her daughter was just days old, and when she was three months, Jane started a business with a friend. Five years on, her performing arts organisation Little Voices is a tremendous success, and Jane’s hard work and dedication has more than paid off.
Five tips for starting a business with a baby
We know that starting a business can seem daunting, especially when you need to fit it around the demands of your family. But if a single mum do it, anyone can!
And to help you follow in Jane’s successful footsteps, she shares with us her top five tips for starting a business with a baby – the decisions and strategies that have worked for her.
1) Get your mantra
To keep you on track find or write a saying that resonates with you, and read it every day without fail. Treat it as a business mantra and keep it in front of your desk, almost like a vision board.
The saying ‘If you can dream it you can achieve it’ is absolutely true, and the one that I used to get through every trauma that was sent to me.
And there were a few! When I was six months pregnant, my husband left me and to say that my heart was shattered is a pretty good description of how I felt. I was a self employed singing teacher in many schools across the North West, and as no maternity pay was going to come my way I had to keep the wolf from the door and the roof over our heads.
This meant working up until the day before I was induced (I was 14 days late) and going back to work days after my beautiful daughter was born. The loneliness, devastation and journey I went on following his affair and the birth of our child was immense.
When my daughter was three months old I developed the idea of my business around a coffee table with a friend, and we set up Little Voices a month later – and throughout all of this my mantra helped keep me focused and on track.
2) Learn to delegate sooner rather than later
You don’t have to (and probably can’t effectively) do everything – this is true in your business, your home and your family life. There are others that will do it better than you and this will relieve your time.
Time is one thing that we all have the same amount of – it is how we spend it that varies so vastly from one person to the other.
So it’s really important that you recognise what you can outsource and delegate from the beginning. Get a cleaner, ironer, gardener and bookkeeper as a must. Realise which role is important for you to be doing – and that’s usually marketing and running your business.
Please remember this piece of advice and absolutely try and do something every day that gets a new customer into your business, or nurtures business out of a current customer. If that is the only thing that you do in the day that is good enough – and you can only focus on this when you learn to let go of the tasks that anyone can do.
3) Guard your free time
It’s easy to feel like you always need to be ‘on’ when you start a new business. But constantly checking your phone and responding to calls and emails will destroy your family life and your time with your baby.
So ensure that you schedule a time to make all of your calls according to your agenda, not when someone else has decided to ring you. If you need to, get a separate work mobile, or make a point of turning your phone off when you’re not actively working.
One solution that’s worked for me is to use a virtual phone number, and have an automatic response to emails that lets people know I will respond to them within a set time period.
Your baby needs to come first; your time with them is so precious and goes far too quickly. There’s rarely a business message that can’t wait until you are ready to check your calls and emails, so make your business fit around you and not the other way round. It may feel difficult to do in the beginning but is the only way to ensure your sanity as your business grows!
4) Build a support network
I couldn’t have made my journey of being an entrepreneur work without my mum, my dad, my sisters and extended family. I now have a wonderfully supportive partner too, but I didn’t have him for the first five years of my business because I was nursing a broken heart and huge trust issues.
Whether or not you’re a single mum as I was, you need a support network around you. Especially people who will help you with childcare in emergencies, and listen to your tough days. (There are a lot of them in the early days but ultimately you push through and the good far outweigh the bad.)
5) Know how to work your numbers
It’s essential that you are very clear on your numbers in your business. It’s good to have a healthy turnover, but profit is what you need to keep an eye on. You need to be absolutely aware of your expenses and be living frugally. Keep your business frugal too, and don’t buy anything that’s not absolutely necessary. Think PROFIT. Learn about your numbers.
One of the best books that I have ever read is Profit First. It helps you to review your personal expenses as well as your business ones. Some of the world’s most successful business people often speak about looking at the numbers on a daily basis, and I wholeheartedly agree. Keep your finger on the pulse!
However that doesn’t mean that you have to be the person in your business that physically sends out the invoices and collects the money in. Its just about being in control of what you are spending and also what you are bringing in.
One of the things that is really important is that you stick to the financial part of your business plan and make it a working plan month-by-month and quarter-by-quarter. Ensuring that you have really thought through how much working capital you need to get established and how much you will need to live is so important. Money will provide you with so much worry if you haven’t got it all in order.
When I was starting out with a tiny baby I had no other income to rely on, and the mortgage didn’t get paid if I didn’t pay it. That meant working several jobs to keep income coming in, and working in the night to ensure the business got off the ground. It is hard work – don’t let anyone tell you any different, but it’s worth it. So keep those dreams and visions in your mind’s eye at all times (and remember your mantra!).
Read more advice on starting a business
Need more tips on starting a business with a baby? You’ll find plenty in these resources:
- Six business ideas that are perfect for mums
- 10 things you should never do when starting a business
- The first 10 steps you need to take when starting a business
- Five reasons why mums’ businesses fail
You can learn more about Little Voices on their website.