A growing band of Australian mums are turning to the internet in their search to become their own boss and spend more time with the kids.
Staying at home with the kids was the main motivation for starting a business for almost half of all mum entrepreneurs, according to a St George survey of 188 respondents.
It’s a way to make money and maintain a career without the expense of child care or the guilt of being away from home – a scenario Melbourne mother of three Bec Derrington knows all too well.
“I was working in public relations and my husband works long hours as well so I just found that as the primary care giver, it was really problematic trying to find some balance,” Ms Derrington says.
In 2009 she started a crowdsourcing website called SourceBottle, which connects journalists with sources for stories. And while she had to supplement her income with PR work for a few years while the business grew, she now has two virtual assistants helping her run her global business.
“It certainly wasn’t an overnight success,” Ms Derrington says. “I wouldn’t have a clue what that looks like.”
According to the research, 46 per cent of women admit lack of confidence and fear of failure stops them from reaching their full potential.
Entrepreneur Peace Mitchell says self doubt plagues many women, and it only gets worse once they’ve left the workforce to have children.
“The more women I’m speaking to, the more I’m hearing stories of women being made redundant just after they’ve announced their pregnancy, or a few weeks into their maternity leave, and that in itself is a real blow to confidence,” she says.
After dabbling in a few different businesses, Ms Mitchell and her sister started the AusMumpreneur website, a support network for mums starting their own online businesses.
“I personally believe those businesses didn’t succeed because we didn’t have the level of support that we needed,” she says.
“It’s about showing women that you don’t have to be 100 per cent ready and not everything has to be 100 per cent perfect, you just have to start and get going and make things happen.”
HERE ARE SOME TIPS ON GETTING STARTED:
1. KICK GUILT TO THE CURB “It’s great to kick ass in business but don’t kick your own,” Ms Derrington says.
“I always subscribe to the `kick guilt to the curb philosophy’ because you’re constantly feeling like you’re shortchanging someone – kids, partner, the business – but as long as you’re doing your best then I always say guilt is a dish best left unserved.”
2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK Is there demand for what you want to do? Are there competitors?
3. GET SUPPORT Surround yourself with people who can help, through business support groups, online networks, social media. Find role models and seek advice.
4. UPSKILL Take courses to learn any skills you lack but might need, like a bookkeeping course.
5. DOWNTIME Although your home is your office, you still need to maintain work/life balance and take time to switch off.
6. BACK YOURSELF “You don’t want to die wondering, you need some self belief that you can do it,” Ms Derrington says.
7. DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST Don’t overplan, don’t overprepare, just get it out there and refine and perfect it along the way, as you learn and get feedback.
8. ASK FOR HELP From your partner, kids, family and friends.
9. GET TECH SAVVY Use technology to maximise your time eg. do your banking online, hold meetings via Skype.
Source: St George, SourceBottle, AusMumpreneur