It’s no secret that women comprise the fastest growing cohort of start-up entrepreneurs. Why? Because the reality of ‘having it all’ – holding down a job, doing the school run, and managing the bath, bottle and bed routine each evening is (unsurprisingly) proving to be more than we bargained for.
That’s why so many working mums are turning to online business as a solution to the ‘how do I make it all work?” dilemma. If you’re keen to claw back control over your working life and set up an online business, here’s a few tips to get you started.
Get clear about your purpose:
One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.
So, when it comes to setting up a business, you need to ask:
1) What do you want from your online business?
2) What are you prepared to give up to get it?
Having clarity about these two questions determines everything; from what you’ll sell and how you’ll sell it, to how much work you’ll put in, how much money you’ll invest and much more.
For example, do you want a home-based business that fits in around your family commitments, pays for the school fees and the annual trip to Bali?
Or do you want a multimillion-dollar, publicly listed start-up that gets you on the cover of the Forbes Rich List?
Both models have merit but each will require vastly different amounts of energy, capital and time away from the family. Whatever your reason for creating an online business, what’s important is that you understand why you’re doing it and what you’re prepared to give up to get it.
Test your idea
Before you give up your corporate gig and invest big bucks in your startup, test your idea to see if it has traction.
Here’s three ways to see if your idea has merit:
- Run a short course at a local TAFE or community college. Not only will you learn if your idea has traction, you’ll get paid to teach it too.
- Leverage the marketplace platforms to generate leads, sales and test your pricing. If you sell products, use eBay or etsy. If you sell online content, check out Udemy or LinkedIn Learning.
- Use public speaking as a marketing tool to promote your idea. Rotary, schools, NFPs all need low-cost speakers for events. These experiences will help you sharpen your pitch.|
Focus on one customer at a time
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from start-up business owners is, ‘How can I find customers?’ The frustration is palpable, especially for those with no marketing budget, customers or track record.
One of the key issues at the heart of this is the belief that ‘if I just write one fantastic blog, my database will explode … if I just get on one TV talk show, I’ll be inundated with sales … if I just create one amazing video, it will go viral and I’ll get 100,000 Facebook fans overnight’.
Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. When Kate Morris, founder of online beauty retailer AdoreBeauty.com.au started out, she had no customers at all but when she got one, she was committed to serving them to the best of her ability.
“Sometimes, people are so busy trying to dominate the market with media releases, events and multiple products, they forget that the essence of business is finding and then serving, one customer, and then another, and then another. And, of course, one customer leads to two customers, and so on.” Kate’s right. In our haste to find 100 customers we often overlook the one customer right in front of us, pleading with us to take their money.
‘Having it all’ is possible
If you know that the nine to five grind is wearing you down and you need to change the way you work, creating an online business could be the answer. Make no mistake though – an online business is no walk in the park and it certainly requires time, effort and persistence, but the difference is you’ll be doing it on your terms, and isn’t that what ‘having it all’ really means?
You can purchase Bernadette Schwerdt’s book, How to Build an Online Business: Australia’s Top Digital Disruptors Reveal Their Secrets for Launching and Growing an Online Business, at good book stores and online at Booktopia.