So you want to be a Mumpreneur? The top six questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.

So you want to be a Mumpreneur? The top six questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.

Psst. Wanna be a Mumpreneur? Want to live the ultimate lifestyle and work on your own terms? Want to set your own flexible hours so you create your business around your kids and never miss another Book Week parade or Sports Day? Yeah, I know you do. We all do.

And it’s so tempting right? It’s so tempting to tell your crappy, insensitive boss to “Shove it! I’m outta here and I’m going to open my own business!”

Yeah, go sister! Woman power! Mums can do anything!! Whooohooo!

But hold on a sec there honey. Do you really know what you’re getting yourself in for? Do you really understand what it means to be a woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table? (and who may or may not also have to hold down a regular “dayjob” while she gets this Mumpreneur thing off the ground). By the way – I’m not a huge fan of the word “Mumpreneur – but I’m using it here because “woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table” doesn’t quite have the same SEO ranking. (And don’t worry, if you don’t yet know what SEO is, you will soon!)

I’m not saying don’t do it. Don’t become a “Mumpreneur”. I can’t say that, because I’m doing it right now – and you know what – it is great. And I can see amazing things on the road ahead. But right now. About 12 months into my self-employed sojourn. It’s freaking hard. And it’s an awful lot of work. And it’s costing money. And, and, and – so much else.

Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.

Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.

In these past 12 months I’ve learned a thing or two about running my own business while simultaneously raising two daughters, running a household and, yes, holding down another part time job to ensure we can still pay the mortgage! So I thought I’d do you a favour and list a few very important questions you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of making this big scary, crazy, amazing leap into Mumpreneur-dom.

Here goes.

 

Question 1: Is my significant other on board?

Because if he (or she) isn’t, strap yourself in for some drama. Cue arguments about “getting a real job” and “stuffing around on facebook isn’t going to make any money” and “no, we’re not spending $6K on a business coach”. Starting a business is a crazy tough slog, it’s no surprise so many start up businesses fail. If you’re serious about starting a business it’s going to take time, money and sacrifice. You’re going to need the support of your partner, because you’re going to need them to pick up the slack around the house. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that they’re doing the dishes for the sixth night in a row because you’re tapping away on the laptop trying to figure out how to install a WordPress theme to your blog. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that you won’t have as much time for them anymore – at least not right now. Get them on board early. Explain your passion. Share your plans and goals. Keep them involved. And hopefully they’ll be supportive.

 

Question 2: Am I prepared to resent my children at times.

Gah! Yes. I did just ask this question. Please stop calling me names.

This is the dirty little secret of Mumpreneur-ship. Because as much as you love your precious little cherubs and think to yourself, “I’m creating this new business for them, for us, to create our dream family life”. I absolutely guarantee that you are going to resent the socks off of them at least once while creating your new business (probably more than once, to be perfectly honest). Perhaps it’ll be the night before your big launch/meeting/presentation – when your teething baby keeps you up all night. Or the day you miss an all-important webinar because you’re cleaning blue paint-coloured poop off the carpet at the exact moment it goes live. (True story, not mine, thankfully!!)

The fact is that young children and start-up businesses don’t mesh nicely. They’re both unpredictable, time consuming, and, yes, frustrating. When you’re starting a business there are going to be days when you simply need to “GET STUFF DONE” no matter what. But guess what, you can’t always rely on your children to be perfect angels on those days. Even if you have childcare and supportive family, you’re still going to have to find time to do work at home – and the kidlets under your feet are going to get in the way. There are going to be days when you want to spend more time on your business than you do on your kids. You will feel like this. And you will feel guilty for feeling like this. Are you prepared for that?

 

Question 3: Am I prepared for the haters, the trolls and the poppy-loppers?

Not everyone is going to think your business is a great idea. Lots of them will try to dissuade you – “Don’t you know how bad the economy is, why on earth would you start a business now?” The thing is, these peeps are generally well meaning, they honestly just want you to be safe and secure, and not broke and homeless. They just have a completely different mindset and view of life than you. So they’re not as bad as the haters, the ones who will try to tear you down any opportunity they can. Why do they do it? Mostly they’re jealous. Maybe they want the kind of life and business you’re working towards. Maybe they just don’t have the guts to take that leap of faith. That makes them feel shit. So they take it out on you. #hatersgonnahate

 

Question 4: Am I prepared to replace most of my friendship group with another one entirely?

The truth is, I now spend way, WAY more time with my new business gals (who I didn’t even know a year ago) than I do the best friends I’ve had for 20 years. Starting your own business can be seriously isolating. Not a lot of people do it, and it’s scary and intense and there’s sooooo much to learn. So we business chicks have to stick together – we seek others out so we can network, learn, brainstorm and absorb business advice by osmosis. Most new Mumpreneurs figure that out pretty quickly and start surrounding themselves with other business minded folk. This isn’t to say that you won’t, or can’t, ever see your friends again, but just beware that friendships are likely to change. See question 1 and 3 for prime examples! Plus, because of all the extra work hours you’re putting in – it can often be quite hard to find time for all your friends – you’ll start prioritising them. Sad but true. The good news is, the ones who are really, truly your friends. They’ll stick around. They’ll stand by you. They’ll understand when you haven’t spoken for them for the past two months. Because that’s what TRUE friends do. (ps, for the record, I still love my old friends even if we don’t get to see each other as often – you know who you are!)

 

Question 5: Am I in it for passion or profit?

Really you need to be in it for both. If you’re not passionate about the business you’re trying to build, you’re simply not going to have the motivation to stick with it.
But you also need to want to make money. Which means you physically need an income stream – ie. you have to have something to sell!

But you also need to believe that you’re worth the money, that you deserve to make money and that your product is valuable enough for people to pay you for it. So really, you need three things: Passion. Profit. And a passion FOR profit.

 

Question 6: Am I ready to be transformed?

This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT question of them all.

“Am I ready for a complete soul makeover?”

This is what you don’t think about when you’re first starting out. You just think to yourself, “Oh I’ve got a cool idea for a business, let’s start a blog and make some money”. You never think to yourself, “Gee, I feel like undergoing a complete and utter transformation of my personal and professional development, my mind, heart, body and soul, my view on the world, my belief in the concept of abundance and laws of attraction, my self-concept of who I am as a person and what my true calling and purpose in life are.”

No-one ever thinks that.

But that’s what happens. I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurial women over the past year while I’ve been building my business. And while they come from all different walks of life, run completely different businesses and are at a million different stages of business growth and development – they all have one thing in common. Change. They’ve all undergone somewhat of a transformation. Some to the point where they barely recognise themselves from the person they once were. Some to the point where they’ve realised that they need to leave their husband because they’re not willing to put up with a sub-par relationship anymore. Some to the point where they’ve lost friendships because their old friends either “don’t get them” anymore, or got too shitty that they weren’t available for Friday night drinks every week anymore.

Are you willing to go there? Are you willing to make that much of a change. Are you willing to be utterly and absolutely transformed. Are you prepared to barely recognised the person you’ll be in 12 months time?

Yes?

Then welcome to the club.

 

Work hard. Play hard.

Work hard. Play hard.

IMG_0383

When was the last time you felt the sand between your toes?

 

“I want my staff to work hard. But I also want them to play hard!”

This was what an awesome businessman once told me when he was discussing how he runs his clinic. He’s an Occupational Therapist – like me – and he employs about a dozen other OTs. He wants them to work hard, but he sets shorter working hours and is super-strict on his employees taking leave. Because he also wants them to have balance. Time for family. For rest. For recreation. For adventure. Time for life.

I like his thinking, because I know that far too often those of us who have families and mortgages can repeatedly put off doing those very things that can bring us balance.

To succeed in life we have to work hard. To make more money we have to work longer hours. More hard work equals more money and more reward. That’s how the story goes.

And it’s true. To a point.

But what’s also true is that we frequently fall into the old trap of working more, doing more, trying to be more. We drown out the little voice in our head that starts telling us to pull back, that we’re taking on too much, that we can’t possibly maintain the pace we’re setting for ourselves. That we haven’t taken a break in nearly two years. That we’re working such long hours some days that we barely get home in time to tuck the kids into bed.

But it’s okay, we counter – it’s just for now, just until the end of the financial year, just until we get through this round of bills, just until the kids go back to school. I’ll put in the hard yards now, and I’ll take a little break sometime soon.

It’s easy to understand why we do this. We all have goals, we want our careers and businesses to prosper, to create an ideal future for ourselves and our families. So we convince ourselves that the sacrifices we make now will pay dividends in due time. It’s the rule we’ve always been taught – delayed gratification at its darndest.

But the problem arises when that planned break gets continually pushed back. And back, and back. When we live our life constantly forging ahead, but never retreating.

Retreat is all about giving yourself space. Emotional, physical and social space. It’s important because space is where we bloom – both personally and professionally. It’s where and when we develop amazing experiences and memories with our partners and children. And experiences are more valuable to them than any gadget you’re planning to buy with your next paycheque.

I know it seems counter-intuitive. That to push your life forward you should step back for a bit. But it’s absolutely the truth. The challenge is knowing how and when to make that retreat – how to balance your work and personal commitments. This takes practice, and the ability to read your own personal signals as to your stress and energy levels. For some, it may mean enlisting a health or business mentor to help you learn how to do this.

My advice to my clients is to schedule your retreats. Plan your calendar well ahead of time and build space into your life on a daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly basis.

It doesn’t have to be oodles of space. Just enough to make sure that you (and your family) get the best version of you in the present, without sacrificing your future wellbeing.

So embrace your space. Value the importance of retreat. By allowing yourself the space to breathe deeply, you’ll breathe more life into your life.

In praise of mentorship.

In praise of mentorship.

Do you have a mentor? What about a business advisor? Health coach? Life coach? Think you don’t need one?

That’s what I thought too. But I’d urge you to think again.

For the first 14 and a half of my 15 years as an Occupational Therapist I didn’t have a mentor. For most of that time I worked as the sole OT in rural locations, so I made do with remote supervision from higher level OTs several hundred kilometers away. It was a tough slog, especially in the early years, constantly trying to figure out on my own what and how I should be doing day to day. But really, I was doing “just fine”. I was getting good feedback from bosses and clients, and would always somehow stumble upon a solution or the exact resource I needed at the last minute. We OTs like to pride ourselves on our resourcefulness (rightly or wrongly!).

So mentorship was never something I considered.

I’ve always been a fiercely independent woman. Which is probably because, as the daughter of a fiercely independent single Mum, I grew up with the notion that it’s best to be capable and resourceful and not be reliant on anyone else. So I never sought out a mentor. “Pfft, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do,” I told myself.

Until about six months ago. When I decided it was beyond time to open my own private practice. All of a sudden I had a ridiculously steep learning curve ahead of me. As fellow SASS sisters, I know you understand what I’m talking about! Running a business is a huge undertaking. There were so many things to be done and all of a sudden I wasn’t just an OT. I was also an accountant, marketing manager, administration officer, business planner, saleswoman and PR agent all rolled into one. I was also the mother of two little girls and wife to a husband I hardly had any time for anymore.

In short, I was swamped. I was trying to do it all myself with no support or guidance – except what I got from Mr Google.

So here I was, about to create an entire future around a business where I support and mentor women towards their health goals, when it hit me – like the proverbial tonne of bricks.

“Sarah – your new business is all about encouraging women to get professional support, advice and guidance – yet you seek none of this yourself!”

Whaaatt!

All of a sudden, it became crystal clear to me how much I wasn’t following my own advice. I didn’t know anything about running a business – it was ludicrous to try and do it on my own. That’s when I knew I needed to seek out professional business support.

Fast forward six months and I now have two clinical mentors, a business coach, an accountant, a graphic and web designer, 15 peer mentors from three in-person masterminds, dozens more from another online mastermind – and of course, the amazing Sass ladies.

It has made the world of difference – not just to my business, but to my entire life. Hand on heart, pinky swear.

I’ve learnt how to do the business stuff faster and smarter, what to prioritise, what to do myself and what to outsource. It means I don’t waste valuable hours on tasks I hate and/or simply can’t do in an appropriate amount of time (hello website development!). It has freed my time to provide more value to my clients, to create more programs, and most importantly, spend more quality time with my family.

I look back now on those 14 and a half years I worked without a mentor and wonder how much more I could have achieved if I’d have had the amount of guidance and support I have now. I’d probably have my own talk show.

So I urge you, whatever your big challenges are right now – whether it be starting a business, overhauling your health, overcoming emotional demons – to seek support. You don’t need to do it on your own. You don’t need to do the hard slog day in, day out, hoping to stumble on the right resource, like I did for so long. Reach out to someone who can guide the way for you – hire a health coach, a business coach, a personal trainer, whatever. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, seek out free resources, start your own mastermind.

You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.

Until next time – be well!

Cheers, Sarah

 

(ps. This post first appeared as a guest post over at the fabulous The Sass – a networking, co-working and support group for women in business. Check their website out here.)