How do you just do it?
The answer was the same from all panellists. You just should do it. If you have a business idea then there will come a point when you just need to close your eyes and jump. To help you prep for that moment this insight and advice may help. Remember I am no expert, I am not an advisor and I am certainly not trying to sell you anything. I just think it;s good to share becuase I was where you are now. I had an idea and was determined to 'just do it' and make an idea a reality. Twice :-)
My story is the same as thousands of others, I didn’t want to pay £15 a day to a childminder whilst I was just commuting for three hours simply getting to work and back, that’s £15 on top of the £40 I would be paying to actually complete my 8 hour working day. The wages I would have had in the bank after childcare and commuting costs was a feeble amount even on a good salary. So I thought to myself, if I can’t make that feeble amount on my own then what the heck have I been working so hard for these last 15 years. This was how I was feeling back in 2013 and then I started to think. Events are my thing and I knew 100% I could deliver events as a service. So I decided to start my own B2B event management agency which launched when my Molly was 9 months old in 2014, instead of returning to my job after maternity leave as a marketing manager for a city tech firm.
The journey of going through that conundrum and then starting a business led to my ‘light bulb’ moment for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow. And for two years now I have been working with my business partner Lucy Chaplin to bring these exhibitions to life and help other mums find the flexible work or business solution that suits them. I no longer organise events for other companies, it seemed like that business was a stepping stone to what I was meant to be doing with my professional life now.
From this experience, I know what it feels like to have worked so hard climbing the career ladder and then have your circumstance change after a baby. You still want to do ‘something’ but the question is always......what? So here are some top tips from me about how I went about planning a business whilst on maternity leave, and going from idea to reality.
1. Get everything from your head onto paper
As soon as you have the idea which can be whirring around in your head. Write it down, get it out of your head onto paper, onto your computer or draw it. Anything - it can be scrappy, you can swear, use words that only mean something to you. Anything to make sure you get the essence of the idea, your passion behind it and the emotions your feeling about it at the time. It will then lead you on to the next step which is to formalise the idea a little more and your mind won't be all over the shop with the original idea.
2. Writing a one-page business plan
You don’t need a ridiculous document just something to guide you and get an idea from your head to paper. This is a great one=page business plan template from Talented Ladies Club - view and use it here
3. Understand your market and audience.
Make sure you know who your ideal customers are and start making a list of companies or individuals to contact, and ways you can reach them. As you start to write your business plan this will form part of it. Get help here
4. Identify a need for your service or product.
You can share a ‘survey monkey’ link in Facebook groups, on your Facebook personal page and in general out to twitter etc. Just get it out there and ask people to complete it. People generally are nice and helpful. Avoid asking family, you need strangers opinions and ideally the opinions of those ‘ideal customers’ you will be ultimately targeting. So don’t post the link in a ‘construction in the UK Facebook group’ if you will be targeting mums.
5. Set a date for when you will be ‘in business’ and work towards that.
This is important, and may very well be the difference between actually 'just doing it' or for you to be constantly in the planning stage and wonder why you never actually get started. Arrange childcare if you can or plan for that day to be a ‘working day’ and for your mindset to really mean business.
Before then your to-do list should look like this:
· Set up your social media profiles for the business – set them up and claim the names. Decide which ones are best for you with this helpful article about using social media for business by Talented Ladies Club
· Set up a web domain and get your emails sorted for your business domain – gmail really doesn’t look good. But you can have a business address using gmail emails – see how here.
· Sort your website out -whether it’s a one pager or more complex. You don’t need to spend thousands, pennies will do and if you are not sure just ask a friend. Anybody honestly can do it, don’t be afraid of trying. See Wix, Webflow and wordpress and there are so many others.
· Start scouting for business, start making lists of the type of companies you will contact to try and sell to. Just create an Excel document and start making a hit list. Same for place to promote yourself, make a list of places you need to be seen like Facebook groups, Linked-in Groups, Free online Business Directories, networking groups etc
Then I would say you are pretty much ready to roll. Well you will never be 100% ready, there will always be more prep work you can do. But you will never get going if you try to perfect everything. Nothing is ever perfect and you will find your journey will take you somewhere, you had no clue it would ever go and you WILL make mistakes. But that’s all part of the fun and why you will keep learning for as long as you are in business. I certainly learn every day, I make mistakes and the only way to correct them is to make them in the first place. Even if your first business idea doesn’t work out, I am sure it will lead to something else. Just start the process again, don’t be afraid to fail.
To end just a few tips about working around a baby when planning all this.
Laptops and the ‘cloud’ are glorious things.
I took my laptop outside with me, to the park and to café’s as I still had Molly and wanted to get her out and about. But she was only 7months or so when I started to plan so she could easily be entertained by a few toys. I also sometimes sat close to a café to access WiFi without having to go in. Work in the evenings and during your babies nap times.
Write to-do lists
Plan what you are going to do when. If you are going for a walk with your laptop but won’t have access to WiFi plan to do jobs where you don’t need it.
This is from the date you have set as your very first ‘business working day’. Arrange childcare if you can with family or friends. Even if it’s just two mornings a week, take it seriously and use that time to work. Do not get distracted by the washing up. For me I found a childminder and budgeted 8 hours a week childcare to start with. That was £40 a week as I had no family to help me living nearby. But that 8 hours a week was all I needed to make the sales calls to land my first client with a value of £2500.
And I think that's all I got.....
it was through my own start-up journey that led to the idea for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow, I promise you are not alone in how you are feeling, right this moment. Confused, anxious, not sure what to do next. So If you are seeking support you can attend our free child-friendly work and business exhibitions. The next Mums Enterprise Roadshow events take place in London on 25th September and Birmingham 17th October 2017 and they are totlly free to attend, no catch. Register free today.
More useful links
I did a lot of research and reading about a business plan and the different element it entails – like that from startup.co.uk It’s good to know all that but really all you need to write up is a DOWNLOAD AND USE HERE
Read a helpful article here about - How can I identify my target audience?
Survey Monkey – to create and share online surveys
Business Domain Name and Email
Google for business – create your google work email etc. Get 20% by using our own, Mums Enterprise unique promo code 7AUW33E6Q6V7LY3
Article – How do I use Social Media for my business? By Talented Ladies Club
Aa helpful article from Talented Ladies Club is also here - How to sell without being pushy