I’d always had the urge to start my own business.
When I was on maternity leave, that urge became so strong, I made the leap. I left my well paid, full time job, and jumped into the unknown.
Whilst it’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made, it hasn’t been plain sailing. So I wanted to use this blog post to give you some honest thoughts about what it’s like to run a business when you’re on maternity leave (or simply when you have a young family), and how to go about starting your own part time business.
Is an online business the right choice for you?
The appeal is obvious. Working the hours you want. Avoiding a daily commute in heavy traffic. Having to drop a tired, teething, grisly child off at nursery because you have to attend that big meeting in the office.
Please note this post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information.
I had all those thoughts going on in my head when contemplating whether or not to quit my job.
Now, let me pause right here and say this: being a working mom is a great thing, and if that’s what you choose to do, you will be fantastic at it because you rise to the occasion. This post isn’t intended to put women off going back to work. Working moms aren’t just an asset in the workplace. They’re one of the biggest assets any company can have, and any business will be lucky to have you. There is nothing that makes me prouder to be a woman than when I see other women thriving in their careers, breaking glass ceilings and paving a path for new generations of women.
I just thought I should put that in there.
So, back to the post. You may – like me – have that nagging feeling that now is the perfecy time to make that leap and start your own business. And if that’s the case, then here are a few questions that can help you determine if it’s the right path for you. These, to me, are the five biggest factors to consider before you make that leap.
Can you afford to lose you regular salary?
Yes, of course, you might make a million dollars starting your own business. And in this environment, whether things are changing so rapidly online and there are few barriers in your way, you have a great opportunity to do that. However, you do have to accept the fact that you will be sacrificing that nice, comfortable, dependable salary. That’s simple unavoidable and you have to ask yourself if you’ll be able to cope one month to the next with no regular pay. How important is that nice car and holiday you have planned?
Can you motivate yourself to push ahead when things get tough
Let me paint a picture for you. Your head to bed at 9pm (trust me, you do). Your baby wakes at 11pm. And at 1.30am. Settles for 20 minutes, and just as you’re drifting off, she’s awake again. Until 3am. Then she wakes again at 4am. And at 5am she’s babbling away and has no intention of sleeping any more.
Those first few hours in the morning are spent OK, though admittedly you’re tired, but you get through it with coffee, and by mid-morning you get her down for her first nap. She normally only naps for 30 mins. Can you motivate yourself in that 30 minutes to power up your laptop, start drafting a new blog post, go on social media, respond to a customer email?
Do you thrive around other people?
Working from home, with just a baby for company, can feel isolating. Most entrepreneurs I know really miss the social aspect of working with other people all day.
Are you comfortable taking risks
How would you feel about putting hundreds of dollars into advertising, with no guarantee it will bring you customers? You buy stock from a supplier you’ve never used before? Running your own business comes with risks, and taking on risks can be stressful.
Are you adaptable and open to change
This is true of any business but particularly true when running an online business. Things change, fast. A few years back, businesses were having huge success building fan pages on Facebook. Until Facebook decided to start making that more expensive. SEO worked for many companies, until Google had a major update. The point is, you need to be willing to change strategies, and quickly. You need to be very adaptable.
Top business ideas you can run from home
So, if I haven’t put you off so far (and I don’t want to; honestly, the pros outweigh the cons, I promise) then you’re next question is probably this: what business can I realistically start from home while raising a young child?
The answer, of course, is anything you want. But here are five ideas of businesses that are simple, low cost, easy to start and flexible:
I’ve done a lot of affiliate marketing over the past few years as a way of providing additional income streams, and I absolutely love it. If you can find a product you genuinely believe in, it’s so easy to create a small website, write a few posts, promote your affiliate product, and make regular earnings from it. If you want a nice easy starting point, I’d highly recommend this little eBook off an affiliate marketer who really knows her stuff. She has a model for doing affiliate marketing direct on Pinterest, so you don’t even need a website.
Dropshipping has become a big thing in the last few years. If you’re not familiar with the term, it is essentially a very simple model for having an eCommerce shop. The difference being, you don’t hold stock. Your supplier ships the product direct to your customer. That cuts out a big, expensive and complex part of running an online shop, and means you can build a very simple but very rewarding eCommerce business in an niche you enjoy.
I am not a crafty type, but I know so many talented arts and crafts people. There is always a market for your beautiful, unique creations, and I personally think this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable businesses to run if you really love what you do. You can sell on Etsy. Or run a Shopify store online. Or you can sell direct on Instagram or Facebook. Personally, if you go down this route I’d strongly recommend marketing your product on Pinterest as this is currently proving to be the best channel for getting customers in that sort of niche. If you’re interested, this eBook is a fantastic beginners guide for how to market your products on Pinterest.
Social media manager
If you love social media, why not get paid for the time you spend on there? There are plenty of small businesses who need someone to take care of creating and posting social media content, engaging with followers, and keeping up to date with the latest social media trends. If that’s your thing, you can get started pretty easily by signing up to freelance services such as Upwork, or even go it alone and sell your social media services on your own website.
If you love writing, there is always a huge demand for skilled copywriters. Choose a niche, get some experience under your belt by writing a few guest posts, and use a freelance service such as Fiverr or Upwork to start getting some initial customers signed up.
Practical tips for running a business with a newborn
The most important thing to remember when running a business with a newborn is that children can be unpredictable. So (unless you’re lucky to have childcare you can rely on) you need to have a business that’s flexible. There will be some weeks where you just have to stop work and deal with a colicky newborn, teething toddler, or a schoolchild at home with a tummy bug. So accept that as part of your business, and know that some weeks you won’t get anywhere near as much done as you plan to.
How to get started today
Firstly, decide on the type of business that’s right for you. That’s the most important step. But don’t spend months over-thinking this. Your business will change and you’ll mould it over time as you find what you want to do, so get it up and running and go from there. Don’t waste too much time or money at the beginning on things like branding or a website. Just get something basic set up. And don’t forget to set up your social media profiles and begin building those up – they’re are invaluable as you being to grow.