Today’s guest is Helen Lindop of BusinessPlusBaby.com, a blog dedicated to helping mums of babies and toddlers start family-friendly businesses, and co-author of the “Start A Family Friendly Business” book with Antonia Chitty.
Helen, why did you start Business Plus Baby?
I was a trainer when my daughter was born in 2008. When she was a few months old I realised I didn’t want to put her in a nursery full-time, that my job didn’t suit part time hours and it involved travelling around the UK. It just wasn’t going to fit life with a baby.
I’d been a freelance trainer a few years earlier, so I knew self-employment could be an option. But freelance training was just as inflexible as employed training. So I needed to know what businesses would work well around a baby. And how on earth was I going to find the time to fit everything in?
I knew I wasn’t the only mum who didn’t want to go back to work after maternity leave and I wanted to help. That was my starting point for Business Plus Baby.
Are business mums with babies and toddlers different from those with school-age children?
The main difference is childcare. Working around school-age children has its challenges, but it does give you six working hours every weekday in term-time! Recently business mums on Twitter and Facebook have been saying “Isn’t it great the kids have gone back to school? I can get my work done now!” and that makes me think ‘If only!’
If you have under-threes, you either have to pay for childcare (it’s hard to afford this when you’re starting a business), rely on relatives (but not everyone is lucky enough to have them close by) or work late into the evening. It’s not easy.
If you’re starting a business with a baby, you’re working around a little person whose needs are constantly changing. Plus you’re still adapting to being a parent and all the changes that brings to your life and your priorities.
But there are advantages too. You have the best motivation in the world: you’re building a better life for your family. Plus you want to be a good role model for your children and a business brings much needed mental stimulation to a world filled with nappies and pureed vegetables!
What kinds of businesses work well for mums with babies and toddlers?
It depends on how much you want to earn and when you want to work. A business that needs you to be available every weekend is different from one where you can do half and hour’s work whenever your baby sleeps.
Online stores are popular because they are flexible and I think most mums in business have tried a franchise or direct selling at some point! Many mums run baby and child-related businesses like selling clothing and gifts, running pre-school groups and antenatal teaching. But there’s a huge range of other business too, including bookkeeping, complementary therapies and craft businesses.
My new book ‘Start a Family Friendly Business: 129 Brilliant Business Ideas for Mums’ is full of business ideas that fit around a family.
Do you have any tips for mums who are thinking of earning an income from a blog?
It’s certainly not a fast way to earn money, that’s for sure! There’s a lot to learn, but that’s why it’s so fascinating.
My top tip is to think of it as a business from day one. That way you’re focussed on what your readers want rather than writing about your kids, cat or whatever is on your mind. Unless your readers actually want to know about your cat, of course!
Seriously though, there are so many personal blogs out there, especially ‘mummy blogs’ that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to turn a personal blog into an income stream. Look out for a subject that you and other people really care about and blog about that. Focus on giving readers something really useful, entertaining or inspiring.
So what’s next for you?
Start a Family Friendly Business (co-written with Antonia Chitty of FamilyFriendlyWorking.co.uk) is out now. Plus I’m working on my new business that will help small businesses create great content such as e-books, blogs and audio/video for their websites. Exciting times!