Antonia Chitty is an award winning entrepreneur and author. She offers help and mentoring for mums with businesses through www.themumpreneurguide.co.uk
Have you thought of going into business? If so, you are one of a rising number of mothers who are becoming business owners and entrepreneurs. According to a survey by Phoenix Trading, more than three in four mums who don’t currently have a business would like to start one. But being a mother and a business owner brings its own challenges.
I started my business when, like many women, I found that my old job just didn’t fit after maternity leave. I went back to work for nine months before having my ‘light bulb moment’. A session with a life coach helped me realise that self employment was the perfect way to get back control over my working life. I could set my own hours, choose work that interested me and, most importantly, spend time with my daughter.
From the start, though, it became clear that the best plans don’t always work out. I planned to write freelance features and successfully pitched some features to trade magazines. My ideas of writing parenting features soon came to an end, though, once I discovered that almost every other mum with literary leaning thought that writing for parenting magazines might be a nice way to earn a living. At the same time, though, I linked up with someone on a parenting forum who needed help with PR. I’d worked in promotion for a number of years and wrote this lady a press release in return for some of her products.
Once I’d written one press release it became clear that there was a real need for a friendly and approachable PR agency offering help to women who wouldn’t approach a big London agency. I traded some PR with a web designer who then set up my website for me, and spent the next few years focussing on PR.
For me, my first business idea didn’t quite work out the way I’d expected. However I was determined to contribute to the family income and work in a flexible way so I persisted. If you have a business idea, make sure you do your research in the early days to see if there is a niche for your business or if, like me, you are aiming for a market that is overcrowded already. And if you have a business that has been running for a few weeks or months, or even a couple of years, but has yet to make you much money, remember that many businesses take three years to turn a profit and stick with it. Alongside persistence you also need to keep asking questions, attending courses, joining teleclasses and querying your business model. In this way you will be able to develop and grow your business until it becomes successful and meets your goals.