Female entrepreneurs and women small business owners are a financial force to be reckoned with. According to the 2012 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, the past 15 years have seen growth in the number, employment and revenues of women-owned firms (+54%, +95 and +58%, respectively) seen nowhere else outside of the largest, publicly-traded firms. It’s estimated that there are now more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generating $1.3 trillion in revenues annually and employing 7.7 million people.
Many of these women are mompreneurs – a newly-coined phrase that’s becoming commonplace as the number of mothers who start their own businesses grows. A growing segment of the entrepreneurial ecosphere, mompreneurs are female business owners who actively balance the dual roles of mom and entrepreneur. They contribute significantly to the statistics given above and are important enough to the overall economy that Entrepreneur.com has an entire section of its website focused on mompreneurs.
If you’re thinking of leaving your corporate position to become one of these economic powerhouses there are four activities you need to complete before you sign any leases, form any S-Corps or enter into any agreements. Through these exercises you’ll get a much clearer read on what it takes to be a mompreneur and how you can make your business successful.
1. Decide what you want
Identify how you really want to spend your time – how many hours you’ll work a week and how much time you want to dedicate to family. Figure out how much money you need to make a month in order to leave your full-time job. And choose a handful of potential businesses you’re interested in starting or running. Not all mompreneurs are crafting wizards or eBay goddesses, many run their own franchises of successful chains or work part-time as sales-guns-for-hire.
2. Talk to your friends
Whether you know for sure what you want your mompreneur business to be or have no ideas yet, talk to friends and loved ones. They know you well, and in ways that you can’t know yourself, so are excellent sources of information. Ask them what they’ve always thought you were good at, or what kind of business they can see you operating. Their ideas may be in agreement with yours or completely different; either way, give their input careful consideration.
3. Do informational interviews with mompreneurs
Reach out to women business owners who balance work and family commitments to get their advice and input. These can be ladies you know or women you are aware of through Twitter, LinkedIn or magazines. Even if you don’t know them personally, most mompreneurs are happy to help other moms. A quick email exchange may be all you need. Ask them what they see as the biggest benefits and drawbacks to their lifestyle and find out what they wish they’d known when they were just starting out. Be sure to send a thank-you note after the call!
4. Hire a business coach to help set up your business and avoid common early-stage challenges
Look online, comb through LinkedIn and ask for referrals to a business coach. Most are happy to engage with you in a temporary contract to help you get your feet wet in the world of entrepreneurship, and going this route – rather than going it alone – can help you avoid time-consuming or costly mistakes. You may also be able to learn about small business ownership from them or connect with valuable contacts in the entrepreneurial community where you live.
Then it’s time to begin! But start small. If you can, get your business paperwork out of the way before you dive-in full-time. This lets you ramp up at your own pace and will help you focus on marketing your business instead of completing forms. If you’re selling products, begin by offering them to your family and friends, getting a table at a well-known weekend market, or putting a few products online. If you’re a services provider you can take on one client while keeping your current job (as long as a non-compete or employment agreement isn’t in effect), giving you time to document your project process and iron out kinks.
The prospect of leaving the traditional workforce to pursue a life more your own can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Sure, you want more control over your time, but you enjoy working and the income that comes with it. Being a mompreneur might be a great idea for you. Use the exercises above to get started finding out!