Each and every week talk to at least one mum who really wants to start her own business, but can not decide what that business would be doing. Usually these mums are looking for flexibility, the ability to work from home around the children and school hours, control of their own work and the prospect of being able to build something which belongs to them and their family.
The first question that I always ask is what do others see in you that they would like to see in themselves. What can you do or have you done that others would like to know more about. The easiest thing to sell is your expertise, knowledge and skill in an area which interests other people. We know that everyone is looking for quick solutions for most things these days, so if you are able to write a book, run a course or offer coaching in something which you are good at them you will meet the demand.
For me I was able to combine a couple of skills and experiences. I am an accountant with extensive experience in working within organisations as well as setting up new companies. I could see that my understanding of business structure, reporting requirements and legislation I would be able to help people who were looking to start something themselves but who did not have the understanding and knowledge of business and accounting that I have.
I have also got many years of experience as a working mum. I have worked full time, part time, traveled with work and also set up and run my own business. I have breast fed for 18 months whilst working and have spent up to 12 days away from home on business trips. I have experienced discrimination, support, flexibility, bullying and encouragement both first hand and as a manager and employer.
I have years of experience in running an HR department also. I have seen thousands of resumes, dealt with numerous recruitment agencies, interviewed hundreds of candidates and seen what has been successful and what has been less so.
By bringing all of the above together I knew that what I could do that others would want to do was to make the successful transition back to work after having children. To start and run my own business successfully whilst still keeping the home fires burning and having a happy and well adjusted family. And so Playroom to Boardroom was born.
What do you have to offer? Are you a creative genius? Can you paint? Or write? Or make children's clothes? Or act? Or make amazing cakes? If so then your direction may be more obvious. If people are willing to pay you a couple of hundred dollars for a birthday cake and you can make 4 each week when the kids are in bed then BINGO - you have the start of your business.
So often what you have to offer is not a product or consumable item such as a cake, but a service or some hints and tips of how to achieve something. If I had $5 for every time I saw an article about "How I grew my 6 figure business" I would be a rich woman. But it is the perfect example of selling your secret. What do these people have that others want? A business of their own which makes 6 figures or more. They no longer sell what it was that they started selling. They now sell their secrets.
What else do people sell. Their secrets to their amazing fit bodies. The secret to knocking 30 minutes of your marathon time. The secret to writing a successful best-selling novel. The secret to starting their own business with only $100.
These courses, books and information sheets sell. They sell to people who are looking for an easy answer. They are often low priced as they are looking for a low price, high volume approach. People who are looking to lose weight, get fit, start a business or write a book will happily spend $5 on your information if they think that it will save them some hard work and give them some ideas and inspiration.
So your business idea does not have to be selling your skills in the traditional way in the area in which you are trained. If you are a physio then you do not need to schedule appointments and see people day in day out. Perhaps you could write a course for pregnant women based on what you did when you were pregnant. Or you could write a book about pelvic floor rehab after children. Then you could forge yourself a speaking career. Get your face and name out there. Start talking at mother's group events, at parenting conferences and before you know it people are calling you and asking for you to be part of their events and books.
If you are one of the very many mums that I speak to who is really keen to start their own business then take some time to reflect on your skills, experiences and achievements. I know that I am really glad that I did not decide to start an accounting business. That probably would have been easiest at the outset as I have qualifications and a tangible skill. However I feel that the way in which I can really help and connect with people is to help them to get back to work or to start their own business and to "normalise" being a working mum. I feel a passion for this which I have never felt for corporate work and which I don't think I would ever feel should I have started an accounting company.
Although it can be a slog at the beginning and you may have to invest a lot of time and in some cases money too, doing something which you believe in, something which excites you and something which allows you to help and advise others in your areas of expertise, through qualification or experience, is something I can not recommend highly enough.