As an entrepreneur, juggling a business, personal life and family can be one serious balancing act. These businesswomen share their pearls of wisdom on how to set yourself up for success.
Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder, Nosh Detox
- You have the best incentive to succeed so believe in yourself.
- Success is just around the corner which is why you can’t see it just where you are standing. Keep moving forward.
- The second you want to give up is exactly the moment you are going to make a breakthrough.
Caroline Gowing, Vicky Matthews, Pink Spaghetti PA Service
- Don’t spend too much time planning. There are obvious things that need to be planned, such as website and logo, but even if you just have basic wording, get your business live.
You can’t second guess what is going to be requested by a customer, so deal with that request when it comes in. Website pages and wording can be added in the first few weeks and month, but if you keep planning and planning, you are just delaying the money coming in.
- Outsource! People usually start a business because they are great at something, or love doing something. Whether your skills are consultancy or flower arranging, or you have an idea for the best tea shop, there are things that you aren’t so good at and these will hold you back.
If you can’t work out free email newsletter software, it will either take you hours, or you will put off doing it, and yet as this is free marketing, you would be better to spend a little on outsourcing it so it is up and running straight away, bringing sales in.
Use free tools for your business to keep costs low. From video tools with screen sharing like Zoom, which allows you to have meetings remotely, saving you valuable trial time and costs, to things such as Mailchimp and of course social media. There are stacks of free tools perfect for those mumpreneurs starting out.
- Use other mumpreneurs for advice, tips and help. We have all been there! There are lots of social media groups where you can ask for opinions and help, it is all free, and means you can get the feel of a bigger business with lots of people.
Karen Holden, award-winning lawyer and founder, A City Law Firm
- Manage your hours carefully to ensure a work/life balance to avoid burn-out – I have my magic hours for this.
Always make time for your family and loved ones whether it is putting the children to bed, taking a day off in the month to go shopping or a date night once a week – where your mobile phone is turned off. If not, work overtakes life and before you know it your children would have grown up, your partner has lost sight of why they were with you and you may no longer recognise yourself.
I am a business owner, mum, wife, employer, but occasionally I need time to be a woman who shops, enjoys a glass of wine or a gossip with my girlfriends. To avoid disrupting quality family time, I often resume work during ‘the magic hours’. This is usually between midnight and three am when my husband and son are asleep. It’s a hugely productive time of day because I can work uninterrupted, without feeling guilty.
I also find that it gives me the edge in business because I can get so much work done and be better prepared for clients in the morning. The ‘magic hour’ enables me to take my son to school and read him a bedtime story. I can get up to speed on client work and business development and still have time to meet friends for cocktails or hubby for dinner.
I acknowledge this isn’t a solution for everyone, especially if you like a solid eight hours each night, but luckily for me, I love what I do and I am happy to lose a little shut-eye if it means more time with my loved ones. It’s a system that has worked brilliantly for me over the years and has hopefully benefited our clients too.
- Get your house in your order: Legal documents , tax advice and protecting your IP
The value of good advisors and making sure you have all the essential advice and paperwork as you start cannot be over-stressed.
A tight shareholder’s agreement, employment contracts or investment agreements means your business, as it becomes lucrative, is safe and secure from hostile takeovers, breaches of confidentiality and loss of control.
Many people have come to me and said: “my best friend or husband is my business partner, so there is no need to concern ourselves with these issues”. Be warned: without a transparent agreement, the business can become a bone to fight over if there is a fallout.
You may find that you and your business partner are miles apart on a major decision, such as an offer of investment or a merger, because you did not agree on the fundamental goals early on.
Employees can hold very sensitive information about you and your company. You need tight confidentiality and non-poach/non-circumvent terms to ensure they understand the boundaries. But more importantly you have a means to stop any activities they may start in competition with you.
- Cashflow: do you need investment and do you understand your options
It can be tempting to say yes to angel investment to develop your business or when cash is tight. However, you need to keep in mind that even though your company may be worth a small sum now, the value of the shares you give away will increase once you launch. How much control are you relinquishing?
Take advice on the terms to protect you and control over your business, but also be aware that there are alternatives.
SEIS/EIS can attract seed funding with a small share offering, but these investors often do not require active control in the business; debt financing can be a better means if you know you can pay back the capital in three to five years, as you retain the full shareholding; joint ventures are a good means to get out of the other party as much as you are putting in; bank loan interest rates are presently low and government funding options and tax reliefs are available to boost your cashflow.