Since I´ve been researching and writing about women-owned businesses for a while now, I have spoken with many women business owners about how they decided to start their business.
I have also spoken to many of my friends and women that I´ve met in playgroups who have stated that they also would like to own their own business. The problem? They can´t figure out what they want to do.
Mothers are starting businesses in record numbers because we want to be at home with our families, but before the doors can even open, you must know what it is that you want to do.
The following tips might help you narrow your ideas down.
1. Go with what you know. Really. It is much easier than trying to reinvent the wheel. If you are interested in nails and beauty, consider something in the cosmetic industry. While you might not want to open a salon, you may enjoy operating a mobile spa. Or perhaps you´ve studied products and are interested in creating your own. If you enjoy writing, consider freelancing or working for a local paper. Do you enjoy working with children and have a degree in something like art, music, or even education? Then consider starting a tutoring business, or offering music or art lessons to aspiring artists. Use the skills that you have and build on these.
2. Study the market. Before you even begin considering opening a business, you must study the market. I´ve had a few ideas in the past about home-based businesses, but when I popped onto the Internet and searched, I found a long list of similar companies. If you are opening a business that will sell products nationally, such as my diaper bags, then you need to study all markets to see what is available and what is not. The same goes with a local business. Study the town in which you live. What services are lacking? What is already available? If something is already available that is similar to your idea, how will you make yours stand out from the competition? Which leads us to number three.
3. Create a niche. If you start a business that is exactly the same as another established business in your town or in your product area, you are less likely to succeed than if you start a business that is similar but that offers a unique approach. Set yourself apart from the competition. Without a niche, your buinsses is likely to fade into the background.
4. Study the trends. You don´t want to follow a passing fancy, but you should know what is going on in the market area in which you are hoping to start a business. Rather than start a business based entirely on the trend, open one that can incorporate the trend into the business. It will be a good catch for your prospective clients and if the trend changes you will be able to change with that.
5. Consider the time factor. All new businesses take a considerable amount of time to get up and running, but some will take more both in the start-up and in the long run. How much time are you willing to invest? Do you want to ensure that you have flexibility in your schedule and that you can work around your family? Do you want more time off in the summer than in the winter, when your children are in school? These are important questions to consider when you are in the planning phases of your business. Some companies are busier at certain times of the year. For instance, if you are creating personalized greeting cards expect to work long hours during the holidays, such as Christmas. If you open a business based on outdoor activities (for instance, beach rentals), you´ll put a lot more time into that business during the summer, when your kids are at home, than you will in the winter when they are at school. Some jobs will allow you to make your own schedule, such as those that offer services. However, if you are selling a product, you"ll need to make sure you can be available at all times to process sales, take phone calls, and handle any problems.
6. Keep it feasible. Once you think you know what you want to do, start researching the start up costs. Create two spreadsheets: One in which you input all start up costs (licensing, advertising, etc) and one in which you input all monthly operating costs. Be realistic. Most likely you will put out more money than you originally think, so expect for that as well. And just when you think you´ve covered all costs, a new one will pop up.