Finding Time To Start A Business

One of the 1st things we look at during my Amazing Business Creation Workshops (in fact, it’s part of the pre-work!) is actually making time to start planning your business – sort of ‘getting ready to get ready’!

As working mums we can often feel like we have very little time to do any of the things WE want to – and so often I hear women tell me they’d love to start a business ‘one day’ but they just don’t have time right now.

Well, I have news for you – you will NEVER have the time to start a business (or any of the other the things you want to do) unless YOU take serious action to MAKE it!

You see, your time is like a vacuum. As soon as you free some of it up, it naturally gets filled with something else – and if YOU don’t determine what that is yourself, I’m afraid it just gets occupied by ‘stuff’. ‘Stuff’ that’s about as useful for getting you where you want to be in life as a chocolate fire guard.

Think about it – your mum/friend/partner offers to watch the kids for a couple of hours. What do you do? Do you find yourself complaining to your friends that you don’t know where the time goes? Because you spent the whole time sorting laundry/washing up/picking up toys/sweeping the bits off the floor, only to have to do it all again an hour after they get back?

What if you spent that 2 hours really focusing on one particular goal that you’ve had for ages (like starting a business!)? What if you left the other ‘stuff’ until the kids had gone to bed and you knew it was going to stay ‘done’ at least until they get up again?!

It’s difficult isn’t it? It’s very easy to get totally caught up in trying to be everything to everyone – trying to be a supermum – but there really does come a point where you have to make some decisions about what you really want for you and your family IN THE LONG RUN.

Now, seeing as you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve made the decision that you would like to take steps to find a better work/life balance, and to do that by starting a business. I’m also assuming that your no. 1 priority is your family.

That’s certainly the case for the mums I’ve worked with so far and it is for me.

Virtually all the mums I speak to, with very few exceptions, say that the main reasons they want to start a business are a) they want to (or need to) spend more time with their family or b) earn more money to enjoy with their family or both.

So, accepting that family comes first, we have to find a way to give enough priority to starting a business in order to actually make it a reality while also recognising the whole reason why you’re doing it in the first place.

You need to find a balance between spending the time you want to with your family AND dedicating enough time to following this path to creating a better life for you all.

Now, I’m not going to say it’s easy – because I’d be lying.

But if you’re determined to create a business you love that can provide for you and your family for years to come AND give you the life balance you’re looking for, finding time to plan it properly is absolutely crucial.

The following tips for finding the time you need to start planning a business around your family come straight from my Amazing Business Creation pre-work. We use worksheets to help us with most of them but you can do the work without. I hope you find them useful:

Find the ‘leaks’ in your time.

Take a pad of paper and write down every single thing that takes up your time during the day. I mean EVERYTHING! Work tasks, kids tasks, the school run, shopping, meeting with friends, running errands for parents, walking the dog, updating Facebook – whatever.

Once you’ve done that, cross out all the things that, if pushed, could go altogether for the next 6 months. Now identify the areas where you could SAVE or MAKE time – limiting time on Facebook for example or, better, getting rid of it altogether (unless it’s for business purposes!); staying up 20 minutes later on a night to prepare packed lunches, set out uniforms and lay out breakfast things; doing your food shopping online.

Maybe you could meet friends less frequently but for longer, or meet them at your house instead of travelling somewhere? Could you use the time when your baby or toddler is asleep, instead of catching up with the laundry? Could you arrange for your child to go to a friend’s for tea after school and offer to return the favour another night? Could they go to after school club for a while?

Once you’ve identified what you COULD do, commit to actually doing it!

Remember, action is what’s needed here, not just ideas. It’s all well and good completing the worksheets and saying ‘well I COULD DO THIS’ and ‘I COULD DO THAT’.

DO IT NOW!

And it’s important not to get fed up about it – remember, it’s not forever, just for right now to allow you to focus on what you want out of life. Then you can slowly start to add things back in (and actually, some things you’ll probably realise you’re just better off without doing altogether!)

Identify your goals

For each area of your life (we do some work on all your individual ‘roles’ during the workshop), start to create a list of all the goals you’d like to achieve.

So create a ‘mum’ list, a ‘wife’ list, a ‘business owner’ list, a ‘daughter’ list and so on.

Write down everything you want to achieve on those lists – long term and short term goals all count here.

Do you want to help your children learn to read? Do you want to re-connect with your parents? Do you want to move to a new house in 2 years? Take the kids to Disneyworld? Do you want to be able to buy your partner a new car or to retire at 50?

Take an hour to really think about what you want your life to look like in a few years time – from all angles.

Lists, lists, lists

From the goals you’ve identified, break them down into the tasks you’d like to do each day/week/month to bring you nearer to those goals.

Spending 30 minutes each night reading with your children, dedicating 1/2 day each weekend to spending with your parents, spending 1 hour 3 times a week dedicated to planning your new business – whatever you think you need to build in to reach the goals you’re setting yourself.

Take Control Of Your Time

The next step I recommend (and it sounds a bit extreme but it works!) is to take an appointments diary (I use the Franklin Covey planner system and provide this for mums who join my longer term programmes) – one of those that breaks each day down into 15 or 30 minute slots – and schedule your next week.

Try it once and see how you get on with it.

Plan slots for everything you want/need to do each day and try to stick to them. Try scheduling your WHOLE day for 7 days and commit to trying to stick to it – 1 hour to get the kids ready in a morning, 45 minutes for the school run, 1 hour to work on planning your business, 1 hour housework… whatever suits you. But remember to build in slots for all the roles we covered above. Just try it and see if it works for you.

I even used to schedule in time for the kids bedtime routine – to make me concentrate just on them for 45 minutes… nothing else. You’d be amazed how quickly they went to sleep afterwards! It has to be said, sometimes I really need to make an effort on the parenting front, I’m ashamed to admit!

Of course, things change, and you have to re-arrange things during the day, but having a plan to work to can really make a difference… if you want it to and you’re willing to really commit to giving it a go.

Well, there you go – just a few tips to get you started… I hope you’ll give them a try.

The Hidden Costs: 5 Key Considerations When Starting a Business

So, you want to start a business and are wondering where to begin and what it will cost… most would advise that you start with putting together a business plan, and I don’t contest that… you should, but it’s essential that you’re aware that most business plans, including all the research and financials that they include, do not give you an overall picture of what your start-up costs will be. This article gives an overview of the ways to determine, realistically, what the costs involved in setting up a business will be.

A solid plan? Probably not! A well-formed, flexibly applied plan? Absolutely!

It’s true that the usual manner in which businesses start up, is through an opportunity being identified, determining the ways in which this opportunity can be milked for all it’s worth, (carefully explained in the business plan), and figuring out how much capital is required in order to build the business as outlined in the above-mentioned business plan.

Whilst this is ‘the usual’ and can often work, there is one flaw with this model… It is all developed on the premise that the business will work out right, and as planned, the first time! The reality, is that it is exceptionally rare that everything goes exactly to plan, and most often, even if it does, it’s not first time around.

Often, between the time that a business plan is written, and the time comes to implement, it’s hardly worth the paper it’s written on. Harsh, but true.

In order to more accurately, and relevantly determine your start-up costs, it is essential that you reflectively review assumptions held within the business plan, and be prepared to adapt toward a more flexible approach. Now by no means am I advocating that you don’t need a business plan… I think they are immensely helpful for allowing us to consider as many of the elements required in starting and growing a business as possible… but the plan is only as good as the action you take, and to get the greatest return on action, having plans that are relevant and based on the most current context is key.

Part of your plan should always be to revise the plan… You may have to change things repeatedly as you learn more, determine the impact of what you’ve learned in your business, and then add it to the plan accordingly.

Consider Scaling Down and Pilots

I know what it’s like… you have a fantastic business idea, you see the potential, you see how great it can be, and you want to put in all you can to make that vision a reality. While this is the only way to go for some business concepts which are pretty much, ‘Go Big, or Go Home,’ this isn’t always the case.

Where it’s possible, consider the option of scaling down, and testing the concept. This will allow for you to start up, while saving money, learning from the pilot and being able to action changes, and raise more funds based on proof of concept. This approach not only reduces start-up costs but provides valuable insight around the business, in real terms. It may not generate much profit, but it will offer a wealth of verified information that will help you to determine the next steps… If you decide to proceed with expansion, it is a great basis for second stage funding.

Consider Realistic Timelines and Pricing

Part of calculating your start-up costs will involve figuring out your initial cash flow. Without having actually operated the business this can be tricky. It’s also not uncommon to fall into the trap of under-pricing products and services in order to stand a better chance of competing, and to ‘tempt’ in more business. Be aware that you don’t necessarily need to do this. If you do, raising prices to the market standard could become difficult at a later stage, and you’ll have to do a lot more work in order to break even. My advice- recognise your worth, and price it accordingly.

Consider a Realistic Time-frame for Starting-up

Time is always potential money, and when you’re starting in business, this is true even more. If you’re going to have fixed costs like property leases, if improvements or modifications are required prior to opening this impacts on both time, and money (quite directly). These additional costs add to your start-up costs, but also add to the time before you can start earning. Don’t fall into the trap of under-estimating when you’ll be ready to trade, and build in a good time cushion before you ‘need’ to see funds coming in from business activities. Failure to do so could result in a significant amount of stress, and in some instances, can even result in a business shutting down before it’s even had the chance to take off, simply because there wasn’t enough time allowed to give it a chance to get going.

Consider the Cost of Money

Many entrepreneurs who have a great idea that they believe strongly in, will make the decision to finance the business themselves. At times, this can be at great personal cost, using the credit on credit cards or loans, and tapping into equity from homes etc. While for some smaller ventures the impact may be negligible, for larger ventures, self-financing should be considered exceptionally carefully before committing to this option. If funds are in abundance and potential delays, changes, etc. will have little impact and will be offset by the return, however long it may take… then go for it! If this is not the case, and any delays and progress are not going to plan will cause a great deal of personal and financial strain that could jeopardise business success anyway, then definitely consider other options.

To Conclude…

As you can tell, starting a business does not begin and end with a business plan, but goes beyond that to wider considerations. This article lists some of these.

Launching A Start-Up Business – When You Should Vs Shouldn’t

Launching a Startup – When You Should vs When You Shouldn’t

Starting a business and making the decision to move from being an employee to being an entrepreneur is one of those things that is often painted in an unrealistically rosy picture. Sure, if you’re successful at it, there’s nothing better than being your own boss, doing something you love, and making a comfortable living doing it. But what does getting there actually entail?

This is one in a series of posts aimed at helping “would-be” entrepreneurs get out of the gate and on the road towards establishing a running business of their own.

Why take the risk of launching your own business venture?

There are plenty of great reasons for launching your own start-up. These include:

  • The opportunity to be in control and do the things you want to do: you get to succeed or fail on your own
  • Not having anyone tell you what to do: you are your own boss
  • The opportunity to create something new: the ability to bring something totally new into existence without the constraints often faced by larger companies
  • The opportunity to impact the world: to develop a new way to communicate, a new way to cut costs, a new way to collaborate, or anything else to make the world a better place
  • Money: when things go right, there can be a lot of money in successful start-ups

These are some of the more fundamental reasons for starting a start-up.

The downside to launching your own business

There are just about as many, if not more, reasons not to start a start-up.

  • They can be emotionally draining: from exuberant highs to depressing lows, start-ups can constantly put you through an emotional rollercoaster
  • Nothing happens unless you make it happen: in established companies, everything happens according to a fixed set of operational procedures, but in a start-up, you have to do virtually everything yourself
  • You are constantly told “NO”: unless you come from a sales background, you are probably not used to being told “NO” all the time, and it isn’t very fun
  • Hiring is extremely difficult: you are constantly faced with casual shoppers, folks who aren’t as serious or passionate about your idea as you are, and you end up being taken for a ride before being told “NO”
  • The hours can be grueling: despite books, articles and workshops promoting the perfect work/life balance, as a start-up entrepreneur, it isn’t likely you will have much of a life outside running your business, at least in the beginning

Still ready to take the plunge?

OK, so I haven’t talked you out of your conviction that starting your own business is what you want to do. Alright, fair enough. It seems you are convinced that it’s the way to go. If you think you’re ready, great! There is no time like the present, and opportunities abound for those who unwaveringly want to see things through. If you want to get your business up and running, here are a few things you to help get you started:

  • What is your business idea?
  • What will you name your business, product or service?
  • How will you go about building a team?
  • How will you build an organization with a thriving work culture?
  • How will you market yourself?
  • How does your team communicate, and how will you establish your online presence?
  • How do you test your idea and collect valuable customer feedback?
  • How can you raise funds, or like-minded business collaborators?

In the next series of upcoming posts, we’ll go through all of the above points in turn to give you a better grasp of what you need to do, and how to do it, in order to successfully get your own business off the ground and go from being an employee to being a business owner.