Mompreneurs: Launching While Keeping Your Day Job
After being a working mom for a while it finally hits -- the million-dollar idea. You're ready to quit your day job, jettison the cubicle, and launch your dreams. But wait a second -- you can't afford to quit just yet. So how do you launch while juggling kids, a job, and paying the bills? Here are some tips to help you do just that. In fact, youâ€™ll see that launching while keeping your day job is actually an excellent way to start your entrepreneurial career.
1. Setting Boundaries
Many companies allow you to have other jobs or side businesses. Good news: You're probably not doing anything wrong by launching while keeping your job. Just be aware of and check out the written (and unwritten) rules of launching on someone else's dime. Your employee handbook is a good place to start. As for unwritten rules, don't impinge on your company's reputation or alienate coworkers with your new project.
2. Setting Goals
You're filled with purpose and dedication, but working, launching, and mothering all at once is a monumental challenge. Try to keep your business at the top of your goal list and avoid letting it become just an expensive hobby. Clearly identify what it will take to make this work -- sales, cash flow -- and why you're doing it. And don't forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments, be they large or small.
3. Time Management
As a working mom, you already have an advantage -- you know how to multitask to get things done. Now just add launching your business to the list. Be sure to make the time, whether it's an hour after the kids are in bed, or an hour before they get up. And make the most of your time. I keep a to-do list for my business. Whenever I have time, I scan my list for a task I can quickly cross off -- it can be as simple as a five-minute Internet search on a vendor or a follow up email. Don't feel too guilty about taking time from your family: You need to make some short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.
4. Market Research
Now that you've learned how to find time, it's time for even more research. Don't be tempted to rush a product to market before it's ready just to make a quick sale -- after all, your day job should still be paying the bills.
Spend some of that day-job paycheck on prototyping and getting feedback. This could be as simple as gauging how long cookies made from Nana's secret recipe last in the break room.
Sometimes it really is who you know and not what you know. Find out places to network in your new role -- as CEO of your own company. Groups like the local Chamber of Commerce, women's business networks, and volunteer organizations are excellent places to spread the word and practice your pitch. Whether it's an early breakfast, workday lunch, or after-work mixer, forget the guilt, get a babysitter, and go! Invest in business cards, hone your elevator speech, meet, greet, and follow up.
7. Timing Your Expenses
Like building a house, launching a business will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think it will. Trim expenses now: Take a brown-bag lunch and use the savings for new business cards, advertising, and other small expenses. And use your cash flow to pay for start-up costs like license and lawyer fees. Avoid charging these costs to your credit card; do your best to save cash up front or fund costs out of current flow from your day job.
8. Space Management
Like Virginia Woolf said, you will need a room of your own. Or at least a closet, desk, etc., for your business. This is your space -- keep it sacred and organized.
9. Getting Family Buy-In
You must get, and keep, the support of your family. You're already split in many pieces and now you're undertaking something that will generate a lot of extra work and cost without immediate return. Your family is bound to ask, "Whatâ€™s in it for us?" Focus their attention on the eventual benefits -- more time with you! -- and solicit their feedback, even if it's just on something simple like business card design. Remember to take time for your family while you're launching. Find ways to keep replenishing the good will and focus on the positives.
10. Don't Give Up!
By working while you launch, you will work harder and longer than if you had no other commitment. The challenges of managing work, family, and launching will make you a better entrepreneur -- perseverance and adaptability will be your middle names. And yes, the house won't be as clean and homemade cupcakes will be a thing of the past. But youâ€™ll be well on your way to achieving your dreams.
Text by Andrea, founder and president of GirlMogul.