Are you Ready to Run a Small Business?
The Mommy Checklist
If you’re reading this right now, chances are, you’re a mom, and you can’t quite get your feet out the door to look for regular employment because the baby is too young. There is no dependable and/or affordable help available. You need income because you’re worried sick about your child’s schooling needs which, after milk formula expenses, would magically materialize before your eyes.
You wing it, or at least try to. Your husband works overtime just to make sure your small family is comfortable, but the expenses just would not stop coming. You’re trying to work with loans, and trying to ride the huge waves of interest rates each financial season has in store for you. You come to terms with the fact that you need to produce some sort of income too, in whatever free time you have left, between or after childcare and the huge demands of household work.
A friend of a friend of a friend hears about your condition and gives you plenty of ideas about running a small business at home. There are plenty, and lo and behold! Most of them can be run online! You feel almost too optimistic and decide that you need to invest on so-and-so business right this minute! Hold up.
A business is a business. It can turn out to be a good business and give you reasonably substantial revenue in the long run, but without enough thought and planning, it can also be your biggest financial mistake. You can end up spending too much money on a business you cannot sustain. You need to be armed.
Do you have enough passion for it?
You can choose the financially safe route of providing services online, but your steam is bound to run out if you don’t have enough passion for it. It pays to be an online service provider, whether you’re an online tutor, a freelance copywriter, an online editor, a bridal or events consultant, or an online store owner and operator. The possibilities are endless, but you need to make sure you like what you’re doing.
Why? Just imagine yourself teaching a kid in Korea how to speak in English. He is halfway around the world, it is the wee hours of the morning, you have just put the baby to sleep, and you feel like you also need to sleep and recharge. However, you have signed up for the job and not being able to hold up to your end of the deal could be detrimental to both your career as a freelance tutor, and the business of your remote employer.
If it’s important for you to like your job as a regular employee, it’s ten times more important for you to be passionate about an online or work-from-home stint. This is especially true for moms because mommies, especially of small children, are always tired. It’s only too easy to quit because you’re bored, or quit because something about the job has disheartened you.
Do you have enough time and energy for it?
While it is possible to run a business “at your own schedule”, you need to make sure that you still have enough time and energy for your chosen business venture. Any business venture demands discipline, and while schedules are a tad more lenient for a self-employed work-from-home mom, the number of hours you will be spending on the business won’t change. That is, if you truly want to succeed at your online business endeavor.
For example, even if you’re a mom of a three-month-old infant, you can’t go a day without replying to potential clients and attending to orders if you own an online store. If you neglect your online store, you can lose revenue. Some might say that’s alright. You’re not paying for rent, anyway, so there’s no real loss. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
If you run an online business, you depend on client satisfaction. Making a single client unhappy because you failed to be responsive can be detrimental to your online store. If you have also gone ahead and invested in your own website (shopping carts and other professional trader’s tools do cost money), there is revenue loss, no matter how small you may think the loss is.
Do you know your target market?
You should not start any business without knowing your target market. Each and every online business decision you make must be dependent on facts about your target market. If possible, you must also be specific about your main target market, and surrounding market spheres which your product might also cater to.
By “product” here, we also include your service, or more specifically your talents. If you’re a visual artist or a designer, while it’s not very romantic, you would be more successful if you know the specific group of people who would be interested in your art, or your design services. If you’re a bridal consultant, you also need to find a niche. It’s alright for you to cater to more than one type of bride, but it’s more profitable for you to actually sell your services to a specific type of bride. For example, you may cater to the bride who lacks money, but one who is unwilling to make her day any less special.
Do you know your competition?
You cannot, and must not venture into any business without first knowing your competition. For example, if you like making your own jewelry, it could pay off as a hobby. Making your own jewelry can help you save money. However, if you’re not the best in your niche, you may have to bring the prices of your accessories down simply because some other jeweler can design and craft better jewelry than you. If you also have nothing new to offer in a specific niche, you might have a hard time making any money off it.
The same goes for those who are planning to bake cupcakes and sell them online, sell t-shirts with prints on them, or make wedding invitations. Remember, if you can’t beat your competition with a unique and attractive product, you might have to be the “cheaper option” and this is hardly the way to go if you’re looking to make any profit online.
Do you have enough capital for it?
If you’re not a skilled enough writer, you won’t succeed easily as a web content provider. This is simply because while the Internet is brimming with profitable opportunities, the competition is also on a global scale. Skill and talent are also considered “capital” in this trade, and if you don’t have enough of it, your business will be a flop.
Online stores, on the other hand will also need a few financial investments to flourish. While you can be a non-paying member of eBay or Amazon, for example, premium members will always get the trust of potential buyers first. Any sort of financial investment makes you seem less likely a fly-by-night trader. Some small business owners have also ventured on free websites like Instagram and maybe even Facebook, but these online spaces are not enough to really sell your product unless your target market uses them. You will still profit from your own website. Perhaps having an Instagram or a Facebook account for your business will just aid the sales, but it’s a bad idea to completely depend on these platforms.
It’s still possible for you to be successful at running your business at home, but you need to think things though. Don’t simply plunge into the idea of making money online because, while there are mommies who have succeeded in their own online business ventures, their success stories are almost always a product of hard work.
You must also keep things real. Do not be too optimistic about your business. Even the most knowledgeable business people do not break even right away. Most businesses do not make much money during the first two years. Just be prepared for losses and look for ways to bounce back from it. If you do experience instant success, do not let it go to your head. The competition can just be waiting around the corner, so don’t let your guard down.
Instead, continue to improve your skills, your business tactics, your network and so on. If you can educate yourself more about the business you’re into, go ahead and do so. Cross your fingers, too, because while most business people are afraid to admit it, venturing into any trade is also 30% luck.