Should you be starting a business on maternity leave?
If it seems that everyone is starting a business on maternity leave you might be right. According to recent research conducted by Mums&Co, 32% of the surveyed mums in business started their biz while on parental leave. A further 9% started their business while pregnant.
The idea of working flexibly, potentially not going back to your old job and being able to spend more time with you baby is so tempting! But is starting up a business during maternity leave the right thing for you?
Be clear on why you are starting the business
Starting a business on maternity leave for some women is a necessity. You’ve heard the stories of mums finding out they have been made redundant and don’t have a job to go back to. If that is you, starting a business can be a good way to set up an income stream and who knows where it might take you!
If starting a business is something you have been dreaming about for awhile, maternity leave is a good opportunity to do your research and lay the foundations. Put those night feeds with baby to good use! You may even just want to start a business as a side hustle to bring in a little extra cash and spending money for you while you aren’t working. (If this is you and you are just looking to make some $$, check out this ebook from The Thrifty Issue – How to Make Over $10,000 a Month Reselling Stuff as this might be what you are looking for!)
Whatever your reason, it is totally valid, but starting a business is no small task so you need to be 100% clear on why you are doing it. Your motivation will also guide how you set up the business and how many resources you dedicate to it.
Understand the reality of running a business with a baby
The reality of running a business with a baby is probably NOTHING like the pictures you have seen on social media. There are the benefits of flexibility and being able to follow your passion but running a business takes a lot of hard work.
While the baby sleeps you will probably get straight to work so forget sleeping while the baby sleeps. It can be quite overwhelming so you need to put strategies in place for juggling everything. If you are working from home you will also be faced with endless distractions so you need to be kind to yourself and realistic about the situation.
Just as you think you are settling into a rhythm, baby will change their sleep patterns or get sick and it is all out the window. The beauty of running your own business is that you have flexibility and dictate your own hours, it doesn’t make it any less stressful though!
Kylie from Mum Society (and mum of 3!) also points out that “the time each task takes expands for every year of age and every extra child you have!” So if you are in the early stages of your parenting journey just be prepared for the future, especially as baby gets older and more mobile and you potentially add to your family.
Talk to other mums in business
When you are in business, it is important to have a big network around you to support you. And that can start before you even launch your business. Chat to some other mums in business about how they manage their business as mums. What mistakes did they make that you can learn from? What other advice would they give you?
If you don’t have any biz mum friends, try one of these great Facebook groups and ask the mums in there.
Start with a business plan
Once you’ve decided to go ahead and get your business up and running, define exactly what it is that your business is. Be clear on what you do (and don’t do) and also how many hours you realistically have to work on the business. There are only so many hours in the day!
Set your business up right from the get go and you will be setting yourself up for success. Think about your business model, pricing, products as well as your own skill set, skill gaps and the time you have to work in the business.
Erin from Celebrate Play advises to not rushing into implementing all of your ideas at once. Get the basics right, start slowly and ease into it. You are looking after a human baby while growing a business baby at the same time so don’t forget to look after yourself in the middle of all that.
Set goals to measure your success
If you are starting your business with the aim of not returning to work after your maternity leave, be sure to have goals in place. This is important so you have something to work towards but also so that you can measure your success and you are in a good place for making big decisions (like whether to return to work or not).
Research the impact to your paid parental leave
Before you go ahead and start up a business during maternity leave, if you are receiving paid parental leave from the government do some research into any impact working on a small business might have. Check the Centrelink website or give them a call if you are unsure of the workings of maternity leave for small business owners. You may also want to have a chat to your accountant about any financial implications for your family or even to ask questions about business structure and tax.
Running your own business is a truly rewarding experience but before you jump into it be sure that it is the right thing for you and your family! All the best with your family and nurturing your new business idea – exciting times are ahead.
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