The Population Reference Bureau reports that 68 percent of women with children under age six are now working. The high percentage of mothers in the workforce is attributed to different factors including the recent economic recession, the gradual decline in men's earnings, and the increase in women's educational levels. The data shows a growing class of mothers turning to entrepreneurship.
Now more mom entrepreneurs or "mompreneurs" already strapped for time are starting -- and successfully growing -- their own business ventures. Zipcar is one of many companies started by mothers of young children. Many more are being created and transforming industries in completely new ways. But how exactly do they do it?
Here are the steps that many mompreneurs have followed to successfully build their own businesses:
Start With an Idea
Melissa Lanz was working nearly 70 hours a week which meant she rarely ate dinner with her kids. Her own meals consisted primarily of frozen foods and take-out meals. But what she really wanted was to be able to enjoy healthy meals at the dinner table. Her search turned out to be fruitless so she had the idea to start her own business: The Fresh 20, a meal planning service focused on healthy eating for busy families.
Entrepreneurship is about identifying a problem in a market and delivering a solution. Even a simple idea (e.g. meal planning) can turn into a multimillion-dollar business. Look for inspiration in your own personal or work life. Make note of the things that frustrate you and pay attention to your surroundings. Oftentimes the best ideas are the ones staring right in your face.
Assess the Market
Amanda Steinberg founded DailyWorth, a financial e-newsletter to help women better manage their finances. Securing advertising contracts was essential in the early stages to prove the viability of the idea. Investors were initially skeptical when she had first pitched the idea but Steinberg was able to dramatically grow the company.
There are already so many unknowns when starting a business. Not every idea will be profitable. But you can greatly reduce your risk by validating your idea and conducting competitive analysis of the market. Validation confirms that a market exists and builds initial traction for your new idea.
There are numerous free and low cost ways to validate a business idea. Seek feedback from friends and family. Browse social media networks and forums. Create a landing page and drive traffic with a paid search campaign. Or even contact people directly in your target market to interview. The information you gather from this step can be absolutely invaluable.
Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar dreamed of having her own business. But soon she started to have reservations when she realized it would require a much larger time commitment. Her daughter convinced her otherwise and Chase began moving her plans forward to create a car sharing company.
Time is already a valuable resource with demands for attention coming at every angle. A distinguishing factor with successful mompreneurs is effective time management and being able to streamline productivity. Whether it means delegating certain tasks to a spouse or bringing on new employees, successful mompreneurs find creative ways to maximize productivity and still leave time for their families.
Being a Mompreneur -- Just Do It
There are countless stories of mothers who have built successful businesses while raising a family. Start with an idea and get feedback using resources available to you. Never be afraid of competition as it only demonstrates potential market profitability.
Set goals to continuously move your business forward. Even if you manage your time well, understand that there may be times where the business gets more attention than the kids and vice versa. Part of being a mother and an entrepreneur is finding a balance. Being a business owner while raising a family is incredibly demanding, but most mompreneurs wouldn't have it any other way.
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