When starting, growing or considering family there only seem to be a few options relating to work. After your initial mat/pat leave (some only get three months) you can return to work full time, part time (if its in the business needs- remember this isn’t a give in) or compressed hours. Some of course choose to stay at home and have the finances to support this. Unfortunately this isn’t always an option for all.
Im not in any way saying that being a stay at home parent is the be all and end all but for those that want to then you should definitely explore every opportunity.
Although I would have loved to stay at home full time this wasn’t really practical for our family needs. Fortunately I am in a job where I can work part time or on an ad-hoc basis (when i need to) and this works well for our family right now.
When thinking about a stay at home business it is essential to come up with a business plan, no matter how small your business or potential revenue. this will help keep you on track, figure out your target market and consider any potential profits/ losses.
I read recently that a high percentage of small businesses (SME) fold within the first year of trade. However bleak this may sound though if you have a unique selling point, good business plan and the motivation to succeed than you will soon be on your way to success. Likewise, the statistics for woman in business and looking more positive than ever with 21% of SMEs being female-led, and 28% of FTSE100 board members being female (go us!!).
I’m no expert but I have a few rules on what I think are essentials in SME start up’s. Rule number 1, in my opinion, is know your market. Research competitors, see what they offer, what makes them successful and how they do things. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel but you can learn from them and be even better. Rule number 2, for me, is make sure your marketing is on fleek. A social media presence is now, more then ever, so important for SME. Its a source of free marketing and can reach a wide demographic. Rule number 4, don’t break the law. Make sure you have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. resetter your business, for tax, any employees, contracts etc. this is critical as failure to do so can lead to hefty financial/ legal liability. Its not worth the risk! My final rule, number 3, is make sure this is something you are passionate about. If you are, others will see this and will have more buy in to your service/ goods!
Whilst on maternity leave I did look into options for stay at home careers and came up with a list of good potentials. Although these are all pretty cool I panicked and stuck to what I know best but for the brave mumprenuers out there, here goes:
Good at arts and crafts? Have a creative flair? Then this might just be the SME you need to be doing. This is a hugely growing market with the need for personalised items in high demand. The types of items you could create and sell are endless, but here are a few of my top picks: personalised frames, personalised children’s goods (bags, toy chests, pillows, t-shirts etc), wine glasses and holiday related gifts (Christmas/ Easter/ birthday/ firsts).
It a relatively low-cost start up too. Supplies can be bought on online market places like EBay and Amazon, Hobbycraft and the Range. Box frames can also be purchased for cheap at Ikea https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/decoration/frames-pictures/ribba-frame-white-art-00378403/ . You might choose to make scrabble family name frames, my first day at school crayon on frames or a whole host of other occasion frames. Here are a few you tube links to show you the how to on creating your own masterpieces.
Here are a few I made-
Have a background in admin or just good with writing and being organised? Why not try a career as a virtual assistant. This is an interesting option as you could go 2 ways- out on your own or working via a third party. If you go it alone you need to be really on your A game with regards to sales and marketing. You will need to attract your own clients and work out how you can meets their needs and what services you will provide. Will you offer a telephone answering service? If so, you may need another line. Will your work mainly consist of social media management and writing? If so, a laptop may be all you need to get going.
It is important to hit the ground running with this and set clear lines with each client. Offer a terms of service which will outline what you will provide, how much you will charge (per hour) and an exit clause which should detail how the contract should end i.e notice period required by either party.
Here are a few companies which act like 3rd parties (doing the sales end and supplying you with work for a commission, usually paid at the other end of taken off your hourly rate), I should point out I only found these via google and haven’t had any experience with them personally-
This is something virtually anyone can do! It has no start up cost and is extremely helpful in decluttering your house and the houses of others.
Have a rake through your wardrobe, toy chests, garage and attic. Im sure there is a ton of stuff collecting dust and taking up space right? You know the saying… ‘one mans junk is another mans treasure!’.
Wash, iron, polish or spruce up your items and get listing them. You can advertise them for free or at a really low cost (usually taken form the sales fee) on sites such as EBay, Gumtree, Amazon, Schpok and Facebook groups.
Personally my favourite is the Facebook groups (usually your areas name follow by for sale, free or wanted). With these you can request the buyer collects and also negotiate a price, if you so wish?
It’s actually really exciting selling stuff you no longer want and seeing money in return. if you run out of stuff you can considering offering a sales service to friends and family. ask them for their unwanted items and do a sales split with them i.e you will ‘market’ their goods and arrange collection/ drop off and they will give you a percentage of the sales price. You will probably be surprised by all the people who would take you up on your offer. Everyone loves a de-clutter!
Dog Walking/ Cat Sitting
This is an excellent option for all those outdoorsy types or for parents with pets (animals, not the kids!).
can you imagine it…taking the dog out for a walk with the kids or baby in sling. Taking an extra 2 or three and actually getting paid for what you would be doing anyway?
Dog walking is big business and can attract double the hourly rate of a childminder sometimes earning up £12 p/h per dog!!
A few things to consider before venturing out on your own with this one though- how are you children with pets? Would you feel safe with your children around other dogs? do you have a large enough car or would your clientele be local enough with access to a park on foot?
You now need to be certified to be a Dog Walker in Scotland. I don’t think this is a largely expensive or lengthy process but its definitely something you will need to do prior to em’bark’ing on this career.
Edinburgh council register http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20178/park_management_and_rules/252/commercial_dog_walkers/1
Are you nifty with a duster? enjoy seeing things sparkle? Why not put your skills to the test and become a domestic cleaner. You could start up your own cleaning business.
Again, this is a very low cost start up. You really just need some cleaning equipment and a few clients. You could work this around getting free childcare (and if you didn’t want the kids to feel your absence, you could try and slot in cleaning jobs during your Childs nap time with them being babysat).
A good place to start with this is to get a family member or friend on board, offer to do a one time deep clean for them and get them to give you a testimonial/ review. from here, get yourself a Facebook page/ Twitter/ Instagram account and start posting photos of your immaculate work (bearing in mind the privacy of your clients). Create offers and MEMES to share your business page and remember to link with other groups on Facebook to promote your business. Another place to advertise for free are sites like gumtree. If you want local clients, why not create a flyer and do a mail drop on the school run or while out walking the buggy? Cleaning rates in my local area are between £10-15p/h and a deep clean can go for about £60.
This article is purely an opinion based piece and should not be taken as careers advice. Wit is essential when starting a business that you consider all legalities and costs and make an informed choice using professional guidance. When starting a business you will also need to consider what type of business will you be- self employed, limited company etc. This may put you off and seem a little overwhelming but its actually all very straight forward. You can arrange to meet with a business advisor for free through Business Gateway Scotland (if you are resident in Scotland) and they can give you advice about all these things and often recommend free start up courses and funding options to get you on your way to success. Good luck!