Sally McLaughlin took a 10-year break from a career in sales and has gradually built her...read more
When you get that fabulous business start up idea, you just want to get out there and get it working straight away. It might be something that is linked to the job you did before you became a mother, or it might be something totally new to you that just came into your head, but whatever it is, you really need to research it. There are several things that you need to be clear about before you make any definite plans and certainly before you sink any money into it, even if it is a self employment idea with a low start up cost.
Before you do anything else, try to imagine seeing your product or hearing about your service as if you were a stranger. Do you want one? Can you use it? If the answer isn’t a very quick ‘yes’ or if you feel you would need persuading, then it might not be a good idea. Does it need a tweak to make it more appealing? Then ask a few friends. If you can’t be sure that they would be honest for fear of hurting your feelings, then say it is something you have seen or have heard of and see what they say. If they seem to love the idea, then you may be on to something.
You can’t just go on opinions, though. Look through your local paper and make sure that there are not too many competitors locally. If there are no businesses like yours in the area, try to find out if this is because there is no call. If your business grows quickly, is there potential staff in the immediate area? Although unemployment is high in general, it might not be so where you live and this is very important. If you are not going to be able to service your market properly, your business will falter almost from the start. If you do take on staff, where will they work? Most people don’t want to have a house full of relative strangers, even if they are just calling in to pick up stock or work sheets. Premises can be difficult to find at the right price and location, so check out availability, even though this may be some way down the line.
And finally, of course, and most importantly – finance. When you get these amazing bolt of lightning working for yourself ideas it is easy to forget that even the simplest business start ups need money. From the moment you make your first phone call, you are outlaying funds and you need a strong business plan to make sure that you do not end up as so many people do, throwing good money after bad. Home working for mums sounds like a perfect dream answer to the problems of too little cash to go round and also the potential boredom of being at home all day but it is vital not to leap in before every financial aspect has been thoroughly researched before taking the final plunge.