The former Apprentice star and Beat the Boss presenter gives her tips on how to become a mumpreneur.
Saira Khan may be one of our most popular children’s tv presenters with Beat the Boss turning a nation of kids into mini entrepreneurs, but she is also a working mum balancing work with caring for her 10-month old son, Zac.
On top of all that, she has set up her own business, miamoo, and has just successfully launched a luxury range of skin products which have been snapped up by retailers such as John Lewis and Waitrose.
So she knows a fair bit about both being a working mum and being a mumpreneur, which makes her well qualified both to front a survey for Kodak Inkjet on the growing number of women making money from working from home and to provide tips on setting up a home business.
The survey of 3,000 people found that three quarters of stay at home parents have been affected by the credit crunch with 16% really struggling as a result. Many are looking to boost their family income through the internet.
The poll found that 47% were trying to raise money by doing things like online market research or selling books, DVDs and CDs on auction websites.
One in 20 are earning more than £200 a month on this and 6% believe they could turn this work into a full time job. Some 57% said they would consider setting up their own office at home, working around their children.
Mumpreneurs are becoming an increasing force in the business world. Saira says she is not surprised by the poll’s findings. “It confirms what I know about working mums and what women want and that is to work from home.”
Saira, who rose to fame in the first series of The Apprentice, has presented a BBC programme about mumpreneurs. She says the programme makers had never heard of mumpreneurs when she approached them and couldn’t believe it was going on. Then they started researching it and found that it was quite a phenomenon.”
She says that from her experience you need three key things to start a business from home: a good computer and phone line; an efficient low cost printer and a scanner photocopier. These need to be good quality, but don’t need to cost a lot, she says. She says the average cost of setting up a home office is around £700, including a good anti-virus programme.
In terms of the practicalities, she says you need to ensure you are actually working at home and not just lazing about in your pjs so one way of doing this is to make sure you wear work clothes. It makes you feel more business like, she says. It is also a good idea to set up a separate work phone line so work calls don’t get mixed with calls from your mum and to back up files regularly.
Miamoo was set up in Saira’s loft with just a printer, a phone line and a computer. “I am living proof of what can be done,” she says. But she adds that she has had to work long hours to get the business started. “Businesses are not a success overnight,” she says. “You have to work while your child is at school or in childcare and then be prepared to turn the computer back on when your child is in bed until your business is up and running. It’s all about time management. If you talk to most mumpreneurs their lives are very organised.” She adds that working mums are quite well qualified in terms of organisational skills anyway and those who work from home tend to work in a very concentrated way and get a lot done within school hours.
On the plus side, being your own boss means you have the flexibility to take time off for school plays etc or to meet up with a friend for lunch.
Saira works around her son Zac and looked after him full time for the first six months after he was born. But she says “I am a mum who has to go to work.” This is not just to pay the mortgage – she mentions the importance of work for her own feeling of self confidence. Zac goes to a childminder four days a week and she says he is very happy there and is making friends.
Saira says technology is revolutionising the world of mums, meaning they can make money in ways that were unheard of 10 years ago. “There is so much more they can do,” she says. As the number of mumpreneurs builds, Saira predicts it will have an increasing influence on the shape of office products. Already, she says, companies are looking to produce equipment which Is suited to the home office.
“Women like to have an office which looks nice,” she says. “They don’t, for instance, want lots of wires everywhere. Women have revolutionised the baby market and more and more technology companies like Kodak are targeting them and will continue to do so in the future.”
For Saira’s tips for setting up a home business, click here.