Beyond Moms, is there a fire burning inside of you? Do you have an idea to share or a creation waiting to be in business? Lynn Perkins, the founder of UrbanSitter has got plenty of tools and tips for you below! Mom-preneurs, soak up this valuable insight from a fellow Beyond Mom and business extraordinaire!
Welcome to part 1 of my 12-part Mom-to-Mom Series for Beyond Mom: Building Your Own Business. For the past five years, I’ve been planning, launching and growing my business, UrbanSitter. At times it has felt like my fourth child— the ups and downs, triumphs, and disappointments of entrepreneurship are quite similar to the emotional roller coaster of parenting. And similar to being a mom, I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Deciding to make the leap from “I have a good idea” to “I’m starting a business” is one of the toughest decisions you will make. Before you’re thinking about the logistical steps required to get there, you should first ask yourself, “How passionate am I about my idea and the problem it will address?” Then, ask yourself how passionate you think you will be in one year, two years, and five years down the road. Building a business takes perseverance and resilience—passion is what pulls you through. There will be times when you are trading off family time for a critical business need, or you face an obstacle that seems insurmountable. Your belief and enthusiasm for the idea needs to be strong enough to get you through the tough times. It is also what will help you lead and motivate the team of people who will eventually be working for you.
So how do you know if you are truly passionate about your idea? If you are, you likely find yourself doing the following:
Researching the industry in your spare time
Talking to your partner, friends or anybody who will listen about the idea
Jotting down notes in the middle of the night about ideas for your future business
Finding that unlike other ideas you may have had, this one keeps popping up in your mind
Sure, passion manifests itself in each person differently, but I encourage you to take time to really analyze how fervent you are about your idea. Though I’m a very cut and dry person when it comes to business, the longer I’ve been at it, the stronger I feel that it’s the fire in your belly and emotional drive that are the two most critical requirements for starting a successful company. Once you’re convinced that you’ve got it, move on to see if you have the rest of what it takes to get your idea off the ground by following these helpful steps:
1) Consider time and money
Starting a business usually takes longer and requires more capital than you anticipate, just like children! Create a realistic timeline and budget accordingly. Are you and your family equipped and ready to make the financial and time commitments necessary to launch your business and get it to a place where you can find outside investors? How much time are you willing to give it to get to a sustainable place? It’s important to have a candid conversation with your partners—in life and business (if applicable)—to make sure your expectations match up.
2) Validate the customer need
Before you jump in, make sure that you aren’t the only one who thinks this is a great idea. Get to know your future customers. Spend time asking them questions about the problem your product, service or business will be resolving. Find out how your future customers do things today. What are their pain points? In the greater pattern of their lives is this something they pay little or much attention to?
3) Estimate the market opportunity
Once you’ve determined that you aren’t the only one who would benefit from your business idea coming to fruition, it’s important to figure out the scale of how big the business can be, or how big you would like it to be. It’s okay to build a business that will serve a smaller customer base or one that will reach global dominance. No outcome is right or wrong; it’s just important to assess how big the business opportunity can be so that you can think about the type of resources (investors, employees, and equipment) you will need to grow the business and to check that your level of commitment is aligned. Existing competition, the ability to acquire customers, and the infrastructure needed to build and grow the business will all influence how quickly this happens.
4) Evaluate timing
Finally, is this the right time to start the business? Is the customer ready for your product or service? If your business is technical, are the early adopters ready to try it? Is it too soon or too late?
Equally important: Is the timing right for you? Are you ready to leave or scale back your current job if you’ve been working? Do you have trusted, reliable childcare support? If you have a partner, is his or her career in a stable place? Is your relationship ready for the ups and downs of owning a business, since it will likely carry into your personal life? Are you excited about your idea and just can’t imagine waiting another day to get started? If the answer to these is ‘yes,’ it sounds like you are ready to go!
My advice is intended to provide some direction as you think about making the leap to become an entrepreneur. Ultimately, starting a business is like becoming a parent for the first-time. You can plan it, read every book out there, and try to time it perfectly. But, you won’t really know what it’s like until you’re in the middle of it. If you arm yourself with knowledge and a whole lot of passion, you will be well prepared for the ride ahead.
Next month, I’ll talk about Setting Up Your Business: The ABC’s of Logistics and Legal For Establishing a Business.