Having been exploring how to set up your business to give you the freedom, flexibility and fulfilment that you’re after in your life, we turned our attention last week to the specific situation of creating that freedom, flexibility and fulfilment that you need to prepare for having a young family. This week, I want to look more concretely at HOW to set up your business so that it works when you have children.
1. Define success (as a parent and as an entrepreneur)
Sorry to be a broken record – if you have been following me for any time at all, you’ll know that I nearly always recommend starting with defining what ‘success’ looks like for you! – but this really is the most important first step. You have to know where you’re trying to get to in order to work out how to get there.
When it comes to having children, get ready to truly, profoundly and completely reimagine what ‘success’ means to you. It’s one of the most transformative experiences of your life and it’s likely to challenge your entire identity.
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You can, and should, start thinking about this ahead of time (although, of course, you won’t know what it will be like until it actually happens to you, so be prepared for the unexpected!), looking at success from a holistic perspective and specifically (i) as a parent and (ii) as an entrepreneur.
We looked at this last week in the context of considering what ‘freedom’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘fulfilment’ mean to you personally, including lots of questions around how you want to run your business, how much time you want to take off when your baby first arrives, when you want to go back to work and how much you’ll want to work then, and so on. These are all important questions to try to answer so that you come up with the parameters for what your business needs to look like to facilitate your vision of the kind of parent you want to be.
So start by defining what you want from your business, and from your new lifestyle as a parent, and then use that as a guide to design a business that will deliver on your vision.
2. Choose the right business model
Everything we’ve already looked at in terms of how to set up your business to give you the freedom and flexibility that you’re after will apply to how to set it up specifically to work with family life. The core of this work will be in deciding on the right business model, including who your customers or clients will be, what products and services you will offer, and what you’ll need to make this business work in terms of investment and support.
In terms of clients, for example, you’ll want to identify individuals or companies who will understand your ‘family-first’ approach, be flexible to your schedule and supportive of your desire to work from home, and be willing to respect your boundaries when it comes to when and how you will support them.
In terms of your products and services, you’ll need to look at how you will deliver them – virtually rather than in person, leveraging your time effectively so that you’re maximising the value you’re getting out of the time you’re putting in, and considering more ‘passive’ formats such as self-directed courses, group programmes and books.
In terms of what you’ll need to make the business work, you’ll need to calculate the one-off set-up costs as well as any ongoing expenses, as well as looking at the resources needed to make it work in terms of a team, even if it’s just an accountant and some admin support. (We’ll look at this more concretely next week as we explore how to prepare for taking time off when the baby comes!)
3. Work out the financials
Having a family will bring a lot of new financial responsibilities. On a personal level, you’ll want to have a look at your current expenses as well as any savings buffer you have available, and then budget for all the new outgoings once the baby comes, trying to avoid buying things you don’t need! You’ll also want to sit down with your partner and look at what’s feasible together – perhaps they can take on more of the financial burden during your set-up phase and once the baby comes?
From a business perspective, you need to make sure the financials make sense, first, during that set-up phase; then, during your maternity leave – more on this next week; and, finally, during your subsequent years with a young child. This means setting income targets that will cover both your personal and business expenses, coming up with your different revenue streams, and planning how you’re going to reach those targets. (Have a look at this post as well, on what’s important when it comes to money as you’re starting out on your own >>)
In terms of pricing your services, you’ll want to look at your overall income goals and how many clients you can take on in the time you have available. The usual number given for a typical 40-hour work week is 2,080 hours in a year – but none of us want to work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year; it’s not feasible anyway as a business owner, as in addition to our billable hours we also have business development, marketing, accounting, and so on; and as a parent, the whole point is that you want to create that freedom and flexibility in your schedule. Work out your pricing so that it works for your income goals and what you want your schedule to look like.
4. Build your audience
An important part of your business model will be how you market and sell your services. You can’t just put up a website the day before your baby is due and expect to generate a generous passive income! You need to build an audience, one that consists of prospects who need and value what you can provide and who come to ‘know, like and trust’ you over time so that they eventually are ready to buy from you – and, for some people, that will take months, if not years.
To build that audience, you’ll need to design a content strategy that includes who you’re targeting, what kind of content you will create and when and where you’ll distribute it… and then you’ll need to make sure that you create and distribute that content consistently over time.
This applies both to B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business), it’s just a question of adjusting the type of content and the platform that you’re using. For example, if you’re targeting individuals, you might be doing live videos and inspirational posts on Facebook and Instagram, whereas if you’re trying to work with businesses then you might be more active on LinkedIn and sharing educational posts and reports to build your credibility.
5. Get support
Finally, you’re about to go through some very exciting, but very challenging, times – both as a new business owner and, then, as a new parent. Make sure you’re not trying to do it all by yourself, and get the support that you need.
From a business perspective, there are a few different types of support you’ll want to consider:
- The cheerleader– someone who believes in you, who’ll encourage you when you’re doubting yourself and who’ll celebrate with you as you move forward
- The accountability partner– someone who will check in on your commitments and make sure you actually do what you said you’d do
- The mentor– someone who’s a few steps ahead of you in the game, who can advise you on common mistakes and pitfalls and guide you on where to focus your efforts
In more practical terms, you’ll want to consider things like creating systems and outsourcing to make your business function effectively without you while you’re on parental leave and, then, when you get back to work on a more limited basis.
From a personal perspective, make sure you enlist your partner, your family and your friends so that they are behind you when it comes to your new business plans and then supportive once you start your family. And don’t forget solutions like getting a cleaner or ordering food online to make your life easier!
Of course, having a baby will be different to having a baby and a toddler, which will be different to having older children who are in school on weekdays. You’ll find that you need to evolve your personal criteria and therefore evolve your business model and ways of working as you and your family situation evolve.
Next week, we’ll look specifically at the more immediate preparations that need to happen once you’re actually pregnant and imminently going on maternity leave.
If you’re keen to move out of the corporate 9 to 5 and set up a business that will work for having a young family, then get in touch to book a free consultation with me. We’ll look at where you are today, where you want to get to, and how I can support you in setting up a business with the freedom and flexibility that you need.