Launching a business is always hard work but it’s even more of a whirlwind when you have a new baby.
Despite the extra challenge, entrepreneur Chloe Brookman says new mums should seize the opportunity of flexible time and a period of change and just go for it.
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“If you wait for every element to be in order before you start then you will be waiting a very long time. Get started. Launch right now,” she says.
“Launching a new business while being a full-time mum is hard work, I’ll be the first to admit it. But it’s so very doable as many women have shown, it’s just a matter of being passionate, organised and focused.”
Brookman founded baby furniture company Olli Ella in 2010. They now distribute across the world to a wide range of retailers and directly.
She shared her top five tips with StartupSmart below.
1. Don’t fret about the perfect business plan
A new business is a lot like a new baby. You may understand what it could entail but it’s not until you’re dealing with the day-to-day challenges and changes that you get a feel for what you’re nurturing.
“A business plan is just that: a plan. We never did one, and I think that this one of the factors that has enabled us to propel our brand; we were completely flexible,” Brookman says.
2. Set goals to stay nimble and sharp
Setting goals in six month batches helps an evolving start-up stay nimble and on target.
“We knew where we wanted to be in the next six months and once we got there, we reassessed and set loose goals for the next year,” Brookman says. “A very basic plan with an outline of your business vision, goals and next steps is all you really need, that is unless you are going to be asking for outside investment.”
3. Start small and self-fund if you can
Once you take on investors, your flexibility is limited by external expectations that need to be met.
“If you can, self-fund your business venture without seeking outside investment,” Brookman says. “Have a look at your business, a good honest look and you will see that doing it yourself is actually doable.”
Olli Ella chose to manufacture their products locally to make it more manageable.
“We had two options: to manufacture overseas in high volumes, low cost but with large profit margins for us. This would involve hefty start-up capital, a warehouse, costly trips overseas – the list goes on. Our other option was to manufacture locally in small volumes, high cost and low profit margins for us. We opted for the latter,” she says.
4. Build the right community around you
For new business owners, surrounding yourself with the right advisers is the most important thing you can do.
“Whether or not you are an expert in your field or, as in our case, are entering a new field in your new business, you will need advisers. Speak to as many people as you can who are experts in their field, write out a list of questions, and sit down with these experts and pick their brains,” Brookman says.
Developing a supportive community goes beyond just advisers. It should also include a network of business owners.
“Navigating the launch of a new business is daunting at best; it’s unknown waters and can be very lonely, even when working with a business partner. To help combat this start your own network of fellow female entrepreneurs; these can be people that you know, meet at networking events, or find through Gumtree or Facebook,” Brookman says.
She adds that keeping the group to fewer than 10 people and meeting monthly creates a sustainable approach.
5. Learn from your mistakes
“This is the greatest adventure that you are about to embark on. Love the lows as much as the highs, welcome mistakes because you will grow from them.”