Although some areas of Australia’s economy look worryingly sluggish, there is an area that is clearly booming, and it has nothing to do with mining.
Home-based businesses are now the fastest growing small business sector, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It’s a trend that is being driven by an increasing desire for women to go it alone.
Indeed, Bankwest research from last year showed that women are starting-up businesses at twice the rate of men, while a separate study by Kimberly-Clark suggests that seven in 10 Aussie women have considered starting a business since becoming a mother.
While the falling cost of technology and flexible working arrangements make it easier than ever for mumpreneurs to start-up, many still face a severe challenge in juggling work and family.
“Running an SME is intense sometimes, as is family – often at the same time,” says Polly McGee, StartupSmart blogger, academic and all-round mumpreneur expert.
“Especially in start-up phase, the hours are long and hard. So friends, family and fools can invest in [physical and emotional] support rather than (or as well as) finance to get mumpreneurs over the line.”
So, if you’re looking to combine work with a young family, or are doing so but struggling, how can you strike the ideal balance? We speak to some of Australia’s busiest mumpreneurs to get five top tips.
1. Have a separate physical space
It may sound like an obvious flaw, but many women fail to set aside a dedicated space in the house for their business.
While moving around the house all day may feel like you are tackling everything at once, it’s often to the detriment of your business. You need an area where you can focus solely on your start-up, where your family are well aware that you are not to be disturbed.
“The kids are used to me working from, home, but they will still come charging in through the door when I’m on a client call,” says Natasha Hawker, founder of HR consultancy Employee Matters.
“You want to give the perception of being professional, so it’s important that you have a space where you aren’t being constantly interrupted.”
Whether it’s a study, spare bedroom or garage, create an environment where there’s a clear demarcation between work and family life.
2. Set clear boundaries – and don’t break them
While your routine will depend on factors such as whether your children are at school or not and the level of help your partner can provide, it’s essential that you set clear boundaries during your work day.
Mandi Gunsberger, founder of Babyology.com.au, divides her day up to encompass both work and family life.
“My children are four and five years-old,” she says. “I will get up at 6am, work until I take them to school and then until they need to come home.”
“I’ve always got my iPhone on me for calls and emails, but I put it away between 4pm and 7pm, when I’m with the children again. I then work from 7pm onwards, until about 11pm.”
“The most challenging thing is having any time left over. People think I go to the gym or for a walk all the time, but I can’t. I know women who do from 8am to 6pm every week and they would find my day irritating, but I enjoy the mix.”
Set a regular routine that incorporates work and family life and stick to it. Clients and suppliers are increasingly accepting of non-traditional work hours, so don’t be afraid to sacrifice some time during the day, as long as you’re contactable.