Congratulations! You already have your business up and running. But it doesn’t stop there. How do you keep the momentum going to grow your business? Check out some of the resources available to help you grow your business. We will be updating this page regularly so be sure to check back often for new resources.

LATEST ARTICLES

  • Reality Bites: When You Hit A Speed Hump

    Business & Baby on Board has been named one of Australia’s most innovative products, in one of the largest and most audacious innovation awards of its kind in Australia – the Anthill Magazine ‘SMART 100’ Index. The business book written by Tasmanian entrepreneur Johanna Baker-Dowdell was not only ranked in the SMART 100 Product Winners, but was also ranked 16th in the Readers’ Choice list

    Here’s your chance to read an exclusive excerpt.

    ***

    As you read at the beginning of this book (if you’ve read chronologically), I was living the business mum dream. I was running a full-time business doing something I loved, had my family close by and had the lifestyle I wanted. I couldn’t think of how my life could be better, until it took a turn for the worst.

    I thought I had everything pretty well under control in my business until I had an accident in April 2010, which resulted in a head injury and stopped me working for three months.

    So what do you do when you run a solo business and you earn the family income? Panic! Yes, there was an element of that, but it didn’t help anyone, so I chose to learn from this experience and came out the other side more aware of my strengths and wiser in business.

    My speech was affected and eyesight blurry. The brain I relied on so much was failing me. I spent four days in hospital going through MRI and CT scans, numerous neurological and physical tests and speaking with a social worker before being sent home to rest, and not stress, as I was now a post-traumatic migraine sufferer.

    It took a month before the constant migraines subsided enough for me to be able to look at a computer screen and do some work. I started with one hour a day in the first week, then two hours the following week and so on until I was back to a full-time workload three months after the accident.

    Those three months were very difficult for me as I struggled to come to terms with the fact a migraine could crop up at any moment. My confidence took a nosedive. I started questioning my abilities until I realised I still had everything I’d had before the accident (well, the bank account wasn’t in the same shape, but everything else was still okay).

    After spending the time recovering and giving myself a stern talking to, I was able to look back at the accident and reflect on what – and who – were really important to me.

    My head injury became a defining moment for me, and I’m almost (I say almost) grateful it happened. It made me realise that life is short and I need to live it now, not some time in the vague future. I looked at my business with a more critical eye, and my husband and I made a decision to follow our dream to have a hazelnut farm in Tasmania. Without the bump on my head, we would probably have still been talking about doing it. The events of 2010 made us really question what we wanted in life – and then act on those goals.

    Johanna’s expertise

    I learned many lessons as a business owner during this time and was forced to change my work practices as a result. The biggest lesson was the importance of systems in business. If I’d had systems in place before the accident I could have handed it over to someone else, feeling confident Strawberry Communications would run without me. Instead, I worried about losing clients and the quality of my work to the detriment of my health. Nothing is worth making yourself sick over!

    Tool 1: Systemise

    The first step in systemising my business was to make a list of tasks I did not have to do. This included my bookkeeping, invoicing and administration. I found a virtual assistant and a bookkeeper I trusted and outsourced this work to them. Between us, we worked out how each task should be completed and when, and then I relaxed knowing someone capable had taken control of that area in the business.

    Tool 2: Outsource

    Next I worked out which tasks I was doing that could be outsourced to a contractor with a similar skill set to mine. I wrote a procedure for each task, with step-by-step instructions and screen shots detailing how everything should be completed to the same level of service I would provide. I completed this process over time, so each procedure was written as I completed the task. This way I knew I wasn’t missing any steps. These documents will form part of the Strawberry Communications operations manual once I document everything.

    So now I am left with the more strategic tasks that I should be doing for my clients. This process has freed me up to spend more time doing this and work on marketing the business itself.

    Tool 3: Get insurance

    Another hard lesson to learn was the importance of adequate insurance cover, especially if you are running a business on your own. I had applied for income protection insurance and was being assessed when my accident happened. Of course it was turned down at that time, which meant my family had no income for the time I was ill.

    If you are running your business alone, it means you are on your own when it comes to business insurance and liability. You are taking all the risk yourself, so it pays to research which insurance product is right for you and your business. If you work from home, you may be able to cover your property, office equipment and stock under your home and contents insurance, but it pays to make an appointment with an insurance adviser to check the best option for your circumstance.

    Public liability insurance is equally as important as covering your equipment and stock, because it covers you for any damage to property or people, other than employees, caused by you or your staff.

    Professional indemnity insurance protects business owners, especially those considered experts in their industry, against claims made by clients, past or present. Claims usually involve a breach of conduct in their professional duties and the insurance covers the costs, legal expenses and any damages payable.

    Tool 4: Be honest when things go wrong

    I decided to be upfront with my clients when I couldn’t work, knowing I would lose some. A friend helped me send out an email as soon as I was able to string a few sentences together to tell them what had happened and give a time-frame for when I would be able to complete their projects. These updates continued via email, social media and my newsletters until I returned to work normally.

    The clients I valued stuck by me and waited patiently until I was able to continue my work for them. These clients are still with the business today and have formed an important cornerstone in my operations. In the day-to-day running of a business it can be easy to forget that clients are people, too, and sometimes they just need to know what is happening. If they appreciate what you are doing, they will reward you with their loyalty.

    Tool 5: Not every opportunity is right

    I know a lot of business owners, particularly in the service industry, who said yes to everything that came their way at first, even if it wasn’t exactly right for them. I was guilty of this to a certain extent as well, but not anymore. My head injury and subsequent time out of the business to recover made me question why I was working on some projects and with people who didn’t fit with my business vision. It doesn’t help you, your business or the client if your heart isn’t in it, so it’s best to say thanks, but no thanks, in these situations. Have the confidence in refusing and your business will thrive as a result.

    Johanna’s tips

    • Don’t think too long when you have an idea. Follow your dream and make it happen.
    • Be flexible around how your business operates because it will change over time, as your children grow and due to circumstances beyond your control.
    • Document your business systems.
    • Outsource so you can free yourself up for the big opportunities.

    This post is an extract from ‘Business & Baby On board’, a mum’s bible on starting out and succeeding as an entrepreneur. The book is available for purchase from here.

    HAVE YOUR SAY
    Have you had reality bite and affect your business? Leave a comment below.

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION
    Come join us in the Business Mums Lounge (free Facebook group) and let’s continue the discussion there.
  • How to run a business with kids

    How to run a business with kids
    How to run a business with kids

    Let’s face it, one of the top challenges we face as parents and business owners is what to do with the kids while we work. With child care costs on the rise, it’s even more pertinent that we create a strategy that will work for us and our family.  The number one benefit of running your own business is that you are the boss. You get to set the hours you work and when you work. It’s about creating a business that fits around your lifestyle as well as that of your family. Anything other than that and you are creating yourself a job.

    It’s about creating a business that fits around your lifestyle as well as that of your family. Anything other than that and you are creating yourself a job

    Now that’s easier said than done, particularly when you are starting your business from scratch and potentially bootstrapping it too.  Everyone’s situation is going to be different because everyone is different and the needs of your family are different too. I will share with you what works for me so you can see an example of how you can create your own business-family strategy.

    Planning is key. Every Sunday I sit down and plan the week out. I look at what business commitments I have, what I want to achieve for the week as well as my to do list so I can structure my work week. I also look at what personal activities and commitments my daughter and I have. I have a magnetic calendar on the fridge that shows me my whole week in detail and every time I open the fridge (if there is chocolate in there that can be often!) I get reminded of what I have going on.

    Even if you work from home, you need some sort of help so you can get what I call the “focused work” done.  As a solo mum, I am very fortunate and grateful to have the help of my parents when it comes to looking after my daughter. That being said, I am also conscious of not taking advantage of that gift! I structure my week so that I do my focused work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when my parents take care of my daughter. On those days I drop my little one off at 9.30am and collect her at 4.30pm. The time in between is completely focused on my businesses.  I try to structure my day around whatever meetings I have and create chunks of non interrupt-able time when I get those tasks you really need focus for done.

    The rest of the time I work around my daughter’s needs, after all I am running my own businesses with one of the primary goals being to spend more time with her. That means making the most of her day time naps and evening sleeps to get any additional work done. The day time sleeps can vary in duration so I use this time doing things that can be interrupted at short notice like responding to emails, etc. Evenings are when I do most of my article writing.

    I think it’s important to set expectations with people that I work with on a regular basis so they are aware of the best times to catch me on the phone or that I may take a little longer to respond to emails on the days I am spending with my daughter. After all, there is nothing like trying to be professional on the phone while your child is having a melt down in the background!

    As business owners we are often the person responsible for all tasks in the business, many of the tasks are not areas we are skilled at so they take a lot longer to get done or don’t get done as we procrastinate over them. If you can afford to outsource, I totally recommend it. If you don’t have the budget to outsource, you could also try and do a deal with other business owners where you trade your skill and help with their business for help from them in return. I have recently started outsourcing some of the tasks that are not my forte or that don’t fire me up as well as other tasks that don’t require me to actually do them. It gives me time to focus on what I shine at and also to work on my business rather than in it. I can tell you it is hard to let go, and does take a bit of work to establish, but you have to ask for help. Remember we can have it all but we don’t need to do it all!

    As mums in business we have multiple roles to play. As well as running a thriving business there is still a household to run – meals to be cooked, washing to be done, bills to be paid. We often feel the need to be super mum but we need to be realistic with what we can achieve each day. In the past I have been a multi-tasker but it doesn’t work. You end up going around in circles. If you set your priorities for the day then focus on one thing, tick the box and move on to the next, you will be surprised at just how much more productive you can be. It’s all about getting better at managing our workday. Remember it is about progress not perfection.

    When you are not working set 9 to 5 hours in addition to working from home, it is easy to get into the trap of working all the time or at least feeling like there is never any off time. Don’t forget to take time for yourself because all work and no play can make for an unhappy mumma. I aim to hop into bed most nights at 9.30pm and do some reading because I know a sleep deprived mum is going to be a cranky one!  I also let myself take nights off and do something just for me…that might be watching a movie or doing some personal development work.

    It’s also important to create a support network of business mums. Surrounding yourself with people who understand what it is like to be a mum in business for herself can be a relief when you have a partner or family who don’t get your frustrations. You can turn to these people for advice and see how they are dealing with it.

    Life is messy, unplanned things pop up like a sick child. You need to have buffers in place so that you can have the down time you need to deal with unplanned things. For example, I like to write and schedule articles a week in advance so I know its done for the week and I am not chasing my tail trying to get them done should something pop up and divert my attention. Working ahead of schedule and completing tasks in advance prepares you for the uncertainty that comes with having children. Instead of stressing out or having to work late into the evening to make up for lost time, simply enjoy time with them knowledge that you are ahead with your work.

    Running business and raising children at the same time are not easy things to do but you know I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. Different strokes for different folks so find the solutions that best suits you and your family. At the end of the day our children are only young once so make the most of it.

    HAVE YOUR SAY
    Do you have any suggestions as to how we can better run a business with kids? Leave a comment below.
     
    JOIN THE CONVERSATION
    Come join us in the Business Mums Lounge (free Facebook group) and let’s continue the discussion there.

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