Having a baby? Perhaps you could start a new business?

Many women are taking the business world by storm, coming up with new business ideas after starting a family, and juggling it all from home.

Most of us don’t equate motherhood with entrepreneurs, but for many new mothers having a child leads to just that. There is a revolution occurring in the homes of young families across the country. Women with no previous experience are running a business, or sometimes even working in someone else’s, and are taking the business world by storm.

Take for example Claire McFee, who, after having her first baby, came up with a simple, yet novel idea to house all the lists that we accumulate on the home front, in the one place, an Organiser she has aptly named Organise Your Life.

In the midst of night feeds, numerous nappy changes, and other household related tasks, Claire found she had a lot more ‘thinking time’ on her hands, which is how her idea came about. ‘I was sick of paperwork clutter jamming my drawers, and knew there had to be a better way. I wanted to save myself time and stress, so I started keeping all sorts of information in the one folder, and kept thinking of, and adding more ready-made lists." Claire soon found there was a gap in the market for such a product, so decided to fill it. ‘I couldn’t believe no one else had thought of a home-based filing system like this before, and knew there would be countless people I could help.’

Claire was previously a kindergarten teacher, but didn’t find the adjustment to being a full time mum as isolating as some. Claire believes being on the committee of her local community house, helped make the jump from full time work, to motherhood, to then single-handedly starting her own business, not as daunting as it could have been. ‘It gave me a lot of confidence, that I had the ability to do something else, as it covered all sorts of news skills, which made me realise that I didn’t have to restrict myself profession wise.’

It is apparent that many mothers have similar experiences, and that in the process of holding committee positions, or running fundraising events for creche/kindergarten and school, they acquire a range of new skills. This new expertise can then be transferred to other professions, or in many cases their own businesses. For others, to begin with, it may simply help to have a network of supportive people around them to share their new experiences with. Other businesses stem from personal experience, combined with a long held desire to do something in particular. Being able to transfer skills from previous positions when doing this can make a big difference to the potential success of the new venture.

Author and mother Margaret Saunder’s, fits into this category. Margaret always wanted to write a book. After having some prominent positions, including being the PA to the Secretary of the SA Premier, as well as holding co-ordinator and counseling positions, she decided to take the plunge. After making a start on her first book idea, Margaret realised that breaking the book idea into sections, targeted at Parents, which she markets as packages. Titles such as How To Get Your Child To Beg To Go To Bed!!! and How To Toilet Train Your Child In Just One Day!!!.

Margaret is pleased that her decision to follow her dream, and work from home is having such a positive influence on her children. "I love it when I hear them tell their friends - ‘Mummy writes books.’" Margaret says starting her own business has taught the girls to be more creative, and that good ideas will come from within them.

One of the reasons for the surge in women starting their own businesses from home is access to the Internet. The Internet has also helped prevent location from being a barrier to running a successful home business, almost anywhere you choose. Claire McFee for example, operates her home business from her coastal home, along the Victorian Great Ocean Road.

Claire says ‘I absolutely love living and working here, and being able to look after my children from home at the same time. That’s not to say it isn’t a struggle sometimes, when I have deadlines, or important phone calls to make, and have two children under three wanting my attention, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It gives me so much more freedom.’

Like many other women, Claire didn’t have the option of going back to her previous position, partly due to the lack of childcare in the area. Claire says she is thankful she came up with her business idea, because otherwise she would have to consider other, much less fulfilling jobs, to accommodate the hours she would be restricted to working.

Another trend that is emerging, is the willingness of these new business owners, is to share their knowledge and experiences with others. Claire offers voluntary mentoring to people who are thinking of starting their own business, to help them save time researching what help is available to them. Many people have great ideas, but just don’t know how to get their idea off the ground. One helpful organisation is the Small Business Mentoring Service, (www.sbcs.org.au), which offers advice at a very affordable rate, due to funding they receive from the Government.

One of the people Claire met through her business was Kate James, a Life Coach whose business is Total Balance Coaching. Kate is the mother of two daughters. She spent their early years juggling part time work outside the home with parenting, while her partner was often away for extended periods of time with his work. Kate decided to search for another career path, ideally something that would fulfill her desire to help others, while allowing her to collect her daughters from school every day, and be at home with them during school holidays. She discovered life coaching, and proceeded to investigate training courses.

Many organisations today are providing training in ‘virtual classrooms’ to cater to a much broader audience. Opportunities such as these are allowing ‘at home’ mothers to continue their studies without the added cost and inconvenience of childcare. Kate’s life coaching training was completed via home-based teleclasses. Again proving that distance is no obstacle to this resourceful generation of businesswomen, Kate runs her successful business from home in Gardenvale Victoria, and has clients across Australia and also overseas.

Kate believes the benefits of working from home are many. In addition to saving travel time and child minding costs, working from home provides mothers with a continued sense of their own identity. Kate says ‘It is also a great way of setting an example to your children, about acquiring new skills, being organised and striving for success in new ventures.’

"They have loved being involved in some of the decision-making and have watched me learn skills I would never imagined I’d be capable of. I decided to tackle the development of my website myself, which was challenging but really rewarding. The girls have gained so much from seeing me take on tasks such as this. I think it has given them a sense that they can achieve whatever they want to, as long as they put their minds to it," says Kate.
What was overwhelmingly evident with all these women, is that the Internet has been an amazing tool, that can arm you with information that was previously a lot harder to source. These mums were all able to research various aspects to running their own businesses, marketing their products, and developing their own websites. The convenience of being able to web surf into the wee hours of the night, without having to spend an enormous amount of money on professionals in various fields, helped make their dreams become a reality, much faster than they thought possible, and without a huge budget.
The women all agree that you have to be very careful where you spend your money when you start your own business. Taking your time when in the start up phase of your business helps. It’s easy to get carried away, and talked into thinking you need the services of more people than you actually do. This is where government advisors can help. Word of mouth referrals are also a great way to source professionals in various fields that you need help with.

Joining a business network, such as the Women's Network Australia (www.womensnetwork.com.au) or the Australian Businesswomen's Network (www.abn.org.au) can provide invaluable support and guidance as well. Running your own business, particularly from home can be isolating at times, but having specialists you can contact for help makes all the difference. Being able to email anyone anytime, anywhere, has changed the face of business. All the women said they have met people online that have become friends and mentors that they would never have met any other way, which makes them feel more connected to others while running their home-business.

All the mothers commented that they love the fact that their children get to see that they aren’t just a Mum, and that they are capable of a whole lot more, and that in turn, they will learn through direct observation, that they are capable of anything, and that the sky is the limit for them too.

For more information about Organise Your Life! go to www.organiseyourlife.com.au.