There are many reasons why starting a business is an attractive career option for moms: you’ll potentially have more control over your time; build real wealth that is driven by passion; and fulfil your life goals while still making time for your family. If you think you have a marketable idea or skill that you’d like to transform into a business, here are six steps to get you started:
- Research everything: Research is the non-negotiable first step to starting a business. Does your area of interest already have a similar business? Is there a need for your product or service? Are there any legal requirements that you need to take into account? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Doing thorough homework will form the important foundations of your business that will, in the long run, save you a lot of work, stress and money.
- Make a plan: Once you have a good idea of what you want to do, write out a full business plan. It’s an excellent way for you to get your idea down on paper and really think about the details. Not only is your business plan an absolute must if you’ll be seeking funding, but it will also serve as a useful operational document once your business gets off the ground; you can constantly refer back to the plan to see if your goals and achievements are on track.
- Learn the right skills: You may already be an excellent designer, lawyer, baker or web designer, but how much do you know about business regulations, finance or marketing? All of these skills are essential to running a successful, legal and profitable business. Before you get started, think honestly about the skills that you have, and those that you still need to acquire. You could look at hiring staff with the additional skills you need, or even better, learn the skills yourself by taking a few short courses.
- Sort out the legalities: While starting a business can be all kinds of fun, there are unfortunately the necessary administrative and legal processes that you’ll need to follow. The first step is the formal process of registering your business. Choosing whether to found a sole proprietorship, partnership or company is an important decision, so you’ll need to do your research – especially on the new Companies Act. Aside from choosing the business type, you also need to register for certain taxes, obtain permits, register your name and so on.
- Get funding: Getting the money together to start your business can be one of the hardest and most frustrating aspects of the process, but don’t give up! You have three options: you could simply save up enough money and use it for everything; you could find a formal business investor who fronts the required amount of money, and then gets paid back as your business earns a profit; or you could get a formal loan from the bank. Check with the local municipality to see if it has any support for small businesses; government grants can give you a much-needed boost.
- Promote, promote, promote: Finally, the only sure way to make your business a success is through marketing. Come up with an opening special (say, 50% off all services in the first month) or have a launch event with snacks, drinks and special offers – do something appropriate to your business. Try as many marketing channels as possible to see what works best.
Take the stress out of starting your own business by learning about all stages of business establishment and management with the online University of Cape Town Start and Manage a Small Business short course, starting 20 September. The course is presented part-time and entirely online throughout South Africa allowing you to grow your skills and stay the perfect working mom. Visit www.getsmarter.co.za to view over 40 continuing education short courses.
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