More and more women (and particularly working moms) are feeling the pull to have more flexible work hours and more control over their schedule. Flexibility is the key driver for moms who launch their own businesses. But although freedom from the corporate grind and no boss to answer to are some of the most appealing reasons to launch a business, in reality becoming a successful mom entrepreneur is tough.
Although women make up more than 50% of the workforce, there are still many tasks, activities, and responsibilities working women typically juggle that many working men do not. As such, it’s really important to avoid typical mom mistakes when setting up your business so you can become more profitable sooner, and keep your so-desired degree of flexibility.
Here are seven deadly business mistakes mompreneurs make so you can avoid them and save your sanity.
1. Not Legitimizing Your Business Idea
Many women business owners start off on the wrong foot in business because they feel intimidated, embarrassed or fearful of ‘coming out’ in a big way with their business idea. Instead of crafting a clear vision and business plan, many women consider ‘soft-launching’ instead of coming out with a splash. Perhaps driven by a fear of public failure, intimidation, or of being humiliated, women often DO NOT legitimize their business idea and start out small by bootstrapping their idea. Legitimizing your business begins with a clear business plan (including a financial model that speaks to your viability as a business). Even if you don’t intend to take a loan to fund your business, start with the framework provided by any lending institution (or seek counsel with your local state-provided Small Business Development Center), and push yourself to put your business idea into writing so you can share your vision, plan your priority and high-value tasks, and work your plan toward success.
2. Juggling ‘Momming’ and ‘Business’ Simultaneously
I coach mompreneurs, so I know this one deadly mistake intimately. One of the deadliest mistakes that moms in business make is NOT setting up their business as a business. They launch with unclear boundaries between being a mom and a business owner. I’ve certainly had my share of ‘kid interruptions’, and even ‘kid appearances’ for certain business functions, radio programs, and Skype calls, but the best thing you can do for yourself mompreneur is to distinguish the difference between work and play. This includes setting up office hours and a business space that is separate from the kids so you can truly focus on what needs to get done.
Sometimes within a traditional business, women’s opinions and advice are not always viewed as “expert” as a man’s opinion. This can be further complicated by the typical opinions of family, friends, and others in the business community who often view a woman’s part-time business as a hobby or a side project. It is often seen as something she does in her spare time, in addition to family duties, rather than as a bona fide business. Actual business planning and lining up child support can help to help overcome this bias, but women need to realize that this is a true gender bias challenge.
3. Serving Too Many (Types of) Clients
So many mompreneurs launch a business because they want to contribute financially. As such – they may begin as a consultant in their area of expertise, but before long, they may find themselves saying ‘YES’ to every opportunity they have to make a buck. After all, wouldn’t you rather spend your time on revenue-generating activities? Even if you’re only generating a couple of hundred bucks…? Unfortunately, this can be a kiss of death in creating a sustainable and marketable business – (and something I certainly was caught up with!) Why? Because when you’re constantly switching gears and creating customized work unless that IS your business model (and you’re charging appropriately for this work), it’s very difficult to leverage customized work for other clients. The best practice is to niche to your client type early in your process so you can capitalize on the work you already have created and simply look for more ideal clients who need what you’re selling.
4. Undercharging For Your Expertise and Services
Most moms undercharge for their services when they first start out. It’s critically important to your success to actually figure out what your time is worth.
A simple formula is to determine a figure you’d like to make annually, add an estimated number for monthly expenses to run your business, and then back into the ballpark number you’ll need to generate weekly to meet that goal. What typically happens is that most startup mompreneurs 1. don’t account for the time it takes to run the administrative part of a business (and in this case subtract from the available billing hours) and 2. because they don’t niche, they underestimate how long it will take them to get up to full client billing capacity. If you’re starting out it’s important to create a business plan that realistically estimates the time you can spend on client-facing tasks, and the time you’ll need to spend on things like sales, marketing, and networking.
5. Flying Under The Radar Due To Fear Of…
When I started my business, one of the things I was not fully aware of about myself was how my fear of failing and limiting beliefs kept me from taking bigger risks and leaps early in the game. As a mompreneur, I’ve certainly confronted this fear of failure over and over again as my business has grown. But when I started, it manifested in my playing small. I didn’t want to tell too many people about what I was doing so that I could easily shut it down and slink away if it didn’t go well.
What happened though was that I played small due to my fear. It took me a long time to target my ideal client and get clear on what I did for them. I stopped myself from investing in things that may have made a real difference in my business because of it.
It was not until I started investing in the guidance and support of a mentor/coach that I began thinking of my business differently. I started to build confidence in my business model and what I was offering and stepped into playing a bigger game with my business. I realized that I was the one responsible for creating an ongoing reputation as well as being ultimately accountable for the ‘feast or famine’ cycle of a business. I realized that one of the best ways to ensure business success was to share client successes, results, and accomplishments with others – all requiring me to come out from the thin veil and step into the expertise that I already had.
6. Looking For Support From Friends & Family…
So often moms in business search in the wrong places for support. My friend Stacey Martino LoveandPassionCoach.com introduced me to her concept of left hand/right hand that she created to help her clients integrate long-lasting change into their lives in a way that enhances their personal relationships. Here’s how she explains it:
- In your left hand, you hold the people you grow with. With those people, you gain support, validation, growth and personal development.
- In your right hand, you hold the people closest to you – those you Give To – your friends and family. The key to successful intimate relationships is to only go to your right hand to GIVE! GIVE unconditional love and compassion to each and every one of them! You are a force for good in their lives! You go to your left hand to GET, and out of that growth, YOU have the potential to GIVE unconditionally to those in your right hand – your friends and family!
Although you need support, guidance, direction, and development to launch and sustain your business, you will really need to find that from other like-minded entrepreneurs who know what you’re going through and can help guide and support your best decisions. Your friends and family (unless entrepreneurs themselves) are not those people. Instead, set up support systems with other entrepreneurs who can help and guide you so you can give unconditionally to your friends and family.
7. The Need To Please…
Women are often taught to “be nice” which trains us to endlessly seek approval from others for our thoughts and ideas. Complicate this programming further by adding one or two children to the equation – and we moms can find that we’re trapped between the need to please our families, and seek approval for our businesses, even when what we’re doing is literally driving us insane!
The ‘need to please’ leads to a difficulty setting boundaries, making exceptions, overcommitting, under-charging, feeling guilty and being too giving of our time in general. We sell out our own needs for our need for approval all too often. We are superheroes – and we have a tendency to try to be everything to everyone. This leads to us saying yes too often and forces us to wear so many different hats that prioritizing what is most important becomes a jumbled mess. Juggling everything becomes very difficult. Our need to please, coupled with our fear of failure can create the perfect storm – Overcommitment, too much work, lack of clarity, no focus and work WAY TOO MUCH on a non-profitable business at the expense of everything we launch our own businesses for. Those of us who struggle with perfectionism and an inability to get support from others is even more challenged. This deadly mistake can unravel into illness and/or total exhaustion. It drives us to work in our business, rather than on our business and must be surfaced, acknowledged and healed – to support a sustainable and successful venture.
These seven deadly business mistakes are all too common for working moms. If you would like to discuss strategies to restore your sanity, reclaim your time – and overcome these mistakes, let’s schedule a Discovery Call and see how I might be able to help you get back in the driver’s seat.
To get free training on the 9 Essential Strategies for Mompreneur’s Success grab my video training here to help you avoid these deadly mistakes: http://bit.ly/18dg3Pd
Please Add Your Comments Below
Which of these deadly mistakes have been your struggles, and what have you done to overcome them? Where are the areas that seem to bubble up over and over again for you in your business? Please share your wisdom in the box below.