17 Tips for Starting a Business from our Mama Entrepreneurs
At Mamas & Co. we’re proud of the culture that we have created. We have a very lively members-only forum that gets a lot of action. Our members ask questions, share ideas, reach out for support and get support in return. They also have a lot of sage advice. Some of our members are new to entrepreneurship, but we have many seasoned pros who have been running their own business for several years, some over a decade. So one day, we asked in our forum:
“If you met someone who was just about to start their own business, what advice would you give them?”
The response was overwhelming and four different categories of advice emerged: Support, Authenticity, Resilience and Planning. Here, we share the top tips from our mama entrepreneurs for anyone starting their own business.
Get the Right Support
It’s no surprise that members of a thriving networking group such as Mamas & Co. would say that having the right kind of support has been critical to their success. After all, it was their quest for support that brought them to us!
Amanda Laird, Holistic Nutritionist for Hormonal and Menstrual Health put it this way; “I didn't anticipate how lonely and isolating working on my own would be. Building a network of fellow soloprenuers has definitely been a lifesaver!”
Danielle Lewis of Attn2detail Designs takes this idea one step further. “I would reach or align myself with other like minded individuals from the get go, so that at any given point you can feel supported in your decision to take such a big step in your career.”
And on that same note, Registered Psychotherapist Vaishali Patel had this to say: “Find your tribe(s); find the people you can: safely show your weaknesses to, give help to, get help from, be accountable to, get a wake up call from, get a pat on the back from, etc. Know who to go to for what and make yourself available in the same way to others in the same boat.”
Lastly, Vanessa Grant of Grant Media puts it quite simply; “Ask for help and accept help when it's offered.” It’s something we moms have a hard time doing, but know we should do.
It’s a well-known fact that resiliency is a key strength of many successful entrepreneurs, but it’s often easier said than done.
Jennifer Henderson of OPET Childbirth Services puts it simply; “Don't expect to make up your day job salary in the short term. You can get there but give it time.”
Chris Swail of Tiny Change Co. urges women to “believe in yourself and go for it. Women often think they have to put themselves last, and sacrifice reaching for their own dreams. The dishes can wait. The house doesn't need to be immaculate. It's okay to put your heart and sweat into both your family and your business. No more excuses!”
Josie Elfassy-Isakow, co-creator of MagneTree Books knows a thing or two about resilience. She and her partner recently auditioned for CBC’s Dragons Den and though they didn’t make the cut, it forced her out of her comfort zone and into the spotlight. Her words of wisdom for newbie Mama Entrepreneurs: “Be BOLD! Be fearless, be confident! I am the shyest person I know and because of that I often hid behind excuses (*ahem* my baby and schedule) but really there is no excuse to hide.”
Alison Porter of LoveNotes School of Music adds “There will be naysayers. Don't let them get you down! You will have a learning curve, you will make mistakes and need to rejig as you go. That doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel.”
Finding our true calling and our own voice can be difficult but it’s absolutely critical to establishing and maintaining a successful business and brand. Our mama members shared their thoughts on this topic.
Abby Rozen, Toronto-based psychotherapist had this to say: “Be authentic and it will happen organically.”
It’s no surprise that music teacher Rhonda Hanson knows a thing or two about “finding your voice”. As the owner of Set The Tone, she says “it is so important to know what YOU want and how you are able to serve others with your business. Find ways to ground yourself… Don't get caught up in comparisons as there is always someone ahead of your game and behind. Define success by your terms, not by others.”
Finally, long-time member Jessica Raymond of Mother of Rays is a big believer in tapping into what brings you joy and fulfillment as you define your business path. She says, “Find something you are truly passionate about. That will help get you through the tough times. People respond positively to passion and energy. Keep that up around others when it comes to your business.”
Have a Plan
Michelle Cliffe, founder of Love Collective, suggests to “make sure you have a really big financial cushion. It always takes longer to get rolling than you think it will.”
Heather Davidson-Meyn of Fun Love Photography advises: “Invest some money up front on good design and branding, as well as business advice and mentorship specific to your industry. There is no need to go in blindly and start from scratch.”
Our resident bookkeeper Jayne Dykstra adds, “keep all receipts (just put them all in an envelope or box), open a separate bank account for the business and get a credit card dedicated to business expenses. [This] makes year-end finances so much less of a headache!”
Alisse Houweling of KAAV Living says “make sure your top strengths/skills align well with what you will need to run the business, and be prepared (mentally and financially) to get help in the other areas.”
If there is one person who knows how to run a successful business it’s Bianca Sprague of Bebo Mia, an online training organization for childbirth professionals. Bianca and her partner Natasha have been in business for a decade and Bianca’s words of wisdom were: “Make a plan and stick to it - even when the tasks are boring or you cannot see the ROI on them right away. Entrepreneurs get excited by bright shiny things and they jump all over the place. It is a slow and steady climb, stay on course.”
So obviously having a plan is essential, even if it ebbs and flows and changes – and it will! Catherine Lewis-Brown, creator of the Successful Stager says “I wish I'd known the importance and value of having a plan, and setting targets that weren't just financial. And then when I reach those monthly or quarterly milestones, and I'm talking the non-money ones, that I celebrate them!”
If you are a mama and you’re thinking of starting your own business we hope you found some of these pearls of wisdom helpful. And of course we hope you will come and check us out! You can find more info on our upcoming events here - if you like what you see, we'd love to have you join our community!