Baby businesses: how to make money from kids
A growing number of entrepreneurial parents are using their experiences to start up businesses. So can you make money from kids?
Becoming a parent for the first, second, or indeed third time is a daunting prospect, but how about setting up a business as well?
An increasing number of mums and dads are becoming entrepreneurial and they are looking to their experiences as parents for inspiration.
According to the latest figures from website workingmums.co.uk, 69% of the 2,100 mums interviewed said they had considered setting up their own business or franchise, up 6% from last year’s survey.
So why do some mums choose to leave the comfort of full term work after maternity leave?
Some mums don’t return to their old job after maternity leave as their employer is not very sympathetic to their changing priorities, or flexible enough. Some mums simply want a challenge (as if bringing up a small child is not challenging enough!) They want to flex their brains, try something different and be their own boss, something which is not always possible in their existing job.
Making the most of maternity leave
Louise Harris is one such mum. She set up Rock and Roll Babyworld, a baby and parenting PR & social media marketing agency over a year ago, following the birth of her second daughter. Harris had previously worked for a music and celebrity agency as a PR manager, and she felt this job no longer suited her needs and demands while bringing up two small children.
Harris used her time on maternity leave to research her subject area (she was also a parent blogger), get logos, set up a website and position herself as a family PR expert.
It's not just mums
Dads don’t want to be left in the cold either. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, 3% of men between the ages of 16 and 64 are looking after family or staying at home (April-June 2011) compared to 2.7% during the same period last year.
Jim Shaikh is an example of one dad who got inspiration to set up his own business from his experiences as a parent and from his frustration at working for large organisations. He is CEO of Yoomi – a company which produces self-warming baby feeding bottles.
Shaikh got funding for his business via various awards and personal funds initially: a Department of Trade Industry Research Award of £43,000 and a London Development Agency SME Innovation Award of £30,000.
In order to get some information about patenting his idea, he went to a number of free seminars at the Business & IP Centre at the British Library specialising in patents, design registrations & trademarks. As Shaikh wanted to register his product internationally, he decided to hire a professional patent lawyer for the patent filing.
How easy is it?
There are many different channels of support, people and organisations you can turn to in order to set up your business or buy a franchise. If you are an entrepreneurial mum, the Working Mum’s website will soon launch a Business Zone aimed at the new breed of “mumpreneurs” which contribute over £4.4 billion to the UK economy.
So is it as easy setting up your own business with a young family in tow, as the two examples I've highlighted suggest? The answer is a resounding “yes”, but there are a number of things to consider before taking the plunge according to the British Library’s Business & IP Centre.
- Make sure you always have someone on standby to look after your children when starting a business. There will inevitably be occasions when you need to work at very short notice.
- Make sure your children are in a good routine. Starting up a new business is a very timely process. Many evenings will require your time sorting out elements of the business, and you want to dedicate that time solely to work. If you know that the kids have a set bedtime, you can dedicate the remainder of your evenings to undisturbed working time.
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance. Although setting up a business is time consuming, you need to make sure there is a healthy balance, especially when children are involved.
- Love it, but learn to leave it! Passionate as you may be, don’t let it dominate your life. It’s difficult to say, but family must always come first. Early years with a young family are some of the most precious in life.
There are plenty of online resources and free advice to hand. There is the Government’s website for businesses, Business Link, and the British Franchise Association’s website where you can get all the information you need on how to buy or sell a franchise. Finally, check out the design and invention development company Innovate, which offers a free information pack about securing a patent which you can download.
There are many free and paid events you can attend at the Business & IP Centre at the British Library. On 19th March for instance there will be an event celebrating successful female entrepreneurs called “Mothers of Invention”
Overall, there are many opportunities for new parents and parents in general to flex their entrepreneurial muscles. Who knows, in between changing dirty nappies and doing the school run, an appearance on Dragons’ Den could await?