Nothing like motherhood to make us realise how suddenly inflexible our careers are post-children…
When I was working as a nurse, shift work and a FIFO husband didn’t make for a great (or flexible) combo alongside being a stay-at-home mom. I found the logistics of organising school or daycare drop-offs, pickups, sleepovers and full days of care – FULL ON. So full on that it lead to feeling incredibly burnt out and deciding to give up my regular nursing work altogether.
Not to mention, that often when you decide to go back to your full-time job – you realise your salary is going to be decimated by childcare fees, which leaves you feeling like – what’s the point?
If you’re feeling like you want to explore working from home so you can be more flexible around your kids (and actually pocket the extra income instead of spending it all on childcare) then read on for some ideas that will help you dip your toe into the entrepreneurial world in mum-life.
The first steps to consider when starting your own business from home
As with any business idea, a little bit of planning goes a long way. If you’re in the beginning stages of starting a business there are plenty of things you can make a start on. A little bit of market research is a great idea. This could look like a survey of your target market (i.e. NOT family or friends that aren’t your ideal clients). Find out whether they’d be interested in your potential product or service, find objections and uncover how much they’d be likely to spend.
Make sure you’ve identified a gap in the market but also whether there’s a market in the gap. Having a bright business idea is one thing, but it’s not going to go anywhere if no one takes you up on your offer.
Set up your business basics
A business name and registering an ABN is essential if you are wanting to work for yourself in Australia.
If you are wanting to create a brand, you must check for any current trademarks on the words/images you want to use in your business name and logo. You can do this online through IP Australia.
Even if you are able to register your business name, it doesn’t mean anything if someone has already trademarked it and you could be infringing copyright by using a registered trademark.
Get your money sorted and know your numbers
Having a business bank account is a good place to start (many banks offer these with little to no charge in Australia). Having a dedicated business account means you can easily keep track of all the monies coming and going from your business, without getting funds mixed up with your personal spending.
Start using accounting software to manage business finances. There are some free or affordable options – Rounded, Xero and Reckon. It’s a great habit to get into and saves you mucking around with an excel spreadsheet. Because as a stay-at-home parent, you’ll want to make running your business as simple as possible, so that it’s sustainable and has the best chance of success.
A way for customers to find and contact you
When it comes to things like your website, I encourage you to take the path of least resistance! Do you actually need a website to begin with, or could you get away with a simple free landing page like Link Tree? I’m a big advocate for setting your website up properly from the beginning, so if you don’t have the time or funds to do this, start with the second-best option.
If you’re selling products consider starting on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or an online marketplace like Etsy – these are all an easy way to establish an online store without the overheads and hassle of website setup costs.
Don’t forget to set up your social media too. I’ve even known businesses that start out using only social platforms like instagram to sell before launching their website. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend only ever relying on social media for your business, but it can definitely be a starting point!
10 Business ideas that mums can start from home:
Perfect for stay-at-home mums, this list is here for some inspiration to take the first step in starting your own business when you want to work from home. Not an exhaustive list by any means, the sky is the limit with what skills your can monetise these days.
1. Selling on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop etc.
This is one of the easiest businesses online business ideas to get started with. All you need to do is set up your account (if you don’t already have one) and you can start selling. Facebook Marketplace is FREE and so easy to use – it’s pretty popular too so is a good starting point. Some of the other vendors like eBay & Depop have selling fees plus there’s a lot more hoop jumping to sign up and then verify your account, too.
Some tips for improved selling on these online platforms:
- Take good, clear photos.
- Include as much info as you can about sizing and include measurements where applicable.
- Be specific about your asking price and whether you are open to negotiation.
If you find that you’ve cleared out all the bits and pieces from your own closet/house, you can start to actively select pieces from op-shops, vintage stores and flea markets to flip for some extra cash. Or you could start selling for people you know. Charge a commission or a flat rate per piece for selling and include fees for your time to take photos, write copy, postage and handling.
Someone who does this really well, selling high-end pieces using Instagram is ex local gal Jordie from @selling_your_wardrobe. She’s even gone on to open her own storefront in Melbourne because of the success she had online.
2. Upcycling furniture.
There are SO many beautiful pieces of furniture going for free or cheap that are just BEGGING to be made over or ‘upcycled’. This is one of the best ways to flex your crafty or creative side and make extra money at the same time!
You don’t have to be a pro, in fact you only need minimal equipment to start – like sandpaper, brushes, correct paint and finishes. But you can go to town with handles, hardware, embellishments and applique. I love the group Upcycleit on facebook for ALL the inspo when it comes to turning someone else’s trash into your own treasure.
Once you’ve finished your pieces, sell on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
And a bonus potential money-making option with this business idea is to create a YouTube channel filming your step-by-step processes. You can build your audience and once you hit enough subscribers, monetise your videos to make passive ad revenue.
3. Meal & Grocery planners
If you’re part of any stay-at-home mum groups or Facebook groups with other mothers, meal planning is something that is a constant drainer. Planning food that is easy to prepare, is within a specific budget and your kids will actually eat, can feel like mission impossible. Even if you nail it one week, you have to do it all over again the next… it’s neverending!
Plus when you add meal planning and grocery shopping to the school lunches, laundry, housework, dog walking, homework and well, everything – it begins to feel like a mountain too far.
If you’ve worked out a good system for meal planning and then grocery shopping – why not turn your method into some downloadable products or a simple online program.
You can use tools like Canva to make your documents look schmick and sell simply using social media in the beginning, if you want to avoid setting up a website.
Got yourself a pretty fancy camera set-up? Even if you aren’t a pro, there are so many ways to upskill and learn how to take beautiful photos. Invest in online courses to hone your skills in photography and editing, then get practicing.
A popular niche for photography is content creation for product-based brands. This involves brands sending their products to you to photograph for things like product catalogues, marketing content and social media. Once photos are completed, you return the product. Simples. The best part about this is that with some space and lighting at your house, you can do all your work from your home studio – a great home-based business idea.
So many small businesses are a one-man-show, creating all their social media content themselves. Often they are taking photos using their smartphone. If you are a whiz with iPhone photography – consider putting together a course to teach other business owners how to take high-quality photos using their iPhone alone. This sort of thing also works really well for educating businesses around using their smartphone to record/create all of their social media content including videos and things like Instagram Reels.
5. Bookkeeping and Accounting
If you have a degree in numbers, or maybe in a previous life you worked in bookkeeping, have you considered starting a consulting business in your field?
Small businesses are always looking to outsource their bookkeeping and a great opportunity to not only take on the bookkeeping and accounting for these businesses but also deliver services to help with education & system set up for those business owners that want to DIY.
Identifying what the most effective, affordable and practical accounting software is for a business is super helpful to business owners who have no idea about these sorts of things. Following this up with education around how to set up and manage the software is also a genius idea for a service offering (IMO).
6. Virtual Assistant.
In the world of online business, virtual assistants, or VA’s are becoming more and more popular. A virtual assistant is someone who acts as a personal assistant, online. They can perform all sorts of tasks including data entry, email marketing, systems set up, client communications, scheduling, social media, website maintenance to name a few.
Basically, any task that you need a physical person to help with, that can be done remotely, could be done by a VA.
If you would like to try your hand at being a VA but aren’t sure where to start – have a think about your unique skill set… What are you great at? Maybe it’s your skills that you’ve relied on in past jobs or your career. You could be a whiz with spreadsheets and formulas, have creative writing skills or be an email marketing gun. Or maybe there’s an area where you feel like you’d like to learn a new skill – time to try your hand at website coding? Want to learn the ins-and-outs of being a social media manager?
There are just so many options available to niche down as a virtual assistant.
If you have particular industry experience you can also consider becoming a VA for small business owners from specific industries. Some examples include: real estate, mortgage brokers, accountants, beauty salons, hairdressers and business coaches.
Once you have your business up and running, I would 100% recommend joining networking groups (like my Honest Biz Brunch events) to spread the word. Also, utilise your business-to-business platforms like Linked In.
For more information about becoming a virtual assistant, listen to my interview with Perth-based virtual assistant agency owner, Nivek Harrison from @thevirtualchapter on the What I Know About Motherhood & Business Podcast.
7. Handmade Products
Put your creative skills to use and start your own hand made product based biz. This could be something that you already love to create, or it could be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill- just like my friend Bree from Knot Just Cords did when she started her macrame business.
The best part about hand making products is that you get to enjoy the process. Getting your hands stuck into something that flexes your right brain is super therapeutic and a fabulous way to take your mind off the daily grind that we find ourselves in during mum life. It’s the sort of thing you could potentially involve your kids in, too. I often get some of my illustration work done in an afternoon crafting sesh with my children.
If you aren’t sure what the people will be wanting to buy, do some research. Put some ideas out there in Facebook groups and ask your peers their thoughts on different products – you don’t even have to mention you’re thinking of selling anything, it can be sneaky market research!
Ideas for handmade products you could sell from home:
- Painting/wall art
- Knitting/Crochet (clothing, dolls & dolls clothing)
- Hand painted plant pots
- Key hangers
- Tea towels or face cloths
- Resin art/chopping boards
You don’t need your own website to start selling your wares – consider using Facebook Marketplace/Gumtree/eBay as a starting point and then move to a platform like Etsy or your own purpose-built website. Maybe it’s time to dust off the sewing machine and start those projects you’ve always dreamed of?
8. Digital illustration/drawings and prints
As someone who did (and still does) sell illustrations, I’m telling you it’s a great business idea and super simple to start up. You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer, either. You just need a willingness to commit to learn the skills.
First, decide on how you will be drawing your pictures. This is where you can experiment and play around with what is easiest/most enjoyable or cost-effective for your situation.
Different ways to digitise illustrations:
- Scanning originals
- Drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer
- Digital drawing apps (like Procreate)
I use an iPad pro 11 inch, with Procreate App for the bulk of my illustrations. I then follow up with Affinity Designer or Adobe Photoshop for print formatting and other design work that can’t be done through the Procreate app.
It’s a good idea to do some research and take advantage of the free trials offered by many of these programs to find what is going to work for you. Before I committed to purchasing my iPad, I went in store to JBHiFi and played on all the available tablets many times to get a feel for what I wanted to use.
The good news is you don’t need to go all out and buy ALL THE THINGS to start a digital illustration business. In fact, if you start simple it gives you space to pivot and build on what you have without throwing away money.
Same goes if you want to create prints.
Decide on the kind of prints you want to create. Are they illustrations, paintings, photos or typography/quotes? You can use programs like Canva to create some pretty epic print templates for free, all you need is a little creative inspiration. Another option is buying licensed art, photos & designs through a marketplace like Creative Market to print without having to design from scratch.
Be mindful of regulations surrounding these programs/marketplaces to ensure you aren’t infringing any copyright laws though when creating these sort of digital prints.
Then figure out how you’d like to print them.
My recommendation here would be to outsource your printing to the professionals at first. The cost will be higher but not as high as forking out for a whiz-bang printer before you know if you’re going to get any use out of it (been there, done that). Plus the pros do all the hard work of formatting and figuring out print settings so you don’t have to – and you can learn tips from them!
Have a play around with different sizes and try some different formats like stickers and see what is the most popular with your potential customers.
You could even experiment with downloadable prints if you aren’t ready to commit to hard copies. There are plenty of prolific businesses that sell digital downloads via Etsy and the like.
And if you do decide to print at home – do you research for the perfect printer. I went with an Epson Ecotank 775. To be honest, I don’t love it. I should have taken my own advice to go simple. Again, a lot of free information around this sort of this is available via a quick Google search or two. I recommend doing your research.
9. Cooking/meal prep.
If you’re a mum, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the energy required to mentally or physically plan your meals each week.
It is one of those tasks on the mental load list that is constantly perpetuated (along with laundry, tidying, grocery shopping and you know, EVERYTHING).
As mums, we are usually so busy looking after others that we fail to look after ourselves to the same standard. Having meals prepped for the week means it is that much easier to fill our bodies with nourishing food, instead of reaching for another block of chocolate when those sugar cravings hit.
If you happen to excel in this area and have a love of cooking then you’ll probably take to a catering business like a duck to water.
Think: prepping meals for clients in their own kitchen with the groceries you’ve purchased for them according to whatever package and menu they choose from your range.
The beauty of this is it that you could niche down to different dietary requirements/lifestyles too. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, FODMAP, allergy friendly, keto, paleo – there are so many options!
Consider upsells like smoothie bombs and snacks added to your packages for extra revenue (and convenience) too.
I know, I know, the term ‘mummy blogger’ is as cliche as it comes. But there’s a good reason stay-at-home parents become bloggers and it’s because blogging can be super flexible around your own children. It can also be a relatively passive form of income. So if you are into more of a long-game when it comes to business, then regular blog posts could be worth a look in.
Of course to start your blog, you’ll need to look at building a website or you could use a platform like WordPress.com or Medium. Most bloggers make their money through multiple income streams, rather than a single product or service and this can include affiliate marketing. You’ll need to do your research and decide how you’ll be making money via your blog and craft a simple but impactful strategy and business plan.
If the thought of starting your own blog from scratch is too much, you could look into starting your own freelance writing business and writing blog posts for other businesses. There is a heap of free information online about how to get started as a freelance writer and what to charge.
To build a blog that makes bank with ads takes some serious groundwork and consistency. The more consistently you can produce good content, the more likely it is your blog can be monetised. Brandon Gaille from The Blogging Millionaire is an expert on monetising blogs and has a podcast as well as an AI blogging app to help you get started.
These are only a snippet of the potential home-based business ideas out there. My biggest piece of advice would be to take imperfect action and don’t overcomplicate the process of getting started.