Nothing like motherhood to make us realise how suddenly inflexible our careers are post-children.
Working as a nurse, shift work combined with a husband that works away, didn’t make for a great (or flexible) combo when I became a mum. I found the logistics of organising drop offs, pickups, sleepovers and full days of care – mental.
Not to mention, that often when we decide to go back to work – we realise our salary is going to be decimated by childcare fees, which leaves us feeling like – what’s the point?
If you’re feeling like maybe you’d like to explore working from home so you can be more flexible around your kids (and actually pocket your money 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.
Where to begin
As with any business idea, a little bit of planning goes a long way. Without procrastinating too much or getting so bogged down in the details that you aren’t taking action, spend a little time putting together a quick business plan and check out the rest of my tips for what to begin with when you’re starting a business. Identify a gap in the market and check if there’s a market in the gap. Having a bright business idea is one thing, but it’s no good to put all the time and effort in, if no one takes you up on your offer.
>> Basic Business Setup
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 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.
When it comes to things like a website, I encourage you to take the path of least resistance.
Firstly, do you actually need a website to begin with, or could you get away with a simple free landing page like Link Tree? If you’re selling products consider starting on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or start with an online marketplace like Etsy.
Don’t forget to set up your social media, too -this can also be a terrific point of contact for your customers if you don’t have a website.
Business ideas that you 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.
1. Selling on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop etc.
This is one of the easiest businesses 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, why not start selling for people you know? Charge a commission or a flat rate for selling and work out whether you could also include a charge for photos/copy for each item too. Nicheing down to a specific category helps here, too.
Someone who does this really well, selling high-end pieces using instagram is Jordie from @selling_your_wardrobe check her account out if you’d like some inspo.
2. Upcycling furniture.
There are SO many beautiful pieces of furniture going for free or cheap that are just BEGGING to be upcycled. This is the perfect opportunity if you’re a little bit crafty and creative.
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.
3. Meal & Grocery planners
If you’re part of any mums groups or Facebook groups with other mothers, meal planning is something that is a constant drainer. Planning food that is easy to prepare, sticks to a budget and your kids will actually eat, can feel like mission impossible. And even when you nail it one week, you have to do it all over again the next.
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 an online course 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 – perfect for stay at home mums.
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 working for yourself in the same area?
Small businesses are often looking to outsource their bookkeeping and it’s an area where there is a definite opportunity to not only take on the bookkeeping and accounting for these businesses but also in the education & system set up for all things small biz accounting.
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 fulfilled 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, a word-processing queen, an email marketing gun. Or perhaps 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 ropes of social media management?
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 a specific sector or business profile. 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 fave, Fusion Biz Co) 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 those arty crafty 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 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.
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 some sneaky market research!
If you need a little inspo here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
Ideas for home made products:
- Painting/wall art
- Knitting/Crochet (clothing, dolls & dolls clothing)
- Hand painted plant pots
- Key hangers
- Resin art/chopping boards
You don’t need a fancy 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.
8. Digital illustration/drawings and prints
As someone who did (and still does) sell illustrations, I’m telling you it’s a super easy little side hustle to start up.
You need to decide on how you will be drawing your pictures.
Different ways to digitise illustrations:
- Scanning originals
- Drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer
- Using a tablet and installing a program (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 for print formatting and other design work that can’t be done using Procreate.
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.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a tablet, I recommend heading to your local tech store and having a play with their display models before you commit to purchasing one.
Remember, you don’t need to go all out and buy ALL THE THINGS… Start simple.
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.
The next step – figure out how you’d like to print them.
My recommendation here would be to outsource your printing to a professional 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.
Have a play around with different sizes and try some different formats like stickers and see what is popular!
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.
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 re 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 this 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 mums become bloggers and it’s because blogging can be super flexible around kids. It can also be a relatively passive form of income – and if you are into more of a long-game when it comes to business, then blogging could definitely 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. 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 you need help with creating a blogging content strategy that you know will lead to income, then book a 1:1 content intensive and let’s chat!
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