So many mums come to me because they want to start their own business, but they don’t know what they can do. Do you want lightbulb ideas for starting your own business?
Sometimes there is an immediate answer staring you in the face – perhaps you are a qualified accountant working for good firm but you want more flexibility or a better work-life balance. Could you set up your own business as an accountant? After all every business needs an accountant – for payroll or tax returns. Even better if you can specialise in some aspect or an industry sector. One mum I have talked to specialises in doing the accounts for non-profit organisations and charities. She is now an expert in charity finance. Or perhaps your accountancy experience has given you specialist tax knowledge or you are a whizz kid on the software. Perhaps you could train others on how to use accounting software.
Or maybe you have a hobby that could turn into a business – maybe you are a creative jewellery maker or a gifted dress-maker. Maybe you love family history research. Three great examples in this American Express post show how it is possible to create a business from your hobby. This article from NetMums shares more real-life stories.
Perhaps you are like many other mums – you don’t want to continue your old career or you just can’t see how you could possibly use those skills and turn it into a business.
There is no easy answer to this. Below I share four steps to help you to identify your skills and how you can use those skills. Be warned – this process can be long and frustrating. But don’t give up. Be patient and trust in the process.
Step 1 – Know WHO you are
What sort of person are you? Are you outgoing or reserved? Task-focussed or people-focussed? What’s your learning style? How do you communicate best? How do you like people to communicate and interact with you?
It is important to understand what motivates you, what environment suits you best, whether you are a detail or big picture person. Some of us are motivated by a challenge while others are motivated by knowledge or expertise. Some people love to work independently, while others thrive as part of a big team. And wanting to be part of a team does not mean you are not cut out for running your own business. Your team might be your mastermind group; or the team you build to help you out with other aspects of your business e.g. a social media specialist, web designer etc.
Step 2 – Understand WHAT you are
This is where you get to have fun and list out all your different skills and experiences. Think about all your past experiences, skills, strengths and preferences. Get feedback from others; think about your transferable skills; what have you done that is not on your CV. What volunteering have you done? How do you get involved in your local community? Budget management on a simple scale is managing the household budget or banking the donations at the local playgroup. What are the parenting skills that you can include?
Strip back the labels from the job positions you’ve held and think about the skills you needed.
Take a piece of paper and get it all out of your head. Do this with pen & paper rather than at a keyboard to free your mind – even better, go for a brisk walk or do some happy dancing before you sit down to do this. Or try a mindmap. Go wild with colour too.
Look at your CV – if it includes ‘team management’, what exactly does that mean? Unpack that into the actual tasks and skills you need to manage a team. In The Confident Mother, Sarah Buchanan-Smith advises you to “Think about the big experiences that you’ve had or that you’ve helped people through.”
When you have all your skills, highlight the ones you love and enjoy, and cross out the ones you don’t enjoy.
Step 3 – Identify what you WANT
Many of us end up in jobs or careers ‘by accident’. We get promoted, we move up the career ladder, and when we get to the top, we realise the ladder was up against the wrong wall.
One of three things happens:
a) you realise your ladder is in the wrong place and you move it
b) you realise your ladder is in the wrong place but you don’t know how to move it and so you get stuck or
c) you don’t realise your ladder is in the wrong place, you feel unhappy, and find yourself going through the motions, without really understanding why you hate your job.
Knowing what you want is about clarifying whether your ladder is in the right place and if it isn’t, where do you need to move it to. It’s about exploring what YOU want and not what somebody else thinks you ought to want. What is your true purpose? What do you bring to the world that nobody else does? What makes you truly joyful? What could you do forever for free? Does that make sense?
Step 4 – Get clarity on your VISION
Take time to yourself to get really clear on your vision. What is the most important thing to you? What is it about having your own business that appeals? Why is it important? Get clarity on your values too. This is vitally important. If stability is one of your core values, then that will affect the type of business that you will feel comfortable in. Similarly with creativity – you’d hate to be stuck in a business just churning out the same thing, day in day out.
There are several creative approaches to build your vision. Drawing a picture is a great one. Whole brain goal mapping is really effective too. I did this with my own coach recently and it’s so powerful.
Step 5 – Find SUPPORT from others
Finally it is important to find support from others. Ask for feedback from friends and colleagues. Very often the thing that you take for granted, others will really value. Any time you hear yourself saying about something you’ve done or thought “Well that’s common sense, anybody can do that”. Take note. It might be common sense to you but that could well be because it’s your gift.
Enrol support from friends to help you with the skills exercise and also getting clarity on what you want and your core values. Think about where else you can get that support. You don’t need to be in crisis mode to get help from a coach. You might be feeling frazzled, overwhelmed or just plain frustrated because you’re stuck and can’t figure out what to do.
You will get the same results if left to your own devices (eventually) however working with a coach intensifies and speeds up the process like nothing else can. I had thought about setting up my own business for three years before I actually did it. It was only when I worked with a coach that I had the lightbulb moment, Yes I Can Do This.
Finding the right ideas for your own business takes time and it may seem frustrating. One of the key messages I repeat over and over is that your business will evolve over time. I look back now at the business I first created, and my business today and it is almost unrecognisable. Be prepared to let it evolve.
Try out these steps and let me know how you get on with creating ideas for your own business.
Let’s talk …
You’re smart, I’m smart. But sometimes, it just makes good sense to get help. Somebody who’s done all the research for you. Somebody who’s done this over and over again.
If you are stuck finding the lightbulb ideas for starting your own business, and you know that you need help, let’s talk to find out how I can help you. Click here to find a date and time that works for you.
And if you already started your self-employment and want ongoing business support, join The Confidence Oasis.