Stephanie Macintosh from Bonito Baby Business coach Kathryn Hocking of Reverie Coaching
Mothers start businesses for a range of reasons. Often it’s a practical choice because the cost of childcare is so high. Others like the flexibility of earning money while being at home with their children.
There are certain factors that separate those who make money from those who don’t.
Stephanie Macintosh started baby products website Bonito Baby four years ago when her youngest son was one. She says she has been profitable from day one.
“I started it as something to do from home so I could work around the kids,” Macintosh says. “I chose this idea as kids’ products were very much in my mind at the time and I saw a niche for unusual items you couldn’t get in regular baby stores.”
Macintosh’s previous job was as a tax adviser with one of the big four accounting firms. She says this financial background helped her in managing the numbers around the business.
“Initially the amount I invested in the stock and website was less than $500,” she says. “I controlled my stock and inventory levels very carefully, which is something I would advise anyone starting out to do.”
She also advises people starting out to not get talked into spending thousands on a website.
“I started with a $100 website, then after nine months upgraded,” she says. “By that time I knew exactly what functionality I needed and found a shopping cart which suited my purposes.
“Also make sure you can update most of the website yourself and don’t need to rely on and pay a web developer every time you have a small change.”
Macintosh works about 25 to 30 hours a week on the business.
“This allows me to make an income but still take the kids to school and participate in their reading groups and other activities,” she says. “While I haven’t replaced my full-time income, I have replaced a part-time income. That is what I would have been earning, as if I didn’t start my company I was only going to be going back part time.”
She says the key to her profitability is that she did everything herself to begin with – within reason.
“This includes accounting, marketing, PR, website updates, packing orders,” she says. “This both saves money and allows you to learn about your business from the ground up. I do suggest you outsource important things such as graphic design, because you want to make sure your business projects the right image.”
But not all mumpreneurs start a business to replace their salaried income.
Nichole Lindblom always intended for her business to be a hobby. She formed Bella Beba – which makes gifts that look like cakes but are made out of nappies – with friend and mother Natasha Mitchell about three and a half years ago when Lindblom was pregnant.
“Both Natasha and I work part time and don’t want to replace the security of the income we get from our jobs with going into business for ourselves full time,” Lindblom says.
“Bella Beba started by accident when we began making gifts for friends who just had babies and a colleague asked where they could be bought. That made us think we could start selling the,m but really our passion is making gifts rather than making money.”
Lindblom only sells locally around Adelaide but is looking at ways to start selling interstate. “Our strategy was always to keep it small,” she says. “For one, the cost and, two, we didn’t want it to take over our jobs. We’re very happy with our size. We’ve made money but not much – certainly not enough to support ourselves.”
Business coach Kathryn Hocking specialises in advising mumpreneurs about growing their business. She says the difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is the amount of investment that is put into the business.
“A hobbyist will do things in the cheapest way possible, for example, they will do their own website,” she says. “They don’t invest in branding or pay for any training in how to run an online business. They also don’t take social media in a serious way.”
She says they do everything in a limited way or they don’t do enough to reach an income target.
“The ones that make it work are the ones that invest in a quality website, proper branding. They get a logo done, proper business cards,” she says. “They also get training in the running of an online business and there is so much to know around social media.”
She says having a social media strategy is key. “They need to post multiple times a day, blog a few times a week,” she says. “Having a good idea for a business is not enough – there is still a certain amount you need to do.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.