The entrepreneurship journey is full of twists and turns, many that we do not foresee and some that we envisage but fail to prepare for. In this article, I highlight my top 7 traps that mumpreneurs are susceptible to falling into when they launch. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it touches on key areas that many of us fail to consider before launching into full time business.
In business school, our finance facilitator introduced us to the concept of “analysis paralysis”. This is a phenomenon where a person gets stuck in the planning and research stage and never kicks off because she/he keeps thinking there’s still one more thing left to do before launching out.
What are you afraid of? Being an entrepreneur can be humbling I must let you know, but there is nothing as exhilarating as gaining freedom from the fear of failure. Many times, we do not reach our full potential because we are afraid to fail. But guess what, so what if you fail? Okay, so maybe some people will gloat and tell you I told you so, but then what? It doesn’t make you less of a person. In fact, many times people holding you back and shooting down your ideas do so because of their own inner insecurities. They wish they could try to, but they are too scares and want to keep everyone in that boat with them.
So here’s how I deal with failure, I get up, dust myself, take the lessons and keep moving. At least I know I tried. This quote sums it up – An entrepreneur is someone who can go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. You have to believe you can do it and you will!
The world is changing faster than the speed of light. What you feel you know today may be obsolete by tomorrow. What’s more, we are in the information age, where access to information is not as expensive as it used to be. You can now take A-list courses with top league schools for free online. Staying ahead of the game requires more work now because everybody has access to the information you have. Of course, how it is applied is another matter entirely, but they know what you know, mostly.
If you stand still or close your eyes, you will find yourself holding the can. You have to keep reading, keep learning, and keep doing. Don’t be afraid to try new things. I know people who have said to me, this social media is not for me and they stop at facebook. Today we have people who have become millionaires from instagram and snapchat. What if they also, refused to evolve?
Stay abreast of what is happening in your field, read articles from thought leaders in your industry. I have a mantra I have adopted from my childhood days and its “Good better, best, I shall never rest, until my good is better and my better best.” Find yours.
There is a common saying that as a startup you have to wear many hats. You might start out as the accountant, the cleaner, the sales representative and maybe even the driver. While this is true, we must not get carried away with bootstrapping and lose the essence of building a structured business.
There are ways to get around building a team on a small budget. Consider using volunteers, interns or source for co-founders who are not only compatible with you and share your values, but are also willing to put in the work. Don’t jump in with a co-founder or partner that is just in for the sake of it. Ensure that in choosing a partner, you chose someone who has complementary skills to yours.You absolutely cannot do everything yourself! I repeat, you cannot.
This trap can lead to abrupt failure of your business. This happens especially when you start your business as a side hustle before launching fully. It is easy to assume your business is healthy when you still have a paycheck at the end of the month and don’t keep clear records. In my work, I have met many women who have been financing not only their businesses but also their clients with their salaries. Take for example, you deliver cakes on the side; you get an order to deliver to Ajah (A location based in Lagos, Nigeria) and you operate from Ikeja (Another Lagos, Nigeria based location which is about 2 to 3hrs during peak periods). You are excited and you bill the client a blanket delivery rate, same as you charge people within Ikeja and environs. At the end of the day, your delivery rate barely covers the cost of delivery and part of your margin goes into covering it. Yet you keep taking orders from that route and fail to adjust your pricing. This, my friends is the beginning of the end.
I know we hate running numbers and finance is like rocket science sometimes, but a basic level of financial knowledge is important for every business owner. Maintain a records book if you can’t handle excel, have an auditor review your books periodically. Know what proportion of your revenue is actual profit after all costs have been covered. Don’t forget that you should get a salary too; it’s good accounting practice to set aside a salary for yourself to avoid unaccounted spending. When you have considered all the costs involved in delivering a service or a product, you would realize that many of us are running charity businesses that cannot be sustained. Number one rule – You are in business to make money!
I know we are emotional beings and yes there is the place of that “gut feel”. Sometimes, your gut feel will save you when numbers or texts lie. That said; there is a place for being rational. You have to master the art of leaving your feelings outside. No, nobody hates you, and yes you didn’t get that contract because you didn’t give it that needed push. It’s not about you; it is just what it is. You must be ready to put in the work.
That member of staff that started the business with you but isn’t pulling their weight or growing with you, yes, he/she needs to go. It’s a business, not charity. You have to do what you have to do and no it doesn’t make you a bad person. Now that we are clear on this, how about we toast to better days ahead. Yass!
Building a business is not a walk in the park. A quote I read once describes business owners as people who live a few years of their lives like others won’t, so that they can live the rest like others can’t. The few years in this quote is often grossly underestimated. These few years of waiting for that big break can be long and dreary. If you have all your hopes hung on income from this big idea, trust me, you will fall flat on your face eventually.
Let’s talk about multiple income streams. We hear this all the time but mostly associate it with MLM (multilevel marketing) schemes. As much as that is an option, there are other things you can consider. Sometimes, people do stuff they don’t particularly enjoy in order to raise the needed funds to keep them going till their dreams actualize.
Are you good at hairdressing? Can you trade on the side? Do you know where to get wholesale deals that you can make a spread on? What about offering accounting services, or legal services? Evaluate yourself and list the things you can do that people will be willing to pay for, without totally veering you off course.
It’s a long road ahead, you need to have cash to keep you going, or you better be ready to get a job, that too is an option by the way.
You will agree with me that mumpreneurs have a lot on their plate, no offence to others, we know you have a lot of work too. Lol. Having a full time office job often helps draw clear lines between mummy duties and work duties, sometimes (especially with Nigerian banks, no pun intended) the lines lean a bit more to the work side because of the demands. This is why the moment you decide to leave that structure to launch out on your own; you now need to deal with structuring your time and attention. Many women struggle with this.
When you fail to set priorities and plan, you find yourself constantly exhausted and yet mostly unproductive. If you run a home office for example, set rules for work time that everybody must respect. You are not doing your children a favor by allowing them run your life and run amuck without set rules. Let them know the boundaries of work time. Of course when it’s time to relax and play, make time for that, but as much as possible draw the lines and abide by them.
Goal setting is also a very important activity not just for mumpreneurs but also for anybody who plans to achieve something. Set daily, weekly or monthly goals. You tend to grope in the dark, shooting darts in different uncoordinated directions when you do not set goals. Think about what you want to achieve each week and document them. It helps to have someone who holds you accountable and serves as your chief whip or you might trail off.
As I said in the beginning, this list is by no means exhaustive, if you have experienced something that you think should be listed here, feel free to share. Connect with me at …..
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