Founder of Project Mum, an Australian job matching service that connects small businesses to skilled mums for long and short term projects.
When I started Project Mum, a few friends asked me what type of businesses they too could start. Most of them were mums who hadn’t returned to work after maternity leave and were finding the isolation too much. Others were in the workforce but not finding any joy or inspiration in what they were doing.
Knowing that there might be a few of you in either of the situations above, here are a few of my tips (based on my own experiences) to give you food for thought and hopefully give you the motivation to get started and think of a business idea you will love and be successful in.
1. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses
Usually you’ll find marketers creating SWOT analysis (we love this!) to show us exactly what we are currently facing, what could happen and the stumbling blocks. I recommend you create a personal SWOT to find out what you’re passionate about i.e. current hobbies, weaknesses (hate sales!) and strengths (love talking to people) to create a true picture of you and where your skills and interests could translate into a business.
List as many things for both columns and cross check to see if any of the descriptors could lead to a business opportunity. For example, passionate about children learning (strength), love creating new games for children (hobby) could translate into a video series for parents plus blog on creating different games to entertain children.
2. Talk to people in the niche you’re interested in
I really wish I’d done this back when Project Mum was an idea in my head – it might have saved me time and angst but unfortunately I had a business idea and ran with it first. Find people already in the space and talk to them about what it’s like running a business in that niche. Go to a few networking events specific to the industry to get a feel of what it’s like – try groups like Meetups to find the right people. Also try an Advisory service for small business owners for example as offered by Business.gov.au or your local council.
3. Build your LinkedIn profile
I’ve heard people still ask about whether they need to be on LinkedIn. The short answer to this is Yes! The first thing I do when looking to assess a Project Mum application is search for that person on LinkedIn. Create a good profile and keep it updated. Give it more attention than Facebook and Twitter.
Your profile will help you market yourself to the right people such as influencers, and give you credibility on a professional platform especially when building your new business. LinkedIn is also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse in your market. Join a few LinkedIn groups and keep an eye out for potential gaps in the market that could give you your next business idea.
4. Research, research, research
Has the light bulb gone off yet? If it has, great!Now comes the not-so-fun part: finding out who your competitors are and what they are doing. If there is another business similar to yours; and you feel you can’t bring anything new or different then perhaps wait for the next light bulb to go off.
If you’re like me and simply cannot ignore that brilliant idea that’s bound to make you millions, then identify your competitive advantage, in other words, how are you different or better than your competition? Do you have the latest technology, great skills in sales or know the right people? All these will give you a good head start when building your new business.
PS: Don’t be carried away by your idea and be tempted to skip this step. From experience, it’s better to research your market before spending money and time and realising your business won’t work.
Rashida Tayabali is the founder of Project Mum, a project matching service that connects growing businesses to skilled mums for short and long term projects. She helps solo business owners gain clarity and focus in their business through one-on-one coaching sessions. If you’re a small business owner seeking focus and clarity in your business, or need help in making the leap to self employed and not sure how to begin, register for her brand new coaching sessions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Cucchiaio