Category: Finding a Business Idea

Escape the Rat Race: Flexible Career Alternatives For Working Mothers

Escape the Rat Race: Flexible Career Alternatives For Working Mothers

Nowadays there are many more options available to working mothers than the traditional 9-5 job. As technology evolves we are presented with a growing number of alternatives that give you more control over your work-life balance. It’s important to stress that there are alternatives rather than opt-outs – we must all still work to live – but there is an increasing number of ways to ‘get on’ in this world without working a traditional job. What it takes is initiative, determination and lots of resilience to keep going and make it work.

Depending on the kind of change you are looking for, here is a list of 9-5 alternatives that could make the difference for you.

Seek out freelance opportunities

Freelancers work for themselves and have to source their own work. Sourcing freelance work is much easier now than it used to be, thanks to various dedicated websites such as People Per Hour and Freelancer. The beauty of freelancing is that you get to set your own schedule and work from wherever you want – provided there is an internet connection. There is a market for all kinds of freelance skills, including writing, design, web development, SEO, admin, translation, transcription, photography and legal services.

Start your own business

Entrepreneurship is a pretty big task, and shouldn’t be approached without a lot of forward planning. It’s all about finding something flexible that you enjoy, and turning that into a career or home grown business for yourself. Enjoyment is important, as it’s not uncommon to spend more than 40 hours a week while you to try to get your new business off the ground. The difference here is that the time is spent on something you’re passionate about and that you can call your own.

  • If you’re ready to take on entrepreneurship, there are now lots more lending options available thanks to crowd funding sites and social media
  • New trends are arriving constantly as technology develops, meaning there has never been a better time to start a business and capitalise on the evolving market
  • Some lucrative options to consider might be: consulting, subscription boxes, health services, apps for kids, software development, and mobile massage or beauty services

Make money on-line

Not by signing up to one of those awful ‘get rich quick’ schemes, but by utilising one or many of the several methods that successful on-line entrepreneurs use to generate income. They require some careful planning and time to build up, so don’t quit your job right away and expect success to come overnight. Do some research into one of the following and think about whether it could work for you:

  • Sell products on-line via an e-marketplace such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy. Get increased exposure for your wares by benefiting from the scale of their on-line audience – whether it’s for products that are handmade, second hand or bought wholesale
  • Start an on-line store and make sales under your own brand, whether it’s jewellery, art, crafts, food, merchandise or services. It’s easier than ever to create an on line store using an e-commerce platform, and this way you retain control over the whole look and feel of your store front
  • Become a blogger. Start by creating engaging content, and once you’ve built up your readership, look into methods of monetisation such as advertising, affiliate marketing, selling products, writing guest posts and promoting businesses

There are thousands of people out there who manage to make a healthy living on-line and reap the rewards of a virtual workplace or marketplace.

Find a non-desk job

There is no hard and fast rule that you must work an office job. There are a lot of jobs out there with varying hours and environments that could help you to become a happier and healthier person. Try pursuing a career that is interactive, outdoor or on-the-move, such as nursing, teaching, carpentry, construction work, landscaping, grounds keeping or massage therapy.

Try consulting or advising in one of your skills or areas of expertise

If you’ve been working in the same industry for a long time and built up a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills, then you could be the perfect candidate for consulting or advising. Help others to improve their own performance through consultancy, whether it’s business consulting, career coaching, financial advice or productivity seminars. If you know it, you can teach it – and if you can teach it, you can monetize it. Use on-line tools to help you spread the word and host on-line webinars and Q&A’s to help market your expertise.

Professional speaking and writing

Public speaking is certainly not for everyone, but it is a very sought-after skill which, if you have it, can be a very fulfilling and lucrative way to earn money. Whether you’re an author, teacher or motivator, if you can successfully capture people’s imaginations through your words or writing then you’re onto a winner. There are plenty of people who successfully make money this way who aren’t huge names in publishing or oratory – all you need is a lot of passion and knowledge about your subject, and the flair to ignite that same sense of excitement in others. You can start by running motivational and creative courses at your local community centre (or on-line) to see how you fare.

Move abroad

While some counties are very work-focused and keen to maximise working hours, there are others that have a much healthier and more flexible approach to work-life balance and that are also more affordable for young families. You could have an adventure abroad together as a family, discovering new things about yourselves.

It’s a bold move to completely uproot and move to another country, so it won’t be the best option for everyone, but if you want to start afresh and you have no ties keeping you and your family in one place right now when the kids are young, then it might be worth considering. Countries with a progressive work ethic are mostly European and include Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands, among others. When you are abroad you could make a living by teaching English or tutoring, or getting involved as a local tourist guide or a host family for foreign students.

Find more ideas and inspiration on:

Author: Kayleigh Alexandra, Microstartups.org. Microstartup.org is a site that posts stories of one person start ups, to help generate publicity. 

Create your Own Flexible Job - Be an Innovative Wealth Creator

Create your Own Flexible Job – Be an Innovative Wealth Creator

I recently experienced the frustration of missing a flight in France, thanks to 1,000 taxis blockading Toulouse airport to display their dissatisfaction of the threat brought to their profession by Uber. It made me think – not just about Uber, but Airbnb, Childcare.co.uk, eBay, Elance, Amazon and other similar websites that are allowing individuals to generate revenue through means other than standard employment. Could these be a solution to all of those mothers and fathers out there, unable to find the perfect paid flexible employment?

Advice – Offer a Flexible Job

At Workpond, we are committed to helping businesses improve their resourcing. We do this by teaching them how to attract the best talent – and one of our key pieces of advice is to make it a more flexible job. But we know that for every job we create, we could fill 10 more. So what about the unsuccessful candidates? What can they do?

Be Innovative about Wealth Creation

We find that when we speak to our candidates, both men and women, we discover that they are becoming increasingly innovative about how they generate wealth. It’s rather like the modern portfolio career, but rather than offering their services to many businesses, they are using their assets or time to generate wealth. Perhaps they rent their house out while they are on holiday; they babysit; they do small pieces of freelance work for businesses when needed. They sell second hand clothes, unwanted presents or their own crafted goods online (for themselves or others) or trade stocks and shares through a platform. These are fantastic ways of ensuring that they are creating wealth while they are waiting for the right timing to commit to a more permanent role or for the perfect flexible position, with the benefit that they are all totally flexible and in their control.

Time to Grow and Explore

There is no doubt that the majority of us are already independent wealth creators to different degrees and life events will certainly impact our level of activity. When starting a family, we all have a huge range of choices – whether to generate wealth by returning to work – or by building an extension. As our children grow and enter school and childcare needs change, our career aspirations and demands may evolve and we may choose to increase or decrease our work hours or elect to take a different career path and retrain. Time away from work can allow us to remove the blinkers, explore options, get creative and pursue other wealth generating activities, all thanks to the web and the plethora of options out there. Time away from work gives us the opportunity to try on a new career, just like you would try a new pair of shoes before you buy.

Could a Micro-business be the First Step to your Future Career?

So, do look at your options – thanks to the Internet, three of our team at Workpond set up their own modern micro-businesses when their children were small. This gave them real pleasure, something to channel their creative energies and experience into and taught them how businesses worked. It has certainly stood them in good stead. The experience has been valuable, it has made their CVs far more interesting and they have a great innovative story to tell at interview. So why not explore and enjoy seeking out new ways to generate wealth. They may lead to better things….

Flexible WorkingAuthor: Amanda Seabrook. Amanda is the MD and Founder of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.

Working Mothers - Pet Start Up Business

A Pet Business Start Up – Ideal for Working Mothers?

Working mothers are always looking for that ideal flexible option when thinking about returning to work. A pet business may be just the right thing for you. Steph Mylchreest from Pet Insurance explains why.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of pet businesses popping up all over the UK. The reason for this: people are all too often cash rich and time poor when it comes to their four legged friends. As the numbers of pet ownership has grown so have the hours and days people work leaving them little time to give their pets the TLC they need. And the reason why pet businesses make such good start ups? Because they can be taken on part time, need no initial capital and the rewards are not only financial but emotionally fulfilling too!

Dog Walking Start Up

A dog walking start up is ideal for those who already own a dog or just have a love of the canine variety. We’ve put together a list of reasons to help you decide if a dog walking business is right for you.

1. No need for childcare

This is the perfect venture for those with young children as they can be taken with them while walking and therefore there is no need for childcare or if you walk a dog anyway why not get paid for it?

2. Flexible work

This is flexible work also, although most likely to be needed during the day while their owners are at work, dog walking can be tailored to meet your schedule and you can even just do it for a few hours here and there without any real time commitments.

3. No initial capital needed

There is no big investment to start a dog walking business other than insurance which is a must if you are looking after other dogs and need to be protected should any accident or injury occur.

From Protectivity Insurance, a dog walking business policies start from £5.04 per month. You may decide to advertise locally (at your vet and in shop windows) and you could use your base of friends and family.

4. Rewarding

If you are a dog lover anyway then this one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. Seeing a happy doggy face at the end of a walk will make it all worthwhile.

5. Working Outside

This could be a benefit or a disadvantage for some people but you must be prepared to work outside in all weather conditions come rain, sun, snow, sleet or anything else the British weather can throw at you. It may pay to invest in some high quality boots and a nice warm coat!

Pet Sitting Start Up

Pet Sitting is a relatively new business area but is growing rapidly as those who own pets are no longer happy to leave them at home alone for long hours. This makes it a great start up venture with relatively low competition and incredibly easy to get started.

1. No initial capital needed

Like dog walking, there is no big investment needed to set up a pet sitting business. There will be a need for insurance and with policies from Protectivity Insurance starting at £5.05 per month this is a relatively small cost. It is also recommended to get a DBS check or more commonly known as a criminal record check which cost around £26. If you are entering someone else’s home this will make customers feel more at ease.

2. No overheads

Pet sitting can be done either at the pet owners home or your own meaning there is no need to buy or rent facilities. If you do it at your own home, it may be easy to combine with dog walking.

Owners will have everything their pet needs in their own homes so there is no need to buy additional equipment however if operating from your own home it might be a good idea to ensure your house is completely pet friendly!

3. Ability to add other services

When visiting others pet owners homes there is always the opportunity to offer other services such as dog walking, house sitting or gardening to really get the most financially from your time.

4. No need for qualifications

Although a love for pets is a necessity you do not need to be the next Dr. DoLittle. Although a qualification may look more impressive on your CV as long as owners and clients can see that you share a love for their four legged friends, you are reliable and have good references they will hire you.

We hope this has given you some inspiration to start your own pet business and help to decide whether this type of flexible working will fit you as a working mother. Whatever you do decide we wish you luck and hope your start up is as successful as possible!

Author: Steph Mylchreest. Steph is Marketing and Business Support Executive at Protectivity Insurance. Protectivity Insurance are a niche pet and sports and leisure business insurance specialists with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. They offer comprehensive insurance policies covering all pet business services. 

mumpreneur

How to Start an Importing Company as a Mumpreneur

2016 could be a great year for UK entrepreneurs importing goods from around the world, and that could be mumpreneurs importing too. With oil prices generally lower than they have been for several years, a strong economy with high consumer confidence and the emergence of several productivity and growth apps to help you scale your business from home, prospects seem bright.

Choose your niche or sector

Finding the perfect product for your business is one of the three P’s of starting a company (product, price and promotion), and perhaps most important. Try Google Trends to look at monthly search volumes for that product or service, to really validate whether or not there is a market. As a mumpreneur especially, you can also pitch your product to communities such as Mumsnet, mums networks / groups on Facebook, and at coffee networking sessions to gauge a reaction from peers who you may be selling to.

Love your product

Building products is hard. Building great products is even harder. Most long-lasting profitable businesses are because the founders love what they’re producing and selling, be that a good or a service. People buy what they love, and so, by adopting the philosophy of creating a ‘Minimum Lovable Product’ rather than a ‘Minimum Viable Product’, you may be more confident about creating something that people are convinced to buy.

Be agile

This bit’s mainly for people that will sell goods and services on the web – but if you are a mumpreneur, it’s probably relevant. There are 1000’s of inexpensive or free tools which help productivity. They’re called SAAS tools (Software As A Service) and can help you do things from automating Tweets (busy mumpreneurs may not get time to monitor the Twittosphere 24-7), build websites without coding knowledge and manage your leads and relationships with customers and partners. We’d actually recommend Crozdesk for searching and finding the latest productivity apps on the market – and it’s free to use!

If your product or service involves an App (e.g. you import custom made clothes and have an app for people to see themselves), you can ‘wire frame’ your app using internet tools to plan out what the App will look and feel like.

Get a plan in place… and stick to it!

Setting yourself up for success will often require vigour, hard work, and discipline. By setting up a plan for 2016, with ambitious but achievable targets, can help you manage your work life balance and achieve the growth you’ll need for the year ahead. Setting physical quantitative targets is the best: ‘get 10 contracts signed in the next 30 days’, or ‘increase traffic to your website by 20% from December to January’, rather than ‘improve my website’, or ‘order some test products from China’.

Furthermore, reflecting on where you are with your targets or ‘to do’ list once a week is good practise to keep you focused and not let things slip. If at any stage you think targets are either unrealistic or continually at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list, question the economic importance and potential return on investment of the task.

Get others to sell for you

Remember the power of networks, blogs and word of mouth. If you can offer financial (or non-financial) incentives for allowing other people to promote and talk about your products, then that’s one last job off your mind. Moneysupermarket.com doesn’t really sell any products, it helps people access information and make judgements on products that other people sell (e.g. car insurance). For mumpreneurs, the power of communities and a strong network can be the make or break for a goods business.

If your company is a service, it may be worth listing it on sites such as Yell or Addtoevent (for events / catering services).

Negotiate when importing

Often you will have spent a lot of time and money finding and sourcing the right product or products you want to sell. Once this has done, it’s time to negotiate a deal with your supplier. Often suppliers will markup their advertised costs, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them for a better offer, given the competitive manufacturing economy in places like Vietnam, China and Turkey.

2015 was a huge year for the construction and manufacturing, as well as importing/ exporting goods and services. The trajectory is set to continue into the start of 2016, so now could be a great time for a mumpreneur to start or grow an import/export business!

Sort out your Mumpreneur finances

For mumpreneurs, finding capital to start your importing business can be tricky. Often an initial capital boost from personal savings, family and friends may be necessary to get your first few orders in. But once you have buyers and customers, trade finance is often a good way to import goods. You can read the Trade Finance Global guide for first time importers, to find out more about this. Unlike bank funding – which requires you to have assets (e.g. your personal property or car) to guarantee repayment – trade finance allows the stock to act as the security.

Think outside the box

Sometimes it really does take Eureka moments to go from 0 to hero! Often creative marketing, out of the box thinking and hard work can bring your business to the next level. Practicing meditation, going for walks, and talking to others (join for instance a women’s network for entrepreneurs) can sometimes provide moments of new insights.

May 2016 be a year of growth, website traffic, and revenue!

mumpreneurAuthor: James Sinclair. James is an editor at Trade Finance Global. Trade Finance Global connects SMEs and businesses with trade and stock financiers, as well as providing useful information to help importers and exporters grow their businesses.

Benefits of Self Employment

Benefits of Self Employment

A bit of fun with this infographic by Red Driving School about self-employment. What does it take to be self-employed?

They wisely do not say that – although I have no figures for driving instructors – most people do make quite drop in income when becoming self-employed.

driving-change

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

With the rising cost of living and the ongoing challenge of balancing family and work life, it’s no wonder that many mothers returning to work seek an alternative to the traditional 9-5 working life. Over 400,000 people in the UK work as direct sellers, with the industry continuing to grow in popularity.

What is Direct Selling

Direct selling is the term given to any kind of face-to-face selling outside of a standard shop. Many products are sold in this way, however not everyone would think this is direct selling.

Direct selling includes products bought from a catalogue delivered by a direct sellers – like cosmetics or homeware, products bought in a group party environment – like kitchen equipment or jewellery, products demonstrated in a customers’ home such as vacuum cleaners or make up, or products bought direct from a direct seller at events like craft fairs or fitness clubs – like cards or nutritional supplements.

For example direct selling includes Barefoot Books, Forever Living, Avon, Kleeneze, Mary Kay, PartyLite and The Pampered Chef.

What to Expect when Starting out on your Own

When people begin direct selling they purchase a starter kit, which is on average £100 for a business kit and sample products but sometimes is free. They can then begin selling the products to their friends and wider networks, keeping a percentage of the sales they make.

The Benefits of Direct Selling

For many mums direct selling offers the perfect way to balance work and family life. Direct selling is incredibly flexible and you can work as many hours, when and where you choose, to fit around your own life and commitments. When you start direct selling, you are effectively running your own business, so it’s very much a case of what you put in you get back out, as well as giving you a level of flexibility that standard jobs just can’t offer.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards.

There are over 120,000 working mums working in the industry who are attracted by the benefits that direct selling has to offer, including:

  • Flexible working – 82% of direct sellers work part time around other commitments.
  • Variety – there are dozens of member companies to choose from, with products ranging from cosmetics to kitchen equipment to nutritional supplements.
  • Support- all direct sellers are supported by their member company, and the DSA respectively.
  • Networking- direct selling enables you to meet like-minded business people and build your business as much as you wish.

Keeping it Safe

Especially when you start up and choose a company to work for, there are some pitfalls to avoid.

  • Always choose a reputable company – always look for the Direct Selling Association’s logo when choosing a company to work for. All member companies of the DSA sign a code of conduct which ensures they uphold ethical trading standards. By choosing a member company, you and your customers will be protected by the DSA.
  • Expect that not everyone will says yes – you will often hear the word ‘no’, but this does not mean failure.  You have to keep positive and think of it as another reason to move onto the next ‘yes’.
  • Don’t pay more than £200 for a starter kit – It is easy and cheap to start your own direct selling business – on average £100 for a business kit and sample products. The law prevents the initial outlay to be over £200, and a DSA member will never ask you for more in the first seven days. Starter kits often contain products to a much higher value and many companies even charge nothing for this.

For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

lyndaAuthor: Lynda Mills, Director General of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). The DSA was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards. For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

 

White Van Women on the Rise - Is it a flexible job for mothers?

White Van Women on the Rise – Is it a flexible job for mothers?

The number of female tradespeople in the UK is on the rise, according to a new study into the make-up of the UK’s trades. It may well be a flexible, local job that you could consider. If you would, you wouldn’t be the only one, and it certainly pays well.

A study of 10,000 tradespeople by IronmongeryDirect shows that women now represent 5.7% of working tradespeople. There are now more women tradespeople in the UK than those who are migrants.

The emergence of the ‘White Van Women’ is thought to be a result of demand from female homeowners and single-mothers, who may feel more comfortable inviting a female tradesperson into their home than a male.

The market is meeting this demand as the UK moves out of the recession and the economy shows signs of growth, as female workers take the decision to set up their own businesses, both following redundancy and also as a result of believing they can provide a better customer service.

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “It is interesting to see that women now represent a growing proportion of the sector. This influx of women is helpful for those who feel more comfortable or reassured having a lady working within their own home – particularly while the customer themselves and their children are present.”

“The emergence of White Van Women could be a major trend as the economy continues to grow, and will help to meet growing demand, for example in the housing sector. Certainly good tradespeople are highly prized, and it is a great career for women looking to grow their own businesses. ”

Working in the sector means you can work local, and have a good chance of being able to determine your own hours, although you may need to be on stand-by for instance for plumbing or electrical emergencies. Tradesmen tend to be relatively well-paid as well. It’s worth an option looking into if you are the sort of person who would enjoy helping people sort problems with their home.

Author: Ironmongery Direct

Freelancing as a return-to-work option

Freelancing as a return-to-work option

There are a variety and range of possible routes you can take back to work after a career break. If you have always enjoyed your work, and are passionate about what you used to do, free lancing using your old skills, experience and network may just be the thing for you. Read more to find what free lancing is and how to get started.

What is freelancing?

The essence of freelancing is that you offer your skills to companies or individuals on a project-by-project basis.  As an independent contractor, rather than an employee, you can control where, when and how you work. Freelancing therefore gives you more flexibility than any part-time working request is likely to do and more freedom than owning your own business. It can be a perfect set-up for parents wanting to fit in work around school hours.

If this all sounds too good to be true, the downside is that there is much less security than in more structured employment: most freelancers have peaks and troughs in their work. You’ll also need to be self-motivated and comfortable with using your sales skills, particularly when you’re getting started and targeting your first clients. Once you have some client referrals and start to build a reputation you will find it much easier as word of mouth is likely to become a key source of business.

How do I get started?

Before you get started with looking for freelance work, there are some important questions to ask yourself about how and where you are going to work and what kind of work will you do.  If you don’t get these clear, you might find yourself taking on work that you don’t really want to do because of the content, hours or location, but you only discover this once you’ve started the project.  Some key questions to ask yourself are:

  • What are the specific skills I want to offer my clients? What is my niche? Think of yourself as a brand: what are my Unique Selling Points?
  • What are my non-negotiable requirements on working hours and locations? How does my ideal working week look?

The key to success as a freelancer is to understand and believe in the skills and experience that you offer and your ability to provide value to your clients.

How do I find clients?

According to Lyndsey Miles, founder of Freelance Parents, there are 7 ways of gaining clients:

  • Approach your former boss or work colleagues (a very common way for returners to dip a toe in the water)
  • Referrals from your network
  • Freelance job sites
  • Low-cost advertising
  • Offering a free trial
  • Cold calling
  • Using social media as a marketing and networking tool

You might find some of these methods easier than others and they each have their benefits and drawbacks, but they do can work, as the stories on Lyndsey’s website show.

What if I don’t enjoy selling?

Another option for freelancers is tying in with one or more larger organisations who take on skilled and experienced professionals for freelance projects. This may be particularly appealing if business development is not your strong suit! Look for businesses in your sector which take on ‘consultants’ or ‘associates’. An increasing number of ‘virtual’ professional services businesses are resourced largely by independent freelancers, for example:

Freelancing can either be a long-term option, a stop-gap while your children are young or a way to ease back into work. I started out in my new career as a freelancer and was able to create a working life that fitted with my family and kept me stimulated and engaged.
julianne&katerinaAuthor: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.