• What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

    What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

    One of the biggest problems that people face when starting their own business is finding the perfect name for their company. Choose the right name and it can help your company stand out and attract customers, choose the wrong name and it can set you up for failure. You need to find something which is […]

  • If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

    If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

    We are well aware of the sense of frustration most people have when searching for that perfect flexible job. Whilst your children are your prime concern, you may wish to work either for financial reasons or you want an outlet for your talents. Your talent that, pre children, took years of hard work to build […]

  • Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

    Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

    Trailing spouses are known for making the ultimate sacrifice; they give up their careers and lives at home to follow their partners overseas. But rather than see it as a negative, we choose to see it as a wonderful opportunity. A chance to experience an unknown culture, see the kids thrive in a fresh environment […]

  • Shared Office, Working from Home

    Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

    Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex […]

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

One of the biggest problems that people face when starting their own business is finding the perfect name for their company. Choose the right name and it can help your company stand out and attract customers, choose the wrong name and it can set you up for failure. You need to find something which is catchy and interesting, which tells the buyer a bit about the product and why they want it. The more the name tells the consumers, the less you have to explain it.

If you are really struggling and don’t even know where to start, then there are tools out there which can help you choose the right name. In the end, chances are you will want to go with a name that you have thought of yourself and that your instinct tells you is right.

Get Creative About the Name for your New Company

So it’s time to get creative. One great way of coming up with a name is to brainstorm all your ideas. Send your kids out to play, grab yourself a coffee, and get thinking. Write down what your product does in layman’s terms, and then write down everything that you can think of which could portray that message in an interesting and quirky fashion. There isn’t really a set time in which to do it, as you could be hit by inspiration at any point. Give yourself a few attempts and don’t get disheartened when you can’t think of anything straight way.

Try not to tie your name down to your area, for example don’t call it ‘Surrey Stationary’ because there may be a time when you need to expand outside your initial remit. Find words that jump out at people and don’t fade into the background. Avoid cliches and don’t make the name so obscure that people will have no idea what service you offer.

Select Options for the Name for your New Company

Once you have a list of all the possible names it’s time to concentrate on the pros and cons of each possibility, slowly making your way down the list until you have two or three really good names. Make sure you have a look at The Companies House and do a Google search for each name to check that they are unique and haven’t already been used.

Test the Name for your New Company

Then it’s time to test the name with your target audience. You can do this by asking people on social media, email, or just asking around to see what name gets the best response.

One thing that a lot of people tend to forget about is remembering how important getting the domain name right is. According to Dan Coleman, Product Manager of The Formations Company, “one of the most important and often overlooked factors involving name choice is making sure that you get the .co.uk or .com domain name for the company name you choose, as this will help hugely with the authority of your company.” Once your company website goes live you don’t want it to fall to the wayside simply due to the domain name not standing out or being clear enough.

Once you are completely settled on the name for your new company register it quickly so that no one can get there before you. You can either register it yourself on The Companies House, or use a service such as The Formations Company, who will do all of the hard work quickly and efficiently.

Enjoy being a business owner!

Author: Amy Shaw, PR executive for The Formations Company. The Formations Company help people to register and form their own limited companies. They simplify the process  by stripping away the unnecessary extras and giving new business owners the right kind of support, especially during the first part of their start up journey. 

If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

If you want flexible work, it will help to be flexible

We are well aware of the sense of frustration most people have when searching for that perfect flexible job. Whilst your children are your prime concern, you may wish to work either for financial reasons or you want an outlet for your talents. Your talent that, pre children, took years of hard work to build up, could be wasted if the right opportunity doesn’t appear.

Here at Workpond we are passionate and positive about what the future for flexibility holds – see ‘Flexible Working – Predictions for the Year Ahead on the Future of Work‘. However, while we spend much of our time educating businesses about thow they can redesign roles to attract better talent, there is definitely scope for educating those seeking flexible work on how to be successful in winning the best opportunities.

Flexible work – the business view

To explain what we mean, it may be best to go back to the conversation that we have with our clients – the businesses. We spend much time persuading them, that if they are flexible about hours worked and remote working, they will broaden their pool of talent and increase the calibre enormously. Some are uncomfortable with the lack of control that flexible working brings to their processes – but we try to persuade them that they should focus on results – what do you want to achieve by recruiting this new person. What can they achieve – and to measure by results, rather than time at a desk. When we are successful, this conversation will result in a really interesting flexible role – if not, they will stick to their guns and advertise it full-time, as they have always done before. It is all a matter of demand and supply – there are many more people looking for flexible work from scratch than businesses looking for flexible workers. If employers don’t take advantage of this talent pool, they lose out on experienced talent that has taken years to build up.

Flexible work – the candidates view

On the other side of the equation are the candidates – mothers, fathers, and others looking for consulting or interim work, part-time work or remote working. We have those who are A* candidates and those who we know we will find hard to place – and the key to success is not how skilled or experienced they are, but how driven and flexible they are. Yes, flexible….

Very often mothers phone Workpond explaining that they are wanting to return to work. They don’t mind what they do, as long as they can work for 3 day a week in term time only. It is difficult for us to then match them to our clients as their purpose is not clear and they are inflexible about when they can work.

Flexible work – the successful candidates

The successful mothers and candidates (many of whom are men) that we help find work have a very different approach. They generally pick the phone up when they have seen a job advertised that they really like the look of. There is a flame that has been ignited in them. They want to work for our client because they love what they do. Once we have established that they are attracted to the culture and purpose of the company, and that their skills are aligned, the question of flexibility and pay will come up. Our best candidates are the ones that say that they are really grateful that the company is willing to give them flexibility – and in return, they too will be flexible (within reason).

Where our clients and our candidates align and where both are flexible we find that the best results occur. It is no surprise then that “We believe that best outcomes are achieved when people’s lives and business goals are shared”.

Author: AmandaFlexible Working Seabrook. Amanda is the director of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.

 

The Rise of the Mumtrepreneur – How Mums are Keeping the Economy Going

The Rise of the Mumtrepreneur – How Mums are Keeping the Economy Going

There is plenty to thank our mums for this Mother’s Day, but as well as helping raise us, the nation’s matriarchs are making an increasingly valuable contribution to the UK economy through their own thriving small businesses.

Looking after a child is like a full time job at times, yet many stay-at-home mothers are finding the time to run a business, forming the growing phenomenon of the mumtrepreneur.

Figures from the office for national statistics show record numbers of women are running their own firms part-time, unlocking previously hidden creative, digital and financial talent.

There are now 806,000 stay at home mums running their own firms, according to the Office for National Statistics, all while dealing with the demands of the school run, nappy changes and mealtimes. These figures are up 3.7 per cent on 2014, showing this is a rising trend that could just get bigger.

More than a cottage industry

Mumtrepreneurs are not just running these enterprises as a hobby to pass the time, they are actually making a valuable economic contribution.

A report by think tank Development Economics at the end of 2015 found mumtrepreneurs added 30 per cent of value to the UK economy between 2011 and 2014, generating £7.2billion of wealth.

The report predicts that by 2025, mumtrepreneurs will generate £9.5billion for the UK and support an extra 13,000 employees.

The most popular sectors identified in the report for mumtrepreneurs were retail, entertainment, management consultancy and care home management.

The eBay effect

The mum economy has been helped by modern technology and new approaches to business that mean you don’t need a high street presence to gain customers.

Women are also now more willing and able to stay involved in the workplace or keep their careers going while juggling family life, even if they can’t be in the office.

Instead, savvy start-ups can use websites such as eBay or Amazon, or social media, to run their empire from the kitchen table.

This keeps the set up costs low and means mums can manage their business remotely whether they are at home or in a mother and baby class.

Mother knows best

Many of the biggest and best-loved brands in the UK were started off at home by mums.

Perhaps one of the most successful mumtrepreneurs is the late Dame Anita Roddick. She began making and selling cosmetics and beauty products in the 1970s from home to earn some extra income for her daughters while her husband was away.

This was the early days of the Body Shop, which opened its first branch in 1976. By 2006 it had almost 2,000 stores and was sold to L’Oréal for £652million.

Other more recent inspirational members of the mum economy include Annabel Karmel, who built up a baby food and nutrition empire from her kitchen while looking after three children.

Parents now rely on her recipes and advice, and she was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to child nutrition.

Mums are also looking outside the kitchen for business success. One of the biggest parenting advice websites, Mumsnet, was founded by mother-of-four Justine Roberts following a disastrous family holiday in 2000.

What started as a forum for advice has become a community of half a million users, local groups and bloggers that has even hosted webchats with the Prime Minister and other politicians.

In the same year, mum-of-two Natalie Massenet founded fashion website Net-a-Porter from her flat in Chelsea after struggling to locate designs for a photoshoot.

The former journalist sold her majority stake in the magazine style designer fashion website for an estimated £50million in 2010, but is still involved in the business.

Even former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham provides inspiration for the mum economy. She has managed to use her pop success to become a respected fashion designer, all while raising three children.

The gift of a good accountant

Mums should be thanked with flowers and chocolates as well as praise this Mother’s Day.

But you could also give your mumtrepreneur the gift of a good accountant.

Not only are we small business accountants, we also work with our clients to help them grow. Could we help you keep the mum economy going?

From business planning to payroll and annual accounts, we’ve got your covered. Give us a call now or get a quote for our services online.

Author: Chris Conway. Chris is the Managing Director of London accounting company Accounts and Legal, who specialize supporting the growth of small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs, by providing them with accounting and legal compliance services together with innovative commercial advice.

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Trailing spouses are known for making the ultimate sacrifice; they give up their careers and lives at home to follow their partners overseas. But rather than see it as a negative, we choose to see it as a wonderful opportunity. A chance to experience an unknown culture, see the kids thrive in a fresh environment and try out a new career.

TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is a great option for women who want to make the most of their new life abroad. Here’s why:

The Job Market is Huge

Recent estimates suggest there are currently more than 1 billion people learning English around the world. The British Council predicts that number will double by 2020.

As you can imagine, with that many students there is huge demand for teachers. There are plenty of positions available, particularly in Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe but even English-speaking countries have their share of vacancies too.

Finding vacancies is simply a matter of searching online job boards, contacting local language schools or advertising your services privately.

Hours to Suit the Kids

This is probably the most important factor for working mums. You want a career and a life outside of the home, but you also want to be there for the kids (and your spouse).

Teaching is the ideal solution, not least because you’ll get school holidays off! Whether you choose to work for yourself or work part or full-time in a school, you won’t be away from home for much longer than the kids. Working hours that complement their schedule saves massively on childcare costs too.

You Can Work for Yourself

If the thought of working in a school fills you with cold dread or you need really flexible hours there’s the option to teach privately instead.

Many experienced English Language teachers move onto private tutoring as they love the freedom it allows. It can also be very lucrative, with tutoring rates starting £15+ an hour. And don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need experience, just a willingness to work hard and promote yourself to prospective students.

You Can Work Anywhere in the World

Even back home! If you relocate to another country or move back home, you can bring your skills and experience with you.

As already mentioned, there are TEFL jobs all over the world and an abundance of vacancies for experienced teachers (and even inexperienced ones). There are very few jobs that travel as well as TEFL.

The Skills are Transferable

Teaching English abroad will boost your CV with a whole host of transferable skills. The skills and experience you’ll gain whilst teaching will be highly desirable to other employers. This is really useful if you return home or decide on a different career path.

So if you want to boost your confidence, improve your communication, IT and language skills, learn to become adaptable, creative and resourceful, teaching is for you.

You Can Train in a Matter of Weeks

Qualifications aren’t always necessary to get a job teaching English. If you’re a native (or very fluent) English speaker, most employers will consider you.

However you will increase your prospects – and your confidence – if you complete a TEFL qualification.

Fortunately, you don’t need to go back to university for 3 years. You can learn online. TEFL certification courses range from 120 – 150 hours, so if you’re in a pinch, you can gain your qualification in a matter of weeks.

It’s Really Rewarding

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. Whether you’re privately tutoring a young adult hoping to land that exciting overseas job or a group of young children in a school, you’re practically guaranteed job satisfaction.

Sure, it can be very hard work and frustrating at times, but teaching English as a foreign language is one of the best ways to kick-start a career abroad. Why not consider it today?

Author: Mark Johnson is an experience TEFL teacher which saw him visit Asia. Upon returning to the his home country he began working for ICAL TEFL in the hope of inspiring others to take a similar career choice. Find out more about ICAL TEFL.

Flexible Working

Is 2016 the year of a revolution in flexible working? – Predictions for the year ahead and the future of work.

For those of you seeking and perhaps struggling to find fulfilling flexibile working opportunities at work, 2016 be the year of change?

The Christmas break seems to have long since faded away as we have been thrust back into the routine of everyday life. Most of you will be reading this as you have either made a commitment to find a new job in 2016 or you are browsing to see what other opportunities there might be for you. Perhaps you are hoping the ‘grass is, indeed, greener’?

A staggering 14.1 million British workers are interested in flexible working so there has never been a more relevant time to talk about it – as changes in legislation, society and technology all converge. The traditional model of nine to five might not be extinct, but it’s probably fair to say that it is endangered necessitating employers to focus more on the output of workers rather than the time spent in the office.

Flexible working benefits business

The majority of us will agree that more companies need to open their doors to flexible workers and challenge the outdated perceptions associated with it. To make flexible working work, employers need to see the killer benefits that working from anywhere or on a part time basis will bring. They need to provide employees with the right tools to keep communication channels open, help their workforce to become more productive, and provide them an environment of trust.

According to research by EY, 82% of managers do believe flexible working benefits their business; two thirds mention increased motivation, commitment and even employee relations but we need to see faster adoption and adaptation of working policies.

Flexible working driven by innovations and employee preferences

Innovations in technology and trust will have a huge part to play if we are to witness a revolution in work flexibility. Work is no longer a place that we go to – it could be anywhere anytime and accessed via numerous devices. In the next five years it is estimated that approximately 40 percent of the workforce will be contractors working typically from co-working spaces or remotly – all supported by improved and integrated technology.

But while the technology certainly enables workforce mobility, it is basic economics and employee preferences and expectations that are driving its explosive growth. Most people are thrilled to avoid those long commutes or are able to comfortably juggle home life with work life. The legislation that came out last year giving everyone the right to request flexible working has started to level the playing field. Fathers are now the front line and the ones needing support so that they can break the mould and feel confident in requesting flexible working. This is turn is starting to take away the ‘mother’ stereotype and makes it much more the norm in society.

Nobody really knows where we are going to, because everything in the world of work is changing too fast. The employee of yesterday is very different to the employee of tomorrow. Technology will no doubt play a massive part in how we all work and how businesses adopt flexible working and is fast becoming the most important requirement for workers today – particularly for Millennials as well as parents.

Your employer cannot avoid flexible working

So if you are seeking flexibility in your job, and have struggled to find it, perhaps 2016 is the year you will see some changes and greater opportunities out there as businesses start to adapt. We urge you to challenge employers and educate them on the benefits of resourcing experienced professionals, like you, on a flexible basis. Have confidence that this trend is here to stay and you will soon be part of a majority not minority seeking workplace flexibility.

Companies should start to understand that they will be left behind if they don’t grasp the changing workforce demands and invest in supporting technologies and gain a strong belief that flexibility is a win, win.

Can 2016 really be the year of a revolution in work flexibility? Watch this space.


Flexible WorkingAuthor: Amanda Bixby. Amanda works for Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities. 

Shared Office, Working from Home

Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex desk in a shared office space. Especially on those days where I have 2 meetings in the city and end up trying to get work done in a place like Starbucks, Costa or Eat in between.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to try it out last week when I was offered a day at a Regus shared office in London.

Morning commute

It got off to a good start. I dressed in office attire, and joined the commuters right after school drop-off. I felt really professional travelling in, reading my morning newspaper and being part of that world of work that I have said goodbye to when I started working from home many years ago. Nice to be back.

The building was only one tube stop from Waterloo, and it was only a matter of minutes before I had reached the Regus building. Great commute.

Settling into my Shared Office

Reception staff were kind and efficient and quickly showed me to my office, explaining all practicalities on the way. I installed myself in my cubicle, and got down to work.

I loved having everything there: the desk, the set of plugholes for my equipment and even an in tray and a pencil holder. It all looked and felt very professional and efficient, unlike the invariably cluttered desk I use when working from home.

There was nothing there to distract me, and I was surrounded by people who were all working too, so it should have helped me to get lots done quickly.  In reality though, it took me a while to get settled in. It’s like that first day in the office. All your colleagues look really busy and you are still wondering where on earth to start, how to get the coffee machine working and who best to ask where the loo is.

When I had just got my coffee, a working wifi, and everything I needed dug up from my bag my guest had already arrived.

Receiving Guests in a Shared Office

I chose a day on which I also had an external appointment, so I could receive them in a professional environment. It worked brilliantly. I offered them a choice of coffees, teas and water (all complimentary with the Regus booking) and we found some lovely comfy chairs with a view over London for our chat. When we were done I could even offer her a place in my room to finish some work, as guests are allowed to share the room with you.

Get Organised in a Shared Office

Now that I felt more settled the afternoon went by quickly and I did get lots of work done. That’s also when I learned that if I want to do this more often I need to get organised, as it turned out I didn’t have access to some key documents I needed.

It was great to have a private desk for work that required focus and concentration, and for listening to  a webinar (forgot my headphones). I love being part of the buzz in an office too though, so for the last hour I chose to work on the larger, shared desks, and that worked very well.

On the way home I reflected it had been a productive day in the office. Unfortunately that’s when the trains were delayed and I was late for school pick-up.  Ah yes, I had been too optimistic and forgot I used to allow some extra time when I still did commute and had to make it home in time for pick-up.

Working from Home – Is it Better?

I can definitely recommend working in a shared office, as a change from working from home. It’s ideal for receiving clients, a great place to work in-between appointments and there are no distractions.

Having a choice of meeting rooms, shared space, private offices and meeting booths offers all you need. If you only do it once, there’s not much benefit to it, but if you do it regularly you will get organised and it will be a valuable addition to your work-life.

I would definitely do it again. Thank you Regus.

 

Tips for working in a shared office, and on the go

  • Ensure you have access to all your mailboxes, ideally from all your mobile devices
  • Build a filing system in a shared place such as Dropbox
  • Bring a document with your passwords (e.g. saved in your dropbox (or similar) or on your mobile devices)
  • Ensure you have contact details of clients all stored, and with you
  • Remember to carry auxiliary items such as phone charger, headphones, and laptop cables
  • Allow for train delays

Where to find shared offices, or hub near you

  • Regus – Co-Working Space, Day Office, Meeting Rooms in London and throughout the UK at strategic locations
  • Hubworking – Pay as you go meeting rooms, London (Liverpool Street, Victoria, Monument)
  • Jelly UK – Brings homeworkers, free-lancers and entrepreneurs together in a co-working space, across the UK
  • The Thinking Bus, Farnham – affordable flexible workspaces and creche
  • The Third Door, London, Putney, SW18 – flexible workspaces, meeting rooms and on-site nursery
  • The Hub, London, Islington – office space for social entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups, with 30 co-working spaces
  • Near Desk – you become a member and have access to many co-working spaces in London, the South-West and Home Counties
  • Mozilla Space London, WC2N – Open work environments aimed at hackers and coders
  • Skyline offices, London – Concierge Service that helps you find suitable business space and then run it

 

 

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.