There are now over 668,000 businesses operated by women in Australia, which means women make up around a third of all Australian business operators. And more and more women are starting their own small businesses.
There’s been a 46% increase in the number of women running businesses over the past two decades, of which “mumpreneurs” – entrepreneurial mothers who run their own businesses – make up a big portion. In fact, 47% of female business operators in 2011 had dependent children.
We spoke to one of these amazing mumprenuers, Jane Howarth, to find out how she balances life as a single mum to five kids with running two successful small businesses: MESBooks, a bookkeeping business with over 65 clients and five staff, and PIPO (Partners in Professional Outsourcing), a HR and labour business with two staff.
Jane Howarth’s tips for small business success
1. Rise and shine
“Early starts give you the jump on the day. Looking after yourself ensures you can power through – I used to tell myself, I can outlast these little kids!”
2. Find your work/life balance
“I keep a weekly whiteboard in the kitchen for the domestic side that details each day’s reminders, like sport and assemblies, shopping needs and appointments. That whiteboard helps me decide when I have too much on and how to move things around so that things are more manageable.
I discuss this daily with the nanny, and together we can conquer what’s required and when. Prior to the nanny being employed, I had more trouble balancing domestic and work, but I still managed. Things are just that little bit easier now. I have the same system in the office for work tasks.”
3. Plan ahead
“I plan out my diary at least one month in advance. I plan my budget, I plan my time, I plan the kids time, I plan work requirements, I plan my wish-list for fun… planning, planning, planning! I think I may be obsessed with planning!
“One great thing I practice daily is in the mornings: I review tomorrow and get organised. And in the evenings, I review today, and tidy up loose ends.”
4. Manage your time
“Time management is the key to your growth. I happen to be very good at it, so no one went without, and I ticked most boxes as the children got older.
“My favourite memory is of one evening, pram in the kitchen, rocking baby to sleep with my foot, while I was peeling potatoes for dinner, whilst on a headset on the phone dealing with work – I believe I had dessert in the oven already!
“It’s that kind of pressure, keeping calm, and knowing that you’re nailing it that got me through.”
5. Abandon perfection
“I’ve realised that perfection is something I am not and don’t need. My perfection lies is in having my life and the children’s lives in an OK place.
“Yes, my three-year-old still has a bottle at night. Yes, I’m ‘late’ on toilet training, as she hates the idea. Yes, my six-year-old had a fear of pooping on the toilet till he was four. Yes, I let them stay up late Sunday night watching The Voice as a family. Yes, I’ve driven them to school in my dressing gown many times.”
6. Trust your instincts
“The most important thing I’ve learned came from my grandmother, who said: ‘Trust yourself.’
“Us mums take on board too much from others – their opinions, their judgement. I say kiss that goodbye.
“We know our babies better than anyone. We know ourselves and our support networks. That’s all you need to know.
“Listen to your gut feelings and listen to your heart. Think about what you want for you and for your family, and work on that and that only.”
7. You CAN do it alone
“I’ve learnt I can do just about anything myself – and I believe anyone can with the right support networks. Whereas in my younger days, I didn’t have as much faith in myself, and probably thought I needed more help.
“I’ve learned that ‘overwhelmed’ is just an emotion – and as I have gotten older, I have learned to control that feeling. I realised I can withstand a lot more than I thought.”
8. Give it a go
“I’ve learned that busy is good, and right now is the best time to give it a go. Whatever suits you and your lifestyle – give it a go. Failure is correctible, and I’ve stopped beating myself up if I don’t have a great day.”
9. Form good habits
“On a Sunday, make a few meals for snacks or top ups for the family. Fill up the ‘school lunches suitcase’. Do a quick list of households needs from the supermarket.
“I like to look at the next week coming on the whiteboard and make sure I have everything I need ready for the week ahead. If I see a hurdle, like a dentist appointment that child number three isn’t going to enjoy, I begin talking them through it.
“I try to handle most things with positivity and ahead of time. A mum on the back foot is easily unravelled.
“For work, we implement management systems that are driven daily to ensure tasks are done on time.”
10. Be fearless
“Above all – be fearless. Yes, us mums can handle a client crisis, while dinner is being made, while the baby is being rocked. Yes, I may embarrass myself. I may make mistakes. I may even fail. But it won’t stop me – and I’ll keep going until I get right what is right for me!’
Looking to grow your business? Prospa offers business loans with fixed terms between three and twelve months. Find out how much you could borrow.