I’ve been quiet on the blog front here recently as I’ve embarked on an endeavor to start a small business. Well, pick up an old business idea and reinvent it, I should say. I’ve been working feverishly at getting it up and running, hashing out a business plan, getting it out there publicly, and delivering on my commitments. I haven’t forgotten about this blog. Quite the contrary, I actually just took 4 weeks on my previous blog post on this incredible book I finished reading a month ago and am presently re-reading. The book is called, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck M.D. If you haven’t read my post yet (or the book), check it out here.
Back to today’s topic. Have you ever tried to start a business? Ever wanted to? Starting a business isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. But I strongly recommend considering it if you’re looking for a way to make some extra money that also doesn’t require extra childcare. Starting your own business puts you in charge and gives you the opportunity to choose your hours and what you do.
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First Things To Consider When Building a Small Business
- What service can you give or good that you can make that others are in need of?
- Do you enjoy it well enough to do it for a living?
- Is there a passion in there?
The last thing you want to do is set up a business doing something you will absolutely hate doing. And even if you don’t mind doing it, if there isn’t a bit of passion in there, it will become a drag as you go longer and longer into the business.
I love baking. I’ve grown up loving baking but haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time doing it here recently. And I remembered attempting to start one back in 2015 when I lived with my mom, but I promptly moved to Huntsville for college later that year and the business venture went out the window. So I picked it back up with a little tweaking.
Inspiration for my small business
My previous venture was inspired by cake balls. As a means of gaining experience and some examples for pictures, I agreed to make the cake and cake balls for my nephew’s birthday. The cake was Pooh’s treehouse, the cake balls were Pooh bears and purple “hunny” pots complete with the word “Hunny” written on them. I also made them while babysitting him for an afternoon. He was the cutest helper. The cake was definitely a beginner’s design but it worked. I’m more proud of the way the cake pops turned out.
This time I was more interested in providing homemade desserts all from scratch. This world has gotten too far away from the wholesome natural foods and filled up with processed, fake, and cheap goods out of convenience and lack of time in our busy days. (Check out my post on the history of sourdough bread here to see just one example of the effects of commercialized, fast producing food products.) And it shows in today’s struggle against obesity and all kinds of various diseases. There is now a strong pull to return to health conscious, wholesome, natural foods but without wholly solving the issue of not enough time.
I once bought a loaf of bread from Walmart and was amazed at almost 3 weeks later the bread was still good. It did nothing to assure me of the quality of the product. Homemade bread is good for a week, tops, without freezing. I’ve also learned there are tons of different kinds of breads that can be enjoyed homemade that you don’t find in the aisles at Walmart.
So I figured out what I wanted to do and a big proponent of what my business would offer. Second step necessary was to find out what requirements I must meet to operate legally and how my business would be structured. I’m starting this business and funding it by my own means so there is no way I can afford to pay for LLC papers. So I filled out a single sheet of paper and filed it with my county clerk’s office for a DBA (“Doing Business As”). You could research small business grants to help fund your starter and adapt your business paperwork later or look into small business loans. I’m either too chicken to consider loans or too savvy to consider it an option. I haven’t figured out which. I recommend stearing clear of loans but you are the one who knows you best.
Note: your county may require a certified check. I don’t think mine did, but I used a certified check anyway. It was $8.50 for the filing fees and $8 for the certified check.
There may be other requirements. In my case, I have to abide by the cottage food laws of Texas. That required a food handler’s license and limitations on what all I could sell. It actually required that I remove things from my menu of offerings that I had originally planned on. In fact, all but one pie had to be removed from the list as Texas says only foods that don’t require refrigeration post baking can be made and sold. So pumpkin, chocolate, and cream pies were out the door. And my idea of providing homemade whipped toppings on my pies also went vamoose. (A food handler’s license in my state can be acquired for $7 online.)
Business is registered, licenses obtained, now what?
Well, while you’re waiting for your certified paperwork to come in from the county, you can be working on your licenses/certifications and/or writing a business plan and a budget which allows you to invest in your company. This actually means 2 budgets. The first budget is your personal budget with which you are going to need to invest some of into the business. The second budget is going to be the budget for your business with the investment from your personal budget.
Don’t think you need a business plan? Wrong. Don’t skip it! It’s important that you understand how your business is going to work and make a plan for you to fall back on when you’re in a rut or when things go sour.
Marketing for Your Small Business
You need to get you a logo designed. Can get one to start with for very cheap on Fiverr.com. Then you take that logo and make you some business cards at the very least. You can get them on fiverr.com as well or places like vistaprint.com (follow that link for 50% off your first order of business cards). This is really the basic amount of marketing you need. You will want to keep in mind the possibility of car magnets/decals, signs, and maybe brochures in helping you get your business out there.Logo Design Online – Create Your Unique Logo Today! Logo Design + Everything You Need To Build and Grow Your Brand and Business from fiverr.com.
While your waiting on your business cards to arrive, you really need to hammer down how you’re going to distribute them. How do you reach your target market which you defined in your business plan? What strategies are you going to employ?
See how a business plan is critical? This is all information you put in your business plan. You need a business plan. You need a marketing strategy. Put it down on paper.
Don’t forget to do your research. There are tons of people out there who have been successful at building small businesses. They write books about how they did it and they give tips and tricks along the way. I have been devouring free books on Amazon Unlimited. You can get a free trial for Amazon Unlimited (click banner below) and read books on starting the kind of business you’re starting before the free trial is up. When I went to cancel my subscription, they offered me 3 months for around $2/month. That was worth it to me so I extended it for the next 3 months. But it’s $9.99/month after that and is worth the cost in general. (If your kids are reading, set it up on an iPad and get them reading books!)
Since my business is a bakery, all of my books are based off of that. But I’m also reading books on building a following on Instagram to help market my business. I’m also reading for fun on it. Personal growth in all areas can only help you in general, so at least give it a try!
Building A Business as a Single Mom
Up until now, I’ve only been talking about starting a business and the foundations you need to work off of. But now I want to talk about how it works when you’re a single mom.
You still have to do all of that. But don’t quit your main job to start a business. You still have to pay the bills and you are going to need capital to invest into the business. That capital needs to come from your income first and then family and friends who may be interested/willing to help get you started.
There are grants out there for women owned businesses. The AMBER grant is one such grant that awards $2000 every month and each of the monthly winners are eligible for the $25,000 grant at the end of the year. It requires a $15 investment but $15 is a minimal amount to invest for the possibility of $2000 in one month (and $25,000 later).
You have the unique opportunity to teach your child(ren) how to work hard for your goals and how to handled the bumps and bruises along the way. Build it and work it on your days off and in your evenings. Work on your business plan and social media marketing during your lunch breaks. Teach your children what they can do to help you along the way. These are valuable life lessons they will take with them wherever they go.
It’s Going to Get Rough
There are going to be times when things seem too much. You will feel like you have too much on your plate, how are you going to get it all done?!? Please go back to my previous post here on getting the most productivity out of your time. Once you have a game plan and it’s all on paper, I can almost guarantee that you are going to feel so much better and so much less stressed!
Sure, you still have to keep yourself motivated to stay on task. Read my post here for some motivational methods and tools. And post pictures of your “why” all over the house (most likely pictures of your kids as well as a happy you). Don’t forget to include pictures of your dreams (dream home, vacation spots, free time activities, etc) to remind you why you are doing what you are doing. Take one day a month or every 2 weeks to be kid free and chillax. But approach every day giving your all. You will get there.
Every post has a section at the end where I give this takeaway. This one is no different. Being a single mom is difficult financially, especially if you have no child support. But we can thrive just like everyone else. It just takes a little extra work on our part. Starting our own business allows us to work on our time without the need of extra childcare. It’s particularly tight starting off, but one day you will wake up and realize your business has outgrown the part time scope and you can actually afford to quit your full time job for someone else and go full time for yourself. You can do this.
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