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Dear aspiring mumpreneur,

I’m writing this open letter to you to outline some crucial points that I wish someone had laid out for me. I’ll keep it as short as possible because I know your time is precious but I’m sure that if you read this through, you’ll save a ton of time in the long run.

If you are truly serious about becoming a part of the wonderful world of mumpreneurialism, read carefully what I have written below, you’ll gain the information you need to act now and get in the right mindset.

Here are, not necessarily in the best order, my top tips to set you on your way:

  • You don’t need a university education to start a business… but you do need passion. If you have enough passion for what you are about to embark on then your chances of success are already sky high.
  • Market research ― please do your market research before you steam ahead with any product or idea. Just because you think it’s good – doesn’t mean it is and on the flip side, if someone tells you it sucks ― it doesn’t mean that it does. You need to get out there and research your target market, then and only then can you move forward.
  • Do your best to start your business on a shoe string, and then start to invest the revenue you make back in. You won’t turn a ‘profit’ for some time but your business asset will be growing substantially.
  • You have an array of skills at your disposal because you are a resourceful woman but it never hurts to brush up or learn new skills as you go. Unless you are hiring professionals you will need to know about marketing, social media, basic technical skills (if you don’t have a web designer), search engines, advertising, networking, blogging… but before you panic, there are resources out there to make this process painless and you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know the basics and get a little bit of experience and training.
  • Find a mentor or a few people that you admire and have a good connection with. If they are knowledgeable and willing to help you, then grab it with both hands and learn from them. It’s far better to connect, follow and utilise a small number of people rather than hopping from site to site trying to find answers.
  • Be strict with your time – time management is an art and one that you would do well to master. Some of the key areas to running a successful business are self-discipline, focus and managing your time effectively. Procrastination is an entrepreneur’s worst enemy and very common downfall. My best piece of advice here is to get yourself a simple kitchen timer and work in solid chunks of thirty minutes at a time. Within that period you focus on the task at hand – no email, no calls no Twitter (gasp!) or Facebook ― unless of course networking is your thirty minute task.
  • Fail fast – I suggested you do your research and work on some skills but ultimately put something out there, get going, don’t drag your heels waiting for perfection. If your project isn’t going to work then fail fast and move on to the next venture.
  • Set yourself up with a blog – preferably a self-hosted WordPress blog. Start talking about your business with the passion that you have for it. Draw your niche market in to your blog with insightful posts about you, your business, your plans and anything else that will interest THEM.
  • Network and revel in the strong support of the Mumpreneur community that is already out there. You’ll never be judged, you’ll always receive encouragement, opinions, advice and you will have the opportunity to create partnerships and life-long friends. Remember that these Mumpreneurs know exactly the struggles, hopes, fears and aspirations you have, because they have them too. Whilst it’s really important to get your family and friends behind you, the Mumpreneurs you meet online will understand your business goals and any problems you face far better than any of your offline friends. So don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Learn the way of the Web 2.0 world of marketing and build relationships with your customers. Be completely transparent and react quickly to any queries, complaints or mentions of your business. Times have changed and the playing field has been leveled – you have the same social tools to market your business as the big guns, so utilise them well.
  • Suppress your whiny inner voice – the one that tells you you’re useless and makes you doubt every move that you make. Have faith in yourself and believe that you will succeed. If you can get yourself into the right mindset then half your battle is won. Never lose sight of your goals, always tackle everything with a passion and drive that feels like fuel running through you ― if it doesn’t feel like that ― something isn’t right!
  • Finally – be happy! Make time for yourself and your family because without them it will all be for nothing. You will need to work hard, you’ll likely be up to the early hours of the morning day in, day out to make this really work, but the passion you have for it will see you through, the love for your family will keep you going and the time and patience you allow yourself on this journey of discovery will make you feel proud, enlightened and like you’ve scaled the highest mountain.

So there you have it, the open advice that I wish I could have received when I first started out. I hope that it serves you well and that you go on to be truly successful and accomplish all that you set out to achieve. Maybe you could look me up in the Mumpreneur community and let me know how you’re getting on sometime ― I’d love to hear all about it.

So, from one Mumpreneur to another – good luck, stay focused and live each day to the max!

Nikki Backshall, WebMums.com

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I set up my first business during the recession of 1990. At the time I was given some great advice, though initially I didn’t fully appreciate its value. I thought it might be useful, given the current economic climate, to pass this advice along…

“If you enjoy something and are good at it, don’t go into business to do it. Go into business so that you can do the thing you enjoy and are good at.”

It took me a while to figure out the gem of wisdom here. Excited as I was to be setting up my own business, and taking control of my own destiny; what was motivating me was that I would be doing something I enjoyed and felt I was good at. The problem with this is that it puts the “going into business” aspect of your new venture into second place. Whereas it should come first.

You may be a good web designer, or chiropractor, or recruitment consultant, or even helicopter pilot. But if you are not prepared to be a good business person, you best stay on someone else’s pay-roll. Or if no one is prepared to pay you to be a web designer, chiropractor etc keep these skills as a hobby.

You need to be thinking “I am going into business and will be a business person first.” A by-product of your business is that you get to do something that you enjoy. If you do not focus on being a business person first: areas such as cash-flow, sales, market research, administration etc. are likely to come second to the delivery of your product or service. And those wrong priorities can easily lead to business failure.

Now, I am sure that you are a good web designer, or chiropractor, or recruitment consultant, or even helicopter pilot – but what makes you think you are a good business person?

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Market research is an essential part of any business plan, whether a fledgling business or a multinational organisation. Knowing that there is a sustainable market for your product and understanding what your audience expects from you is vital to a successful business launch. Market research can generally be split into two categories; primary and secondary, and during this article I will explain both and discuss their respective merits and appropriate uses.

Secondary Research

Secondary research makes use of existing data from whatever sources are available. There are government censuses, Mintel surveys, and many private market research agencies that allow access to their data; some of it for free. It can be hugely advantageous, especially as a place to begin. Secondary research more often than not, proves to be a solid base on which to develop your own primary research. It plays the same role as research in general does to your product launch, and should be seen as just as vital. Also, this is of course far cheaper and generally quicker than creating your own research from scratch.

The negatives

The other side of that coin is that you have neither picked the panel to suit your exact needs, nor the questions. It is feasible that you can find some research somewhere that corresponds to what you are trying to achieve but it will almost certainly require some tweaking, and will not necessarily be the people you wish to interrogate; the use of qualitative research designed by someone else will almost certainly make the target specialised away from your goals. Another main issue with secondary research is that by the time it reaches you it’s often outdated; markets change so quickly in business that the only way to be truly current is through new research. This is not to rubbish the quality of secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is, essentially, the creation of your own research, whether a question that you ask to your friends and family or a survey put together alongside an agency and administered to a wide panel. Primary research will instantly let you feel more in control of your project; and that is the exact position you will find yourself in. You choose the questions and select your panel through qualitative research, allowing you detailed responses from individuals. You decide how, when and where your research is administered. You can ensure that your research is focussed: the number of participants and their backgrounds, the number and nature of the questions, the amount of time that your survey is available. This is the most accurate way to research a market sector that is specific to you and your product.

The down side

It is of course, more expensive, whether financially or on your time. If performing primary research alone it will take a lot of time, refining and will need some experience in producing quality questionnaires. It will also take time for your questionnaire to be completed if you don’t have direct access to a ready panel. Most of this can be avoided by using an agency, but at a cost higher than performing your research alone.

So what’s the best option?

Neither type of research will take you to your goal alone; however, a combination of the two will give you all the information you need. Using primary research alone, without first seeing what has or has not worked for other companies and possibly missing out on important data from research that you couldn’t afford to perform yourself, is likely to lead to irrelevant questions or missed opportunities. At the same time, relying solely on secondary research is likely to leave you with answers that are vague or inappropriate to your specific audience. The two compliment each other well, and when used in conjunction will give you a well rounded and accurate portrayal of the needs and opinions of your market sector.

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Penny Power, founder of Ecademy.com, explains why anyone starting up a new business should be active on social networks.

Are you already using social networks to get your business off the ground?  Please share your story.

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The current economic climate is having an impact on businesses large and small.  What is clear is that the uncertainty means that researching a business’ market has never been more important.

Market research determines the feasibility of a project and it’s a way to adapt a business’ strategy (communication, pricing policy, products range…)

A good and precise market research will professionalise your setting-up approach and will give you more value to your business plan.

Doing a quantitative market research is a solution to add a personal touch to your market research as you are testing “your” precise target market about “your” precise project.

It will make your project even more credible and it will help you to convince financial partners and others.

It’s an essential stage in the business start-up process but many entrepreneurs don’t do it – not least because of the supposed cost. Online market research has grown rapidly in recent years as a key form of data collection for primary research activities. Online market research offers both large and small research focussed organisations the chance to eliminate the costs involved with face-to-face, postal and telephone data collection. Organisations have begun to realise also the speed and data reliability offered by the internet.

This kind of primary market research is now affordable for start-ups and not only limited to major groups so let’s test for real your potential clients in order to avoid mistakes.

Starting a business? Launching a new product or service?

Test the market first!

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The current economic climate is having an impact on businesses large and small. Many are suffering while others are discovering new opportunities. In fact, some people who have recently lost their job, be it through redundancy or otherwise, are thinking about launching their own business. What is clear is that the uncertainty in the economy means that researching a business’ market has never been more important.

Market research is an important tool for any person who wants to launch a business and for small firms looking to grow their business by launching new products or services. Market research involves scientifically-led studies to collect necessary market information, enabling entrepreneurs to make the right commercial decisions.

It’s an essential stage in the business start-up process but many entrepreneurs don’t do it – not least because of the supposed cost. Market research determines the feasibility of a project and it’s a way to adapt a business’ strategy (communication, pricing policy, products range…)

What it is…

It’s important to carry out market research in order to:

  • confirm an idea
  • make a project credible
  • professionalize the setting-up approach
  • convince financial partners and others

Online research has revolutionised market research, providing both opportunities and challenges to researchers and research users. Online market research has grown rapidly in recent years as a key form of data collection for primary research activities.

What it offers…

Online market research offers both large and small research focussed organisations the chance to eliminate the costs involved with face-to-face, postal and telephone data collection.

There are a number of benefits to commissioning online research, including:

  • Easier targeting of respondents across numerous segmentation variables provides access to a precise and qualitative panel which ensures the collation of reliable data on sensitive issues.
  • Multi-country projects no longer need to be an obstacle to research – worldwide research can be conducted at the click of a button.
  • An inexpensive way to conduct large research projects – it is possible to get hundreds of responses for less than a thousand pounds.
  • Most large research suppliers have access panels which provide an easily accessible, reliable respondent base which can respond promptly to online questionnaires.
  • It allows for a very rapid turnaround – research can be undertaken and results received within a few days as opposed to several weeks involved with face-to-face and postal data collection methods.
  • The use of video, images and audio for richer questionnaire environments will return a greater quality data.

For a business which needs to gain a general view from a large cross-section of the population, and in as short a time as possible, there is no doubt that online research offers a viable benefit.

Starting a business?

Launching a new product or service?  

Test the market first!

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