“Starting a business is daunting. Starting one with babes in arm brings the difficulty to a whole new level.”
Carrie Kwan would know, having brought as many businesses into this world as she has babies – two – in the form of lifestyle blog, Daily Addict, and her latest venture, Mums & Co, a membership-based service supporting mothers in business that launched, rather fittingly, when Carrie was seven months into her second pregnancy. “With Mums & Co we wanted to do something that specifically addresses the needs of mums in business,” says Carrie, who co-founded the business with Phuong Ly, an exec at insurance provider IAG. “We’re trying to ‘level the playing field’. Everything we do is geared towards helping [mothers] succeed.”
They do this by posting daily content (across everything from “meal prep tricks for better business” to “coping with school holidays and business” and “essential keyboard shortcuts”), providing tools (anything from business advice and HR resources to emergency childcare) and perks (exclusive deals on corporate wellness programs, white goods, first aid courses… the list goes on) to stimulate business and personal growth.
“We also offer a platform to share knowledge and inspire through community stories,” says Carrie. “We are building a community of mothers in similar circumstances – an online village, so to speak.” A village where you’ll find photographer and Hipster Mum blogger Jade Warne, Aivee Robinson of start-up social enterprise Catalyser, and Robyn Jones, whose Mama Maya brand of organic muslin baby wraps supports mothers in developing countries.
With IAG as a backer, Mums & Co also touts its very own business insurance package tailored to mothers working on businesses from a home, and IAG’s Phuong explains why his organisation is helping this progressively not-so-niche demographic.
“Mums are increasingly important to the Australian economy,” he says, adding that there are more than 313,000 businesswomen with dependent children in Australia, of which more than 90 per cent work in small business. “They have qualifications and are making significant contributions, solving problems, providing services and employment.” He and Carrie knuckled down for several months of development before launching Mums & Co in June of this year.
“Early on, when building the platform, we realised we had to pivot and make publishing content a core offering of Mums & Co,” says Carrie. “As a mum, you are working whenever you can find the time. This means working at 2am or even waking up at 4am to have those precious hours to work – one of our members, a photographer with two children does exactly this! The Mums & Co ‘Insight’ platform is an important part of our offering because it is where mums can come to at a time that suits them to get important information that they need to help grow their business – whatever stage of the business life cycle they are in – and fuel their ambitions.”
The platform currently hosts a mixed bag of more than 1000 members – “those who run SME companies with a few workers, to sole traders, those who work on a freelance basis or run their own consultancies, as well as women who help their partners run the family business,” says Carrie. “We are also here to help women who are someday thinking of taking the plunge.”
And what advice would Carrie, who counts productivity apps like Trello, CoSchedule and Todoist as her “friends”, give to these current and would-be mumpreneurs?
“You can do this! There are hundreds of women taking control of what’s important to them, they’re building businesses and raising families. Motherhood teaches you to be more organised, more resourceful, and focused – these are all things that can help you successfully run a business.”
Here she shares her tips for mothers thinking of starting their own thing:
Work out what you are good at. When I was thinking about leaving my full-time work and before I started Daily Addict, I asked myself what was I good at.
Understand your potential customers. You absolutely need to understand who your customer is. Work out their pain points – what needs are there to be met? With anything you do, you need to solve a problem. Ask yourself how what you are offering is helping your customers.
Think big. Work out how you can grow – how large is the potential of your idea. Don’t be afraid to think big – think global even. You don’t have to go there, not everyone wants a giant business and some enjoy keeping things small, but it is good to know there is potential to get big if you want.
Invest in creating a quality product first. Focus on building a quality product or service first. When I created Daily Addict, part of my strategy was not to make any money in the first six months. Instead, I focused on building an engaged audience creating high quality, relevant content that met the needs of my audience.
Look at other business models. I researched heavily on what other similar businesses were doing – what models and tactics they used. I used the internet and spoke to a lot of people… which brings me to my next point:
The power of building networks. When I first started Daily Addict, the whole blogging space was so new. I mean, Facebook and Twitter was new then! I would meet up with others who started their blogs too, who were in the same space, and we would share our experiences. I remember asking a now famous influencer, “We can do this, can’t we?” And we did. So I would advise anyone starting a business to create a network that they can draw on. As well as find a good mentor or mentors too.
Work out a time management plan. Have a frank and open discussion with your life partner. I was very lucky to have a supportive partner who took on a big share of parenting responsibilities, which allowed me to run my businesses. If that is not an option, [look at] other resources you can draw on, from family members to childcare services.