Simplicity and starting from where you are now

I’ll admit it, I’ve been suffering from blogger’s block lately.

When I first started Business Plus Baby there were hardly any books or resources for mums wanting to start businesses. In fact that was the reason WHY I started BPB.

Now, just over two years on, there are tons of resources for parents in business including books, networking groups and conferences. I’m still passionate about helping parents grow businesses so they can have the freedom to both work and spend time with their families, but did I still have anything useful to say? It seemed that every week I found another blog for mumpreneurs. Are we all just pumping out the same old information? Where should I go from here?

As ever, I had loads of ideas for new online projects – some were linked to being a parent with a business, but quite a few were not. I didn’t know which ones to run with and which to drop. I’m still sifting through my options and although I’m still not 100% sure which path I’m going to take, I’m getting there.

Here’s a message that I picked up as I’ve been deciding where to go next:

If you look at everything you COULD do, you start weighing up projects that would be great if only you had the time, the money, the energy and the connections. That only makes you frustrated and resentful.

Look at what you can do with what you’ve got right now. Look inside at your talents, your assets and the connections you have instead of looking out at what everyone else is doing.

Simplify. Start from where you are and WHO you are.

And if that resonates, here’s some inspiration for you…

  • Adam Baker at Man vs Debt blogs about how, in his early twenties, he and his wife had eighty thousand dollars in non-mortgage debt (yes, before they even bought a house). They realised that, even though it was normal for Americans of their ages to have that much debt, it was completely crazy. Instead, they started living their lives according to their motto ‘Sell Your Crap…  Pay Off Your Debt…  Do What You Love…’ They say their message to the world is  “The first step to living a life of passion and purpose is to remove the barriers that hold you back”. If you want to know how to simplify your life and get back in control of your finances, Man vs Debt is a great place to go.
  • Marianne Cantwell of Free Range Humans helps people escape the ‘corporate cage’. I was vaguely aware of her for a while but didn’t really tune in – after all, I was sprung from my corporate cage a few years ago by my newborn baby! But when I heard her talking about ‘cage thinking’ I started to take notice. This is when people resign from their corporate jobs in search of freedom only to find they are still pretty miserable. Marianne explained that although you’re now self employed, often you take your mindset with you and that leads you to create the same kind of working life you had before. For example,  I noticed that I was still working as if I had to show up at my desk a fixed number of hours per day, which meant that I still had that ‘paid by the hour’ mentality. Maybe you’re still suffering from  cage thinking, too?

“I wish to be one of those at the forefront of a new movement that says we can. Being dependent, or earning menial wages for menial work because I am a mother who works part time (there is still a pay gap for women and those who work part time) is not something I wanted to be party to. How and where I earn my money should be – and is – of importance to me. I wish to be free from reliance on others, whilst learning how to be reliant on myself.”

  • I don’t need to say anything about this next post – the photo says it all. If you want any convincing that being yourself is the best (and the only) way to be, read How to be badass from the fabulous Karen Gunton at Build a Little Biz.

I started Business Plus Baby with the question “I can’t leave my baby in full-time childcare and got back to work – what the hell do I do now?”. Two and a half years later, I’m no longer just plugging the gap left by my old career, I want to build a flexible working life on my own terms. A life  that means I never have to go back to employment (unless I choose to, of course!), where I can spend time with my family, have financial security and do interesting, satisfying work.

Fancy joining me? I’m still not quite sure how I’ll get there but it’s definitely an interesting ride!

I’d love to hear your thoughts – drop me a comment below!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Bludgeoner86

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Hi there

    This post resonates with me so much. My newest baby is now 6 months old and I’m not in a position where I can choose not to work again, or even just earn a little bit of money. I need a business that makes proper money! However, I don’t want to put my gorgeous little man in childcare. I did that with the last three and just can’t face it again. I’m busy launching a business so that I can take on work when I want to and be uber flexible. Will be joining you on twitter as @beckymf

    • Becky, thank you! I know exactly what you mean by proper money. Just recently I’ve become more and more frustrated by the business opportunities that are seen as a good fit for mothers. (Not to mention the ones that are directly marketed at mums, of course.) So often they have such limited earning potential that it’s really hard to make more than minimum wage. Yes, you can always find one person who is earning a decent amount from any type of business, but I’ve been in the mums-in-business community long enough to know these people are usually in a tiny minority. I’ve kept quiet so far because everyone is entitled to pick a way of working that suits them, plus everyone has to start somewhere. But the old feminist in me is fuming that women who choose to reject low-paid part time employment get caught up in even lower-paid SELF-employment! As you say, many of us simply don’t have the option of earning just a little bit of money – we have big mortgages, we’re single parents, we’re sharing earning/childcare responsibilities with our partners 50:50 and to be honest, why the hell should we settle for minimum wage anyway?
      Wishing you all the success in the world with your new business! I’ll be following you back on Twitter 🙂

  2. Dear Helen,

    thanks so much for featuring me here and quoting me :0 It certainly is an interesting ride to say the very least! I enjoy what I do immensely but find myself working in to the night, at weekends and on holiday!!! (this summer) and felt a big pang of guilt and ‘what am I doing?’ If I did not love it it wouldn’t work I’m sure. And though there are lows I feel I’ve come this far and I can’t give up, I have to build, build, build and that’s the exciting, creative bit for me “how can I do that?” As I’m about to start year 2 of my MA I am thinking up creative ways to fundraise too from doing what I love because health-related issues at the mo are warning me to be careful . .. . 🙂

    I would also highly recommend the A-List Bloggers bootcamp group to join – they have some of the greatest ideas in there for blogging and ‘making it work’ and lots come from other bloggers 🙂 haven’t got the link right now, but if you want it (or can’t find it) contact me!

    Go you!

    Amelia.x

    • Amelia, I’ve just found the link to http://www.alistbloggingbootcamps.com/ and can’t believe I’ve not found it before, especially as I love Zen Habits! Well, I guess there are a lot of blogging resources out there!

      You’re very welcome, I find that when I get a little tired and lacking in inspiration, your blog is just what I need to open up possibilities again. I also love the way you’re running e-courses, a parent, studying and you give back to your community too (gift grants, fundraising etc). It gives me hope that it IS possible to fit it all in, even if it does mean some late nights! I love the question “How can I do that?” instead of “Can I do that?” 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your health, hope you’re OK?

  3. thank you so much for the mention helen, and in such amazing company!

    i think we all struggle with these questions – do we follow the path we are on or branch in a new direction? do we stick with what is safe or do we take a leap into something new? do we coast along doing what we think everyone else thinks we should be doing or do we listen to our gut and do what feels right, even if it seems a little crazy?

    after starting build a little biz just over a year ago i am already wondering which path to take next, wondering how to play a bigger game, how to attract and help the right people. so you are not alone! follow your gut, question the rules, be a little bit badass, and be awesome. i am sure you will find the right path!! (and me too, and the rest of us here too.) =)

    • You’re very welcome, Karen.

      It’s good to be reminded I’m in good company with the new direction. Being a parent and being self employed are both full of changes, it’s enough to make your head spin sometimes! I think you’re right, it’s time to listen to my gut and do what may seem a little bit crazy. Stay tuned, this could get interesting, LOL!

  4. Hi Helen
    This is a great post and really sums up where I am. My children are all at school but I still want flexible work on my terms so I am able to put them first. I spent the last 5 years working hard with very little financial reward and not having any time with them and I’m hoping to out that right now. It is a little scary right now but it feels like the right thing to do 🙂
    Rachel

    • Rachel, I often wonder how many mums of young children are working hard with little financial reward? I bet there are quite a few and it’s such a shame. The cost of childcare is the obvious reason but as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I think some business opportunities can be culprits too.All the best in your new venture – sometimes scary is the only way to go!

  5. Hi Helen,

    I can totally relate to this post. I find myself asking myself the same questions, am I doing what I’m supposed to do, and where do I go from here? Should I continue on the same path or branch out and try something totally new? I’m glad to see that I’m not alone, sometimes it seems that everyone else has it figured out but me~ LOL! Thanks for sharing so openly, here’s wishing you all the best in whatever direction you decide to go! 🙂

    • Kimi, thank you and you’re welcome! I think the hardest choice to make in work and in life in general is whether to give it up or keep going. It’s so tough to know whether real success is just around the corner and you should hang on, or if you should invest your energy somewhere else. Wishing you all the best too!

  6. Hi Helen. Similar to Rachel my girls are both at school and I work part time. I thought once they began school the whole working lark would get easier but instead it brought with it a whole new set of challenges. I have a small business which is growing, I work 4 days a week in a “real” job and I’m a wife and mum. I constantly feel pulled in different directions and often feel that nothing ever gets my full attention. I want to quit my day job, I long for the day when I get my little business which I love to the point where it can pay me enough so I can quit my day job. Nothing would make me happier than running my business from home and being there to greet my girls when they get home from school instead of paying someone else to take care of them until I can get there.
    I wish I had the guts to “take a leap” as Karen mentioned, but the bills still have to be paid. I’ll get there though, I’m determined I will 🙂
    I will watch your journey with interest.
    Nicky

    • Nicky, it’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, isn’t it? Not having the time to grow the business until you give up the day job, but not having the money to give up the day job and focus on the business. Thanks for your comment and with determination like that I’m sure you’ll get there. You’ve got a beautiful website, by the way!

  7. Dear Helen
    I’ve been so impressed with your professionalism over the last years and I urge you not to be challenged by the competition as you’re voice is unique, honest and not full of ridiculous hype that many people fall for. I’ve recently purchased your Business Blogging ebook and have it firmly entrenched on my iPhone. It’s been great in helping me deal with the writer’s block that has arisen due to looking after 4 year old very pesky but adorable twin boys who demand alot of attention. I’m in the process of working on a brand new blog which will be following my passion of Spanish and Spanish speaking countries. Your post has been inspirational to me this morning and I look forward to hearing all about your new projects. I think that whatever you choose to do will be wonderful.

    Note to Karen Gunton – I really love what you’re doing too.

    • Oh Sabi, you’ve made my day! Thank you so much for your kind words. Don’t worry, I’ll carry on blogging here at BPB, I think my challenge was whether to go deeper (e.g. start a membership programme, coaching or create more information products) or to branch out into other areas. One of the many great things about blogging is that you can either make it bigger/deeper or use it as a launchpad for other projects. If I had the time I’d do both, of course! Do keep in touch about your progress on your new blog, it sounds great 🙂

  8. An inspiring post- it made me think about why i started my business-
    I wrote a goal for myself that I wanted a business to run that would take little time and cost little and make enough money so i never need to go back to work and 4 weeks later i stumbled upon the sale of http://www.brisbanekids.com.au. (note one- write down your goals!) A year later and as i begin to take an income, albeit small, optimistically growing.. with many hours in invested my biggest challenge is finding the balance (i am 7m preg- mum already to 2 under 5- final child on the way).. Last week i read the book Naked Millionaire and it reminded me that my aim should also be to find ways to have my business run without me- OR not to be boxed in by that idea as one of your references put it..
    so.. my advice is keep it simple.. remember the original plan- it always has far more to do with lifestyle than money.. remember that if you always look to your idea to solve problems first.. that the money will come without you having to ‘sell’…well that’s the theory that is starting to ring true for me.. my competitors- many who started at the same time- many who aimed to make big money- make money… and build BIG businesses.. try and expand TOO quickly.. are a year later, making nothing.. and it reinforces the importance of not falling into that trap.. blogging is no different, I know several successful money making bloggers and they have achieved that status by being consistent- giving much more than they take and finally.. just being consistent.. people trust that- they believe that .. and those are the blogs they return to- Build a Little Biz is an example- I remember her in the early days- and her blog may have grown but her feeling, her vision and her path really hasnt- hence me being an avid supporter.
    Then as a blogger you need to realise your value and find a creative way of making money from it or the knowledge you have- THis blog says to me you can do that!!!!!!!!!
    Being creative is where we as mums shine- and for you to stand apart all you need to do is remember your original vision- remember the problems you are helping REAL people solve- focus on that- mind map new ideas, bounce ideas.. there are always need ways, new people and new paths to take.. We are foremost mums, second business people and most importantly people 🙂
    anyway i talk too much- but i loved this blog – it gave me much food for thought x

    • Thank you Ngaire, for all that wise advice and your support. It sounds so simple but it’s easy to forget the basics – being creative with what you know, being consistent and that even in a well-trodden subject area are there are always new paths to take.

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