Why people struggle to run online shops (and how I’m going to help)

Having a shop on the internet is the holy grail for many mums. It’s a flexible way of earning a living, low cost, you can sell things you love and you can work from home at any time of day or night.

It’s not just mums, though. Plenty of people are looking for a way to cushion their income against the risk of losing their jobs. Plenty more want to have a little project on the side that they can grow and eventually leave their jobs completely.

I wrote this post How to start an online shop over a year ago. I mentioned starting an online store on my Facebook page and a few people replied with “I’d love to do that, where do I start?”.  So I wrote down the steps I’d take to start an online shop on a really small budget. It’s been one of my top three posts ever since! When it went live it was shared widely on Twitter and it’s had hits almost every day in the last year.

It’s not that hard to start an online shop, but it can be hard to make money from it. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the big ones are lack of knowledge and not having a proper process. Whenever technology makes something easier or cheaper, the barriers to entry go down. In many ways that’s great, of course. But the problem is that if something is easy and cheap to start, we tend to dive in without much preparation and that increases the chance of failure.

Now it’s fine for me to sit and talk about ‘barriers to entry’ and ‘lack of knowledge’ in a cool and distant way, but the truth is that it’s bitterly disappointing to dip your toe in the world of business and fail. True, being able to deal with failure is a valuable, probably essential, skill.

But people need this income to keep a roof over their families’ heads. One little business success can lead on to much bigger businesses (and our economy SERIOUSLY needs this, doesn’t it?) Plus I knew I had some knowledge that could help people get their first online business off the ground and earning an income.

So what was the answer?  I decided to create an e-book and sell it as widely as I possibly can. My plan is that this will expand my ‘how to start an online shop’ post into a lot more depth, but the price won’t be a barrier to anyone who wants to start their own online store from home.  I have a feeling that some people might want a little more support than an e-book can provide, and if this turns out to be true, I’ll write an e-course or set up a coaching group based on the same series of ten steps.  I’ll still keep this affordable, though.

The e-book is almost finished now and I’m planning to launch it in the next couple of weeks. So if you know anyone who wants to start their own online shop, please do let them know. I’ll be posting the details here at Business Plus Baby, but if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything you might like to sign up for my mailing list.

Right, I’m off to finish that e-book!

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to stay a healthy mum

If you’ve got children, a business, clients, friends, family and a house to look after, it’s easy for your own health and well-being to come last. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there?

But it’s important for mum to stay healthy – otherwise who else will do all these important jobs? 🙂

So (keeping in mind that this message is as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else who may be reading!), here are five quick and easy tips for staying a healthy mum.

1. Eat. Obviously, you don’t have a lot of time to eat, but this is essential to staying healthy. The good news that it’s OK to snack, as it helps keep your metabolism going and your energy levels up – so no need for crash dieting. Just make sure you snack on healthy things like yogurt, fruit and nuts rather than chocolate, biscuits and crisps. Not that I ever eat any of those things, obviously *cough*.
2. Drink: Water that is. (Yep, cut back on the 15 cups of tea a day, Helen…) In addition to eating healthy foods, you need to be drinking water throughout the day.
3  Exercise: Although you may find yourself busy throughout the day and exhausted at the end of it all, it’s important that you squeeze in at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. There are several ways you can do this. For instance, you can go on a walk, play Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii games with your family or join a fitness class.
4 Be Happy: As women and mothers, we tend to overload ourselves with work, family and worries. There isn’t much time to focus on being happy. However, this is important too. Studies have shown that, generally, happy people are healthier people. In order to become happier, set aside a little time for yourself every day – or week – to do something you like doing. This time will help you feel refreshed and become happier. (Note to self – step away from the computer…)
5 Sleep: Getting a good night of sleep is essential to your overall health. Sleep is when your body recharges itself. So, if you aren’t getting enough sleep you aren’t operating on a full battery, which means you’ll wear out quicker. It also means your body will too, which depletes your immune system. Plus it means you’ll be irritable and less likely to be happy (see tip 4).

So I’m now going to take my own advice and get an early night. Night night!

If you enjoyed this post, why not make sure you stay in touch by joining  my mailing list? I’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is why your tasks take longer than you expected…

Introducing new Business Plus Baby guest blogger Alison Bradford of www.alisonbradford.com

Do you ever have a morning when you’re up really early but still late for the school / nursery run? The morning started so well – you were feeling relaxed and in control and then before you knew it there’s a last minute dash to get coats and shoes on, bags together and out of the door. How did that happen?

Or the other way round and the kids were up late (I wish! doesn’t happen often in my house!) but you still managed to get them fed, washed, dressed and out of the door at the same time?

This is Parkinson’s Law in action – a task will expand to fill the time you allow you for it.

So, roughly translated, if you allow two hours to get ready in the morning it will take two hours. If you allow half an hour it will take half an hour.

It’s like when you have a new baby and you cannot imagine being able to leave the house with both of you dressed before midday. Then you join a baby class that starts at 10am and somehow you manage to get out of the house for 10am. Then you go back to work and (by a miracle some days, I know) you manage to get your baby to nursery for 8am. (I’m not saying it’s not stressful getting out earlier by the way!)

The same principle applies to work tasks too.

When you’re running your own business it can be easy to keep going with a task and not set yourself deadlines.  You don’t have a boss hovering over you wanting that report by 5pm and you can easily start to be busy taking your time over things.

Maybe you want something to be perfect and spend too long trying to get it so.

Maybe it’s something you don’t enjoy doing and keep getting distracted from.

Whatever the reason that means something is taking too long to get done – start setting yourself deadlines for completing tasks.

This may mean that something isn’t perfect (haven’t you heard that good enough is the new perfect?) It may also mean that you need to start making decisions more quickly. Both of these are great habits to get into when running your own business.

If you don’t have enough time to get everything done then you either need to not do some stuff or to start getting stuff done more quickly. By setting deadlines for even the smallest of things you really can start to get things done more quickly – just remember those late mornings when you still make school or nursery on time and think of Parkinson’s Law.

Biography:

If you want to get more tips, advice and inspiration for being a Mum running a business then visit www.alisonbradford.com and sign up for the free newsletter.

Alison works as a Business Coach and Life Coach with Mums who are running a small business from home and want to make more money in their business and have more balance in their life. To find out more please visit www.alisonbradford.com/about

No motivation? Here are some tips to get yourself moving again…

However passionate we are about our businesses, however motivated we are to build a better working life for our own sake and for our families, we all have dips in motivation now and then.

When you think about it, that’s not very surprising.

People who work from home tend to be really hard on themselves. Working alone means that you can lose perspective and set standards for yourself that are hard to live up to.

Mums and women in general tend to be tough on themselves too. As most of us fall into all three categories, we’re bound to be giving ourselves a hard time!

If you’re self-employed, you don’t have a boss expecting you to get down to work at 9am every morning, you’re responsible for doing that yourself. If you’re like me, your day in the office begins at 8pm after a full working day of being a mum. Plus you have to resist the temptations of an evening in front of the TV.

So can we just agree one thing? To have got this far, you must be fantastic at motivating yourself.

Struggling with motivation every now and then is just part of life. You can’t be ‘full-on’ all the time. (Click here to tweet this)

So what can you do?

Write a (short) list of what you absolutely have to do and just do those tasks. Remember the 80:20 rule? 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions, so now is the time to put this theory to the test!

Put anything creative or new on the back-burner. Just focus on the stuff that has to be done. Sometimes trundling through some non-demanding tasks can give you a sense of achievement that helps get your get-up-and-go back.

Is your drop in motivation trying to tell you something? Life moves fast when you have kids, maybe your business is a couple of years old and you’re ready to take it to the next level? Or perhaps sell up and try something new? Now is probably not the time to do anything hasty, just watch out for the signs and mull over what your next step might be.

Do you need to reconnect with why you started this business in the first place? What was the spark that fired you up? How can you get back in touch with it?

Try the simple stuff. Take a little time out and chat to a friend or read a good book. Sometimes we get so engrossed in our work we end up living in our own little bubble and eventually we get sick of it all. Step outside your bubble.

Go cold turkey. Yes, social media is wonderful, but if you’re feeling low don’t you just feel overwhelmed by it all? Switch it off for a couple of days. Focus on your own stuff and don’t try to compare it to what other people are doing.

Give yourself a break for just a while and your motivation will soon return.

If you enjoyed this post, why not make sure you stay in touch by joining  my mailing list? I’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Photo credit: kirainet