Annabel Karmel is a UK authority on feeding babies, children and families. With 40 books under her belt, she’s on a mission to encourage other working mums onto the path of business success. In her latest book, Mumpreneur, Karmel encourages any mum with an entrepreneurial streak to become a mumpreneur and give their own business idea a go.
What, or who, is a mumpreneur? A mumpreneur is a mother who starts a business to follow her vision and her passion and to be the master of her own destiny in a way that will allow her to fulfil her role as a parent in a way that she wants. Shattering the glass ceiling with a changing bag in tow is no longer limited to the realms of fantasy – and the stats prove it; the number of self-employed women is rising at nearly three times the rate of men – there are now more than 1.2 million selfemployed women in full and part-time work and 300,000 of these are working mothers – and growing! As childcare costs continue to rise, building a business with a family in tow has never been more attractive. And It is important for women that motherhood is valued in its own right but equally true that having children shouldn’t necessarily be the full stop at the end of a CV. How could a mumpreneur go about financing her business? There are lots of ways of financing a business. Friends and family, people who you know, EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) which is a government initiative trying to help small start-ups and help with their tax by investing because 30% is tax release. Start-up loans, or Virgin StartUp, or there’s crowd funding which has become really popular; if you have a good idea you can go to a crowd funding site and decide how much you’re going to need and put a summary of what your business is and people will start to invest if you give them something in return – samples, things like that. There’s also your bank – but I would advise against using your house as security if it’s a high risk business. Myself, I used my book royalties to start my business. It was me putting money from one business to another so I was quite lucky in that, as it was quite risky setting up a food business when you think you’re competing against giants in the food industry. It was a gamble for me but luckily it worked out. In the beginning it’s probably a good idea to run it from home because it keeps your costs down. I used my dining room, converted into my office, and I think I stayed there about four years. You might have a spare room or even a garage or a shed or something like that. For me, I worked from home for four years and when I started to employ a full-time person I took a bit of space in my husband’s office which I paid for -in the middle of his office where people come down the stairs – and then eventually I got my own office. But it took me a few years to become profitable. You don’t want massive overheads to begin with. Any disadvantages to working from home? One of the problems can be when your children come in and say hello and you say, ‘No I can’t talk to you.’ They think you’re ignoring them as they can’t distinguish, that’s the only thing; they don’t understand that mummy’s at work. What can readers expect to get from my book? I’m on a mission to empower mums wanting to become theirown boss, and my brand new book Mumpreneur: The complete guide to starting and running a successful business is filled with practical advice and inspiring stories to help you get started.
After building my business from scratch at the kitchen table, I’m now using my experience in juggling the demands of work and motherhood to help equip other mums with the self-belief, skills and tools to set up their own businesses. From believing in yourself and your idea, to finding a niche, embracing your failures, and taking on investment, each chapter embraces a different ‘ingredient’ for success to help mum-based enterprises set-up, grow and flourish. Some people say that confidence is an important as competence. It takes real confidence to either return to work and do your own business or to get into the job market again. And so I want to install confidence into these mothers and explain to them that being a mother they’ve got so many skills – organisational skills, planning, all those sort of things that are very important when you set up your own business. The more you believe in yourself and your chance of succeeding the more likely you areto do that. Self-doubt needs to be conquered; it’s not easy; we all have our own doubts about ourselves, but we can overcome them and realise where skills lie. In setting up a business, it’s also important to have a compelling story. For me I lost my child, and my second child was the world’s worst eater. I ran a playgroup and would give out my baby food recipes on bits of paper. The mothers said, “These are fantastic, you should write a book about feeding children,” and it’s exactly what I did, never thinking it would be successful, never expecting it to turn into a career but it was something that kind of came out of what happened to me; losing my child, having a child who wouldn’t eat. I had a compelling story and the book ended up selling four million copies. How can a mumpreneur working from home network effectively? Networking is really important and there are so many ways to network now with social media. I’m very big on Instagram now: I look at who is following me, I do competitions, I find people over the world who have similar or comparable businesses to me and then end up talking to them or working with them, so social media gets you amazing contacts. When you’re out and about don’t be shy about broadcasting your ideas because you never know how close you’re going to be to someone who might be willing to help you – you don’t know what they do or who their contacts are. When you do meet people, a really good tip is that you can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years by talking about yourself. So to begin with ask a bit about them; people like that and may be more willing to help you.