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Mompreneurs making it work

For moms in the 9-to-5 grind, the thought of running their own business and being a hands-on mother sounds too good to be true. But being a mompreneur can be tough going. A solid business idea is a given but being successful also takes discipline and hard work.

Many mompreneurs work long evenings and weekends and find it can be an isolating experience, notes Christie Schultz of Calgary, Alta. The mother of three was operating a small business when she reached out to other mompreneurs who understood her challenges.

“We put our finger on the pulse of this niche and found that some people were feeling almost like hermits,” says Schultz. “They were missing interaction; receiving those intangible tips around the water cooler.”

Those informal gatherings led Schultz to found Entrepreneurial Moms International. A division of Mom Ventures Media Inc., it’s billed as the only global networking community for entrepreneurial moms. “The idea is that we share openly and provide tips as we build community,” says Schultz. “We want the same thing for one another.”

The Internet is touted by many mompreneurs as a lifeline, providing valuable information and forging rewarding connections. Certainly, the transition from life at the office to running your own business can be challenging. Leigh Mitchell, president of the Women in Biz Network, offers the following tips for prospective mompreneurs:

• Decide what kind of entrepreneur you want to be. Full time or part time? Are you passionate about your business idea? “If you’re doing something you don’t believe in, it will be hard to pull yourself away from other things, especially if you work from home,” says Mitchell.

• Create a business plan, including financial projections, particularly if you plan to seek financing.

• Consider the kind of support you’ll have. Do you have family and friends able to help look after your children if needed? Is your partner supportive? Can you join a network that offers training and support?

“You’re going to doubt yourself as an entrepreneur,” says Mitchell. “Running your own business can be extremely stressful and support is invaluable.”

Achieving work-life balance is an important factor for any successful small business owner, reminds Cathy Pin, vice-president of commercial banking with BMO Bank of Montreal. Think carefully about why you want to start your own business. Being your own boss can offer some flexibility compared to the corporate world but other sacrifices will need to be made to ensure success, including longer hours and potentially less cash flow.

She encourages prospective mompreneurs to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to learn what you need to set up your business, such as setting up a business number, whether or not to incorporate the business and potential tax implications, including HST.

Consult experts, such as an accountant and a small business banker. Many bankers specialize in small business and can provide insight into setting up your business, market competition, personal and business finances and how they may change over time, Pin reminds.