I have been asked so many times recently about a preemie parent setting up a business, especially by preemie mums who are struggling with the idea of returning to work after their maternity leave. It’s definitely not easy but if you are passionate enough it’s at least worth considering. In this blog I will hopefully cover a few basics to get you started.

Some want to go down the self-employment route but have no idea what to do. In this case I would say make a list of everything you are qualified to do or have a lot of experience in. Next make a list of all the things you absolutely love to do, this is important because if you don’t love what you do you won’t show up and your business won’t work. See if there is any cross over on your list. What can you turn into a job that makes you money?

Now you have an idea it’s tempting to shout about it to the world, my advice is don’t do it just yet! Your idea isn’t going anywhere and as a parent to a preemie I can tell you that the unexpected happens a lot. You will end up putting so much pressure on yourself. I suggest getting as organised as much as you possibly can first.

Do your research

Research your idea. Check out if anybody else is offering the same or similar. Don’t copy their ideas but look at what they offer. If you have a product then work out your costs to make your product and what you want to sell them for. If you will be selling a service work out what your time is worth.

Woman writing. Photography credit: Ana Tavares
Woman writing. Photography credit: Ana Tavares

Next research the type of customer you want to attract. Are they male or female? Single or married? Are they a parent? Does location matter? Are they doing a particular job? If possible think of a person you know who would be your perfect customer. Make lots of notes about them. This is so when you come to find others like them you know how to find the places of the internet they are likely to be.

Think about where you want to be found

I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest. I would say three is enough platforms to be visible on, anymore and I don’t think I would do any of them any justice. Your platforms might be different to mine but I suggest launching your business on them one at a time so you get used to what works and what doesn’t. Also remember that people don’t like being sold to on social platforms so be sociable.

Goals

Many suggest that you write a list of personal, business and money goals. Some do yearly goals and others do a never ending list but add a date that they want to try and achieve each new goal by.

Vision boards are also popular (and fun!). These can be created using Pintrest, a Word document or even getting a piece of cardboard and cutting out magazine pictures of what you want to achieve. I have done both written goals down and created a vision board. The aim here is to be quite specific, studies show that by writing down goals and being specific you are more likely to achieve them.

“People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine”

Brian Tracy

The strategy

Sit down and work out a strategy for the next 3 months at least. If you can do 12 months even better. My suggestion is to look at when you can’t work, this may be school holidays or family time etc. book those days/weeks in. Then plan what months you will be launching particular products or services. From this work backwards and planning what you need to do in the build up to these launches. Plan these tasks into your months, at the moment you just need a sentence. You can get into the detail later.

Every month you need a plan for your social media content and blogging content (blogs are great for websites as Google loves new content). Have a PR plan – are you going to approach other blogs to write guest blogs? Or maybe you want to appear on podcasts? Maybe magazines, newspapers, YouTube channels or radio are more your thing? Make a list of all the PR you want to do and who you need to reach out to for each. Then divide all the names into your different months.

Open diary. Photography credit: Jeshoots
Open diary. Photography credit: Jeshoots

Be consistent and really try to stick to your plan. Make sure it’s realistic though! I started off with very high level tasks and soon found that once I had broken them down into smaller tasks there was no chance of me achieving them in the timescales I originally set.

Your brand

Next think about your messaging. What do you want people to know about you and your product or service? Is it that you are environmentally friendly? Or perhaps you work exclusively with mums? Or maybe you focus on premature babies?

The fun bit of branding is choosing a colour palette and text styles. There is still a lot to think about and professionals are amazing at bringing visions to life and making sure there is consistency from your social media to your packaging. Think about the images you want to use too. A branding photography shoot might also be an idea so you have high quality images for your website. You can do both the branding and photos yourself or hire professionals.

Someone on their phone. Photography credit: Priscilla Du Preez
Someone on their phone. Photography credit: Priscilla Du Preez

Think about whether you want or need a website. Is someone else going to build it or are you going to have a go at doing it yourself? If you’re having a go yourself then YouTube and Google are probably about to become your best friends. This is likely to take you longer than a week so plan out how you are going to research and build it. You don’t necessarily need a website, other options are available to you but you will need to research which option is best for you.

Growing your audience

Consistency is key here. If you have a budget you can pay for advertising which will grow your audience faster but if you don’t have a budget then you will be relying on friends for Facebook and groups, hashtags on Instagram and Twitter etc.

Look up national days that your business can relate to, days that you relate to on a personal level or days that your customers would relate to. National pet day, prosecco day, Valentine’s Day etc. are all days that can have fun posts that encourage engagement from your audience. Make a note of these days in your strategy.

Get organised!

Having a preemie means the unexpected can happen. I would suggest planning out social media posts a month in advance. I use the notes app on my phone to plan out my month but there are some good apps out there. If you have a website then it’s recommended that you produce regular blogs.

I suggest you think up 10 to 12 titles and write 500-1300 words per title. Do this before you launch your website so that you have a few ready to go. The biggest advice on blogs is to do them regularly, advice varies on whether it should be once or twice a month or once or twice a week!

Me and my little boy. Photography credit: Photography by Vivienne Guy
Me and my little boy. Photography credit: Photography by Vivienne Guy

Once you have a month or 2 of content stockpiled I would say you are ready to launch. Once you have launched you need to keep up with the momentum. Some days are going to be really difficult and you will want to give up. Other days you will feel on fire and it will feel like the easiest and best job in the world! Just keep going, even if you only do something really small like put out a post on social media, a little bit each day will eventually get you to where you want to be.

If you are struggling with your business idea or new business and I can help I will, just get in touch! Or go onto Facebook and research some business coaches to follow