Wednesday, 18 May 2011 16:28

Polly McGee: Women in Business and Mumpreneurs: When is the Right Time to Start-up?

The right time

Time is the subject of many a truism and in fact infiltrates an inordinate amount of every aspect of our lives.


We have too little time, too much time on our hands, the quest for me-time and time that flies, but the question I get asked most often in relation to start-up is when is the right time?


The right time is seen as some mythical moment when your business can perfectly launch and evolve with certainty into the next big thing. When it comes to women in business, we seem to endlessly postpone the right time in the acquisition of more knowledge, more courage and often more attention to other people’s priorities.


I’m yet to find a business that opened at the right time. I have, however, met many women who identified the conflagration of opportunity and offering, took a deep breath and abandoned their fears for the adventure of a lifetime (see, time still got a look in!).


More than once have I been told in workshops and seminars by doyennes of successful start-ups that there is no right time to start a business – so why wait?


I agree wholeheartedly, as you can never know enough, have enough money or enough crystal balls to foresee the inevitable changes in direction and refinements of your business, but there is nothing more powerful than to simply start.


The rise and rise of mumpreneurs as a business sector globally is an interesting phenomenon of both starting and timing.


Once a mumpreneur embarks on the completely foreign, often random and definitely unpredictable journey of motherhood, the fear or hesitation of starting a business that will enable them to pursue their passions, values and income on their terms is suddenly completely achievable.


There are many allegories with motherhood and business ownership, spanning the visceral lows to the ecstatic highs, and unconditional commitment to both owner and entity surviving and thriving.


The anticipation of failure with a business – the projection of all of the risks and unknowns is undoubtedly a massive block to starting something up, often outweighing the equal amount of gains and freedoms that entrepreneurship can bring.


The key to alleviating some of that anxiety is less about looking for the right timeframe in which to launch, rather, it can be found in robustly addressing the risks and mitigations of your start-up so you have a strategy to manage the knowns, and more capacity and time to weather the unknowns when they arise.


Many investor friends and associates of mine actively seek out what are couched as “bad times” for business as it is in these windows of uncertainty and doubt that the low hanging fruit – and some higher hanging equity falls nicely into their hands.


There are plenty of markets crying out to be serviced when the economy is a little shaky, and smart operators jump in when others are biding their time.


So if you are sitting on the fence, waiting to strike, hedging your bets, then stop wasting time, have confidence in your idea, (hopefully) robust risk management and market analysis and get started, after all, there’s no time but the present.

Dr Polly McGee a co-founder of Startup Tasmania, which aids fast-growth start-ups in the state. She’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, a one day workshop that assists women to start-up and is also a senior lecturer in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tasmania in their MBA and undergraduate program. 

Comments (2)

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Thank you very much for this encouraging article, passed on to me by my husband. It is so easy to keep putting your family first and your own priorities last. I'm that woman who has always thought the time isn't right - I don't know enough yet, I don't have enough money yet, I've had breast cancer, what if I have it again? I'm terrified to take that plunge in case I have no customers! All those self-doubts counterbalancing my vision and creativity. It's great to know I'm quite normal and I need to "just do it".
heatherh , May 19, 2011
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Thanks Heather, you are totally not alone in these worries, most of the feedback I get from mumpreneurs I talk to is 'thanks for the kick up the bum'!!! Best idea for you is to be systematic, make sure you can honestly answer the 3 key questions: do I know my market (and know they will buy from me) have I considered the risks (business and family) and is my business model right - ie am I selling my product or service through the right channels to get to market. As a survivor of BC at least you know you have a healthy appetite for managing pain and fear, use that memory to remind yourself how strong and amazing you are. Let me know if there are any specific issues for your business that you would like me to cover in the blog that will help you. :-) Polly
pollymcgee , May 20, 2011
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