Wednesday, 11 April 2012 15:14

Advice for Women in Australian Small Business Start-ups, Five Phrases to Avoid Saying: Mumpreneur Blog by Polly McGee

How to avoid being a typical mumpreneur

The path to being a mumpreneur appears in different ways.


Sometimes we are solving a burning problem that has irritated us enough to solve the market issue. Other times, we stumble across an opportunity or person so compelling that we simply have to be part of it.


We might be moved to be social entrepreneurs and contribute to righting some inequities, and occasionally we are accidental entrepreneurs – often the very best kind.


Getting into business and the motivation to start-up is one thing, staying up is another, and the motivation that propels you to market alone is not a guarantee of success.


Mumpreneurs, and the micro-businesses they often start, are susceptible to market pressures which are sometimes overlooked in the start-up phase.


Here are my top five phrases to avoid saying at all costs if you want to remain an active mumpreneur:


1. “I’m making lots of money on the cost of the [product] but I haven’t charged for my time yet.”


This soon to be former mumpreneur is making the classic mistake of craft and artisans who turn their hobby into a business.


Mumpreneurs who say this later find that the time it takes to make their product, when properly costed, puts it into a stratospheric price range.


2. “I’ve applied for a patent myself, my mum did some research on the internet, then sent the [insert unprotected item] to some friends.”


Intellectual property protection is a critical consideration of any product headed to market.


However, rarely in the case of a mumpreneur style business does that protection involve patenting.


The more obvious protections (such as keeping the idea secret, securing domains, securing trademarks and brand protection if necessary and more importantly securing market share) should be part of your go-to market strategy.


Seeking expert advice from a quality patent attorney is a good move if you think your product needs more sophisticated protection.


Most firms will offer the consultation for free, and give good advice and guidance. Your mum doesn’t count as patent attorney, unless of course she is a patent attorney.


3. “I’ve got a great product, but I can only make [insert small number] a week and I’ve just had an order for 500.”


Having a great product is awesome, being able to service the market that wants that great product is the difference between a hobby and a business that has repeat customers and is by nature scalable.


While many mumpreneurs don’t start-up to become massive, being able to scale up, sustainably increase revenue, and make your family and lifestyle more secure is a cool aspiration for a business.


If you know your hand stitched, painted or iced product is extremely limited by production time, you need to think about the ways to make that product able to be outsourced or created by others in a way which doesn’t compromise your quality, but allows for more and more sales.


4. “I don’t use the [insert internet, online payment or social media], it’s a waste of time and you can’t trust the internet.”




If it’s a waste of time putting yourself in front of customers you never could access in your usual reach, connecting and forming relationships with people about to be essential in your supply chain, or making it easy for your customers to find you and give you money, yes, you’re right.


Having a great product and no sales is a much better option. Stupid internet. It will never catch on.


5. “I just know that it will be a massive success, my [insert family member or partner] says it’s awesome.”


I once saw an excellent t-shirt that said: “Your mum is not a valid test market.” It’s true.


A valid test market consists of as many people as possible who aren’t directly related to you giving you honest feedback about the product – preferably before it is about to hit the market.


Let customers be your co-pilots in terms of input into the usability and market acceptance of your idea. Ensure that the market not only likes it in more than a Facebook way, but actively wants, needs, desires and will pay [lots] for it.

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. 

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