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New Baby, New Business

It’s a scary thing, going from a steady full-time job to suddenly – SMASH – you’re a full-time mom. At least for the first few weeks I’m fully expecting to be in survival/enjoy every single moment mode. Baby girl won’t be a squirrel-sized human for long, so I intend to spend every spare second staring at her and wondering who she’ll turn out to be.

At some point though, I know I’m going to want to get back into the swing of things. And by that I mean work.

Here in Canada I’m lucky enough to get almost an entire year of paid maternity leave. It’s 55% of my current wage, but since it’s tax-exempt it almost comes to the same amount. I’m sure I can deal. A few less nights on the town…not that that’s going to be difficult with a newborn!

It’s really the perfect opportunity to think about how I could finally work for myself. Start my own business. Be my own boss. Gosh that sounds good.

So I started in December to pave the road for starting my new business sometime during baby girl’s first year of life. It’s exciting! And the product I’ve chosen to create definitely exists in the “Momiverse” – something that will bring you closer to your own little one.

More on the business later. For now, I figured it would be useful to all you new moms/expecting moms/entrepreneurs to fill you in on the steps I’ve taken so far. Basic steps to starting your own small business. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who does business development for a living, so anytime I don’t know what the next step is, he’s there with the answer. Let me share our wealth of knowledge with you. Keep in mind, these are my steps, and I’m not the most linear person. I’m sure there’s a more logical way to go about it, but this is how my process has been going.

1) Brainstorm types of businesses – this can be things you love, things you’re good at, things you like to make. As you’re brainstorming make sure you don’t judge yourself. The point of this is to get a free-flowing train of thought that will eventually bring you to something you’re going to love to do!

2) Pick one –the hard part! Choose one of your ideas you brainstormed, and get attached to it. Cuddle it, take it on a date, really explore whether that’s what you want to commit to for at least a few years. If it doesn’t feel right after a few days, back to the drawing board! It’s important you’re totally convinced you’ve picked the best option. It will become your heart and soul.

3) Find a mentor –This step is optional, but I so enjoyed having my husband to bounce ideas off of, that if you can find someone in your life who’s creative and experienced in business, try to get a few minutes of their time, get them excited about your idea, and see if they can help you out. I’m all about friends helping friends.

4) Research –It’s important to know about the industry you’re getting into. Because my business will be product-based, I’ll speak from that point of view. Find out who your main competitors are, what is special about their company, and what the opportunities are for improvement. This is a tiny, unorganized version of a SWOT analysis for those of you who are marketing types. Eventually I’ll be doing a more thorough business plan which will include a full on SWOT, but for now I just wanted to get a feel for what others were doing, what was working well, and how I could do it better. Remember, you don’t have to copy your competitors! And in fact, you don’t want to. Your company is its own unique unicorn, and it will be amazing on its own merit.

5) Suppliers –For my business, creating good partner relationships was going to be key. Since I’ll be using a raw material that’s difficult to obtain, I wanted to find the best partners. Ones that I could see using for many years to come. That meant A LOT of googling, and a few bottles of wine to use as bribes to persuade a friend with connections to reveal her sources. I CANNOT STRESS how important this step is. Find a reliable, dependable, price-conscious supplier/manufacturer and you will save yourself so many headaches. I’ve watched enough episodes of Shark Tank to know this to be true.

6) Choose a name –At some point, you’re going to have to choose a name. I’m not saying you MUST do it here, but here’s where I did it in the process. And it was a pain. Nothing sounded right, nothing sounded cool enough. In the end, I picked a name I liked and other people LOVED. Good enough for me.

7) Back-end business stuff –Okay people, this is the boring stuff. Well, boring-ish. I’m talking choosing your selling platform (I picked ETSY and Shopify for now), integrating with an accounting and shipping software (I’m thinking Working Point and Ship Station), securing your domain names, registering your business, and opening a business bank account. And about a million and one other things. Just plod along and you’ll get through this step eventually.

8) Educate yourself woman! – I have a background in marketing, but that in no way prepared me for selling my own products online. There are so many resources out there. From SEO for your ETSY listing, to how best to set the price of your product. There are so many articles I found useful at this point in my process as I prepared to launch. Here are a few of my favourites:

9) Make your stuff –Take the plunge, start creating your product, and get ready to launch.

I have SO MUCH still to do. Here are my next steps:

  • Get logo/branding done
  • Design and create packaging
  • Confirm product sourcing details ie. colour lines, patterns, finishes
  • Manufacture initial run of test product
  • Product testing
  • Manufacture first full product run
  • Integrate all systems/processes (ordering, packaging, shipping, tracking etc.)
  • Photograph product
  • Create and soft launch Etsy Shop
  • Create and soft launch online store using Shopify
  • Test all ordering processes
  • Create Blog, Instagram, and Pinterest account to drive traffic to online stores
  • Write relevant content for blog and begin to post regularly
  • Find relevant partners for giveaways/blog swaps
  • Begin fulfilling orders, make some money, and have fun in the process

If you’re inspired, leave a comment. Like I said, it’s all about friends helping friends.

More on each of these steps later.

Every babe deserves a cuddle! Ciao ladies (and gentlemen).

- Hales

2 Responses

Haley (Beluga Baby)

Haley (Beluga Baby)

July 03, 2015

Thanks for the tip Heather!



June 24, 2015

Be Careful! Maternity is not tax-exempt! Most moms don’t realize this and are in for a surprise when taxes come around. The government doesn’t take tax off your EI payments but they certainly expect you to pay it when it’s time to file. I work in accounting and didn’t even know this. I owed $2400 when I filed my taxes and that was only on the EI I had earned. Also if your company gives you top ups you might owe more or even be asked to pay up to 30% of your EI back. Call Services Canada and confirm with them, they will take the proper taxes off if asked.

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