How to accidentally start a business

It’s the rise of the Mumtrepreneur. Thousands of Mums across New Zealand are starting up side projects while on maternity leave. Most are started to add a bit of extra cash into the one-income family budget, but some go on to become so successful they turn into a main source of income and replace their founder’s full time job.

The benefits of running your own business as a parent are numerous. Many parents end up attempting to work full-time only to realise its all too much, and leave their full time job for something that can offer reduced hours. The issue with the options out there for reduced-hours work is that they are often at a skill level much lower than the full-time alternatives. Being able to create an income for yourself that you can fit in around your children as well as being able to make the most of your skills is an incredibly attractive option.

So how do you go about it? We got in touch with Ami Muir from The Kiss Co. and asked her how she is turning one small idea into a successful little business.

I had thought for years that I wanted to start a business. I definitely subscribed to the idea that I could ‘achieve anything I set my mind to’, except I didn’t know what it was I should set my mind to. I was always on the lookout for interesting ideas, scouring Trade Me for businesses that were for sale. I had wondered if I could become a contractor in my field (advertising) but I never liked the idea of having to ‘sell’ myself to companies to get work. Despite there being no signs I was ever going to start anything, somehow I had a very firm belief that I couldn’t possibly be employed for the rest of my life. I also knew there would come a time when I’d want shorter hours to pick the kids up from school, and that those jobs weren’t in my field.

Then I became a Mum. Hundreds of Mum businesses made themselves known to me. Each one made me think ‘How can I do something like that’. I had the drive and the self belief but I had no obvious skills or any great business ideas. I felt frustrated all of the time watching other people make it happen.

Then one day while on Maternity leave with my beautiful son, I said to him ‘I brought you some kisses back from the bathroom’ and kissed them all over his face. Having a career in advertising helped me to understand that this was a concept that had some legs. I sat down and wrote the book ‘I got you some kisses’. All I had was one concept. The only thing I was good at up to this point was realising it was a good concept. To succeed, I had to add in all of my determination that had been building up behind my frustration all that time. I also had to learn how to write, and then publish a book. Skills I definitely did not have! Luckily (and such a lovely thing to learn) people really want to help you when you’re the little guy trying to get off the ground. I’m an advocate for attempting something you don’t know how to do. If you can do something you don’t know how to, imagine what will happen when it leads you to something you do know how to do.

After the creative part of getting my book made was over I felt like something was missing. It wasn’t so easy to get out of bed in the morning. I realised I had found a little something that I had really enjoyed. I knew I wanted to get back that wanting-to-get-out-of-bed feeling, so I started project #2. Once I’d done two things that had worked (and sold) well, I thought maybe it’s not a fluke and maybe I could keep doing more of it. I never really intended on starting a business, I just found something I liked and did more of it.

I’ve got 4 more great projects in the pipeline at the moment.

My advice is that you don’t need to search for a great ‘big idea’ to start something. Start so small it doesn’t even look like a business. Once you’ve made a start you’ll see very quickly if you’ve started on something you’re going to enjoy (enough to fit in around all of your other duties), and something you’re going to want to continue doing. If it doesn’t work out it doesn’t matter. Try the next small thing.

Big ideas have small beginnings.

Ami Muir is the founder of The Kiss Co & produces little displays of affection. Find out more about what she’s doing @thekissco on Instagram, or visit www.thekissco.co.nz

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