If ever there was a book that will make you seriously consider setting up your own virtual business, then this is it. It has lots of practical advice from people who have been there and done it. Not so much about the technicalities, but more from the how to do it and have a family at the same time angle. It is book as motivational speech and there is no doubting the author Mel McGee´s enthusiasm for getting more mums into business.
McGee, a mother of three, knows all too well all the objections and barriers mums tend to put up to stop them trying something new. She knows about the endless weighings up of pros and cons and the search for something, anything, that you could do from home which could actually be interesting and earn money. The focus on mums who have made a million or have at the very least been successful at setting up businesses which operate flexibly around their family is intended to show that it is possible to run your own business not just as a hobby or as pin money, but as a real going concern which will at least equal your previous employed income.
McGee is speaking to your average working mum, soldiering away on the daily commute and trying to squeeze everything in. She writes: "How many (women) are sat at their desks spending every working day trying to figure out a way to work from home and make a good living thinking, ´There´s got to be more to life than this?´ Are you one of them? Maybe you are struck by "analysis paralysis" and are waiting for something to happen? More time? More money? More energy? Maybe you have convinced yourself that starting a business from home would be too hard or you anticipate too many problems. So you just stay put and wait. But for what?"
I don´t know a single mum who hasn´t gone through "analysis paralysis" at some point - and there are quite a few dads out there doing the same thing.
After a stirring first part, the book then goes on to provide detailed interviews with women who have made the transition and are thriving. The interviews cover both the highs and lows of building a business in a different countries and different professions. Most are professionals, such as ex lawyers, and their businesses mainly focus on mining their professional knowledge to provide a service and information, whether about raw food, as in the case of Karen Knowler, or starting up your own business. McGee herself, as the founder of www.supermummy.co.uk, knows where the pitfalls are and gets the most out of her interviewees. Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, for instance, is an ex-lawyer who started out setting up her own face to face law practice but evolved from that into providing her services over the internet in order to reach more people and also to cut down the amount of time she had to travel out of the home. This meant she had more time for her family.
By building up case studies, which themselves contain useful tips from the real world of business, McGee creates almost a blueprint for setting up your own business. The key lessons include: research, delegation (spend time on doing the things you are good at and delegate things like office services to virtual assistants or the like so you will have more time for expanding the business), great marketing abilities, having a mentor or some form of support, having some form of childcare even if you work around your children at first and providing online products, such as e-books, blogs and e-zines which showcase your work and some of which you can sell.
Each case study, of course, does things slightly differently, but the cumulative effect is to show you just how the women did it and how it need not be rocket science.
The last section of the book is again a call to arms with talk of overcoming any fears you might have and exercises to help you decide whether setting up your own virtual business is for you. It also includes a useful appendix of contacts. McGee tackles issues like whether now is a good time to set up a business, given the global recession, and suggests that, with low overheads, setting up a virtual business is less risky than most others. She also brings up the whole issue of employing other members of your family in the business, including your partner if you have one, so that it is not just about transforming your own working life, but that of your entire family. She says working this way may even be good for children. Rather than seeing mum and dad stressed out by working out of the home, the business becomes part of their world and they see that you can have it all.
The book is written by a fervent believer in the power to change your life and tailor it more to your own needs. If, by the end, you don´t seriously consider whether you can set up your own business from home and make money out of it, then perhaps you like being an employee more than you think.
Millionaire Mumpreneurs by Mel McGee is published by Harriman House, price 12.99.