I am super excited to announce a new column on Atypical Type A: a book club. Yay!
On the first Monday of each month I will be reviewing a decorating / organising / cooking / craft / lifestyle / creative business book. Some will be new release and others old favourites, but either way they’ll be titles I think you’ll really dig. I’ll share my thoughts on it and invite you to do the same. Let’s get started!
First cab off the rank is Mom, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Cat Seto.
Like many people, I first discovered Meg Mateo Ilasco through her first book a from few years ago Craft, Inc. and was impressed with her practical, easy-to-read style. I’ve been a keen follower of the Incorporated series since, buying the first three and currently awaiting shipment of the most recent.
For the third book in the series, Mom, Inc., Meg collaborates with Cat Seto to share their knowledge about what it takes to juggle a home-based business with parenthood. It might seem strange that I would buy this book when I don’t have children, but I was hoping the advice would be applicable to anyone seeking to find a balance of personal life with a business.
Chapter 1: The Entrepreneurial Mom
The opening chapter covers what it takes to be a business mum and suggests the idea of writing a ‘Mom Statement’, like a business mission statement. It gives advice on choosing the right business for you, finding time to start your new enterprise and how to stay focused – all of which are useful for anyone starting a home business, not just mothers.
Chapter 2: Starting a Blog
There’s no assumed knowledge here: it goes right back to the basics of explaining what a blog is and has a great description of post types and earning strategies. Having had a blog for nearly three years myself, I appreciated the ladies giving starry-eyed newbies a reality check with the line “It’s a low-risk, low-investment venture that can only pay off with a high level of commitment and patience”. Well said!
Chapter 3: Offering a Service
Service-based creatives such as writers, designers, illustrators and photographers will find practical information in this chapter, such as what to put in your portfolio and how to find clients. Having struggled with the trickier issues of freelancing myself such as setting your hourly rate and what to include in your contract, I can vouch for this section being particularly useful.
Chapter 4: Creating a Product
Chapter four opens with an absolute gem of a tip: go trendspotting on blogs, Pinterest, magazines etc… this will tell you what NOT to do. Awesome advice since so many businesses (new or not) seem to take the exact opposite approach. The rest of the chapter guides you through prototyping, market research and production, plus the all-important wholesaling.
Chapter 5: Opening an Online Retail Shop
The section on opening an online store covered topics such as sourcing stock, pricing and setting your terms and conditions. It will help you weigh up the pros and cons of an Etsy shop vs. a your own branded shop – an important consideration. The part about shipping was explained particularly well.
Chapter 6: Business Basics
I think it was quite clever to put the ‘basics’ chapters later in the book, after it had already guided the reader through the process of deciding what type of business was right for them. I found myself nodding through the section on ‘establishing an original brand’ – it was only a single page but explained so clearly. The ladies give their experienced advice on financial, legal structure, taxes, trading names, goal setting and productivity. The advice about keeping your mission statement visible at all times is something I should do myself.
Chapter 7: Getting the Word Out
Marketing is crucial to any business and there’s some great info here, whether you decide to DIY or outsource it. I found the guide to writing press releases and creating a press kit invaluable and will be referring back to it.
Chapter 8: Surviving the Juggle
The final chapter is the only one that is actually dedicated to balancing parenthood and business, but even then plenty of the advice is useful regardless of your home situation. This chapter will help you to deal with guilt, organise your day, learn to say ‘no’, find support and hire staff.
From my description you may be thinking “Where’s the ‘mom’ in Mom, Inc.?”. While it’s true that the chapters are laid out in business terms, the examples and inspiring case studies weaved throughout are all from the ‘mompreneur’ perspective.
Like the others in the Inc. series, I found it to be a realistic and practical guide that walks you through the process of starting a business step-by-step. Its friendly tone and bite-sized nuggets of wisdom would be easy to read while baby naps.
Some of it was quite basic for me since I’ve already been in business for three years but I still learnt a lot and it does cover some more advanced topics such as trade shows and finding an agent. Each topic is clearly laid out and explained concisely, rather than going into depth. It’s more of a primer to guide you in the right direction and from there you may need to do some more thorough research on the areas that particularly pertain to the type of business you decide on.
Mom, Inc. would be an indispensable guide if you want to start a family-friendly business from scratch or an imminent stork delivery will require you to make some changes to your existing creative business. I’m sure I’ll be lending to my girlfriends and re-reading it in the future.
Buy this book if you:
- Know you want to run your own business but aren’t sure what type of business would suit you and your lifestyle.
- Are just starting out in business and need a practical guide to help you through each step.
- Need an all-in-one resource for handy tricks of the trade, lists of professional organisations and tech tools for the new small business owner.
- Want to continue your creative career (or start a new one) once you start a family.
- Want to launch a small business that feeds your creative passions on the side of your current job.
- Want to learn how successful women balance their family responsibilities with their growing businesses.
- Already run your own business but are looking to branch out into a new product or service offering.
This book may not be for you if you:
- Have already been in business for some time and are happy with your income and life balance.
- Require more advanced or in-depth business guidance.
- Are looking for parenting advice.
Have you read Mom, Inc.? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
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