Motherhood and setting up your own business

By Legal Eagle

When I first had my baby, a friend got in touch with me. “I’ve got a great business proposition for you!” she said. “Come around to my place and we’ll chat about it.” I was somewhat wary, but wanted to be open-minded. It turned out that she had recently joined a pyramid-selling organisation, and wanted me to join her “team”. “It’s only $250 to get a start-up kit!” she enthused.

Pyramid-selling organisations really aren’t my kind of thing, although I understand that some people get pleasure out of working for them, and need the extra money. However, I don’t have much use for make-up, candles, bath products or cleaning products. And I’m not comfortable with the concept of turning friends into potential clients, unless friends seek me out for something particular.

Sometimes pyramid sales can grab people like a religion. I saw a 20 year friendship between two women almost destroyed because one of the women became involved in Amway. She tried to sell products to everyone. Suddenly her friends weren’t friends any more – they were potential buyers and/or converts. One couldn’t have a normal conversation with this woman any more without some reference to the great products of Amway or the way in which becoming a member had changed her life. The other woman didn’t want to get involved, and politely said so after her friend had tried to recruit her a few times. The first woman became very upset and didn’t talk to her friend for a few years. I believe that they’re talking again now, but it’s never been quite the same afterwards.

But starting your own business is an attractive idea, particularly once you become a mother. Personally, I like being my own boss, and I like being in control of my own destiny. I can do my work in the way I choose, in my own time, when it suits me. If you have ownership of a business, you feel passionate about it. And if your work is flexible, it is far easier to also spend time with your child. I have thought about doing some consulting work myself, although I think I’ll have to build up a few more publications in my field before I can hold myself out as an expert.

As far as I can see most women want a balance – they want to spend time with their children, but they also want to be able to keep their careers to an extent too. Certainly that has been my experience. Karen Terry came upon this blog, and sent me her book to review: Full-Time Woman, Part-Time Career. Her website is here. It is an interesting read, with many hints as to what you will need to do if you want to run your own business. She looks at various different possibilities, including consulting, freelance writing, coaching, teaching computer software classes and public speaking. She also looks at the nuts and bolts: what you will need to do if you want to set up your own business, how to market your business and the pros and cons of working from home. She raises a number of case studies which show how other women have managed to establish their own businesses successfully.

The main drawback of this book from an Australian point of view is that it has a natural focus on the US. Therefore, the specific details about whether to incorporate, what training certificates are available and so forth only applies to a US audience. However, the general gist of the advice remains sound, because the way in which things work in Australia is similar.

I think if I ran my own business, I’d do a lot better selling legal advice than I would if I had to sell lipsticks or dishwashing liquid, because I’d actually feel passionate about my “product”. Anyone need any advice about unjust enrichment out there?


  1. Denver Mom
    Posted April 25, 2007 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I just came across your blog and I really enjoyed reading it. I am a new mom. And, before I was a mom I was lawyer.
    After my son was born I spent 4 weeks completly emersed in this new world of motherhood.
    I even started a blog to share my experiences.
    After 4 weeks I started to come back into the real world and I began to think of ways I could change my previous work situation to allow me to spend the majority of my time with my husband and my baby.
    So, I ended my previous employment at a law firm and made the decision to open my own practice.
    Since I was enjoying blogging I started to think about starting a legal blog – It never crossed my mind to combine the two – until I came across your blog.
    Thank You –

  2. Michelle D
    Posted May 2, 2007 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    The title to this piece is a little misleading, as apart you really don’t have anything to say regarding motherhood and setting up a business. A little bitching about friends and Amway doesn’t really cut it for me. Is this some kind of viral marketing for yout friends book?

  3. Legal Eagle
    Posted May 2, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Gee! What a nasty tone to your comment!

    All I was saying in my post was that there are other options out there other than Amway, Mary Kay, Tupperware etc if you are thinking of running your own business.

    Have I offended you because you an Amway salesperson? Just because Amway and the like isn’t my personal cup of tea doesn’t mean I judge on those who choose to do it, as long as people don’t take it personally if I choose not to buy their product or join their organisation.

    Karen Terry is not a friend of mine. She lives in the US and I live in Australia. We have never met. She asked me to review her book, and sent it to me. After reading it, I thought that it was a good read.

    I’m not in the business of advising people on how to set up their own business. If that’s what you want, maybe you need to see a lawyer or professional adviser. This is a personal blog, not an advisory service. All I can do is point people a resource which I found useful. If you don’t find my post useful, that’s fine – not everyone has to love what I write.

    But you could at least try to be polite in your criticism. If you’re thinking about setting up your own business, you’ll need to be polite to customers and others you deal with, even when you might not agree with them all the time.

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