Can you run a business mainly while your children are away at school?
Are there enough hours in a school day to operate your enterprise well?
I try and be as productive as I can because of my limited time.Kelly Walter
"I try to be extremely productive when my little people head off to school," says Natasha Stewart, the founder of Business Jump.
"I am hyper-focused on what I need to get done because I only have a short window of time to complete my tasks before I need to pick up the kids from school."
Five hours to get it done
Instead of an eight-hour work day, Stewart has an average of five hours to get things done. "Every second counts because working when the kids are around is tough stuff."
Business Jump, described as a "business BFF" for mums looking for flexible work hours and more time with their children, offers a launching pad to create and monetise online business ideas.
Sydney-based Stewart says her working days have transformed since having children.
While her husband does the school/daycare drop offs, Stewart gets stuck into her day and works until "around 3pm when it is time to down tools and pick the kids up".
"Most days I will log back on from 4pm until dinner time. Sometimes I work late but I do try to stay offline and spend time with my husband and the kids in the evening."
Stewart says she didn't seek any seed funding as she built the business in a very lean way and reinvested in the operation.
Her business reached a turnover of $1 million in just two years.
Not just mums
It's not just mothers, however, who take a stab at running a small business during school hours.
James Morgan, who runs marketing consultancy firm AXS2, enjoys the balance of work and personal life. The Sydney-based father of two loves being able to do the school drop-off and pick-up, attend concerts and oversee homework. "The school day disappears very quickly for me and I have to ensure my clients are receiving great customer service."
Morgan moved to Sydney from Britain in mid-2012 with wife Kelly and their kids, then aged four and two. With a background in corporate, Morgan wanted to continue his career and started applying for jobs.
Jobs were not easy to come by or flexible hours were not on offer. "So I decided to apply my marketing experience as a consultant." He approached some local SMEs and, within nine months, "my business expenses were being covered by my business income".
Morgan says the time between 9.15am and 3pm flies by. "I have been home-based in previous roles, so it was not a significant adjustment. I set meetings with clients four or five times a week, meeting at their premises or coffee shops."
He started AXS2, which offers small and medium-sized businesses the chance to have an "as-needed" marketing department, without the cost of paying full-time employees, with just $1000.
He says his wife was able to "earn enough to cover rent, groceries and expenses whilst I was setting up the business". This is the fifth year of operation and he has recruited marketing executive, Amanda Knapton, who also works school hours and runs her own wedding celebrant business too.
Morgan's company turned over $60,000 in the 2015-16 financial year and $90,000 the following year. His target for 2017-18 is $130,000.
He does get a bit of work in during non-school hours. "I tend to do preparation and planning for an hour each evening after the kids are in bed. This keeps me on track for maximum efficiency during the quiet hours in my house."
Two days a week plus some late nights
Kelly Walter has two kids, aged five and two. She runs her business Daily Orders manufacturing and selling custom planning whiteboards in Victoria.
After a 13-year stint in the Australian Navy, and with a husband who often travelled away on work, Walter started Daily Orders. "I was on maternity leave in 2015 with my second child and I decided that because my husband was away all the time I needed something to do in the night times. I couldn't keep track of what he was doing, he was flying here and there all the time, so I decided to create this Daily Orders planning board."
The name Daily Orders came from her time in the defence force – a schedule of events called "Daily Orders" was released every day. It was "effectively a schedule to tell everyone what they needed to know, what was happening during the day".
Walter's Daily Orders planner is marketed to businesses and families as "the easiest way to plan your schedule so you never miss a bill payment, appointment or sporting event again".
She only gets two days a week to work on her business. "Because those are the days my children are in kinder and in care. I try and be as productive as I can because of my limited time. I have an organisational planner which helps me set my goals and achieve them."
Walter, who is based in the Mornington Peninsula, started the enterprise with $10,000 and has already clocked a turnover of more than $300,000 since she began operations. She is aiming to hit $400,000 this financial year.
She says she does a lot of work at night while the kids are asleep. She has also taken on a contractor to help with the orders, which has increased her productivity.