Module 1: Welcome!
(well, a bit of it…)
Welcome! I am so glad you’re here!
Can I just start by saying that this course has been gestating for a very long time! Initially, the idea for the course came from the Lamaze Childbirth Educator training program that I also teach. It’s a very intense 5-day course that is primarily focused on developing teaching skills. Many of my students intend to start their own business as independent childbirth educators. Some students are also doulas, private midwives, lactation consultants, allied health practitioners and some are completely new to the world of birth. But everyone always asks the same questions: How do I get a successful business off the ground? How do I build a sustainable business? How do I get started when I have a budget of $0?
Initially, I tried to squeeze in as much information as time would allow (typically the last hour of a 40 hour course when everyone’s brains were mush and no one was really taking in much).
I also realised that for every topic I’d raise, there would be another dozen that I felt were also important to discuss! There was just WAY too much to try and shove into the tail end of an intensive and mentally demanding birth education training program.
I knew that I had to find another vehicle to deliver this important information. Ironically, while COVID has been incredibly challenging for most of us, I think we all discovered the value of online learning, especially the self-paced variety. We all lead busy lives, juggling many balls in the air at the same time – other work, children, study… I wanted to create a course that you can nibble away at in your own time. No deadlines, no overly demanding assignments. Building a sustainable business takes time! Building a business that overwhelmingly relies on positive word-of-mouth and referrals (from former clients or professional colleagues) takes a lot of time and an awful lot of commitment.
When I started my business in 2012, I was also working in a full-time, unrelated job. I had a 3 year-old and a 4 year-old at home. And at the risk of getting a bit too personal, I was also the sole income earner as my (now ex!) husband wasn’t particularly gifted in the finding-paid-work-department! So, in a nutshell, I was under a lot of pressure. At that stage, it was complete fantasy land to “give up my day job” in order to grow my business full-time. I had to pay rent and feed four people! Oh, and did I mention that I had ZERO business experience? Like literally ZERO.
I absolutely credit the NEIS program (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) with getting my business off to the best start I could possibly hope for. Over the last 36 years, NEIS has helped over 194,000 Australians become their own boss by starting their own business. NEIS offers free accredited small business training, business plan development, business mentoring and, if eligible, NEIS Allowance. I highly recommend that you check out if you are eligible for the scheme as it will give you a major leg up when getting started.
If you are not eligible, then you should check out your local TAFE and find out if they offer a Cert IV in Small Business Management, which is what the NEIS program is largely comprised of. What you don’t get by doing the Cert IV on its own is the mentoring component after you finish the course. But there are other ways to find great mentors. You might have someone amazing in your own family – someone who has grown a successful business over time. Another great option to explore is your local council, which all have departments dedicated to supporting local businesses, especially small businesses and sole traders. These mentor programs are also usually free. State services such as Business Victoria also offer great support – but we’ll get to all of that – and much more – later in the course.
I’ve divided this course up into four modules. Module 1 deals with business and admin end of things. And although I know it’s not exactly sexy, it is absolutely essential to get this stuff right before you even start thinking about your logo, colour palette and that cute tote bag you are going to design. I’ve seen it again and again and again with newly certified birth workers who are just so passionate and excited to hit the ground running. They work their way backwards and it is a classic rookie error. Take my word for it. Don’t do it. You’ll burn out very quickly.
Module 2 takes a deep dive into all-things website related. Building a website from scratch (especially if you are not a web designer) is a very daunting task. And I am willing to bet you probably don’t have $3000-$5000 to burn on a professional web designer to create your site. Yup. Didn’t think so. So you’re going to have to do it on your own. This module will help you to do this. I promise it’s not that scary. And the personal satisfaction of putting something like your own website together is huge! Major oxytocin booster!
Module 3 is all about social media. You’ll love this section if you’re a social media junkie. The rest of you will have to come along for the ride kicking and screaming. Sorry. Not sorry. What you’ll soon come to realise is that you need to be where your potential clients are. And given that our clients are overwhelmingly millennials (and gulp! even post-millennials!) we are working with a demographic of parents-to-be who are digital natives, many of whom spend obscene amounts of their life on social media. Yup. It’s a necessary evil.
Finally, Module 4 aims to bring all these threads together. You’ll have the opportunity to utilise a range of classic marketing tools like SWOT analysis, competitor analysis and exploring the various stages of your client’s buyer decision-making process. Finally, I want you to start thinking deeply about your future clients. Who are they? Again, something I hear all the time from newly trained birth workers when asked, “who is your target market?” they reply, “pregnant people!”
CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON!
No! That answer is incorrect! That is a massive, totally unrealistic sub-section of the population and way, way too broad to market effectively to.
Of course, there is way more to unpack in each of the modules, but as I said at the beginning, I want you to nibble away at this at your own pace. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Some weeks you’ll be feeling super motivated and other weeks not so much! And that’s ok! That’s life. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your kick arse birth business.
In a nutshell, this course is everything I have learned (usually the hard way) in 10 years of running a successful small business. I was able to quit the day job (eventually), I was able to extricate myself from a bad marriage and I was able to solo parent and support my two children.
While I realise that everyone will have a unique set of circumstances, not to mention business and financial goals, I am fairly certain that you’re all here because you have a burning desire to do this amazing work with pregnant and postpartum families and you want to be successful – whatever you define as success for you. So that’s where I fit in. I want to ensure that you succeed. My success is YOUR success.
So let’s get on with it!