Mums running their own businesses

ended 20. March 2022

This Sunday (27th March) is Mother’s Day and Newspage, in association with local shopping platform, ShopAppy, asked 30 mums who run their own businesses to discuss the challenges they face each day. We asked them a selection of questions (below).

  • What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner?
  • What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity?
  • How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)?
  • Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead?
  • Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss?
  • What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date?
  • What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity?
  • Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance?

Their responses can be seen below.

30 responses from the Newspage community

"There's no work/life balance as a business-owning mum. Sometimes work takes priority, sometimes your kids do. It's a constant juggle, occasionally it's a super-human challenge, but it's my choice and I LOVE it! Main challenges: I'm currently trying to recruit and then find time to properly train new staff. There's not enough hours in the day alongside my normal roles. Specific challenges: Being the main carer to my kids, I need to run my business during school hours, then fit in evening &and weekend work around the kids' needs. "Last night I was answering emails whilst cooking their dinner, I had to leave the house while the kids were still eating (tag-teaming with my husband) to get to an evening networking event. I then had to leave the event early to pick my eldest daughter up from a club. As a busy working mum, you need to be a warrior when it comes to adaptability and switching from one role to another! "Whilst I have huge sympathy with human plight and the current conflict in Ukraine, I also know myself well enough to try and protect my own mental health. If I go under I will take my staff, my business and family with me. I can't allow that to happen, therefore I will help where I can, e.g. by donating money or volunteering locally where appropriate. But with regard to other matters, if it's not in my immediate sphere of influence, I try not to give it brain-space. I have actively switched off from news alerts and I'm making sure I closely monitor my own exposure to potentially fake and unhelpful news stories." Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Yes, I wouldn't have it any other way. The flexibility that being my own boss gives me, is worth it. Plus I get to make a positive change through Mumbler that affects millions of other parents lives each year. The work that we do at Mumbler, really does make family life easier and I'm incredibly proud of that. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? 1) Trusting my own instincts 2) Naivity: I had not prior business experience so I've done things my own way. 3) Being true to my values What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? 1) Find a mentor- someone unrelated with no interest in your business. Get an honest opinion & check-in with them regularly. 2) Research all of the free online business support & training & use it. There is so much out there, you just have to look for it. 3) Go for it! It's ok to feel out of your depth & uncomfortable. Without that "oh-shit" feeling, nothing changes! Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? I love what I do and I'm proud of what I've created with Mumbler. Occasionally it's been overwhelming for me or I've felt like the world's worst mum, but in general, I feel like I strike it right most of the time. I'm demonstrating to my kids what being a female founder is, and how much work & grit it takes to run a business. There's no point glamourising it like so many do on social media these days. It's tough out there, but if you take the opportunities & work damn-hard then it can be incredibly rewarding- both financially & emotionally.
"I don't think I'm alone in feeling like it is a brutal landscape for small business right now. Spending seems to have fallen off a cliff and it's no wonder, considering the current outlook. As a mum juggling kids and business, it's really hard to compete on time. What would help a lot is to ramp up all activities to help drive sales: more social media, more marketing, more customer outreach. more email list nurturing, more supplier research, basically more of everything. But working evenings and nap times just isn't enough right now so it's definitely nerve-wracking to see if I can weather this storm. Costs are up 30%-50% and I've had to put my prices up which I know doesn't help other families out there as we are all being more conscious of where we spend our money. But it's not all doom and gloom. There's a huge amount of solidarity between mum-run businesses and I am thankful to have a great network of business buddies to turn to for pep talks, advice and cheerleading. We all try to help each other as much as possible as we all get how hard the juggle is. In one way it is less pressure to be my own boss because I can be reactive and nimble and jump on opportunities when they arise. I don't have a boss to worry about or a job to lose. It's on me to turn things around and know that I've done all I can to make my business a success. I'm a real feet-first person, I have a go at things without overthinking them. As a parent, you just don't have time to procrastinate when you only have a 30 minute window to work on an email or a piece of video content. You just have to go for it, jump in and say yes. That attitude has seen me through award wins, Downing Street meetings, House of Lords receptions and product launches as well as building supportive networks, attending events and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. In fact my comfort zone is so far out of sight now I'm not sure I'll ever find it again! But I think you have to just get on with things when you are a woman in business, especially a mother. You have to work harder to be taken seriously and show people it isn't just a 'hobby'. Ultimately I love that my children see me working on my passions, they see the juggle, what it takes to do what you love, the sacrifices, the hard decisions and all the highs and lows. I don't hide any of it from them, it is a family business and I love the fact that my 5-year old asks me questions and wants to help. Balance is a funny word, because life is just one long scramble to get anything done to be honest. It's organised chaos! But then isn't that just life with kids? Throw a business into the mix and you just do what you can when you can. I hope that as they grow up, I can show both of my children that you can make magic happen when you want something badly enough, you find what makes you happy and you say yes to all of the opportunities that come your way."
"My main challenge is just how short those school days are! 9am - 3pm never goes this quickly at the weekend! Being a self-employed Mummy of 2 means I have to be super organised with my day. I work in mental health and so the difficulties that the current climate of energy crisis, war anxiety and health scares mean that I have never been more in demand. It has been a pleasure supporting the mental health of the nation whilst also raising my own minibeasts. Over the past few years I have developed more passive and semi-passive asset streams such as books and memberships. This has helped me to be around for my children more whilst doing fewer 1:1 hours. This has been great for my own mental health, for my ability to play dobble with the kids and also great for my clients too. Anyone wanting to try and future proof themselves would do well to see whether they can develop any passive stream assets in their own business. I adore being my own boss. Despite being 40, married and having 2 young children, I can honestly say I've never felt more energised. Initially I thought that being able to do the school run everyday would be a wonderfully wholesome experience. Largely, in reality it is of course mainly fielding arguments about snacks, carrying home craft projects and prompting the kids to dodge stepping in dog poo, but I wouldn't trade it for employed life again. I am self-motivated and give myself permission to do what I need to do to succeed. I can work hard to complete projects but also give myself permission to kick back when I want to. On paper this has sometimes involved working until midnight to get a book written, or course created and at other times involved taking time off to look after my own wellness with lunch with a friend or a trip to a day spa. If I were to offer an aspiring Mum-trepreneur any advice I would say do something which excites and energises you and doesn't feel like work. I would also say that if you can outsource jobs like ironing or pop the kids in an after school club a day a week then do and spend the time saved on working on your business. I think I have a good work / life balance but I do ask for help and contributions. The other day my 8 year old pegged out the washing and 2 days a week my husband makes dinner. My kids are enthusiastic about my business and cheer me on when I make sales. They are being raised to know that Mummy makes her own money and it's nice for them to see someone as an inspiration other than You-Tubers who are their other main influence."
* What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Things have definitely eased up now Covid seems to have subsided, running a business and not knowing if your children were going to be sent home from school was a trying time - when you’re running a small business that relies on only a very small team, being faced with having children at home for up 10 days was challenging and sometimes daunting! Although now we are faced with the political, social and economical uncertainty, which is definitely a worry for us personally, but we actually feel that our business is launching at a critical time, our new mobile app will give users a tool to magnify the good in their lives and restore balance. * What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? As a mum and step mum it’s trying to balance everything! The constant mum guilt but then the guilt you also feel towards your business partner for having to re-juggle things for the children can be overwhelming at times. But luckily we are a very supportive duo! we are tech business so trying to prove ourselves in a male dominated environment with no tech experience whatsoever is tough (but we also believe that’s our super power!). We are really having to push ourselves out of our comfort zones daily and learn everything very quickly! We also see this as a wonderful opportunity to inspire our children and step children and show them how we as women can do anything we put our minds to! We have also never set up a business before (we’ve always been employed) so just the basics has been challenging for us, but we’ve already learnt so much! * How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? We are actually very optimistic for the reasons explained above, our new mobile app will give users a tool to magnify the good in their lives and restore balance. More and more people are looking for tools (other than medication) to help them through difficult times and our app will do just that. * Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Just keep going and trust the process that it will all pan out exactly how it’s supposed too! * Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? - Absolutely! We gave up our jobs in the corporate world late last year, so this is all very new to us - it has taken us a while to cleanse ourselves from the corporate environment. We aren’t even making money yet, but we know for sure that there is no going back for us which makes us even more determined to make this a success. * What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? - We are extremely resourceful and we do not take ‘no’ for answer - for example, we were told our app would cost us £120k to develop and we’ve managed to find a way to do it for under £10k - If something doesn’t feel right, then we are very quick to pivot and adjust our course of action, we don’t get hung up on something that isn’t moving in the right direction even though we might think it’s a fabulous idea. - We have an unwavering belief in our product and that keeps us going - even on days where things might not be going our way, we just hold our ultimate vision - which is to make the world a healthier and happier place - in our minds and everything always sorts itself out - We are so passionate which is something you can’t buy, everyone we talk to says that we light up when we talk about our business, at the end of the day people buy people and if they can see our passion then we know they’ll want to be part of GLOW too! - We take action every single day! Our saying is that ‘we have to move the needle on every one of our business work streams every day’ even if it’s just one tiny action! * What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? - Just go for it and trust the process. If you have passion and believe in what you to do then there is no reason why it won’t be a success! It does take hard work and determination but it is so worth it. * Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? - We would say more so now than when we were in the corporate world, the pressures are different and still very much there, but the flexibility is wonderful! Our biggest gift is that we get to work together every single day and to be quite honest, it just doesn’t feel like work anymore.
What are the main challenges you're facing right now as a business or charity owner? Keeping me up at night is making the right decision around technology to support the business as it grows. Making a bad choice now could mean a costly reinvestment further down the line. My other challenge is recruitment and carving out time to train new team members effectively alongside a hectic work and home schedule. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? I have created two wonderful time traps; one grown in my womb who came to be known as Vivienne, and one born of entrepreneurial spirit called Salcombe Finest. The pull in either direction for my time and attention is relentless as both need careful nurturing. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I once ran a home visit beauty therapy business in the ski resort of Verbier. Regardless of income level, financial climate or exchange rates, there was always demand for waxing! I believe the same can be said for the British coastal holiday. We are addicted to our own coastline, and look for a seaside fix no matter what the current climate. The choice of rosé from the wine list might differ, but the relief of avoiding flights, transfers and terrible exchange rates is unwavering. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? KBO (Keep Buggering On)! We have a good product and are in the relatively buoyant UK staycation market. The cost of living squeeze may well affect our revenues as disposable income is required to afford holidays, but balanced with turbulent international travel, and the popularity of the British coastline, we hope to weather the storm. We are being prudent with our cash flow forecasting and keeping a close eye on inflation. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Running my own business brings great autonomy and is far more rewarding to me than going down the corporate path. There is nothing better than the buzz of signing a new contract for an absolute belter of a holiday home, or ringing the bell as a big booking comes in. It’s also the little wins that bring so much joy such as getting a thousand likes on an Instagram post, or finding a brilliant bookkeeper to keep the wheels in motion. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? For me it is a fear of failure. I don’t want to let down the holiday home owners we work for. They rely on us to generate an income from their second home, to look after their property and be their trusted local contact. And kindness is key in looking after our guests. In any situation I always think about how I would want to be treated. What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? It’s important to know that success doesn’t always have to be sugarcoated with a brilliant support crew. Determination and resilience can go a long way. That said, if you do have someone to act as a mentor to check in with once a month, then do it. It really helps with accountability to get things done. Make sure you read business books; in only a few hours you can learn from a lifetime of mistakes made by somebody else. Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? As a single parent and business owner the balance is incredibly tough. I have planned mummy and daughter time which in theory is sacrosanct, but multitasking is inevitable and wow, that is stressful. As much as possible I split myself in half into a work personality and a home personality. As Karen Brady says, “the trick is not to let one suck the life out of the other.”
"My main challenge is to keep on my toes when it comes to my competitors. The hospitality industry has been dramatically affected by COVID, with less workers available. This means less family time and precious moments with kids. Being a mum to three kids under the age of 8 (and two dogs) and the owner of a business that is opened all day every day, it’s like having two full time jobs simultaneously where the “to do” list is never fully accomplished. I am lucky to have my husband onboard with day to day juggling and also running the busy kitchen. We do make a great team but I do have days when I consider calling him my 4th kid! Inflation is definitely taking its toll and profits are shrinking. Right now is the most worrying time for the past seven years of running my own business. I am trying to stay positive, stay focused, stay competitive and never give up! Advice for others would be - If you had the courage to open and run your own place, then for sure you have the stamina to get through hard times. There is only one outcome - you will be better and stronger than ever! I am absolutely glad to be my own boss and can’t imagine it being any other way. If you don’t take risks, you don’t drink champagne, right? I never thought it would be a smooth or easy ride to run my own business. I am only worried for the 30 people I employ; there is a huge amount of responsibility, I want my staff to be happy, have enough hours to work, good wages and comfortable living! Success means adapt and evolve, be the inspiration. Learn new things! Don’t give up - nothing is a set stone, change things along your journey. Go over and above in anything you do. And yes- plan your month, week and day, write everything down. And last one is the most important- work hard, set a good example to your team and your kids! What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Be prepared! Childcare particularly. Be prepared to have guilt issues- as you will feel at some point that work is overtaking your time with kids. And it’s ok! You are only setting a good role model! Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Yes, yes and yes. I have the perfect balance and consider myself very luck to have an that “ability to escape”- if I get too tired at work- I run to my kids! If I have long tiring day with kids- I run to work! I am just the best mum that way!"
It’s not just those with children, often primary care giving roles fall on the shoulders of women. Although I don’t have children, I am a full-time carer for my mum as well as running a full-time tourism business where we employ only female guides - a majority who are mothers or provide care for their parents or siblings. As a business, we make sure to provide support and flexibility to our female team so they can juggle their different roles. However, finding a work-life balance for myself is difficult as the needs of the family often assert themselves strongly and there’s a relentless pull in either direction for my time and attention. Balance is something I have not yet managed although I do try to protect my own mental health so that I remain strong for my family, my business, and my team. Also, I, like a lot of women, suffer from imposter syndrome and have experienced unconscious bias and feel I have to work far harder to be taken seriously - even though the business has been operating successfully for over a decade. But the skills we use as either a mother or when providing care - multi-tasking, responding to crises, adapting to changing situations - also work well in business and I have a strong belief in the business and our philosophy. So, although the imposter syndrome is ever-present, I feel that my female team and I are role models to the younger females we work with and support or are bringing up or looking after. Seeing women in independent positions is surely one of the best ways to inspire younger girls and to let them understand that they can do the same. 
Although we focus solely on Mongolia and with the current political situation, the impact of the pandemic, the concern about the climate emergency, and the exponential rise in operating costs we have a lot to be concerned about, surviving the pandemic as a tourism business has given us resilience. We’re small and it is easy to get swamped by our larger competitors - especially the international companies with substantial financial resources. However, being small also means we can be flexible and adapt to the changing circumstances and although it is a seriously tough environment at present I remain cautiously optimistic and my focus now is to rebuild the business & work on the strength of our partnerships. For other women - whether mum’s or care givers - looking to start a business, be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. Do not underestimate the demands on your time - even with a good support network so look to do something that will find exciting and fulfilling even when you are at your lowest ebb, you feel guilty, everything feels constantly chaotic and you are in serious juggling mode. You will often feel our of your depth, it will be hard at times to find any balance and you will make mistakes but trust in your instincts - those same ones that allow you to bring up your children or care for your family in the best way you think fit. And, just as you encourage your children to continue to learn and discover more, so you must do the same - whether through mentorship, online business training or just through your own research. It will be tough but it will give you freedom and a personal sense of purpose.
I've run my own business since 2003 and before I had children. Now with both boys in their mid-teens, it's interesting to look back on that decision. It's meant that I got to attend all of their school plays, be home when they were sick and be involved in every aspect of their lives without apologising to bosses and working late to make up time. Do I think it was the right decision? Absolutely! But it definitely hasn't been all plain sailing - working for myself and juggling the stresses of being a single parent for a number of years alongside building my web design business has been challenging. I have sacrificed a lot of business opportunities as I have no family in the UK to support me, but now I am making up for lost time. So, I am optimistic for the future and feel lucky that I did get to spend time at home but now I can concentrate on my business which is growing quickly despite the current climate. My company focuses on helping micro-businesses understand their tech and get seen online - and that is likely to increase rather than decrease in coming months and years. My advice for mums wanting to work for themselves: - realise that there really is no such thing as work/life balance, you will just fit in what you need to do when you have time to do it - be kind to yourself! Take time off and do not feel guilty for working when you have to and taking time off when you have to - ENJOY the mess that is raising a family and working for yourself - it's worth it! My strategy for life, business and motherhood is to take it one day at a time, do my best every single day and enjoy the ride!
Our main challenge at the moment as a business owner is crippling inflation of everything. Energy, transport, stock...you name it - it's had a price increase! We don't want to hike our prices up because our ethos is about providing high quality gifts at affordable prices so that companies can reward their entire workforce rather than just target hitters or top sales staff. Mum specific challenges are probably what you'll hear 99.99% of working mums say - the work life balance. Whatever that is. We have to work like we have no kids and look after our kids like we have no work. It's literally a constant, exhausting juggle and one a battle you never win. Because you feel guilty that you're not spending quality time with the kids when you're working and then feel guilty that you're not working when you're with the kids. I feel optimistic about the future because that's my default setting. If I felt anything other than optimistic then what would be the point of getting out of bed in the morning. I try to take each day as it comes as it can be pretty overwhelming otherwise. Being optimistic and determined are my the key traits that have helped me succeed to date. I was left with life changing memory loss after contracting meningitis aged 10 which could have left me feeling down and defeated. I was a young single mum and that could have stopped me in my tracks, I was better off on benefits but didn't want that life for me and my daughter so I got my head down and worked hard. My business turned over £1.3million in it's first year last year so despite challenges and setbacks in life I've always worked hard and kept positive. Despite all the uncertainty I'm still glad I'm my own boss because at least I feel I can help steer the direction of the company and make decisions that have huge impacts on what we do and where we go as a company. Tips that I would give to other mums wanting to start their own business is to not believe the social media posts and memes that state that running your own business is easy or gives you time back with your kids. It doesn't! Not being negative here just the reality is that you don't switch off - ever! But for school children aged mums, the freedom to be able to go to the sports days, the nativities, the assemblies, do the school runs or pick them up when they are poorly - without having to ask an unempathetic boss - is priceless. I don't feel like I ever have the right work life balance but some days are better than others.
https://www.moonmoon.co.uk/collections/all • What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Juggling covid, childcare and all the demands of motherhood whilst running a growing business. • What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Life with kids is unpredictable. It can be very difficult to plan and squeeze running a business into an almost term time only endeavour. • How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? Cautiously optimistic. • Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Yes, but I am ready to adapt. As we covid, things can change very quickly. • Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Yes, absolutely. • What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Passion, determination, adaptability, openness • What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Go for it! Start by doing lots of research before you make the jump, but don't get too stuck in analysis paralysis. Better to take action, than to take no action at all. • Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? During term time, yes!
"The main challenge I face right now, both as a mum and a business owner, is ensuring I maintain a good balance between everything. I have my own business and also run a local community uniform scheme as well as being a parent governor and part-time carer for my mum. So being organised is essential. "While I'm aware of the news surrounding the current rise in the cost of EVERYTHING, I'm still feeling reasonably optimistic about the future. However, I'm aware of the effect it has on many others and I have already seen a rise in requests for uniforms. "Over the past couple of years, the flexibility of being my own boss has been worth all the hassles ten times over. Looking to the future I think this will continue to be a huge benefit. "If you're thinking of starting your own business or charity, my advice would be to go for it! It's not always plain sailing and there will be bumps along the way, but I wouldn't change it. It does take dedication and resistance but if you know WHY you're doing it, that will keep you going. I would also add that, while it's possible to do everything yourself, I wouldn't advise it. Having a good team or friends and family to support you will make everything easier. "I'm not sure I would say I have the right balance as priorities and the choices you have to make, change from day to day, week to week, but on the whole, it works for me and my family. And when it doesn't, I'll change it!"
• What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Everyone is finding that operating costs are increasing, energy bills, food bills, etc. As a business, this means considering ways to cut costs, make savings or pass on the increase. For my potential clients, it means budgets are tight and marketing spend is often one of the first things to be reduced. • What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Time and planning ahead. It’s wonderful running your own business and being able to work around the school run, but equally, if your child is ill or the school closes, no amount of careful planning or time management can account for this. • How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? Not very. I am really worried for small business owners, especially product-based business. Rising costs mean people just can’t afford luxury spend. • Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? I’ll start with looking a reducing my own expenses, which I do with a heavy heart as I know this may affect the income of other small businesses. I’ll also be considering ways to be more savvy with my time and resources, so that I can reduce any need for price increases for my customers. • Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Most definitely – it allows freedom for me to work when I want and where I want, to harness the best times for me creatively. • What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Never being 100% satisfied! I always want to do more. Discover more. Learn more. Help more clients. Achieve more. • What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Be really clear about what you want to do – having a niche is really helpful at the outset. Make a plan and set goals. Be realistic about the time you have to both ‘earn’ money and run your business. Be prepared to eat, sleep and breathe your business at times. Remember you will make mistakes…just learn from them. • Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Now that homeschooling seems to be behind us and we are back to generally regular school hours and holidays, yes, I feel I have the right work-life balance. It’s definitely about being strict with yourself, however, so that work doesn’t creep in to all hours of the day. There’s always more you can do…the question has to be ‘will it be ultimately worth it?’
* What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? I run a small digital agency whilst being a mum to a very active five year old - not an easy feat sometimes! When you’re a business owner, time is of the essence. I never feel like I have enough time - I need to do work for clients, run my business, manage a team, do business development, have client meetings, all whilst making sure I work around my son’s school drop offs and afternoon play dates. * How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? It is worrying especially with constant rising prices but I prefer to be positive and I am lucky I work in an industry that has not been affected much by Covid. * Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Perseverance and resilience. I’m an entrepreneur who never gives up. Not the first challenge life has thrown at me and I thrive in challenging times. * Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Whilst the lows are low, the highs are very high. I feel grateful to run my own business and have some control of my time and freedom. Especially as a working mum! * What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Belief that I will succeed. Persistence. Never giving up. Energy and enthusiasm * What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? I’m very lucky I have a hands on partner as my husband helps out loads. Make sure you have some sort of support system in place as you will need it. * Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Some days yes and some days no!
What I am learning by being a business owner for the last 4 years is that there is always going to be a challenge to face. First we had Brexit, then Covid and now the war & and an increase in our outgoings such as energy & freight costs. By running a business I do feel a bit guilty for not always being there; whether that is cooking a meal on time or doing a drop off and then spending free time thinking of the business. It is hard to switch off however the challenges we have faced as a country and the wider world is making us reprioritise our life goals & aims and making sure that we do have time to spend with our family. Honestly, I can't see the cost of living coming down. What we need is government intervention and for this country to become more self-sufficent and not reliant on other countries. To minimise the impact the increasing costs we are trying to shop around more when ending contracts with current suppliers in order. However cheapest is not always better so this can be a challenge. I'm pleased that I am my own boss despite all the uncertainty. In my previous corporate world there was always someone to report to. Now the 'consumer is boss!' I have found that listening to the customer and managing cash flow is imperative. Treating customers well is our point of difference! If you are thinking of starting your own business, test the market on a smaller scale and find good child care if your children are very young. The days can be long! Also join a network of other business owners. It helps to share current best approaches. Overall, I believe I need to shift the balance towards a better working life. Hence I am working on achieving this. It takes time but I'm optimistic that it will happen!
"We started our family run business when our two children were just 3yrs and 11 months old. Running a business with such a young family meant continually juggling balls & there was never enough time in the day. As children grow up, there's less balls to juggle, and different challenges to face, however with more available time & less parental responsibilities, things do get easier, even though mum is always on call. Raising a family whilst running a business is hard work but extremely rewarding on both counts. I am proud that I was able to do the school run, attend nativities, parents evenings & each milestone party. I am also proud that at the same time, I have been instrumental in building a successful business alongside my husband. Having the right work/life balance has always been & continues to be most important. With two older children still living at home, rising living costs of course remains a challenge, in addition to the pressures that Covid put on our business, my focus is now rebuilding our business & connections to pre-pandemic levels. A 'glass half full' outlook however has always been my mantra. Next year we're celebrating 20yrs in business, and this time around, the kids will be attending their mums' milestone party instead - how life spins around!"
I left the corporate world behind and started my own business in order to be able to balance having some semblance of a career alongside doing the most important job in the world of raising two children. I have never regretted a moment of it even though it was, from an earnings and pension point of view, a career suicide. It would be a misnomer to call it a healthy work-life balance though, since the lion’s share of labour on both fronts lands squarely on the mother’s shoulders. I’ve taken babies in car seats into conference rooms with me, breast-fed during meetings, taken calls at the swimming pool and composed emails whilst waiting at the school gates over the years. It teaches you resolutely that time is money and it teaches you that time is very precious and you can’t get it back after you have spent it. Time as a working mum doesn’t very often belong to you at all either, so you need to ascribe a value to it correctly, because if you don’t, no one else will. The last few years in business have been really tough going at a time it ought to have been getting easier. It is hard to remain optimistic in the face of so many financial challenges on both a personal and a business front but there is only one reaction to the situation, and that is to knuckle down and get on with it. 2020 was a hard tutoring in how to market your way through a recession. 2022 and the rises in cost of living, interest rates and taxes means that we are looking at another year of the same. 2020 was also a sharp lesson in who really gets expected to handle home tutoring, and how easily many women were urged back into a primary caregiving role at that time, and this is perhaps the biggest challenge of being a mum who runs her own business. No matter what you have going on in your work life, the needs of family will often assert themselves just as strongly which just burns into your waking hours even more. That all said, I wouldn’t have charted my journey out any other way and the resilience needed to cope with so many different demands on your time and energy end up being the working mum’s superpower. My top tip for any mums looking to start up in business would be to look at what you stand to lose and what you stand to gain. Running your own business might not make you a millionaire, but you have to ask yourself what you want to do with your three score years and ten. If that includes having had a practical hand in the raising of your own children, and making memories that they will be able look back on that includes you, then jump on in and don’t look backwards. Any magical pots of cash you find on your journey is then the icing on the cake.
I love & hate working for myself in equal measure. I love the flexibility it provides around my small children but I hate the constant mountains dropped in front of me to climb. The last 6-9months have been extremely hard, even if you’re doing everything right it doesn’t always mean the sales will come especially in the current climate of uncertainty. I think being a business owner you need to be fairly resilient and be a great problem solver as that’s what 90% of your time is spent doing. Any mums thinking of starting their own business I would 100% tell them to do it as long as they are passionate about what they will be doing. It takes a lot of self determination and motivation so it has to be something you care about. I think I have a good balance all things considered. I do the preschool drop off and pick up, I walk the dog mid morning but I also work evenings and weekends when needed. A flexible lifestyle works for me and I couldn’t imagine having to go back being sat at a desk with a 9-5. My plan to ride this wave of uncertainty is to keep things streamlined and maintainable.
What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? I am conscious of rising costs as a business owner and as a household and am aware of how that is impacting my team, too. Headwinds are normal, but this current environment is a firestorm. At ShopAppy, we champion local businesses and it is tough to hear and see the onslaught of challenges being faced by fabulous businesses that people clearly value. Government support needs to be in place to help our high streets as the last thing we need now is for people to need a car to travel to more interesting places - we should be creating more sustainable and resilient places close by. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? There is the usual unconscious or very conscious bias you encounter as a woman running a business – how you are treated by potential investors, as a client or as a supplier is different. That has not changed in five years and has got worse with the rise of the “tech bros” in technology where women running tech platforms are few and far between. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? It would be good if larger institutions like banks and Government were more in touch with what life is really like for households and small businesses. I see green shoots in that more people than ever are deciding to go it alone and start up a business and more social and community-oriented enterprises are coming out –but I am very worried that the current rises will be too much to bear for many shops and services in our high streets. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? My strategy is to continue to use a compass rather than a business plan. I did that in March 2020 when it became obvious we were heading into the last days of normality. We are led by purpose rather than profit and that makes sure we do the right thing and stay true to the vision and mission to help high streets and small businesses. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Absolutely and I hope I am a good boss for my team, too – in the kinds of storms we are all facing, we need to adapt and it is easier to be a captain of a skiff in stormy waters than it is to be a passenger in a lumbering ocean liner. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Resilience, tenacity and self motivation and most of all having relentless passion for local high streets, small businesses and places. Do you find you have the right work/life balance? Not at all. I never have, to be honest. But working on something I am passionate about and working with inspiring businesses and places and a fantastic team makes up for the late hours and loss of occasional weekends. I do try to set boundaries so when I tell the team I am offline, I am offline. But being offline is very very hard. #justsaying
The biggest challenge to my business right now are supply chain issues. Stock is hard to get hold of and when you can get stock, prices are rising. With everyone feeling the pinch, it's hard to then have to choose between passing the increase on to your customers or taking the hit yourself. Mum guilt is also a huge challenge for me. My peak times are school holidays so I'm often working when my daughter has time off. With that said, being my own boss means I can close to take her to the doctor, watch her school plays, etc. That level of freedom and flexibility is great. I alway ensure I close for two weeks over Christmas too, to give her back that time. I try to carve out a little bit of time every day for one-on-one time with her. Even if that's just watching TV together, with her on my knee. My strategy for riding turbulent times out is to just focus on what I can do. I adore my business beyond words so I just focus on that. Losing The Paint Box is not an option. I'm not afraid to head in new directions to keep her alive. As a front-facing business I thought we wouldn't survive lockdown but we did and we're stronger for it because I diversified to meet a new demand. My happiness is so tightly bound within the walls of The Paint Box, so I'm still thrilled to be my own boss. I get so much more than a living from what I do. I think my love of business is the number one factor for its success. I genuinely love everything that working with babies and children brings. They are so honest, loving and quite frankly - hilarious. This kind of of joy in your work can't be faked and I firmly believe that's what my customers respond to. I also have a lot of support. The continued success of The Paint Box is not just mine but belongs to everyone from its original owner, to my family and everyone who has worked, painted and shopped here. If you're thinking of starting your own business ... DO IT! Just go for it, don't wait until you are ready. I used to say "I could never be my own boss" and here I am seven years later. It has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I've never been happier. I definitely don't have the right work/life balance. I eat, sleep and breath The Paint Box but I wouldn't change it for anything.
What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Don't be afraid of putting yourself out there. Too often women think "I can't" or "No-one wants to hear what I've got to say" or "Someone else could do this much better than me". If you are going to start your own business, you not only need to believe in your idea, but you need other people to believe in it too, so you've got to appear completely confident! You might need to fake this confidence initially, but as your business grows so will your self-belief! What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? As a new business at the start of the pandemic and on the back of Brexit we faced challenges including being able to buy glass bottle and screw caps, something you would never even consider could be a problem before you are a business who depends on being able to access these kind of supplies! Shipping costs have also risen exponentially, so physically shipping our product around the world is also becoming more expensive. Lockdown saw the supermarkets and multiples restrict the number of new brands that they were prepared to take on, which remains a challenge even as things open up. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? It's the old classic...time...trying to find the time to fit it all in, frequently without back-up. I am constantly spinning plates and hoping that they stay in the air. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I am optimistic, my business is in alcohol-free drinks and I believe that with the turbulent background, continuing to focus on self-care and keeping ourselves healthy and balanced will remain a priority for many of our customers and potential customers, so I hope this will play out well for us. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? 100% yes. As a mum of young children I find that even with the pressure and uncertainly, the flexibility and sense of achievement that running my own business gives me wins hands down over security provided by an employer. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? I don't give up and I know when to take time out to manage my stress levels.
Being a mum in business is hard work! I think the main issue I face is spending so much on childcare and after school clubs so that I have more than school hours to run the business. Often networking meetings and events we held outside working hours which excludes us, meaning we have to work even harder. We get underestimated all the time. But mums are super hero’s! We are very effective with our time keeping, we have to be! And I run two businesses , with two children! Rising cost of living means that both of my businesses are going to be busier, we help people to combat rising cost of living, so from that perspective I think we will be ok. We support working mums on Parenthood app, we help to support business owners and those looking t get into work and it’s free to download. Everything I do in business is to support my family. There are days where it’s tough, mum guilt gets in the way but I don’t regret starting them at all. It makes me a good role model for my kids. Advice for mums thinking of starting a business? Do it! And come join Parenthood App to chat to other mums who are doing it for advice!
- What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Trying to be relevant when there is so much bad news around currently. People rightfully are distracted by what's happening at home and around the world, marketing at this time almost doesn't feel right. Finding a balance between wanting to help, such as donating our TingTang Dry Wash Shampoo to Ukranian refugees, whilst also concentrating on building a new business is quite a challenge. I'm always looking for ways to improve my products to make them better, more sustainable and environmentally friendly, kinder on the customer's pocket. - What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Juggling and 'Mum Guilt'! Always a challenge. I'm lucky that as a single mother, it's just my daughter and I so I can be 'selfish' and just worry about her and the business (my other baby!) It also helps that she is interested so I involve her as much as possible. There are never enough hours in the day/ - How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I have a product which can help a variety of people in many different situations, including the current challenging (and rather depressing!) climate. If I can spread the word successfully, I have every reason to be quietly optimistic about the business surviving - Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Keep on keepin' on! Put my head down and don't stop. Hope for the best and keep making 'dad' jokes. - Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? There is not a day that goes by when I'm not thankful to work for myself. I am so lucky. - What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? I have no choice. Giving up is not an option. I was told that I'm a failure and that no one ever started a successful business from a bedroom. I like proving people wrong and I love a challenge! I'm also being closely watched by my daughter. I want to teach her to be kind, strong and resilient. I want her to be inspired by hard work and the results. I want her to be proud of me. - What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? It's like being a mother. You wonder if you can do it or not. You can. Throw yourself in. You'll work it out. Have confidence. Or otherwise 'fake it 'til you make it'. You can do it. - Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? I have zero life balance! But I'm so lucky to love what I do. In that respect it's the ultimate freedom. I do my best to always notice the little things, to look up, to take a few seconds to breathe... and not forget to give tickles before bedtime. Your child's uncontrollable giggles are always contagious.
What are the main challenges you're facing right now as a business or charity owner? How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I'm Anna Cargan, 35 from Cumbria and I run an online second-hand children's clothes business - www.buildabundle.co.uk. I have 3 children aged 4, 6 and 9. I run Buildabundle alongside my friend and business partner Nathalie Redfern, who also has 3 children the same ages as mine. We're facing the same challenges as most business owners at the moment in terms of rising costs - energy, packing supplies, fuel. As employers the hike in National Insurance in April is a worry. We don't want to pass costs onto customers when they're already facing a cost-of-living crisis. I also think people are possibly spending less time on social media, and general consumer morale and mood is low with all the terrible news coming from Ukraine. From talking to fellow e-commerce owners, rising costs and reduced sales seems to be a theme for many retailers at the moment. However as a second-hand kids clothes retailer we're in a unique position, where we're more resilient to economic downturns than most. While people are cutting out luxuries, kids will keep growing, and their clothes are an essential rather than a luxury. With our clothes being mostly second-hand, they're cheaper than the high street, so we can help people clothe their kids for less. This means we're in the lucky position of being able to be fairly optimistic about the future of our business. I also think people are turning more to second-hand items as awareness of climate change increases, so this is a growing market. We feel positive and hopeful that our business will weather these storms. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? I definitely think many mums carry the majority of the mental load - constantly thinking about the family life admin, school trips, meal plans and food shopping, the kids activities and schedules. Running a family and home is busy enough by itself - but when you add in running your own business (which also requires hundreds of things to remember on a daily basis), the result can actually be quite overwhelming. I use phone alarms and to-do lists to try and juggle everything, and I feel like I never properly switch off. There's always so much to plan and do, and 9am-3pm weekdays is not enough time to do it all in. My husband has a very stressful job in the NHS which brings its own big challenges, but I do think he is better at leaving work at work than I am - that doesn't really happen when you run your own business. I also find with being self-employed, I fit all my work around the kids schedules and school - meaning I'm always either working or with the kids, and there's not much time for any break. Nathalie has her own additional challenges of being a single mum and is also disabled following a hip replacement, so even more challenges there! Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Keep working hard, keep consistent and keep the faith that it will all work out. We have to be optimistic and get on with it, there isn't really any other option. I think many of us mums who ran businesses through 2020-2021 have already worked through the toughest of times - trying to keep my business going while my kids were off school for months on end during lockdown was incredibly tough. It was exhausting and I constantly felt I was failing as a mum, as I tried to work while home-schooling and looking after very young kids at the same time. I think this has made us mums more resilient and focused though - we know that if we got through that, we can get through the current challenges! Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Definitely! As a mum of primary school-age kids, being able to set my own hours around school hours, and not work in the holidays is invaluable. I'm so grateful that I can do that, and it's lovely to be able to pick my kids up from school each day, spend time with them and watch their various activities. I used to be a solicitor and childcare was expensive and complicated. Working parents juggle so much. Not having to worry about that now makes all the stress of being self-employed worth it, and is at least one thing taken off that mental load. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Passion and true belief in my business. Both myself and Nathalie care so much about  what we do, we really believe in the concept of reusing clothes and making second-hand shopping easier and more accessible for other parents. Running a business is hard and has many obstacles, highs and lows. It's no good trying to run a business doing something you don't truly care about or believe in because you'll find it too hard when the obstacles hit, and you won't be able to sustain it. But if you truly believe in what you do, that will carry you through the difficult times. I'm also ambitious and don't just want to run any second-hand shop - I want it to be the best second-hand shop! What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Go for it - you don't know if you don't try. Start very small and run it from your home (around your other work if you have any), at first. It will be hard and you'll have to be prepared to work evenings and long hours for a while. Test it out and see whether it's worth doing. Then if it is, you can expand. I started Buildabundle from my living room, and we now have business premises, 8 staff and sell 100,000 items a year. I'm so glad I took that chance to see whether it would work. Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? I think this is always a work in progress. I don't know many mums who feel they've got this exactly right, when both kids and the business need so much time. I feel I have the balance right in being physically able to be there for my kids, but I do find myself working at home more than I probably should, which makes me feel guilty. Mum guilt is very real! An e-commerce business never closes, and with access to the internet 24/7, the temptation to just check the order system or quickly answer a couple of customer emails is always there! That can be tough with young kids who need constant attention. This is something that's getting easier to balance as we grow though, through being able to employ more staff and automate more systems - and as the kids get older I hope they will realise that we do it all for them!
What are the main challenges you're facing right now as a business or charity owner? - Building brand awareness and staying abreast of new ways of marketing to find the most effective channels, e.g. in B2B sales having online or hybrid conversations rather than face-to-face, investing in effective PR, digital marketing and SEO - Finding decision makers willing to invest in EDI, not just talk about it - to make a case for why now is the right time to invest and to make it a priority for them to invest amongst competing challenges - Relying on a network of partners to deliver in the timeframes and the quality that you want to achieve your business objectives without trying to do everything yourself - Banks and other institutions have become noticeably more cautious about providing investment and credit opportunities. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? - This will always be the juggle of childcare and fitting working life around this, particularly during the pandemic, women did 173 additional hours of unpaid childcare compared to 59 hours for men. When the school or nursery calls, you have to drop everything and go for them - no matter your work commitments. - As a business owner, you are increasingly likely to be working from home to keep the costs of an office down, so you may become the default option for answering the phone to the school. And if you're in a business where the business is YOU (e.g. accountant, coach, consultant), this can have an immediate knock-on effect on your customers and what they're getting from you. - Even if you're not directly selling your services, an ecosystem runs primarily around you as the key decision-maker. Therefore you have to make sure you're investing in systems so everything can keep running if you're not around. There's financial uncertainty with any business owner, particularly in the early days. What's difficult as a parent is that you have to have the time (i.e. not be looking after your kids) to work on your business and grow it to get a reliable income to afford child care, but the cost of child care is so expensive that it can be a real pinch point to afford it. You have to be meticulous about managing business cash flow, personal income and child care, and general household expenses. - Feeling alone on this journey, believing in yourself and finding ways to replenish your energy - when you're drained from 4 wake-ups in a night, dealing with multiple tantrums before 9 am, or picking toothpaste out of your hair 5 minutes before you go out the door! It can be tough to keep going when it can feel like you're doing it alone, so you have to be able to find your motivation and sources of energy to keep going. You might have a partner in a traditional job, friends without kids, friends with kids who are working with conventional employers, stay at home mom friends - but it can be hard to find a group of mothers who are business owner friends who can relate to what you're going through. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? - Optimistic for the business because I think it's causing companies to reconsider how they work and be open to innovation and new ways of doing things; it's forcing an overdue change to ways of working. Post-pandemic, there's a 'fresh starts' mentality, and businesses are keen to try new approaches. - Much more pessimistic as a mom and household owner about the cost of everything - and how little practical support there is to manage or offset the rising cost of everything to be able to work to make ends meet, e.g. in tax relief or childcare support Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? - As a business, we highly value the flexibility of freelancers and partner arrangements so that we can flex up and down quickly to react to change. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? - 1000%. I feel more confident as captain of my ship to navigate the uncertainty than being an employee at the mercy of an organisation that might suddenly need to make drastic changes and leave you jobless. It's too easy to get stuck in a job you don't like or don't feel valued in but remain committed to for a monthly payslip; then one day find you're out of that job and aren't relevant in the market. I've seen that happen repeatedly, colleagues falsely believing the company will be loyal to them in a downturn. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? - Focusing on the long term but acting in the immediate: having a vision for what I want to achieve and the impact I want to have even if I don't yet know all the steps, but taking action every day towards it rather than leaving it as a dream. What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? - Before you build anything, figure out if there is a market for it. Get on the phone and find customers willing to pay. Otherwise, you can set yourself up for an expensive hobby. In my first business, this was my classic mistake - I had a beautiful website, platform, brand and everything - then I opened the doors and had no customers. Whoever said, "Build it, and they will come", was wrong! Find the customers, know their problems then build the solution for them. It's much better to figure out early if no one is willing to spend money on what you have to offer, even if that means hearing 'no' on repeat, than spending a lot of money building something no one wants and then hearing 'no' on repeat. - Also, don't try to do everything yourself. Figure out quickly what is uniquely you, and then look to outsource the rest of you risk spreading yourself too thin and getting overwhelmed. Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? - I don't think there's such a thing as work/life balance because they are interwoven. What I know, though, is when I look after myself, I can give my business more energy and serve my customers better than when I feel overwhelmed and retreat from it all - that serves no one: customers, partners, my family or myself.
What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? There is a saying that female entrepreneurs quit the 9 to 5 to work 24 hours a day. I find that when I am not caring for my three children, I am working and sleeping very little. Securing funding, new business and still delivering brilliant services is tough. We’ve had a wildly successful start up year (I’ve been doing this for a lot longer, but launched DigiKind a year ago). What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Lack of start-up funding. I am confident in my business strategy and tactics because they are working; I know that they are working for us and for our clients to reimagine high streets and create sustainable communities. I have brilliant local government clients and strong business support in the community - if I could translate that into government funding so that I could scale the services I provide to the community, I would be one happy camper. And so would our communities! How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I am very optimistic. I find opportunities in obstacles. I think that no matter what disruption we have, we will always find a way. Challenges make us creative and find new ways to survive and thrive. We can do this, we have to. We will find new ways to be more sustainable and resilient. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Yes. We already offer free promotion to any business who wants it on our platform. We always have and this will never change. We look to partner with like-minded organisations and businesses and we already operate in a lean, agile environment. From the beginning we were sustainable in our approach. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? You don’t ever really work for yourself. You always work for others. As a mother, I work for my family. As a business owner, I work for my customers. In life, you respond to what the universe throws at you. I am very much a servant-leader. I am not a boss babe. I know who’s the boss, and I am in this to make the world better. I’ve worked for the government, launched a government agency, worked in VC, launched companies. Then I launched two companies for myself. I know that I serve others, always. I launched DigiKind to make things better. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Creativity, humility and resilience. And a sense of humour. What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Always be yourself, surround yourself with people who complement your best qualities, and remember to laugh. Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Not really. However I made the choice, because I had the luxury to make it - to be present for my children. This comes at a cost to me in longer hours in the evenings. But I am a work in progress and I am always trying. That is what life and business is all about. You can never stop learning, improving and growing. If you think you have all of the answers, you don’t, sis. Recently I just took a day for myself. And I wasn't apologetic about it. This was a watershed moment for me. I returned to work refreshed. Since then, two women - working mothers - had told me of their exhaustion and how they had taken a day off. I celebrated them and congratulated them on this. I hope more women see what they want and seize it. In life, in work, in business. Long may it continue.
What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Times are changing and we're acutely aware the company needs to evolve to survive. Our main challenge right now is how to respond to a crisis with compassion and accepting change in consumer behavior. All whilst we juggle the rising cost of living. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? We are growing from a Mother-Daughter business to a Mother-Daughter-Granddaughter business so our main challenge right now is how to scale our start-up whilst juggling pregnancy. The specific challenge of becoming a parent as a business owner without being excluded from opportunities is real. It’s no secret that the pandemic has affected women business owners, many of whom have had to permanently shut down their businesses to take on family and caregiving responsibilities. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? During these difficult times, we are focusing on offering a sense of belonging and community which is so important when things get tough. We are optimistic that with the right mindset and strategy our business will not only survive but continue to thrive. You have to think positively, there's no other option. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? In 2020, everything we thought we knew about business went out the window. Our current marketing strategy is extremely flexible with gaps to adapt to consumer trends, current affairs, and any industry changes. We focus more on monthly business plans rather than annual ones because the current climate is changing day-to-day. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Becoming our own boss and starting a mother-daughter business was the best decision we've ever made. Not only are we building a better future for our family, but also the planet with our purpose-led products. We already had a strong relationship and now we're even closer. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? I believe Mums are the masters of reinvention - we have to adapt on a daily basis which has played a vital role in our success. Our empathetic nature has been invaluable at building an online community of like-minded people who share our values and brand mission. We treat our community as our co-creators. What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Work out what you want to do, how you're going to do it, and then just go for it. I think as women we often hold back from following our dreams. Also, there’s nothing like having to provide for your own child to inspire you to do your best. It took us 10 years to build up the confidence to start our business but I wish we did it sooner. It wasn't until we both became unemployed in 2020 that we thought "It's time to put our dreams into use". Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Very few entrepreneurs have the perfect work/life balance - especially as parents. Time is the most precious commodity, plan ahead as much as possible and remember to enjoy it. That's why you became your own boss!
What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? Managing our time effectively in the context of overwhelming demand for the three businesses we own and run (The Heart and Soul Doctors Ltd, Prime Psychology Ltd and Acorn Clinical Psychology Ltd), which speaks to the emotional and psychological challenges that mums and families are facing in the current climate. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Balancing the demands of motherhood and CEO life, constantly keeping ourselves in check in terms of the work we have done around ‘mum guilt’, getting the right work-life balance and enough sleep (we are so passionate about our work with mums that our brains rarely switch off from it!). Ensuring that we practice what we preach when we work with mums and prioritise time for soul nourishment, fun and relaxation. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? We are relentlessly optimistic! However, culturally, mums are not taught to invest in themselves and their wellbeing and often their needs are at the very bottom of the pile, therefore the factors you outlined may make it feel even more difficult for them to invest in psychological support and work that would not only benefit them, but also their child(ren) and family. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Continue to focus on our mission and vision for our businesses. Within every challenge is a learning opportunity or a gift. Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Absolutely. We as business partners are doing the work which is fully aligned to our values and mission to help women to move from a place of surviving motherhood to thriving! Our work has a ripple of impact that is more far wide reaching than we thought possible when we trained as Clinical Psychologists, using a traditional 1:1 therapy model. And, whilst there are undoubtedly stressors in being our own bosses, we also have the flexibility to spend time with our families and loved ones on our terms and make our diaries work for our families. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Determination, self belief, confidence, clarity and conviction and a willingness to invest in our own self development and take risks! What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Ensure that your business idea really lights you up and feels good in your body. Invest in the expert support you need to turn your vision into a reality. Make sure any decision you make is driven by your mission. Do it before you think you are ready and aim big! Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? There is always room for improvement in this area!
What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business or charity owner? One word: costs. It's becoming absolutely crazy. Utilities, business rates and supply costs are rising so much it's hard to keep the doors open each day. We are supporting around 50 independently owned UK businesses and giving them a physical shop space to sell in but the increases in the cost of almost everything has a knock-on effect on everyone and important decisions have to be made. What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business or charity? Right now, as a mum in a split family, I'm unable to even open one of my shops due to having COVID and looking after my son who has also tested positive. This, alongside rising utility bills, both for the businesses and at home are making an already challenging arena look like something from the dark ages. How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? I've long been told that I wear rose-tinted glasses though I must admit that they are fading pretty quickly. There's so much uncertainty and families need to prioritise where they spend their hard-earned cash and as a business that sells 'non-essential' items, we realise that maybe that's where things start to get cut back. Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Keep calm and carry on? Try and fit in extra hours to an already jam-packed workload? There's no option other than to carry on. We managed to ride out the lockdown so we know we can do it again. Yes, it gets harder every time but we use our connections, think outside the box, collaborate and continue! Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? 100%. It's ridiculously hard but having previously worked in retail, jobs like that can be limiting in potential. Overtime isn't paid, working hours are often inflexible and ultimately you're often under just as much stress and pressure and all to line someone else's pockets. What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? An in-built determination to prove people wrong. I was once told by an HR adviser that this sounded a tad aggro and maybe I should say that I enjoy a challenge! My Dad always instilled in me that 'second is first loser' and it's stuck. I love to win. What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business or charity? Talk to people who already do it - not your friends and family who work in 'traditional' employment because they will tell you not to. Yes it's risky, yes it's probably more work than you've ever done in your life, but it's worth it. Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? Balance? What's that? I do what I do because ultimately it gives me more choice and freedom. Could I do with more time off? Absolutely. The ability to drop Robbie off to football, take him swimming, have a morning coffee or breakfast out with my fella or a friend, these are the small wins and they make such a difference from being on the 9-5 treadmill."
It wasn't planned this way, but this year on Mother's Day, I'll be celebrating finally quitting my part time day job to focus 100% on my small business, T & Belle, and my two children Theo (5) and Isabelle (3). This is definitely going to be a challenge given the rising costs of living, and I can't pretend that I'm not a little nervous but after the experiences of the last 2 years, following my passion feels like the right choice. I'm incredibly grateful to be taking this step 3 years after launching my brand and I'm really excited to be 100% my own boss. As a mum running a business from home, my biggest challenge is taking the time to stop, when everything can be done from the palm of your hand, it is easy to get stuck in a pattern of constantly working. My 3 year old has recently taken to walking around with her play mobile phone tucked into her trouser waistband and I frequently find her making 'important calls', so am trying to make a conscious effort to be more present and less distracted. In terms of strategy, I haven't really changed this a lot from my original plans. I have built up a business that isn't as reliant on seasonal surges as many retail companies are, and so far I have not experienced such a huge drop in sales as many are reporting currently. I have a series of new products launching before the second quarter ends and I have been growing the wholesale side of my business to give me more ways to sell. Ultimately I think the key to ongoing success though, is passion, if you are really passionate about what you do and you can convey this wholeheartedly to your customers and social followers then you have a far greater chance to succeed long term. My best tip for any mum considering starting their own business is to be yourself, people buy from people and if you are honest and transparent, you will build up a lot more trust and a passionate following much more easily. Remember that customer service is king and treat people in a way that you would want if the roles were reversed. Mistakes happen and sometimes customers can go in all guns blazing with a complaint but a polite and reasonable response is often all that is needed to diffuse the situation and improve their experience. Small business life is definitely a juggle but I find that this work/life balance is far more manageable than trying to explain to my employer why I need to leave early to collect a poorly child from childcare, or take a longer break to attend an appointment or school open day and I'm confident that I'm making the right choice for myself and my family.
• What are the main challenges you’re facing right now as a business? Rising living costs and overall down slide of economic climate. As a small business, living costs, energy costs rising will affect in multiple ways - Supplies costs, delivery costs, packaging costs will all see a rise in costs and as we are small traders, we do not have that bulk buying power to ride out this crisis easily. This will eventually affect our product price which will be passed on to the end consumer. In a market that is already flooded with competition from cheaper and non-ethical items, our competitive positioning will be severely affected. Especially the cost of doing business ethically will be drastically affected and I fear many businesses that started with a good intention of keeping the sourcing domestic, will be forced to go international to keep their costs down. Overall, a catastrophic effect on our combined sustainable efforts to keep small businesses afloat. • What are the specific challenges you face as a mum running a business? Lack of support for 'mumpreneurs' is not new. It involves a lot of balancing act to juggle family life with business commitments. • How optimistic are you in the current climate (cost of living crisis, rising interest rates, rising fuel and energy prices, rising everything)? Things are looking a bit glum at this stage. However, I believe in the positive spirit in people and our economy. I think everyone is eager to come out of this economic doom and our combined positive outlook will help us to turn things around. Spring and summer have been a great time for economic boom and a good effect on British high street. I expect nothing else this year if not more since first time in two years, we will be ‘free’ of the pandemic. • Do you have a strategy for riding out the turbulence that lies ahead? Yes. I believe in positive outlook and small business power. I belong to a mighty strong minority of small creative community of female entrepreneurs, and I believe there is a huge demand for handmade sustainable products. Our customers are finding value in handcrafted designs that are locally made by a local artist. Fast fashion will always be there but if there was one positive outcome of the last two years of doom, is that customers are eager to support local artists and small businesses. They want our economy to thrive and one way of doing that will be to support local business communities and artists. So, I am very hopeful that together we will be able to ride out this turbulence. What else can go wrong! • Despite all the uncertainty, are you still glad that you are your own boss? Absolutely. Being my own boss is the best. I determine when to work and how to work. I oversee my successes and failures in equal measure. I celebrate my success as much as I ponder on what did not work so that I can pivot. Yes, there is a huge pressure to make it all work, but I am answerable to only myself. Being a creative entrepreneur is more rewarding as your work not only brings revenue but also gives you satisfaction as a creator. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading the 5-star reviews on my designs and services. Being an independent business means wearing multiple hats. It is exciting and liberating. I am the creator, I am the digital marketing manager, I am the accountant, I am the admin, I am the social media manager, I am the customer service manager, I am the salesperson, and I am also the head designer. I have evolved so much as a designer and an indie biz owner that I am proud of my achievements. I have made mistakes, but they only made me stronger and resilient. The best part of being an entrepreneur has been the journey and I am really looking forward to what to come next. • What are the key traits that have helped you succeed to date? Growth happens when you start doing the things you’re not trained to do. Taking risks are the first step of success. To be a successful entrepreneur and turning that dream into a successful reality requires determination, a work ethic second to none and pure hard work. • What tips would you give to another mum thinking of starting her own business? There are no traditional working hours for 'mumpreneurs'. We do need to prioritise around the family and there will be times when you might be failing at one of the roles. But these moments do not define you as a mum or a business woman. This only makes us resilient and successful at what we do. If you have a burning passion, then it is worth giving it a go. But be prepared to be out of your comfort zone as running a business also means that you have to master, at least in the beginning, some tasks that you might not be good at! • Overall, do you find you have the right work/life balance? I have a work/life balance, however in my terms. How I make my life successful & meaningful is totally on me and my family. I do not believe in going by the books or how society tells me my ‘ideal’ life should be.