The Balance Collective – A Business Helping People to Achieve Balance

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?

My name is Clara Wilcox and I am married to the lovely Scott; we have been together since I was 18 and have two lovely girls, Grace who is 10 and Lily who is nearly four.
What’s your business called?

The Balance Collective

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Coaching and consultancy to support parents returning to work and to empower their career and life choices.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

After I returned to work with my second in 2013, I found it surprisingly hard to settle back; it was a job I loved, a great team and a supportive manager, but that year away changed me. I was coached through the transition and found it so inspiring and wanted to offer this to others. When speaking to other parents, they couldn’t find support that would take into consideration being a parent and all that entails; often employers would tick HR boxes but not identify the mind-set and practical issues that challenge parents. I offer coaching in four main areas: Return to work, Career, Confidence and Balance and started in early 2015.

I was lucky with both of my girls I was able to go back to my management job on a part-time basis without it impacting any of the opportunities available to me or my career. However, this wasn’t open to everyone. Either parents have to take lower paid roles to accommodate the part-time or flexible hours, or they were in roles that couldn’t support their family needs. This is why I offer the flexible jobs board.

Finally, and this is very important to me, I was working at the time in a non-profit, community focused role and wanted to continue this rewarding culture. This is why I have decided to work towards creating grants to help mums upskill or retrain so they have more career opportunities.

I worked on the business at the same time as working as a Project Manager in a local University; when the opportunity for redundancy came up in mid-2015 I took the leap and have been working solely on the business since November 2015.

How did you fund your start up?

The initial money came from the Social Enterprise funder UnLtd. As the aim for the business is to create the grants from some of the profits in the business. This fund enabled be to set up the site, get equipment and some marketing. The rest in the early days was my own savings.

How do you manage working around your children?

My eldest is in school and my youngest goes to nursery part time and I am very lucky that my Mum will have my youngest on the days she isn’t at nursery. It means I can do drop off and pickups and have a couple of longer days when it is Grandparents and Granddaughter time. I only work four days a week during term time and during the school holidays shift my days; for example I worked two days with Grandparents help over Easter then did a few hours in the evening.

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?

Typical day includes a couple of hours one to one coaching, usually over the phone or skype, writing my blogs, a bit of admin, social media (posting and chatting in groups) and creative time. I usually work using an Important/Urgent quadrant so I don’t become a busy fool and set time limits so that I am not trying to achieve too much in not enough hours!
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

I am in my first six months of being my own boss, so the challenges I am facing at the moment are my own making. Fear of failure and rejection! As a coach, I always review my goals and how I am standing in my own way. I have a coach that I work on through this and try to push myself out of my comfort zone.
On a practical perspective, I have had to learn so much about my website and social media. I have lots of ideas but don’t know how to do them technically (in my previous role I have a Communications guru that would!) and not a lot of money to get someone else. Lots of learning which I love but I have to not be so impatient!

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

Doing something I love on my own terms and being in control of my future. My stress levels have gone down too which my family and friends have noticed!

What are your plans for the future?

To keep building the brand and expand my online and group coaching offering; there is only one of me and I want to help as many people as possible. All of this leads to my social enterprise aims to help thousands of women over my lifetime through my grant idea!
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Know what you your minimum viable income; you won’t match your employed salary in a while and you will probably need to save up some capital to start you off.
Transitioning from employee to business owner can happen gradually, you may even do both for a while! It will shift too over time so you may need to pick up work outside of your core scope to pay the bills
Ask for help!
Don’t wait for the perfect conditions.