What’s your business called?
Can you describe it in one sentence?
A community and business support service for mums who want to launch and grow their own profitable business around family.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
I have been supporting and helping mums informally since 2013 when I was based in Asia. When I moved back to the UK at the end of 2014, I decided that I wanted to formalise what I had been doing and so Trailblazing Mums was born in mid-2015.
My inspiration for setting it up was largely my own personal experience of getting back to work after becoming a mum. After my son was born in 2010, I felt like I had lost my identity. I had suddenly gone from being an ambitious and successful, career driven woman to a stay-at-home-mum changing nappies and speaking baby lingo! On top of that, when my son was 9 months old we moved to Singapore from the UK in favour of my husband’s career. I found myself in a new place, not knowing anyone and thousands of miles from my friends and family and all of a sudden I had become “The Trailing Spouse”. I needed something more but my priorities had completely changed. I wanted to return to work and craved to do something more impactful than my previous job but I also wanted to be actively involved in my son’s life. I didn’t want to miss out because I was working 60 hour weeks like I previously was and I didn’t want to be bound by other people’s “rules” and “agendas” and to feel like I was a mere cog in a big wheel.
Instead, I wanted it “all” – the balance, the flexibility, a job I loved, the income, the lifestyle…but I was met with a lot resistance, both by myself internally and by other people. And so my journey began to prove to myself and to everyone else that it is possible.
But most of all I wanted to set an example to my son, of a woman who is present and involved in his life, who can drop him off and pick him up from school and go to school sports days without feeling guilty. But I also wanted to show him the confidence, determination and belief that you can create anything you want once you know how.
In 2012, I begun working with startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs in Asia and I learnt a tonne about what it takes to be successful in launching and growing an online business. During this time I also had many conversations with mums who were in the same boat as me – who didn’t want to work in corporate and dreamed of setting up their own businesses, but felt stuck on where to start. I helped guide them and move closer to their dreams and the idea for Trailblazing Mums was born.
How do you manage working around your children?
I work around my son who is now at school full time, but only since September, prior to which he was at pre-school for half a day. I work during school hours and often start working early or after he’s in bed at night. I love the fact that I am able to drop him to school and pick him up and spend time with him in the afternoons. I probably work close to full time hours but in my own time which is why I love doing what I do. I also have a strong support network, especially my mum who helps out a lot. Holidays can be challenging at times but now my son is a bit older it’s a bit easier – it’s just a question of being organised and planning out child care and then fitting in work around that.
Can you describe a typical day?
I usually wake up around 6am and so I have around 30-45 mins before my son wakes up. Depending on my schedule, I will either spend some time meditating and then planning for my day. Or, I will spend some time responding to emails. I also co-run another business that is based in Asia and so I often have emails to clear first thing in the morning because of the time difference. I’m usually at my desk and working by 9am after coming back from the school run. I tend to work on both businesses, a mixture of calls and desk work, until around 3pm when it’s time for pick up. I’m then with my son from pick up until bed time at 8pm. After 8pm, I will often do 1-2hrs further work or will spend the time reading/relaxing. I read a lot and it’s a big part of my “me time”. I often catch up on some TV as well which helps me to switch off. As part of my night time routine, I also try and meditate/have some quiet time which helps me have a good night’s sleep! I fit in yoga and other exercise a few times a week, usually as a break from my work.
What have you found hardest?
Juggling the many balls you have to when running two businesses and being the primary carer for my son; staying motivated when things don’t go according to plan; switching off and setting boundaries between work and non-work time
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
The flexibility and the freedom to manage your own time and to do what you love; To be your own boss 🙂
What are your plans for the future?
To create an engaged and active community of Trailblazing Mums who support each other to succeed in business and personally
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Plenty as that’s a big part of my role! Here’s my top 5:
1. There’s never a “right time” so start before you’re ready
2. Don’t skimp on the research phase – go out and talk to people and validate your idea
3. Spend as much time upfront thinking about the “what” for your business i.e. what you’re offering and to who as on the “how” which is how you’re going to get your message/service/product in front of people
4. Focus on getting your first few paying clients/customers – it will create momentum and boost your confidence
5. Be really clear on exactly what you need to focus on to get started and to get results – there are a lot of activities which are “noise” activities and that can detract you from creating momentum. Make sure you know what your priorities are
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
You can read more about my story and my guide to setting up a flexible business around family here: http://malinithakerar_1.gr8.com/