Woman working from home

Running a business with your husband: Brickfield Hollow Accounting & Bookkeeping

My name is Rachel & I am married with 4 children (1 boy & 3 girls) ranging from 5 – 17 years old. We live in my hometown of Upminster & in 2017 my husband & I set up an Accounting & bookkeeping business, working together from our home office.
Our Business name is Brickfield Hollow Accounting & Bookkeeping. We provide professional accounting, bookkeeping & tax services, supporting small businesses and helping them to reach their full potential.
I became self-employed in 2017 & my inspiration was our dream of one day running our own business. We had no funding for our start up! We literally began advertising on Facebook & ordered some free business cards to hand out locally. We spread the word, telling anyone we spoke to about our new venture. We decided to offer free consultations & within couple of months, we got our first client!
As my youngest daughter started school the same year, we planned working from home & client meetings during school times. In the first year, we were online most evenings promoting our business on Facebook, Instagram, google & a few other advertising sites.  Family members, such as our parents & teenage daughter helped with childcare if we needed to go to any meetings.
A typical day will involve checking & responding to emails & messages on our  business Facebook page, answering the phone & other admin tasks such as filing & photocopying or printing flyers (while my husband Phil does the number crunching!) We often meet new & existing clients in local coffee shops or at their own homes or workplaces. Managing my time isn’t easy but is crucial given all my responsibilities! I use a diary ( + reminders ) &  have to plan my time  very carefully to ensure everything gets done.
Our main challenge was gaining a good reputation for the business , as obviously at first nobody had even heard of Brickfield Hollow Accounting & bookkeeping! We found that many self-employed people in the local area already had accountants they knew & trusted so this wasn’t easy.  We asked any client who we provided services to whether they would mind putting a review on our specific business Facebook page & shared these positive reviews online. We made sure we posted regularly on our Facebook page & that our prices were competitive, we also made everyone aware that we weren’t your typical 9-5 accountants & that we offered a friendly, flexible service whereby we were mobile & available to speak to much more frequently & without any extra charges. Within a year, we had 7 clients, a year later we have over 50!
The best thing about being a mumtrapeneur is the great satisfaction of what we have achieved so far. It’s gives me a great sense of pride in our accomplishments. Our plans for the future include expanding our client base further, becoming a Limited company & possibly getting a premises should the business get any bigger. We are also keen to take on a member of staff at some point to enable us to do more work.
My advice to anyone setting up a business is to invest more of their time than money & use advertising as much as possible ( & choose a free website which we did) I found joining multiple Facebook business groups very worthwhile & would encourage others to do the same, networking groups are also an excellent way of spreading the word & meeting other small business owners.
Just to give you a bit more background, my husband used to work in the city at a top firm until he began suffering from a serious spinal condition a few years ago, which has meant he is now disabled & unable to commute. This business is something we can do from home & we travel together locally to meet clients. Money was an issue to start with, so I took a job in a nursery to help pay the bills. Our little business has already grown faster than we expected & I hope it will continue to expand in the years ahead.

 

The Single Mums Business Network

The Single Mums Business Network

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

My name is Julie, aka Jules!  I became a mum in 2012 to a beautiful girl, who is my life, inspiration and daily dose of happiness.  It has always been just the two of us, but we are in no way incomplete, we have a dog and fish to make our home just that little bit livelier!

What’s your business called?

My new business is called the Single Mums Business Network, it is actually part of my existing company that I set-up as a limited company in 2013, to enable me to sell KIH Beds (which are pregnancy cushions that enable clients to lay prone full-term) and they are purchased UK wide and overseas by Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Spas and Physio.

Can you describe it in one sentence?

The Single Mums Business Network has been created as a direct result of my experience in business and of business networking over the last 7 years as a single mum.  It is crucial to help these ladies with very limited support to gain exposure and dispel stigma that single mums are work shy.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

I became a mumpreneur in 2012, inspired by necessity, it was when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2011 that I designed a product that enabled me to lay on my belly full-term and I felt duty bound to share it to market.  It is my own journey that has inspired me to set-up the SMBN.

How did you fund your start up?

I was in an appalling financial state; I could barely put food on the table let alone buy the material to create my product.  It took me two years to have a market ready product, that was fully health and safety tested to British Standards and legally compliant.  Once I had my product ready (by myself eating carbs) I approached a charity who provided loans to people that banks would not lend to.  They lent me the money to stock-up and run an initial marketing campaign.

How do you manage working around your children? I had also embarked on a law degree when I fell pregnant, knowing that I was to be a single mum I did not want us to be subjected to a life of poverty, and so I had one year maternity leave, every time my newborn slept I studied, and a couple of nights a week I would work on the business, that was generally how it went for a number of years, 5 nights I studies and 2 nights I worked on business.  When I returned to work part-time my daughter was in statutory childcare for 15 hours so I continued study and work when she slept.

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

It is wonderful now that my daughter is in school.  She is happy with her friends and I can concentrate on business, the SMBN (Single Mums Business Network), the freelancing work that I do through the business to utilise my business development and paralegal skills and of course I still have the evenings to catch up.  I generally work in 90 minute blocks so it’s quite easy to rotate amongst housework, business, smbn, law & BDM.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

There are so many challenges that I will write a book about them, the most difficult being able to gain exposure with little or no marketing budget, the sanctions for borrowing £20, the cuts for working, the pressure to draw a wage from the business, understanding my market (the initial marketing budget was wasted on the wrong audience) and then again trying to borrow more to develop further having learned by mistakes.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

Freedom to be a hands-on mum.  I look like a bum at the school gates, in the mornings I do not have to get dressed for work, I can be with my daughter instead of putting face paint on, that is priceless, other mums get the impression that I do not work as I am always at the school gates looking less than professional! I don’t miss a parent assembly or sports day, yet when she is in school and in bed I can work relentlessly.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to be brutally open about the issues of trying to work and build a business as a mum, specifically as a single mum, only because there are different challenges that need to be addressed.  I am actively raising awareness of these.  I no longer carry any shame or fear and I know a lot of single mums out there do, and so I want to support them to grow their business so that they can achieve financial independence without sacrificing family time.  I plan to address the work culture generally, as many already are, and in 5 years I will hopefully be able to start a charity arm so that I can help these mums too.  On the side of that I will continue supplying KIH Beds as orders come in and I will continue progressing with law so that I can maintain that as a part-time career also.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Do not give up.  You have got to fight, fight and fight harder.  Trust the journey, if you focus on the end goal you will find it easier to manage the interim challenges and surround yourself with people who are routing for you and supporting you to do well. Networking is brilliant for building confidence and generating leads.  If you want to quit, give it two weeks before you push the button.  Never act on a negative decision within 14 days.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Please do not see women as your competition, we are much better supporting each other than we are being negative about each other.  And only build a business for ‘you’ something you believe in, that uses your skills and your passion, if you are going to be broke for a year or three make sure that you are the one that will benefit from that effort in the long run, and please understand that most people are struggling with something you have no idea about, so if they seem perfect, they still need you.

www.singlemumsbusinessnetwork.co.uk

https://www.instagram.com/julie76hawkins/

https://www.facebook.com/smbnuk/

https://twitter.com/SMBN33422746

Freelance Bookkeeping with Arden Bookkeeping

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

Hi my name is Claire, I’m 32 and live in Solihull. I have been married for 5 years to my wonderful husband Matt. In October 2014 we had our beautiful daughter Olivia.

What’s your business called?

Arden Bookkeeping Ltd

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Accounting support for local businesses

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

After having my daughter I had maternity leave for 11 months. Through this time I dreaded going back to work and leaving my precious daughter! After paying for the childcare it almost didn’t seem worth it but we needed the small extra income I would be left with so did not really have much choice. The role I was in was not suited to part time so would be 5 days a week. Maternity leave was over all too soon and off I went back to work. At first I quite enjoyed actually using my brain again and adult conversation! It felt good to remember my enjoyment of work and rediscover the professional side of me. But I hated being apart from Olivia all week, the first pay check came in and the majority swiftly went out again and I found it really depressing! I struggled with the morning chaos trying to get my daughter to nursery and then rush down the motorway to get to work in time and my mood took a serious nose dive. It was then that I spoke to my husband about the very scary idea of going solo!! We discussed it and agreed to give it a go for 6 months then reassess. I officially left my job 6 weeks after returning and took the leap into self employment.

How did you fund your start up?

Luckily the type of business I am in has relatively low set up costs. All I needed was a computer which I had, insurance, website and accounting software. We used my last salary to cover these costs and hoped for the best!

How do you manage working around your children?

I worked two days a week meaning I still had plenty of time with Olivia and she still got the benefit of going to nursery two days.

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

I drop Olivia at nursery for 8-8.30. I get home and have a cup of tea in a quiet house (such a luxury!) then start work at 9am. I check my emails and make a list of tasks for the day. Sometimes I have client meetings or have to go to a clients office to work. If it is a day at home I go up to my office (with another cup of tea) and work on whichever clients books I’m doing that day. I have to be structured as if I’m still employed so I have lunch from 12-1 then get back to it! More processing of invoices, bank reconciliations, calculations until I leave at 5pm to collect Olivia from nursery.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

I was so motivated in the beginning and would go up to the office first thing and work all day but gradually the temptations of working from home began to creap in. I would think ‘I’ll just finish watching this before I start’ or I’d phone a friend and end up chatting away for an hour or so. I quickly realised if I wasn’t careful it would all get the better of me and I would end up with nothing. So that is when I began structuring my day as if I was still leaving home to go to work. Of course there are still some days where I still have more of a doss day then I should but I am on top of my deadlines and my clients needs and so feel I can give myself a bit of slack ☺️

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

I love having the best of both worlds. I get to spend time with Olivia during these precious early years but not put all the financial burden on my husband. I get to enjoy being mummy and being boss lady! I’m also earning double the salary I was getting for full time employment for half the working hours. That is a great feeling!

What are your plans for the future?

Since starting I have increased my days to 3 per week and plan by the end of this year to increase to 4. I have someone working for me to help with the load and hope to train more people in the future.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Have faith! The biggest thing is to believe in yourself and that you can make it a success. And for the moments you feel overwhelmed or unsure remember why you are doing it, your family are your motivation!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I have always been an advocate for charity work and try to help others wherever I can. I am delighted to be in the position to have my business help others and regularly sponsor events, take part in fundraising and donate time and money. When I have needed help I recruit students at the beginning of their journey to help them gain experience and further themselves. If people had not had faith in me at the beginning of my career I would not be in the position I am now! I feel it is important to give back and hopefully one day they will have the faith in themselves to take this leap to.

Www.ardenbookkeeping.com

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ardenbookkeepingsolihull

Typing services

Offering Admin Services – WB Typing Services

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

My name is Wendy Bailey and I’m a single mum to two children, aged 6 and 8.

What’s your business called?

My business is called WB Typing Services and I run it from home.

Can you describe it in one sentence?

It’s an audio and copy typing service for those businesses and individuals who require a regular typing service but without the need for employee-associated costs.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

I became a Mumpreneur in 2009 when I had my daughter. I was passionate about being a stay-at-home mum and finding something that enabled me to do that. I thought about typing as I was proud of my GCSE grade A* and I also had my Pitmans and RSA qualifications. Friends and family have always asked me to type up their documents as I was very speedy – I think my Grade 7 piano helped that!

How did you fund your start up?

It was very simple and there weren’t really any start-up costs. I chose to work from home and my only initial outlay was about £50 for a foot pedal for the audio part of the typing.

How do you manage working around your children?

I work during school hours and then of an evening once they’ve gone to bed and also at a weekend when they are with their Dad. It seems to work just fine. I’m prepared to sacrifice some of my free time rather than the time with the children so it suits me perfectly.

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

I tend to spend the evenings prior to a working day organising what needs to be done for that next day so I’m ready to start as soon as I’ve dropped the children off at school. The jobs vary in deadlines – some clients want things back in 24 hours, for others their documents are due in a week’s time, so I always make sure I’m organised so as I can fit in those urgent jobs for a client.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

Having lots of work on and only one pair of hands! But I’ve found a few experienced typists (other mummies) who can assist me in busier times.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

Taking the children to school every day and picking them up. Never missing a class assembly. Being able to taxi them around to clubs and after-school activities. Knowing I can be at home with them if they’re poorly. Never having to ask anyone for time off!

What are your plans for the future?

To expand the business, to increase the number of clients I have and to provide more work for other mums looking to top up their family income.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

If you’re passionate about it, go for it! I believe having a positive mindset and a can-do attitude gets you far. There are days being a Mumpreneur can feel lonely and overwhelming, but remember why you are doing it and stay consistent.

www.facebook.com/wbtyping

Mum running her business on her laptop

Business Story: Trailblazing Mums

What’s your business called?

Trailblazing Mums

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

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Virtually Sorted – Life as a Mum and a VA

What’s your business called?

Virtually Sorted

Can you describe it in one sentence?

We provide admin to small businesses – everything from typing reports to updating your website.

When did you start it and what inspired you?

I had the idea when my dad had some office space to let and was planning on opening an internet cafe… I said that most people had the internet but that what would really make money was having access to someone who could really get the most out of a computer. And so the seed was sown!
The idea wouldn’t go away, so I went along to a start up event and launched the business in December 2004.

How did you fund your start up?

Being under 30 I got a grant from Business Gateway of £1,000 and a soft loan from what is now The Princes Trust of £5,000. This seems a phenomenal amount now, but bear in mind that VOIP phones did not exist (my first phone system cost £2,500 – it could be replicated now for £120) and that websites were hand coded so that cost £3,000 (the equivalent now could be done DIY via WordPress for about £100 in hosting fees). I had no option but to earn from Day 1, as being a singleton I needed to pay my mortgage. That was 10 years ago, if I did it today I would do things very differently – the technology has evolved so much, the whole world has changed.

How do you manage working around your children?

Logistically working from home makes a lot of sense, I have a tiny cupboard office which I lock myself away inside. My husband also works from home so we tend to play tag team when we are both busy and the kids are at home.
I have phone cover so no one ever hears the kids in the background. I also have a smartphone which can deal with most things on the move, so I’m not tied to my desk.
We do luckily have a lot of help from family – my mum in particular. Being 3, Cassius has a funded place at nursery which has really helped. And we have a part time nanny/cleaner a couple of afternoons a week – she is a godsend.
We’re hoping to get a place at a local nursery for my baby daughter Cameron, but they are fully booked – our area has diabolical provision of nursery places. If the government want women to work, they have to sort out the mess of nursery provision.
Having two children now, I decided that it made most sense to outsource some of my own tasks, and I have a wonderful VA, Emma, who “manages the desk” Tuesday and Wednesday for me. That means I get to spend some time with them uninterrupted by work, which is nice!

Can you describe a typical day?

I try to get all the household stuff done and be sitting at my desk for 9am. We have a turnaround of 10am next working day for all work sent before 5pm so, as each piece gets checked personally before going back to the client, it can mean an early start or a late night to make sure everything hits deadline and is perfect. I’ll also allocate work that has come in overnight and check on progress of regular tasks – my job is in a lot of ways like being The Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine – I make sure everything gets where it is supposed to be on time.

The best thing about it is that we get such a variety of clients – from beauty therapists, to surveyors, to bloggers and HR specialists. If you need the boring admin done, we’re your first call. Because we work on a freelance hourly basis, it’s much more cost effective than hiring an employee and doesn’t wrap you up in red tape. So I really never know what is coming in next.

I also run the largest organisation for UK VAs (http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk) and I spend a good chunk of each week sorting out the blog, setting up new members and making sure everything is running smoothly.

I work with a team of VAs so a lot of the day is spent assigning work, making sure they have all the right information to complete tasks, and marketing my own business. I knock off at 5pm to go pick up the kids, invariably someone will sneak a few extra things in just afterwards and I usually try to get them done for the following morning. I spend a lot of time hanging around outside nursery sending emails from my smartphone!

What have you found hardest?

Not getting a proper maternity leave is hard. It’s especially hard because everyone else gets such generous allowances and the self-employed seem to get hit with the double whammy of not getting paid much Maternity Allowance and only being allowed to work 10 days throughout it. It means you struggle with being able to enjoy the time off and also with being able to go back to the job you left. No one will ever care as much about your business as you do.
Added to that, you do get some very careless comments from other mums about how “I couldn’t leave my baby that early” or how they couldn’t do a routine as it’s cruel. Often self-employed mums don’t have any choice in the matter because it’s the only way they can have children and still keep their business.
I did feel a bit smug as the kids have got older and they’ve had to go back to full-time work… It’s just a question of getting through the hard bits!

What’s the best thing about being self employed?

This:

It’s a Tuesday morning in October, and if I was working a “proper job” I should definitely not have been enjoying my toddler’s wonder at the frosty Autumn park in the bright sunshine. These moments make it worthwhile.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m continuing to build on the Virtually Sorted team – we’re going to be launching a new media product in a few months designed to cater to the blogging/PR market.
There are also some ace plans in place for the VA industry in 2016, so I’m really looking forward to being part of it via Society of Virtual Assistants.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out?

Research – especially in the Work At Home industries, there are loads of charlatans posing as “experts” except when you dig down they aren’t giving the right information out at all. Digging around a bit online can often save you thousands of pounds. We have a checklist for VAs looking for the right course, but a lot of the information provided applies to other jobs too.

Save money by being frugal, but also spend money where it concerns your reputation or professionalism. If you are charging clients for using you on a professional basis, you should be working on a professional basis too.

You need time to build your business. You can work evenings and weekends, but realistically you need that time to recharge your batteries, so working 5-9pm is an emergency and temporary measure if you are serious about starting your own business. Get childcare in place. Take time off work one day a week for 10 weeks and do without a holiday to get it started. Designate Saturday mornings as your business time which shall not be interrupted. But create that space to think and work.

If becoming a VA – join www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk – I wish it had been around when I was starting out!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

It’s really important to have a supportive partner. My husband has often endured evenings with me with headphones on typing reports. He fends for himself making dinner a lot. As I’m busy 5-6pm with getting work sorted for the evening, he usually does bath time with the kids and gets them into their PJs. But a big part of why he helps with the house is because I pay half the bills. However, I do appreciate that it’s a bit “chicken or egg” if you’re a SAHM and he’s the breadwinner. Sit him down and talk to him about what having this business means. It isn’t just a nice family holiday or something fun to occupy you. It’s a serious business proposition and he needs to remember the sacrifices that you have made for the family by giving up work and the thousands he’s saved in childcare payments.

http://www.virtuallysorted.com – Virtually Sorted, Caroline’s Virtual Assistant business
http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk – Society of Virtual Assistants
http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/2013/05/13/how-to-choose-the-best-virtual-assistant-course/ – How to choose the best virtual assistant course

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Louise Mackie virtual assistant

Mumpreneur Story – Louise Mackie Virtual Assistant

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

I’m Louise Mackie, I am married to Andrew and we live in North Wales. We have two children age 7 and 3 – Alex was born in September 2009 and Hannah came along in September 2013.

What’s your business called?

My business is a Virtual Assistant (VA) business and is, quite simply, Louise Mackie Virtual Assistant.

Can you describe it in one sentence?

I provide hourly admin / customer service / social media support to small and medium sized businesses on a self employed basis.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

After a tough period in work last year I found myself looking for a career change. I wanted something that would completely fit in around my children, something that allowed me to be at the school gates every day, be able to spend most of the school holidays with them, to always be there for them when they are sick without feeling guilty about work and for every school play and sports day. I got introduced to the VA world by a friend and found that not only did it do everything that I needed to do, I also knew that because of my past work experience and skills it was something that I would really enjoy doing and be quite good at it too!

How did you fund your start up?

Starting a VA business doesn’t really involve a lot of start up costs – a laptop and internet are all that is needed to start a VA business. I did however invest in a training course with the Virtual Assistant Coaching and Training Company which I have recently graduated from. I funded this myself, it was such a great investment to help me plan and develop my business.

How do you manage working around your children?

The clients that I work with are all flexible (a priority to me when taking on new clients) and the work that I do means that it doesn’t have to be done at a certain time of day and therefore I generally work when the children are in school / childcare and in the evenings when they are in bed. Emails can be sent at any time and social media posts can be scheduled in advance. There will be exceptions when clients need phone calls making on their behalf but this can be pre-arranged and isn’t something I generally have to worry about on a daily basis.

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

A typical ‘VA day’ involves checking clients inboxes, keeping track of the tasks I am required to do for each client and actioning them and new ones and responding to customer queries on behalf of the client. Once the client work is complete I spend time on my own business – writing blogs and sharing articles that are useful to my clients. Being ‘present’ on social media and building relationships. It’s important that potential clients ‘know, like and trust’ me so developing relationships is an important part of my business.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

So far I have been very lucky and have worked with some lovely clients and haven’t faced any real challenges as yet. I think this is down to two things, firstly, completing my training course as it has prepared me for all sorts of situations and I have been able to put action plans in place for potential issues – for example when my IT or internet fails or dealing with and managing difficult clients. Secondly I put this down to building relationships with my clients before they become clients. This means that we really understand each other and are on the same level when we embark on a working relationship.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

Being able to plan my working hours around the needs of my children and showing my children that they can achieve anything that they set their minds too.

What are your plans for the future?

My immediate plans are to grow my business as I only launched in January. My aim for my business is to grow it to a point that I am at capacity and I will then tak on another VA as an associate. Associate roles are really useful to new VA’s so I would love to be able to support a new VA in the same way that I have been supported.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Plan plan plan! Really take time to sit down and think exactly what you want for your business and your ideal clients / customers. Set yourself goals that are realistic and achievable – 90 day goals, annual goals, 5 year goals and 10 year goals.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

If you are starting out in business and looking to grow your client / customer base – don’t underestimate the power of social media!!! It is amazing how many people you can reach with a post telling people about your business and even more so if it contains an image or a video!

www.lm-va.co.uk
Facebook – louisemackieva
Twitter – @LMVirtualAssist
LinkedIn – louisemackievirtualassistant

Invaluable

Virtual Assistant Story: Invaluable Ltd

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

My name is Carla (Fallows), I’m married to Marcus and I became Mum to Thomas & Benjamin in September 2013 and 2 Boxer dogs, Cassie & Mollie, complete our crazy Noah’s Ark family (we seem to have 2 of everything!)

What’s your business called?

Invaluable Ltd

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Virtual Assistant service providing admin and bookkeeping support to entrepreneurs and small businesses

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

January 2016 – I went back to work when the boys were 9 months old but it just didn’t fit in with family life anymore, I needed flexibility and the ability to look after my children if they were poorly without feeling guilty about my job

How did you fund your start up?

I didn’t! I had a laptop and a mobile phone and I just started from there

How do you manage working around your children?

I can only work when they are either in nursery or in bed, it is extremely difficult to do anything while they’re around – just can’t concentrate. Having said that I have been on client calls whilst rescuing one of the boys from a fight in their house in the garden! I am really lucky with the clients that I have – they are all so supportive around the fact that I have a family – they are all either there or have been there, really makes me appreciate that they’re all such lovely people, not sure what I’ve done to deserve them

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

I don’t really have a “typical” day – I guess they’re typical in the fact that I sit at my desk and work for the few hours I have available, but what I do is never the same – I could be helping clients with their social media, doing their bookkeeping, managing their diary, designing them an e-shot on MailChimp, formatting documents, producing reports and spreadsheets, designing a presentation, sending out a “physical” mailshot, research etc etc etc. I manage my time through various apps and websites like Trello, Buffer – currently deciding between Clockodo and Adminja for logging time (instead of a spreadsheet), Evernote as well as always being on the lookout for new time saving apps

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

Initially it was finding clients – now that side of things is sorted (thanks to LinkedIn) my challenge now is time because the boys aren’t in nursery for very long, living for the new 30 hours coming in in September

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

The whole reason that I did it in the beginning – the flexibility and being around for my family

What are your plans for the future?

I’m hoping to bring on quite a few more clients and eventually start sub-contracting to other Virtual Assistant’s too

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Make sure it’s something that you enjoy doing and just keep going – don’t listen to the naysayers and as corny as it sounds follow your heart, if it feels right it is

http://www.invaluableva.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlafallows/
https://twitter.com/InvaluableCarla
https://www.facebook.com/InvaluableCarla/

Invaluable VA

More to business

Mumpreneur Story: More to Business Ltd

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

My name is Victoria, I became a mum about five years ago to a beautiful boy called Oliver and then two years ago I became a mum second time around to a little girl called May. Being a mum of two is insanely hard work but as I’m sure all mums would agree incredibly rewarding (well most of the time!)

What’s your business called?

MORE to business limited

Can you describe it in one sentence?

A collection of services and products designed to help creative businesses flourish while ensuring they still have time for the things they love.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

I was in business for 11 years before I became a mum. Being a mum adds a whole new dimension to being in business. It allows me the flexibility to do the school runs and be with my children while giving me a sense of achievement on a daily basis. Being both a mum and a business owner is hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How did you fund your start up?

I took out a small business loan of £10,000 and also had a credit card on standby just in case. I also did a bit of temping to ensure I had a bit of income coming in while I got my business off the ground. This was 16 years ago and before Facebook and social media so I think you can get started for much less than this now.

How do you manage working around your children?

It is a struggle! But not as big a struggle as trying to manage a 9-to-5 alongside the school hours. I can work in the evenings If needed, although these tend to be less frequent now. I’ve become very good at working smart. So using automation, outsourcing and an amazing planner keeps me sane. As a working mum you have small windows of working time and it’s important that we get maximum output from the small windows we have. I have also started to work term time only which is an amazing motivator when planning our projects.

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

There really is no typical day. On Tuesday we get together as a team and talk through any issues and make plans for the forthcoming week. The rest the days are spent working on the computer on various websites, emptying the inbox replying to enquiries, recording videos for our social media channels, recording content for our training portal, running in person training days and generally spending time with amazing ladies who all run their own businesses too.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

Self-confidence mainly. I hold myself back on many occasions because I don’t feel that I’m good enough. As I have progressed through the years I have found out that everybody feels the same. We are all winging it 😉 I have also had issues with a ruthless competitor trying to sabotage my business in impressive ways. It all adds to the fun!

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

The freedom and flexibility without a doubt. If my little ones are poorly I down tools straight away with no guilt no worry and no boss to placate.

What are your plans for the future?

Do more of what I’m doing now. To increase my income by helping people to follow their dreams. I would like to continue growing multiple avenues and interests and to do it all with the freedom and flexibility that running a business can give you. I need to make sure that I grow it smart though and not get carried away with my ambition which can sometimes get out of control and take over.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

You have everything you need right now to start an amazing business. Trust yourself and if the advice you’ve been given doesn’t sit well with you then trust that you know better than anyone what you are meant to be doing. I wasted many years searching for the expert to tell me what I should be doing where I actually knew all along. I just needed the confidence to go with my heart. That being said I believe everyone needs a good mentor, mastermind group or business confidant to give them the courage to follow their dreams through to reality. We can’t do this alone so seek help as early as you can. Without support you remain alone and it is so easy to give up when we feel isolated. Keep chasing that dream and don’t let anything get in your way.

Www.victoriacasebourne.com
Www.createyourwaytosuccess.com
Facebook.com/vcasebourne

Lucy from starting conversations

Mum’s Business Story: Starting Conversations

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

Hi I’m Lucy, Mum to Elsie my cheeky toddler, who was born June 2014. And I’m wife to Andrew, and chief cook and bottle washer to two businesses and a home!

What’s your business called?

Starting Conversations. I also have a strategic communications and engagement consultancy (for larger growing businesses) called Leading Conversations.

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Starting Conversations provides expertise to help small business owners go from confused to clear when it comes to talking about their business, so their messages connect with and attract their ideal clients / customers.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

I suppose I technically became a Mumpreneur in 2014 because before that I wasn’t a Mum! I used to do a lot of strategic communications consulting for big businesses (before I had Elsie). But once, you have a baby it makes you re-think everything!

After six months at home, on maternity leave, I was missing communication and conversation. Honestly, I felt like I might be losing my mind slightly, and becoming a mummy machine with no other purpose.

I needed to get my voice back.

I started blogging and found an amazing community of parents and writers to have conversations with. I was invited to blog for The Huffington Post, and had my writing featured there, and on other sites.

When the time approached for me to think about taking on a new consultancy contract, I knew I wanted to help make a happier working world, and I knew I needed to do that for myself, and for others.

I’d seen so much unhappiness out there in the corporate world, I knew I could help big businesses improve their communication and culture to become great places to work. So
I set up Leading Conversations to do that, but on my terms. So instead of consulting in-house, I essentially set up an agency / consultancy model and started running that part-time, three days a week.

There was no way I could go back to the hours and commute I’d done before I had my daughter, or I literally wouldn’t see her from morning ‘till night. And although I love my work, I also love my daughter.

I had to create a life and business that worked for us.

That was what then inspired me to set up Starting Conversations.

I immersed myself in the world of online business, social media and entrepreneurship and was inspired by how many people, like me, chose to take the path of setting up their own business or solopreneur venture. Often because if you can’t find a job you love that offers flexibility for family life, you may as well create your own!

So many women are doing it now. Setting excellent examples of working mums building their own lives outside of an out-dated and broken corporate system.

I spent almost a year listening to business owners and observing their struggles. I noticed some common communication challenges that I knew I could help with. So I did a bit more research and then I set up Starting Conversations. Because I’d love to help people in a similar position to me grow successful businesses that works for them.

I see people stuck with what to say when asked about their business. Desperate to market it and grow it, but without the clarity they really need to get it out there and connect with their target audience.

So I help them do that. And it feels great. It’s so amazing when you’ve helped someone really understand what they and their business are all about. Why they’re different; why people should choose them. I help them figure that out and put it in to words. And then see them to go on to flourish. The information is usually all there in their head, but it needs a bit of coaching and coaxing. I’ve developed a simple six step toolkit that works wonders!
How did you fund your start up?

On a very tight budget! My first business was set up on a shoe string of maternity savings. I built my website and everything myself. For Starting Conversations, I’ve done similar, but have a tiny support budget that I’ve funded through my other business.

How do you manage working around your children?

With difficulty! Ha! Elsie no longer naps. Now that I have two businesses I need to work more than three days a week. I have 3 day’s childcare, soon to move to four, and my parents help me out when they can, one day a week.

Working from home (apart from when I’m delivering training or at client meetings) means I am always there first thing in the morning and am there at tea time with the dinner ready. I feel I do my best to spend all my non-working day hours with Elsie.

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

My days are all a bit different to be honest, apart from the consistent parenting bit.

On a working day I get up with Elsie, make her packed lunch, my husband takes her to the childminder, then I get ready and straight to work.

I’ll often do bits and bobs of social media while waiting for the bath to run. Proper multi-tasking!

Once I’m at my make-shift kitchen table desk, I’ll be checking and responding to emails, doing scheduled skype calls with clients, and trying to get some blog writing and content marketing done.

I interact on social media during natural breaks in the day, waiting for the kettle to boil – things like that.

I have a white board and post-it note planner with all my tasks on, and I enjoy moving them from the to-do, to done pile each week!

I just try accomplish as much in as I can before it’s time to make Elsie’s dinner and go back to parenting.

Then when she’s asleep that’s when I squeeze in a bit of reading and research, as well as trying to get a little bit of downtime.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

I think time and money are the hardest to begin with. You have to make adjustments in life to fit around the difference in budget as you start up and grow, compared to a secure full-time salary.

And working part-time, you must be as efficient as you can and not take on more than you are humanly capable of within the hours you’ve got. Easier said than done!

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

As Mel Gibson says so well in Braveheart, FREEEEDOOOOOOM!
And of course, the enjoyment of doing something you really love, while still being able to be there for and love your family.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans at the moment are to grow Starting Conversations and as time goes on add more learning programmes to help business owners.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

Start somewhere. You can build the plane as you go, and fix it as you fly. I suppose it’s a bit like the whole ‘fail fast’ concept.

But please do some thinking upfront:

Make sure you understand yourself and your brand as these go hand in hand with a small business. It will help you communicate authentically. Know your audience, and don’t be afraid to niche it down. Be clear on what you offer that solves a problem and what makes you different. Finally have a clear message that speaks to your audience before you start marketing. And if you’re a bit confused on how to do that, get in touch. That’s exactly what I can help you with!

www.startingconversations.co.uk

Our community for business owners – Http://www.facebook.com/groups/businessownersconversationclub

Twitter – @startingconv
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