Caroline from added zest

Adding Zest Ltd – Helping Young People Manage Anxiety

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

I’m Caroline Cavanagh, wife to Nick who is in the army and Mum to Nadia and Eden who are 12 and 11.

What’s your business called?

My business is called Adding Zest Ltd

Can you describe it in one sentence?

I help teenagers and their parents overcome anxiety and build resilience as a platform upon which to develop confidence.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

I made an active choice that being a Mum was more important than financial success, but having the mental stimulation that work provided was still important to my own well being. Becoming self employed seemed the best answer. As the children have grown, it has allowed me to be the Mum I want to be but fit in the work commitments to allow me to still be ‘me’ and keep a platform from which to grow as my children’s needs change.

How did you fund your start up?

Fortunately the investment was not high so within the realms of self-funding.

How do you manage working around your children?

It has changed with the children. Initially it was just when they slept, I used a bit of childcare when they were toddlers and then when they started school, I was a Mum until 9 and after 3 and prioritised work for the 6 hours in between. Now that they are at secondary school, those 6 hours have grown to be 8 so I’m practically a full time worker again.

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

Working from home is a big factor in keeping all the balls up. The first part of the day is all about getting everyone out of the house but then I can just ‘put the washing on’ or empty the dishwasher throughout the day to keep the house going. Walking my dog in the morning is key as it is ‘me’ time when I get to think through problems and plan. I also find that being out in nature and getting the heart working is a part of the routine that just cant be compromised. Once the children get home at 4.30 I work hard to close the laptop and give them my full attention. That’s the downside of working from home; the temptation is always there to ‘check emails’ but I have learned that this compromises everything – not giving the children the attention they deserve and the work is being done without focus. So now I aim to compartmentalise my day – I am either working, parenting or having me time and ensure each is given full focus. That way, I believe, I am the best version of me I can be and so everyone wins!

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

The biggest was my husband going away for 12 months to Afghanistan and both children under 7. I learned what was important and what could be left. Taking on the role of being both parents and getting my children through that period was my priority and if that meant the house was not as clean as it could be, or I earned a bit less, then so be it. Whilst it was a tough time, I learned two great lessons – every challenge will end and you will have learned something from it. These lessons have meant that when new challenges come up, they are not as scary as they will end, I will be stronger for it…..

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

I’ve been to every sports day, every school play, every concert. These opportunities only come once. I am not a millionaire (yet) but that’s still possible and ‘Ill do it with all those wonderful memories stored away and no regrets.

What are your plans for the future?

Now that my children are at secondary school, their needs for me are changing allowing me more focus on the business. I wrote a book this year, have just won a national award and have big plans for next year to take my business to a new level – and one that will also help my own children as its working with teenagers so that also supports motivation. Finding a way to bring the two elements of my life together really helps as they can contribute to ideas and feel included in my work. My aim is to be a good role model for them.

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

Only ever compare yourself to you. If you start to compare your products, your earnings, your client base etc it is likely you will always find someone better. However that is not a fair comparison. I once worked with someone who was the same age as me, a multi millionaire, global following by thousands who loved her work, travelled the world, award winning author………who had no children, a failed marriage, spend more than half the year away from her husband…….If I only focused on the first half, I felt like a failure. When I saw the bigger picture, I now the comparison is incomparable! When you compare yourself on one element, you lose focus on all the other areas. So the advice is just compare yourself to whom you were yesterday. If you are stronger, fitter, healthier, happier, richer in any way, you are a winner!

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

Enjoy today. Yesterday has already gone so learn from any mistakes and look forward. Know where you want to get to and ensure every step is leading you closer there but tomorrow, next week, next year, isn’t here yet so dont spend lots of time focusing on it. The only chance you have to enjoy now is NOW so make the thing you are doing now, one that leaves you happy.


Franchisee Story: MAD Academy

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
Lucy Curtis, I have 2 children, a daughter who is 12, a son who is 9 and 2 step sons 9 & 7 years.
I have been married to Dan (who works in the charity sector) for 2 years and we live in Surrey. We met doing one of our pastimes, amateur theatre.

What’s your business called?
I own the MAD Academy – Camberley franchisee

Can you describe it in one sentence?
Music and movement for pre school school children

When did you become a franchisee and what inspired you?
February 2014, I wanted a career change and with my divorce settlement, I decided to try something that inspired me. I have a background in music, dance and theatre and so it was an obvious choice!

How did you fund your start up?
I loaned myself 6 months of capital and then gradually paid myself a small wage as the business took off.

How do you manage working around your children?
My teaching hours are generally during school hours, but my admin is before and after school and some weekends. My children understand that to have a Mum who can work around them is a compromise. They accompany me during school holidays and help me with parties. Its a family concern and everyone has to make allowances. That said they would like me to sell the business so I’m not so tired!

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
School run, admin and preparing class plans for each class (they are all bespoke so I have to ensure they are relevant for each session as I teach a broad spectrum of abilities). Out teaching classes, generally x2 per morning. Lunch and maybe catching up on emails and then another session in the afternoon. Straight to the school run (learning lines whist waiting for the bell to ring) and then home. Normally more admin or prep, cook dinner and then on the sofa for around 7.30pm, although this will vary dependant on the workload. Tuck the children in bed around 8pm and then have dinner,

What challenges have you faced as a franchisee and how have you overcome them?
Building up form scratch – being as flexible as possible and patent. Understanding that its not personal and if someone doesn’t want to rebook then its probably circumstances not me!
Lack of finances initially – being patient and mindful of costs
Loneliness – working for myself on my own all day is lonely. There is no office banter or someone to chat to other than clients – trying to chat with family members or colleagues where I can.

What are your plans for the future?
To continue at the same level. I could potentially take on agents but I am mindful that this will actually raise the workload as I would nee to manage them and their workload.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Be patient and don’t take things too personally. Be as flexible as you can and go the extra mile for people. they won’t always appreciate it but many will!
MAD Academy – Camberley

Think franchising might be for you, check out our Mums in Business Course, or find out more about franchising.

Image of Virtual assistant Jo Phillips

Managed Virtual Assistant & PA Service – A Business Mum’s Story

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

My name is Jo Phillips, and I have two girls. Elise is 17, and Jessica is 3.5. I became a mum in 1999 and 2013.

What’s your business called?

Managed Virtual Assistant & PA Service

Can you describe it in one sentence?

As a virtual assistant I offer business support to sole traders, small businesses and individuals both virtually and on-site.

When did you become a Virtual Assistant and what inspired you?

I was working for a big company here in Coventry when I restudied to become a hypnotherapist. I handed in my notice and during the last week of my notice we found out we were having a baby ( it was a shock, to say the least). I had to rethink my plan and so I decided to become a Virtual Assistant. I have over ten years administrative experience having managed a Commercial Director and an Investment Director for nearly six years.

How did you fund your start up?

I just threw myself into it. Luckily there was not a lot outgoing, and I have a very supportive husband!

How do you manage to work with your children?

Jessica goes to nursery thee days a week, and on the Tuesday and Thursday, I concentrate on tasks that can be completed with her around. I like to spend a little time in the evenings when hubby is home to get on or catch up.

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

I currently manage seven clients on an ongoing basis. Each client is different, and their workload is also varied. Many of the tasks that I complete can be auto-scheduled or have a particular time frame to complete. I normally start my day by checking emails, both mine and clients. I then delegate the priority management tasks. I use Asana to organise tasks and schedule social media for the day. I then contact a client’s customers to set appointments and handle his diary. I normally have a blog or e-book to write, and then I wait to see how the rest of the day will pan out. Most of my clients have their workload scheduled in advance which leaves me with time to tackle anything that drops in throughout the day.

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

Initially, my first concern was how to find clients. Once the first one came on board, it was relatively easy forward. The main challenge earlier this year was an unpaid bill, that is not a nice process to go through, but it was dealt with. Being self-employed can be difficult because you don’t know some months where the next client is coming from but if you can forecast ahead, you can cover the quiet periods.

What’s the best thing about being virtual assistant?

Spending time with my family and knowing that I am in control of my day. If I want to take a morning off or pop ou somewhere, then I can. I love being flexible and available for my three-year-old.

What are your plans for the future?

I am hoping to expand in the next two years and offer a training system for school leavers thaare less academic than usual. I would like to take on a small office and train them into someone they can be proud of and where they can eventually set up their own business, confidently.

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

Keep at it. It is so easy just to throw the towel in and when you think it is all bleak the next opportunity will come along. Make sure you have a plan in place and forecast for the tough times.

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

If you are thinking about becoming self-employed then why not try it, make sure that you have your finances in place to cover for the first few months and go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You’d have to go back to work. Be prepared and have a plan and take the leap.


Wondering if a Virtual Assistant business might be right for you? Our course Business for Mums: Finding the right idea for you, could help.

CV Writer

Mums Business Story: CV UK Writer Ltd

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
Jo, I am a mum to two little people both under 5.

What’s your business called?
CV UK Writer Ltd

Can you describe it in one sentence?
CV writing service that is affordable and flexible to work with the needs of job seekers.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I started my business in 2012 because I wanted to stay at home with my little people, I have been in recruitment for many, many years and supporting and advising candidates is what I enjoy the most so this type of business suited that.

How did you fund your start up?
It didn’t really cost anything to start up as it’s all online, I still work so any costs like website development etc were paid for by my salary.

How do you manage working around your children?
I make sure the days I have off are focussed on them (No choice really!!), and days I work I allocate time at the beginning and end of the day to promote the business. I’m basically working 2 jobs, 3 days a week!

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
A typical day starts very early with me making sure have my social media in order, I plan who I have to contact that day and start about sending emails, any calls I will make later on. I check emails, respond to clients and then the house wakes up and mum duties call! I get the children up, dressed and fed and then take them to their various childcare, I will then get on with my salaried role for the day. At the end of the day after dinner and the children are put to bed I will do more work on my own business, catching up on things I wasn’t able to do at the start of the day and perhaps planning for the next day.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
I’m terribly time poor, I have a senior role I am salaried for which has to take priority over my own business during the working day so I have to squeeze everything in, I rarely get anytime to myself as it’s all full of work, on the days I have with the children I don’t do any work, I wouldn’t want to but it’s pretty impossible with two small people who need you (Took me 2 hours to send a fairly simple email one time for one reason or another!).

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Being in control and feeling empowered in your own life, so much of it is taken up by other people its good to have something that is all mine that I control.

What are your plans for the future?
Ideally I would like to give up my salaried role and work for myself at home, that’s the long term goal.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Be realistic, when I first started I was convinced it would take 6 mths for the money to come rolling in but it hasn’t worked out that way, sometimes a business takes time to grow and you should be prepared for that and not get disheartened, keep the end goal in sight and you’ll get there.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Networking is great to help you in all manner of things from admin contacts to technical support and you never know who might want to buy from you.
Twitter @cvukwriter

Running a Hospitality Business with Indulgence Boutique Hospitality

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Jo Robinson, I am married to Anthony with two children, Charlie 13 and Emily 1

What’s your business called?
I have two businesses, Indulgence Boutique Hospitality, an event catering company and a restaurant The Kitchen, Farnborough

Can you describe it in one sentence?
Both business are entirely for people who are serious about food or love eating great food, served with meticulous attention to detail and friendly, professional customer service.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I fell into it really, I realised that I could not have a family working all the hours I was in my previous job and it helped that my husband, Anthony, is a phenomenal chef! So it was a no brainer and have been blessed with a good work ethic and a sprinkling of luck along the way.

How did you fund your start up?
I was lucky enough to buy a flat at a young age and was able to raise a bit of capital through that and by selling everything I owned, including my car! I must also mention my amazing family who took a great leap of faith with me and gave me a loan! I had the most amazing bank manager who totally believed in my business plan and supported my application for a commercial mortgage.

How do you manage working around your children?
Even though they are older, it is still a tremendous juggle at times. Although my team are amazingly understanding that the children come first.

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
There is absolutely no typical day. Today I have escaped from the office to work on my laptop at the most inspirational location …. Soho Farmhouse, I try and come at least once a week to clear my head, plan my diary and get stuck into anything that requires 100% focus without the welcome distractions of a busy office. Yesterday I was out of the office in meetings all day and the day before I was in the office working and planning with our brilliant team!

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
Wow, without a doubt the greatest challenge for me has been delegating and trusting others. When you are desperately let down, which has happened on more than one occasion, you just have to pick yourself up and keep on going. And each time something happens, learn from mistakes made and move on. Right now I have the best team around me I have ever had! They are all better at the jobs than I am – I have a brilliant accountant (my absolute weakness), fantastic managers and junior team who are so passionate about my businesses and looking after our clients to the best of their ability.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Being able to plan my own diary – I have yet to miss a Christmas play or a sports day. If the children are poorly – everything business wise takes a back seat. Although my inner mother’s guilt will whisper in my ear I still don’t do enough!
And being in control of my own destiny, however wobbly it feels at times, I am in kind of in charge!

What are your plans for the future?
I have so many ….. To keep building a brilliant team within the business, to win some interesting new contracts in 2017, live life to the full and travel with my amazing family whenever I can and spend as much time as I can with my father.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Do something you believe 100% in, act with integrity at all times and simply keep going! When you get to the stage of recruiting – do not be afraid to employ people who are better than you, all of my team are specialists in whatever area of the business they are working in – far better than me! And always remember the phrase – when the going gets tough, tough get going! Certainly the most important mantra having survived a recession with two high end, front line businesses.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
If I start I might not make it home to my children tonight ……..! But one thing is get a brilliant accountant – interview loads and make sure they have the same ethos as you. Accounts has always been my biggest weakness and I have gone through unnecessary financial pain having inept accountants people on board at times and not having a complete understanding of the money side of things. And find a business mentor – someone you admire or who has a similar outlook as you and listen to every pearl of wisdom they can offer.

If you’ve had a business that didn’t work out we’d love to Hear about it.

What was the business called and what did it do?
I bought a second restaurant when I had 2 children under 2! It transpired that the village is predominantly inhabited by quakers (not great drinkers or fans of dining out regularly!) – major rookie error on the market research.

How long did you run it for?
6 months before I cut my losses and ran for the hills, quickly! Having lost a heap of money in the process!

What do you think went wrong?
I was too arrogant to think that I could make anything work and too busy with my little ones to do enough market research!

What did you learn from it?
I didn’t have the midas touch that everyone else thought I had and I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place if I had the excellent accountant that I have now! I am much more cautious these days but without this failure I would have never founded the event catering company which is now a very successful company.


Mums Business Inspiration: Mum publishing a magazine

Publishing a Magazine: The TW15 Magazine

Following extensive experience in Network Marketing Carley decided to launch community magazine TW15 and, despite having no experience of publishing a magazine, is making a success of it.

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

My name is Carley, I am 37 and Mum to 2 lovely girls, Jessica, 10 and Jasmine

What’s your business called?

I am publishing a magazine – The TW15 Magazine

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Local community magazine

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

Whilst pregnant with Jess I just knew I did not want to go back to work, even
before she was born I knew I had to find something that would allow me to be
at home.

How did you fund your start up to publish a magazine?

From a business perspective, it was relatively low start up, to me though, it was
my only savings!

How do you manage working around your children?

In the gaps! I plan my days around school hours, If I have to – I will pick up
work again once the girls are in bed, although at that time I am usually only
good for a glass of vino and Emmerdale! It doesn’t always work out, I have been known to lock myself in the garden to chat to a client!

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

I start each and every weekday with an hour power walk around my local park, its great to exercise but its also a great way to plan the day. I take my beloved notebook and write out everything that needs to be done that day, it could be chasing artwork, sending files to printers, chatting to new clients, catching up on invoices, proofing, whatever it is, it has to be on
my list or it won’t get done that day!

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

At first, being taken seriously. The TW15 Magazine was only launched in July
of 2015, before that (since being at home with Jess since 2006) I must of
joined at least 10 ‘Work from Home’ opportunities, Network Marketing
companies (HUGE fan of NM) and delivered more Avon books than I care to
remember, so when I announced I had a new business idea, there was a bit of ….what is she doing now? I am tenacious if nothing else, so I went ahead anyway, It was a bit of a tough sell too, getting local businesses (the magazine is advertising funded) to advertise in a magazine that does not yet exist (it did in my mind!) was a hurdle, the tenacity kicked in yet again and I carried on, once the first magazine came back from print, it has been much easier and
now we have a sister magazine too – The TW18 Magazine and both have been
so very well received by the local community.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

I call the shots, I plan my day, I decide if and when I exercise, when I have days off. I am there for both my girls, inset days, school holidays, morning assemblies, and when you get that call….the one where the school number flashes up and you just know one of them is coming home early….I am there.

What are your plans for the future?

Huge plans! We expanded areas last year, 2017 will see the launch of our brand new TW Property Magazine, with a monthly print run of 25,000 copies and plan to expand that into 3 areas by December 2017, we are also working on a Property Event for 2017 too.

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

Please Please Please, do something you love! I work harder now than I ever
did in my corporate job, but I love what I do, sometimes I cant see the wood for the tree’s, but I love what I do, there are days when I wonder if getting a job is a good idea or not! I Love what I do and that carries me through.

Have you ever a run a business that didn’t work out?

You name it, I have probably had a go!
Utility Warehouse
World Ventures
Talk Fusion
Body by VI
and many affiliate programs too!

How long did you run them for?

I Pretty much spent the 7 years learning what did not work for me

What do you think went wrong?

Now when I look back, I wasn’t ready to step up and do what had to be dome to make a success of those opportunities. I was just looking for something to do whilst Jess was at nursery, when Jasmine came along, I felt like I was back at square one. It took me a few years to figure it out!

What did you learn from it?

I learned so much, from each and everyone. The biggest one – Personal Development, and the value of it, incredibly, not something I learned much of in my corporate days. Today Personal Development is top of my list and something I work on everyday


Using Legal experience to launch a Business – A City Law Firm Ltd

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

My name is Karen Holden. I have been with my husband Trevor for 16 years and we recently celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary.
I have a 5year old little boy called Bayley who is in reception
My husband was fortunate enough to take early retirement in 2014 and so he now works part time , with me, so we can raise our little man together

What’s your business called?

A City Law Firm Ltd

Can you describe it in one sentence?

An innovative firm of solicitors in London that offers company/commercial and family legal services.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

The business started in 2009 and I became a mum in 2011

In truth I started the business as I was so disillusioned about how employers and specifically lawyers operated. Clients had become numbers and billable hours were far more important than the quality and integrity of the work. I wanted to create firm that dispelled this practice . I also wanted to start a family and didn’t see how a corporate firm would allow me a work/life balance let alone continue to invest me as I felt that being a mum would be frowned upon

How did you fund your start up?

I had a small sum set aside to spend on a lease deposit , computers and insurance , which hardly covered the start-up costs.
Whilst setting up the practice I had no choice, but to also consult for other firms to keep my income coming in, which meant very long hours and a 4hr commute daily for 12 months
I took my clients with me when I set up and for this I was very grateful as they gave me the start I needed
There were months when cash flow became very tight due to delayed payments that I recall even putting salaries one month on a credit card which was very stressful and I am relieved this is no longer the case

How do you manage working around your children?

I start every morning with cuddles with my little one before I dress him and take him to school.
I try to ensure I am home at least 2/3 times a week to put him to bed if I can, but often my husband assists as he works part-time now to accommodate my business hours.
Weekends are for my family and I try more so now to switch off from my emails and phone and have quality time with them. This is a tough challenge but I am improving.
If I need to work extra hours it’s usually after midnight when the house is asleep and I can work without the guilt of being away from my family.
Quality time at weekends, holidays or days off make up for the extended hours I work in the week

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

After the school run , it’s the 30-minute train ride into work where I catch up on work emails , post my social media newsflashes or juggle my shopping and finances.

I manage a very productive team and handle client files , marketing and management on a daily basis. The best days are those where I meet with my start-up clients looking for investment or advice on the next stage and we create and implement a strategy that pays off – always a great boost to the week. I usually have 200-300 emails to address, a few articles to write and meetings with clients so it’s a very varied day.
Once the working day is done, I might head to a networking event 1-2 times a week and for the rest, I’ll get home in time to put my little boy to bed. My husband and I will then have dinner and a glass of wine before settling down to something on TV.
When I can I will try and meet my friends for a glass of wine and a catch up fun. I still like to socialise as often as I can with friends and my clients so it’s a full on schedule most of the time.

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

This was not a smooth ride at all. I made the mistake of setting up with other partners who I had worked with only briefly. Their attitude to work and clients did not mirror mine at all and I soon realised it had been a mistake. As such I had the terrible mess of untangling myself from the newly established firm which could of costs me everything due to insurance costs, the clients that had come with me, the money I had spent. I learnt a tough lesson, which caused me serious stress and anxiety, but I was not prepared to compromise my values and working ethics so I started again.

The biggest asset to me was the support of clients who came with me, many I had worked for over 7 years at that time, they did not lose faith and stuck by me, now 13 years on they are still with me

I then became pregnant in 2011 and needed to take maternity time so setting up the practice to accommodate my absence was a huge challenge . I took in a friend to oversee matters for me and whilst the firm stayed afloat her working style was different to mine and personalities I the office did clash. I however, mended the bridges on my return and continue to have a thriving team

The next challenge was being out priced in the city for office space and wanting to expand. We took the plunge and moved to Shoreditch and acquired a 4 story building and sub-letted the offices. Risky strategy , but luckily this paid off and we have our name in silver letters outside giving us a real presence that we could not of achieved in serviced offices. The gamble could of easily caused financial hardship , but I have learnt you need to take calculated risks to succeed

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

I can afford to take time off for school plays and sports days when required so I never miss an important date.
The flexibility of being my own boss means I can work remotely so I can take my family off on holiday and sun shine whilst I still manage the business.
A work/family life balance is very difficult to achieve in the City and whilst I still work long hours I work these around my family rather than the office taking priority over them

What are your plans for the future?

I intend to stay active and continue to build the business , but my plan is to recruit / promote from within. My longest staff member who I trained has recently been appointed a director and I hope eventually more of my dedicated team will come up through the ranks and take on more responsibility so I can focus on business development

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

Take advice from a good lawyer and accountant before doing anything – they can really save you so much . If I didn’t have a tight partnership agreement when I first started I would of lost everything when I decided to start again. Always agree terms with co-founders and document this because if a dispute arises this will be the only thing to evidence what you agreed.

Understand the best structure for you , if its not a limited entity be aware of the personal risks as if it doesn’t go to plan you are exposed personally

Cash flow – never take this for granted – manage your payment terms, monitor credit you are extending and can you full fill a contract if it is to be paid at the end ?

Be honest with yourself as to your weaknesses , learn from your mistakes and realise you will make them its how you come back fighting that counts so don’t beat yourself up , too much, when errors happen

Make sure you have a good support networking for the highs and lows, you will need them

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

The biggest compliment to me to date is
1. The firm won the award of Most Innovative Law Firm, London 2016. This means a lot to me because it was a result of them believing that we are a firm that thinks and acts differently, that never sits on the fence or is slow to react to the market and clients. We pride ourselves on our ventures and alternative thinking and it has been great to be recognised for this. Looking after LGBT issues such as surrogacy or HIV discrimination has always been different to other firms, and we have been awarded for our services in these areas as again we have always thought outside of the box. Then throw in advising on corporate bonds, equity financing, tech start-up and we move into another circle of innovation which we proud to leading in
2. I was personally nominated for a working mums champion award for my staff working arrangements , talks provided to mums and my discrimination work – it was nice my own team and clients felt that I had supported them in the work/life balance rather than it being something only for myself
3. We made it this year into the Legal 500 which involved client interviews and references and for such a new firm this is monumental and something we never take for granted.

Mum running her business on her laptop

Mumpreneur Story: Anne-Marie Rickus Arts

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

My name is Anne-Marie.
I am married to Paul & have two boys – Heath aged 4 & Rowan aged 2.
We live in Chester.
My eldest has just started school and I look after my youngest.
Life is chaotic, crammed, but very colourful!

What’s your business called?

Anne-Marie Rickus Arts

Can you describe it in one sentence?

I create inky paintings capturing precious family moments.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

Initially, after having my first son in 2012 I became a little frustrated at the lack of time I had to concentrate on my art. But then one day I drew him – nothing radical! – bit it was a breakthrough, instead of trying to keep my art and motherhood separate i realised that I could do both!
I continued to sketch his funny, heartwarming, quirky ways & when his brother came along in 2014 I kept up the practice.
These scrappy little sketches were always destined to stay tucked away in a sketchbook – just for me to flick through in my twilight years & to show the boys when they are older. But I showed some family & friends, who really liked them & said that they could relate to them & so I decided to make them into more finished pieces in order to produce limited edition giclee prints to sell.
So, my family is a huge inspiration!

How do you manage working around your children?

I find this one quite tricky!
My eldest is now at school, but I look after my youngest one full time, so all my artwork is created in the evenings and nap times!!

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

We’re always up bright and early, breakfast, then school run.
Then myself and my youngest will have an activity – swimming, meet friends, playgroups…..etc. Hopefully this tires him out enough that after lunch he will have a little nap! It’s at this point that I start my work. I never quite know how long he will nap for, so try to do more admin jobs at this stage….e-mails, uploading products to my Not On The High Street Store, answering customer queries……etc.
Then once my son wakes up we will do something together – library visit/crafting at home…etc.
Then we go and pick up my other son from school. If the weather is good we’ll have a little play in the park before home for tea.
Some nights my eldest might have swimming lesson after school, but by 6.30/6.45pm it’s bath time and the task of getting the little people to sleep.
Once that is done…then my husband & I will have some food together & tidy up the toy carnage!
At this point I then head down to my studio at the bottom of the garden to try and get a few hours in working on new artwork, commissions…..etc.
There are definitely not enough hours in the day!

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

Since starting to sell my artwork I have come to realise how important marketing is…..from getting good photos of your products, to find a good quality printer to produce my giclee prints, to using twitter, instagram & other social media platforms to spread the word! Creating the artwork is only one tiny part! The whole marketing, networking….etc. has been quite a steep learning curve!

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

Being able to spend time with my children and work!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m creating more inky paintings to turn into giclee prints to add to the selection I already have available.
I also am taking on more editorial and fashion illustration work, which is very exciting!
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
It’s a slow burner! Things don’t happen overnight, but if you are persistent & patient then your business will develop and grow!
Instagram – @annemarierickus
Twitter – @annemarierickus

Mums Business Story: How to be a Virtual Assistant

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name’s Tanya Kuhrt and I live in Loughton, Essex. I have a daughter, Lydia who is now 14. I also have two stepsons who are now grown up and in their twenties.

What’s your business called?
How to be a Virtual Assistant

Can you describe it in one sentence?
Award-winning Virtual Assistant, now training PAs to be VAs!

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I became a Mumpreneur in 2012. What inspired me was not being able to get a job! Previous to 2012, the last time I’d been applying for jobs was 2001 and things had changed A LOT! I wanted something well-paid and part-time but I wasn’t getting anywhere so essentially I was forced into the position of finding freelance work – and it grew from there.

How did you fund your start up?
I didn’t really – it was on a shoestring! As I made money bit by bit I invested in things like networking and a website. Luckily I’m not on my own though – I did have help and support from my partner and father to my children, Jason for day to day living costs.

How do you manage working around your children?
Now that Lydia is at “big school” I’m not needed as much as before and she wants a certain amount of independence – but because I work from home I still stop work in the afternoons so we can spend time together, chat about whats happened at school and I can make sure she’s doing her homework! Its great that I’m also around in the morning so we can have breakfast together and I can to take her to the orthodontist or for doctors appointments easily. No more asking for time off because I’m my own boss.

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I get up at 7.30, have breakfast with Lydia and then get a wash on before starting work. I’ll try to get at least a couple of hours client work plus a bit of my own admin or marketing in before lunch. Then I’ll often go for a walk or go swimming before heading back home for sandwich and to get on with the rest of the client work I need to do. Some days I’ll have a networking meeting at lunchtime, and sometimes I’ll do a lunchtime live coaching webinar for my students. It’s important to me to get out of the house every day in some form or other. I’ll usually stop for a tea break and a chat with Lydia when she gets back from school and then I’ll usually carry on for a bit before Jason gets home from work around 6. Then that’s it – because I work from home I’m quite strict with drawing a line under work each evening. The exception to this is that once a week I do an evening group coaching webinar for the students on my How to be a Virtual Assistant course.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
The first year was hard. I found it really difficult to get used to selling myself – confidence was a big issue. There were a few times during that year when I felt I was banging my head against a brick wall in terms of sales and finding clients, and I nearly gave up a few times. But I kept on with it. I think throwing yourself in at the deep end is one of the best ways to overcome any fear. I joined a BNI networking group – this was extreme networking, and then some! I quickly got used to talking about myself and my business – because I had to. Any setbacks I had in my business would send me spiralling into despair at first but in the end I just got up and got on with it. The phrase “If at first you don’t succeed…..” is a cliche but it is so true. If I failed at something I tried, tried and tried again and eventually the strategy paid off.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Flexibility. Independence. Being a great role model for Lydia!

What are your plans for the future?
To develop my Virtual Assistant training business further and provide a range of online courses.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Don’t try and run before you can walk. And start networking as soon as possible because that is the best way to grow your business quickly. Face to face networking if you can, but if you can’t then start networking online.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
If any of your readers are thinking of setting up as a freelance Virtual Assistant, I’d love them to join my Facebook group which can be found here: for tips, advice and chat about becoming a freelance VA in the UK.

Facebook Group:

check out our course to find the right business idea for you.

Blogger Story: Katy Kicker

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

I am Katy, late 20s from Essex. I live with my husband, Tom, and we
have one daughter. Our daughter, Daisy, was born in March 2016 after
waiting more than 7 years to finally conceive!

What’s your blog called?

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Money making, money saving and my lifestyle in general.

When did you become a blogger and what inspired you?

I started blogging around two years ago, back in September 2014. I was
inspired because people used to message me on forums to ask me how I
was making money online. I decided that I could start a website and
this would allow me to direct the people somewhere. It would save me
LOTS of time having to reply to messages with paragraphs of text and
it would allow me to help people in the process.

How do you manage working around your children?

I have just one daughter and at present it isn’t too bad. I tend to
work during nap times and in the evenings when my daughter is asleep.
My husband is a shift worker so I can work more when he is at work, in
peace, and work less when he is home. My daughter goes to see
relatives once a week usually. This gives me a chance to work, for a
full day, and also enjoy a little bit of ‘me time’ too.

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

A typical day involves the usual tasks for a small person. Feeding,
clothing, bathing, playing toys etc. Besides that I have a daily
checklist of jobs for my blog. I do a little blogger outreach and
social media management for other brands too. Each day I ensure that I
dedicate 30 minutes to working on these areas, for myself and others,
and I run a very tight ship. I use to-do lists, check lists and set
myself daily targets to achieve what I need to achieve.

Once I’ve done a short amount of work I don’t mind if I don’t achieve
much during the day as I prefer to spend time with my daughter while
she is awake.

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

So far not many. I have been fortunate to have regular traffic from
the beginning and I am experiencing some real exponential growth now.
My blog has changed direction now from being solely about moneymaking
and it is more about my life in general now.

What’s the best thing about being a blogger?

Being able to create my own job. I’ve been working for myself
full-time since 2013 and I have been blogging since late 2014. Since
2015 my blog has been earning me a nice amount of money. This gives me
the freedom to branch out more in other areas of my online work, turn
down low paying opportunities and generally do more work that I
actually enjoy.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I am just working on doing what I do! I love blogging,
love writing, love helping people. I am working on being more helpful,
writing more and growing my website reach even further.

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

Ensure that you are blogging about something that you are passionate
about. I am passionate about making and saving money, parenting and
food. These are the areas that I tend to stick to blogging about and
so far it hasn’t steered me wrong.

Try not to worry too much about stats, competitors or being number 1
in any rankings. Ranking, stats and work comes with time, usually. It
is better to enjoy the journey rather than constantly worrying about
being better. Obviously growth is good, and should be a goal, but
nobody needs the stress of constantly obsessing about how many real
time visitors they have according to Google Analytics.img_4288

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