Becoming franchisers is something that many small businesses consider as a method for growth, Caroline and Vicky from Pink Spaghetti PA Services have done just that.
Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
Caroline Gowing, 44, Mum to Charlotte, 12 and Imogen, 9, wife to Pete
Vicky Matthews, 44, Mum to Holly, 12 and Tom, 7, wife to Chris.
We both live in Cheshire
What’s your business called?
Pink Spaghetti PA Services
Can you describe it in one sentence?
We offer small business owners the elusive 25th hour in the day for their business and domestic tasks.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
We started Pink Spaghetti in 2009. We were inspired by the need for flexibility in our working life, where children and long hours simply did not mix.
How did you fund your start up?
We funded our start up from savings, and budgeted very wisely!
How do you manage working around your children?
Our business is based on flexible working. Our phone systems allow us to only answer a call if we are free from screaming or giggling children, we use technology so we can work from play bars or a home office, our work can be done mainly in the hours we choose, so during school hours, or very early/late during the holidays. We are at every school run, assembly and sports day and we are proud of that.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
Every day is a varied one! For customers we may be doing book keeping, writing social media posts or researching a holiday. To build the business we will be doing marketing, lots of networking and social media. As we run a franchise we also have lots of contact with our franchisees, training and supporting. Every day is varied, without a doubt!
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
Growth has been a challenge for us, trying to balance bringing on staff but only when we are sure. We are both risk averse, so we use a lot of talking, reporting and planning to make sure this is done at the correct time, supporting the growth but making sure we will still get paid after the staff do!
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Flexibility! All our franchisees have this flexibility too. Every hour you work is for yourself not for someone else – that is so valuable. Neither of us would ever go back to corporate life.
What are your plans for the future?
We are building our franchise offering steadily. We currently have 24 franchise areas across the UK, and we aim to grow that next year – we have another three going live in January 2017.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Go for it! Take advice, don’t plan too much but deal with everything as it comes in, and be prepared to take your business in a direction you don’t expect, if customers want something slightly different to what you thought they would want.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
We have this year won Working Mums Most Supportive Franchisor award, and the Smith & Henderson best new entry award to franchising. In 2014 we won the EWIF (encouraging women into franchising) award for best new franchise, sponsored by McDonalds. We have been finalists in many more awards.