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!

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