Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Suzanne Evans, I am married to Gareth and I am a mummy to two sons. Celfyn (2 years) and Ellis (14 weeks). Celfyn was born in January 2015 and Ellis in October 2016.
What’s your business called?
My business is called Pink Diamonds Office Support
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I am a Virtual PA who provides admin and bookkeeping support to local small business owners and Consultants.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I actually started the business before my sons were born. My husband and I started up our IT Company (Cloud46 Limited) in February 2012. My husband worked full time in the business from the beginning but I worked as a full time, permanent employee in a school and did the admin for our business in the evenings. A few months after starting our business I was in a car accident and as a result of the injuries, I was off work sick for a few months, which I hated. I was desperate to get back to work but needed a role that was flexible as I was still recovering, so I decided to hand in my notice and began building up my own Virtual PA business.
How did you fund your start up?
Luckily there were very few start-up costs as we already had the computers and office equipment. As my husband works in IT he was able to create my website and set up my email account, so I was spoilt really! The main costs to begin with was for business cards and marketing materials.
How do you manage working around your children?
It took a good few months to build up a client base and once established, I was working full time on the business, which was great. Once I had my eldest son I realised that the workload wouldn’t be sustainable as I would need to take some maternity leave, so I took on an Associate who was able to cover my workload whilst I took a few months off.
Whilst on maternity leave I worked a keep in touch day per month and returned once my son was 9 months old. My eldest son now goes to nursery one day per week so a Monday is my dedicated office day. It took time to establish new ways of working with a child but I was able to fit the rest of my workload in around nap times and in the evenings, once he was in bed and I could work undisturbed.
I am currently on maternity leave with my second child but once he is 6 months old he will go into nursery on a Monday as well. I will then do as much as I can in the evenings once both boys are in bed.
Being a mum of two and running two businesses is definitely a challenge but I am able to work flexibly and use technology to help make life easier. All of our work files are securely stored in the ‘cloud’ so can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. My smartphone also allows me to get a lot done on the go, from accessing and responding to emails to checking and updating social media. My smartphone also enables me to be responsive to any emails that come in, even when I am out and about with the boys.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
On an office day I get the little ones off to nursery and am at my desk for 8:30am. I check my emails and then plan my workload for the day. I usually get the Invoicing done first for our IT Company and I then move onto my client tasks that need to be completed. I am a great lover of ‘To Do’ lists and always prioritise tasks by their urgency. I tend to work until 4:30pm and then go to collect the boys from nursery. Once they are in bed for the evening I will then get back on the computer and carry on with my work. I tend to work between 7pm – 9pm and then wind down for the evening.
On a non-office day, I regularly check my emails, respond to them as and when I can and once the boys are in bed, I carry out any urgent tasks that need completing. I am always contactable to my clients 5 days a week during office hours.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
One of the main challenges I face is lack of time but then I imagine most business owners would say that anyway! To manage this, I always try to work as smartly as I can and being organised is a great help. I couldn’t live without my smartphone – I have a variety of apps which I can access on the go, for example: Xero for checking and working on our accounts, LinkedIn for connecting with potential new clients and HSBC Banking for paying invoices. It is amazing how much you can get done without being at your computer.
When the children are poorly can also be a challenge – luckily I have a very supportive family who are able to help out if I have an urgent deadline to meet.
Having a baby to care for again is definitely a challenge but I am still able to get things done – a stretchy wrap is a business lifesaver at the moment. I am typing this with my 14 week old fast asleep on my chest!
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
I love the flexibility that it brings and feel so fortunate that I can combine running our businesses with raising my two boys. If they are poorly I can usually work flexibly and make up the hours on another day. When my first son was born I made a conscious decision to scale down my workload during the early years of his life, so I could enjoy being a mum and seeing him develop. I am fortunate that I am able to do the same with my youngest.
I find running my own business extremely rewarding and am so proud of what we have achieved so far.
What are your plans for the future?
I recently passed my Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Level 2 Bookkeeping exam and I am hoping to start studying for the Level 3 soon. Once I am back from maternity leave and my Level 3 exams are completed, I am aiming to build up the Bookkeeping side of the business and increase my client base. I am also hoping to get back to networking as I haven’t been since my first son was born.
I aim to work part-time hours until the boys are of school age and I will then increase my client base again in a few years’ time, once I have more time available during the day.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Be organised – plan your time well each day and start to get into routines, so you know exactly when certain tasks will get done each week. Make good use of your calendar and diary and write everything down so nothing gets forgotten!
Get networking – without networking I wouldn’t have a business as I got the majority of my clients via word of mouth referrals. Networking can seem daunting at first but practice makes perfect. I found that with networking it is more important to focus on building relationships with other business owners, rather than just winning new clients. If trust and good relationships are established, referrals tend to occur naturally. Hard selling and networking is not a good combination!
Set goals – I found it really useful to have clear goals from the very beginning and wrote them down. A vision board is also a great way of keeping your goals in focus as you can put it on your office wall and see exactly what it is you are working towards. I tend to have long term goals of how I want the business to look a few years down the line, medium term goals and also general day to day goals. It is a great feeling once you start achieving them!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Always remember the reasons why you started your business in the first place. You are in the driving seat, so make it exactly how you want it to be. A happy, organised and in control business owner usually equals happy clients.