Running a Pink Spaghetti Franchisee

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Laura and I am married to Ricky, a head chef, and we have 2 children – Gracie is 4 and started big school in Sept, and Poppy is 19 months and at nursery. We live in Ashford (Surrey not Kent) in a 3 bed semi. We are both born and bred in West London but moved to Ashford 10 years ago. It’s a lovely place to live and has a close focus on family life which we love.

What’s your business called?
Pink Spaghetti

Can you describe it in one sentence?
We are the 25th hr in your day. A pick up, put down PA service as and when you need, helping busy people with their home and business needs.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I started Pink Spaghetti in Sept 2016 so it’s relatively new.

I was feeding my youngest in Chessington World of Adventures and looking through a parenting forum. It was about 6 months from my return to work and I was having that wobble….”I can’t possibly go back to work, my babies need me at home!”. I saw a post on a forum from another Mother with the same dilemma and someone had mentioned Pink Spaghetti Virtual PA’s. I didn’t even know what a VPA was so I looked Pink Spaghetti up and loved what they did. I had been a working Mum, the pull between work and home is intense sometimes and there’s a real frustration around not being able to do it all! I loved the solution they offered – an extra pair of hands to give you that 25th hour in the day. It was such a simple idea, but for small businesses who don’t have the finance or the inclination to hire a full or part-time member of staff, paying for someone by the hour as and when it’s needed, is a great solution!

I started to think about whether I could be the VPA offering that help to small businesses. I worked in Market Research and had been with the same company for 9 years, and in the industry for 15 years. I was ready for a change and needed one too – with school hours looming as my eldest was due to start school in September, I needed a job where I could get in after the school drop off, and leave early to collect her. Where in the world would I find a job with that much flexibility?!

I couldn’t put the Pink Spaghetti idea down. It would be a huge change – was I ready? Did I want to give up my career? Joining the team meant buying into a franchise, did I want to own my own business? Could I afford the initial outlay? I’m not a risk taker, and walking away from my career felt risky. But my gut said it was the right move – for me, for family life. I am that person that has a to-do list on the go 24/7. I love to organise people. I enjoy creating processes and procedures for new ways of doings things. My filing system at home means I can lay my hands on paperwork from 5 years ago at the click of my husband’s fingers. I had the right transferrable skills. I couldn’t think of a reason not to do it!

How did you fund your start up?
Savings! I am boring and sensible and always make sure I’m putting something into savings each month so I took it from there and told myself it would be an investment.

How do you manage working around your children?
My youngest is at nursery and so I have childcare for her Mon-Thurs. My eldest is at school so she’s there 5 days a week. I work after dropping them off and stop once I do the school run. I often log back in, in the evening – it’s a compromise that means I get to be the one at the school gates dropping off and picking up, I was adamant I wanted to do that!

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I don’t have a typical day – every day is so different and that’s what I love. Some days are spent building my business, so I might be networking and meeting new people, or planning my marketing for the next month. Other days are purely client work so it’s head down and crack on – I might be working on someone’s social media accounts, doing some research for them, basic bookkeeping, decluttering their office space, writing a newsletter for them, building a client database etc.

I’m very structured with my time, I time box so I decide before I get started what needs doing that day and how much time I’m going to dedicate to each task. The internet is such a useful tool but it’s like a blackhole so I time myself when I’m on it!

I LOVE being a VPA, the feedback I get from clients is motivating – when I’m told they couldn’t have managed ‘that’ crunch without me, they hate book-keeping and are grateful I took it on, they love their new Facebook and Twitter pages that I’ve re-branded, they wouldn’t have had time to do that research that I did on their behalf, they couldn’t have re-organised their home office the way I did. That feedback coupled with being at home when the girls are in from school and nursery, is priceless.

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
Getting started has been tough at times and starting from scratch with no clients is frightening, but you have to be patient and put in lots of hard work upfront – lots of getting myself out there, constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and lots of networking and 121’s with other local business owners.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Total freedom with my time, while making something of myself. I didn’t want to choose between being a Mum and working, and now I don’t. I am there for the children when they’re not in nursery and school, but when they are, I am a business owner who makes life easier for other businesses – it’s incredibly rewarding and I feel like I get to have my cake and eat it.

What are your plans for the future?
To grow steadily, have a constant and reliable source of work, to make a real difference to my clients, and eventually to hire staff and expand – the sky’s the limit!

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Make sure it’s the right decision – do your sums and think about it from every angle. Talk to people, get advice and know exactly what you’re signing up to – you don’t want any nasty surprises. If you do jump in with both feet, hold on tight, be bold and enjoy the ride!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Pink Spaghetti was the right choice for me because they have been, and continue to be, incredibly supportive. I owe my fabulous start to the franchisors, Caroline & Vicky.