Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Julie, aka Jules! I became a mum in 2012 to a beautiful girl, who is my life, inspiration and daily dose of happiness. It has always been just the two of us, but we are in no way incomplete, we have a dog and fish to make our home just that little bit livelier!
What’s your business called?
My new business is called the Single Mums Business Network, it is actually part of my existing company that I set-up as a limited company in 2013, to enable me to sell KIH Beds (which are pregnancy cushions that enable clients to lay prone full-term) and they are purchased UK wide and overseas by Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Spas and Physio.
Can you describe it in one sentence?
The Single Mums Business Network has been created as a direct result of my experience in business and of business networking over the last 7 years as a single mum. It is crucial to help these ladies with very limited support to gain exposure and dispel stigma that single mums are work shy.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I became a mumpreneur in 2012, inspired by necessity, it was when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2011 that I designed a product that enabled me to lay on my belly full-term and I felt duty bound to share it to market. It is my own journey that has inspired me to set-up the SMBN.
How did you fund your start up?
I was in an appalling financial state; I could barely put food on the table let alone buy the material to create my product. It took me two years to have a market ready product, that was fully health and safety tested to British Standards and legally compliant. Once I had my product ready (by myself eating carbs) I approached a charity who provided loans to people that banks would not lend to. They lent me the money to stock-up and run an initial marketing campaign.
How do you manage working around your children? I had also embarked on a law degree when I fell pregnant, knowing that I was to be a single mum I did not want us to be subjected to a life of poverty, and so I had one year maternity leave, every time my newborn slept I studied, and a couple of nights a week I would work on the business, that was generally how it went for a number of years, 5 nights I studies and 2 nights I worked on business. When I returned to work part-time my daughter was in statutory childcare for 15 hours so I continued study and work when she slept.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
It is wonderful now that my daughter is in school. She is happy with her friends and I can concentrate on business, the SMBN (Single Mums Business Network), the freelancing work that I do through the business to utilise my business development and paralegal skills and of course I still have the evenings to catch up. I generally work in 90 minute blocks so it’s quite easy to rotate amongst housework, business, smbn, law & BDM.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
There are so many challenges that I will write a book about them, the most difficult being able to gain exposure with little or no marketing budget, the sanctions for borrowing £20, the cuts for working, the pressure to draw a wage from the business, understanding my market (the initial marketing budget was wasted on the wrong audience) and then again trying to borrow more to develop further having learned by mistakes.
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Freedom to be a hands-on mum. I look like a bum at the school gates, in the mornings I do not have to get dressed for work, I can be with my daughter instead of putting face paint on, that is priceless, other mums get the impression that I do not work as I am always at the school gates looking less than professional! I don’t miss a parent assembly or sports day, yet when she is in school and in bed I can work relentlessly.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to be brutally open about the issues of trying to work and build a business as a mum, specifically as a single mum, only because there are different challenges that need to be addressed. I am actively raising awareness of these. I no longer carry any shame or fear and I know a lot of single mums out there do, and so I want to support them to grow their business so that they can achieve financial independence without sacrificing family time. I plan to address the work culture generally, as many already are, and in 5 years I will hopefully be able to start a charity arm so that I can help these mums too. On the side of that I will continue supplying KIH Beds as orders come in and I will continue progressing with law so that I can maintain that as a part-time career also.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Do not give up. You have got to fight, fight and fight harder. Trust the journey, if you focus on the end goal you will find it easier to manage the interim challenges and surround yourself with people who are routing for you and supporting you to do well. Networking is brilliant for building confidence and generating leads. If you want to quit, give it two weeks before you push the button. Never act on a negative decision within 14 days.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Please do not see women as your competition, we are much better supporting each other than we are being negative about each other. And only build a business for ‘you’ something you believe in, that uses your skills and your passion, if you are going to be broke for a year or three make sure that you are the one that will benefit from that effort in the long run, and please understand that most people are struggling with something you have no idea about, so if they seem perfect, they still need you.