I have done many things in my working life – Marketing Manager, Production Manager. I was a bit pained by the whole boys club, corporate politics kind of thing, and then one day I was working on a Target commercial trying to get bits and pieces in place, and it occurred to me that I really wasn’t that interested in making more money for a big company. This was 15 or 20 years ago and I knew then that I really wanted to help people. A friend told me they had been to see a life coach and he put the seed in my head. I went overseas travelling for about 5 years, settled down in the UK, started training as a life coach, fell pregnant and had my first daughter - and it was at that point I decided I was going to start my own business doing life coaching and it was going to be coaching Mums, because I had just become a Mum and I knew what issues and challenges they have.
The first issue and challenge for new mums starting up their own business is isolation. You move from being in a workplace, in a social environment – Friday night drinks with colleagues etc - to being at home, on your own, probably 80% of the time. And that was exactly what happened to me. I definitely think that post natal depression is quite prevalent and I would say that going from one lifestyle to another probably plays a huge part.
Another issue and challenge for mums starting out is that they don’t have any money. They know they want to start a business because they are passionate about something and now they have time to create, or they can’t afford child care and can’t go back to work so they want to start a business. Starting a business with no money is actually really, really hard - it will take you a good two years longer than somebody starting a business with funding because you can’t do anything in your business until you have the money to fund it.
A major challenge for a lot of mums starting out in business is that their husbands/partners don’t understand what it takes to run a business. Many nights are spent working late into the night, and partners question when you’re going to spend some time with them. I’ve been with the kids all day and now is my time to run my business – you’ve been at work all day, you’ve had time to do your stuff, when do I get time to do my stuff? Also a lot of partners don’t understand how long it takes to make money – so the question that comes out of their mouth when they walk through the door is ‘how much money did you make today?’ They’re kind of having their parade rained on a little bit because that’s the only question that comes out of the partners’ mouths. So it’s so important to have that conversation before you get started – this is how long it’s going to take me to get a business off the ground, this is how much we will save in childcare.
Money isn’t my main focus. People say ‘wouldn’t it be great to be lying on a beach in Fiji while you make money and you not even trying’ and I’m like urrgh, that sounds horrendous to me! I would be bored, bored, bored! As long as I make enough money to pay the rent and pay bills and live happily, which we do, my main aim is to help people and help make them happy and help make their lives easier, and in turn that makes me happy because I’m fulfilling my aims.
The best thing about working for myself is that I can be there for my girls. I can pick them up from school, I can take them to school, I can be there for sports day, I can do reading duty. It’s flexible, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s less hours. I work at night, every single night, so there’s always a compromise.
Motivating Mum offers support, mentoring, workshops and advice for mums in business in Australia and UK.
Tel: 03 9571 5253
Copy: Melanie Quirk Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios
To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to www.businessmamas.com.au