In modern day life, mothers aren’t just mothers. They’re a taxi driver, a cook, a cleaner and a nurse, they’re a provider, an adviser, a role-model and a friend. They juggle lunch dates with play dates, baby ballet with board meetings and swimming lessons with the supermarket shop. So how on earth are you meant to fit starting a business in too?
As a mother of three young kids and founder of KeriKit, I get asked this all the time. Yes it can be stressful. Yes I can feel completely overwhelmed and no I certainly don’t think I could do it without my husband’s support (and income!). I am so fortunate to have mother living next door too, so she is always on standby to help with the kids.
And although there have been ups and downs, starting my own business has been the best thing for me and my family. Its enabled a work-life balance that would be otherwise impossible, and I can actually spend more time watching my children grow. And its so empowering to be a woman in business, which is why I am thrilled to have so many fellow mums ask me the question; “How do you start a company?”. So, if you’re thinking about it, here are some things to consider before you do so, and some top tips to help you thrive.
Work-Life Balance is Crucial – and I’m All About Flex Appeal
The main reason I wanted to be a She-E-O was so I could be my own boss and spend more time with my kids. I had completely underestimated how much of my life the new business would consume. The first year was grueling – I couldn’t switch off and it was constant. I would try and spend some quality time with the kids but find myself worrying about whether were going to go under and still replying to emails on my phone. It was so unhealthy, so I had to learn to compartmentalize the business so it didn’t take over my life. Now I make sure I have breakfast and lunch with the kids every morning with a strict no-phone policy, and I make sure I shut my laptop at 5:30 every evening.
I’m a big advocate of flexible work hours. It is so much more productive and better for my well-being. I encourage this ethos with my employees too. We have team yoga 3 days a week and they are encouraged to fit work around their life. Milly is 24 and my right-hand-man but she’s a competitive equestrian, so she fits work around her horses. Lizzie is a mum herself and so her hours coincide with school runs and half-terms. It certainly makes everyone happier, and consequently more productive.
Working From Home is Amazing – But Only if its Done Right
I love working from home. Even if I’m in my office I can hear my children playing and I’m never more than a shout a way if there are tears! I think this is the main benefit of being self-employed. When done right you can be a mother and a business woman at the same time. I feel so lucky to be able to do both well. However, I can only manage this due to having an au-pair and a granny next door! And I make sure that I still have boundaries – the children aren’t allowed to come into the office unless they ask first (apart from when they were newborns and I was designing the first collection in between feeds!). Its important not to let the business encroach into your family life, but its a two-way street! You have to make sure the family life doesn’t encroach on the business too. Sticky fingers on the new samples are never ideal.
Its Not All About London
There is a real misconception that London is the only place to do business – it’s not true! When I launched my business I felt an overwhelming pressure that I was missing out on networking and opportunities simply because I wasn’t in London with the ‘cool kids’. I felt so out of the loop, like I was trying to grow a fashion brand in isolation. But being a northern brand is something I take real pride in, and actually the North has so much to offer itself.
Trust me, you don’t have to be in London to succeed because 1: There is a thing called the internet and 2: There is a thing called a train. So I have the best of both worlds. I can reap all the benefits the north has to offer and my children get to grow up in the stunning Cheshire countryside. And I can be in London in just an hour and forty if ever I need. So if you’re starting your own business I really recommend researching the opportunities around you and don’t let the London hype get in your head.
It Costs a LOT More Than You Think
Seriously. If you’re already working out a rough budget for how you’re going to launch, add a zero onto it. It may have just been me but I seriously underestimated how much of my own money would be required to invest into the business and its terrifying. So be prepared for no disposable income for a while! Fortunately my husband Scott has an income too (and subsequently more of an investment in the business than I think he knows). But there are grants and government funding schemes out there, so I really recommend doing your research before you invest any of your own money. And make sure you really believe in your product!
Business is Hard! So Be Prepared, and Be Kind to Yourself
You have to have a tough skin when you own your own company. Because it is your baby every knock back or complaint feels personal and it hurts. I found the first two years really tough. Watching other brands succeed really quickly was frustrating and I was constantly comparing myself to others. Its taken a while, but I’ve learnt this comparison was neither healthy nor helpful. It only knocked my confidence and made me negative. I am far more productive when I focus on what I’m doing and when we achieve a goal it feels that much sweeter knowing that I have built this from scratch. Afterall, I’d rather be a slow-burner and endure than a five-minute fad right?
I hope a few of these tips helped and if you are planning your own business then be brave, think positive and go for it!