In this weeks blog I have interviewed (rather DM’d some questions!) to two lovely ladies who run their own businesses whilst bringing up the small people (I don’t mean vertically challenged, I mean kids) to give an insight and different views on how they juggle and cope with kids and biz. I am always interested to see what ‘life hacks’ people come up with when they are raising a fam against the constant pull of a business, plus I am super nosey and its always good to hear the experiences of someone in the same boat.
The first lass up is an old mate of mine, Tara. She runs Wag & Bone which is a professional dog walking service covering North West Leeds. She has a beautiful crazy haired boy called Freddie who will be 4 years old in June 2018.
Jess: Why/how did you start your business?
Tara: I realised that whilst my career in engineering had offered many prospects for the future, been reliable and well paid, I wasn’t actually ‘happy.’ Plus corporate office bollocks wasn’t for me. I was really struggling to strike a balance between being a mum (my priority) and being a career girl. I decided life was too short, that I was missing out on so much of Freddie, and so I sacked it all off and started a fresh. It’s the best decision I ever made. It was relatively easy to set up, I bought my van, kitted it out with dog crates, obtained all of the necessary back ground checks and insurance (In order to advertise as a professional) and started to advertise locally via social media. I was fortunate enough to already have a few contacts (and great friends) within the dog walking community who helped and supported me during the start up. 6 months down the line and it’s going great! :)
J: What do you find hardest about juggling business with a child?
T: I think until you actually have children, you have NO IDEA how much harder everyday tasks and life in general gets! Obviously in my case I struggled massively when I was working full time 9-5, so it’s become easier now I’m working for myself. Freddie still goes to nursery but now instead of rushing to the gate at 0730 and not meeting him again until 1800 (which was horrendous) we are able to enjoy lazy breakfasts, early pick ups, walks to the park, swimming in the afternoon, telling stories and strolling through the woods to nursery. I can tailor my day now to fit around him, which I know is very lucky. It’s been life changing.
J: What are the benefits of being your own boss?
T: Spending quality, un-rushed time with Freddie which also benefits my family as a whole; and for me personally: not having to answer to anybody. I am NOT a fan of authority (either because I always know best?? Or because I’m stubborn. Or because all my precious bosses have been dickheads. Let’s give it a 33.3 recurring split for arguments sake...)
J: How do you motivate myself?
T: I am a big believer in being positive. Seeing the best in everything. BELIEVING it will work. I motivate myself by seeing the future I want and going for it (I’m not talking yachts in St Tropez (not saying no, mind) I just want to be happy and comfortable). In practical terms each day, I see my little boy and think of all the extra hours I get so spend with him now, or if I’m feeling a bit tired or down I think of the dogs I’m taking out that day and how much they love seeing me when I turn up to take them out (let’s face it, dogs give the best greeting EVER!) I am also motivated and encouraged by how much fitter and healthier I feel (despite the odd* bottle of red) since ditching the toxic desk job and being out in the fields.
*lets not talk specifics, guidelines make me anxious
J: Give us a run-down of your typical day...
T: From the moment I get up I am in demand: Freddie & my two little dogs need breakfast and toilet breaks, sounds quick when you write it down, but it can be a laborious process. Freddie has his own natty dress sense so choosing what to wear can be a tough job for a 3 year old each day; once dressed and teeth brushed, there will be a scoot about the house putting items back in their rightful places whilst I usher Fred out the door to nursery. I manage to get home for a brew and a bite to eat myself (avocado on toast is a winner) then its time to venture into the wild with the hounds. Depending on schedule there may be another brew during the day, but apart from that its ‘van time’ picking up, walking and dropping off the hounds to a tune of howling and me singing Fleetwood Mac & Arctic Monkeys. No dog has complained yet, so I think they genuinely love it!! Once I’ve picked Freddie up its back into ‘Mum Mode’ for the evening. I love the mess and madness my day brings, I think I’d be bored without the chaos! A good chaos!
The second lovely layyydeeee I questioned was Amy. I met Amy through Charlotte @ Raffia (they have shops next door to one another) and she runs a quirky fabulous shoe shop called NooShoos in Clitheroe, Lancashire. She has a little blondie called Sonny who 4 years old.
Jess: How/why did you start running a business?
Amy: After 8 years of working in an art department at a local high school, I got itchy feet (ironic!) and decided it was time for a change. I knew I needed to make the break before Sonny started school and, with the help of a supportive husband, I left the job in Feb 2016. I picked up a part time role in a children’s shoe shop a couple of days a week, I was constantly being asked where I got my OWN shoes from and that there was no where in town to buy such footwear. This spurred me on to have an idea and the process after that was quite quick: it only took me until April in the same year to formulate a business plan for a shoe shop and secure some buying appointments with some of my favourite shoe brands.
J: What do you find hardest about juggling business with a child?
A: Being a retail business in a bricks and mortar shop, Saturdays are usually my busiest day, I have missed so many family gatherings due to having to ‘man' the shop. As a new start-up the first few years are crucial, keeping overheads as low as possible have meant I’ve worked on my own for two years with no staff. I now have a ‘man Friday’ who covers for me one Saturday a month so I can get a whole weekend with my family.
J: What benefits are there to being your own boss?
A: Not having to explain or justify myself to anyone. Even though my business is my baby and requires a lot of my undivided time and attention, I can put my family first. I lock up shop at 3pm for half an hour (I pop a note on the door) so I can do the school run. Your days are obviously cut short once your child goes to school, so any extra time spent with Sonny is time well spent in my eyes. I also love the fact Sonny can see his Mum running and growing her own business.
J: Any tips for Mums wanting to start their own businesses?
A: I encourage anyone to give their idea a go! You only ever regret the things you didn’t do and the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work…at least you had the balls to give it a go!
J: How do you motivate yourself?
A: Well, if I don’t open the shop who will?! There are days when its a struggle, being on my own a lot of the time I find my mind wanders and there is no-one there to motivate or give me pep talks to get me back on track. Some days I can lose hours to Pinterest, Instagram and online shopping!! (lets call this ‘business research'!!)
I think there is a theme emerging here that both these women are fiercely independent and hate working under others!!
They are bringing in their own wages whilst bringing up the babies....
....who run the world…?? GIRLS!