Muddy spent the evening with author of The Freelance Mum and chatted to five local business women to get all the inside tips on going self employed.
Freelance writer and gal pal Nicky Barrell slipped on her Muddy stilettos and popped out to the latest ‘We Got This Sometimes’ event- An evening with The FreeLance Mum Annie Ridout and successful Entrepreneur Steph Douglas.
The room was packed and these two formidable ladies chatted the highs and lows of combining motherhood and working – whether it be starting your own business or shifting from full time employment to freelance work. Their experience and advice was invaluable but also refreshingly honest – breastfeeding while pinging off emails or changing a dirty nappy minutes before a business meeting. Oh yes, and for those in a relationship – when your partner heads off to the toilet the moment they get through the door from work and you’ve been counting down the seconds of getting your first break from being left holding the baby…how to handle that particular rage!
Where to start?
If you are about to embark on a journey into self employment, I’d recommend reading Annie’s book and also looking up – HER Business Revolution – a local business network offering events, support and training to female self starters.
Muddy caught up with CEO – Serena Fordham and four self-employed members to get their take on doing it for themselves.
Plus, we’ve rounded up our favourite ten tips from all of these fantastic women.
Serena became self employed in 2013 after being made redundant whilst on maternity leave.
A timely approach from a local entrepreneur to help set up as an estate agent sparked the idea for her first business – Glow Virtual Assistants. Glow VA offers back office support to small businesses including marketing, social media management, accounts, bookkeeping, event management, property management, PA duties and general administration.
In 2015, she set up HER Business Brew to connect and support local business women like herself and this progressed into the HER Business Revolution, which connects, supports and empowers thousands of women entrepreneurs and local women across Norfolk.
Being self employed takes time, energy and a lot of unpaid hours. TV set designer and former Art teacher, Imogen Davies bravely turned her baking hobby into the cake making business Sugar Buttons and says
” Do something you truly believe in or are passionate about. Don’t just choose something because you think it will be better than working for someone else. It will be better in many ways but it’s also incredibly hard work having to do everything that goes along with running a business.”
Strengths & Weaknesses
“Know your strengths and weaknesses. I spent ages in the beginning doing things like designing a logo and a website. It saved me money but cost me precious time. Once I could afford to rebrand, it made me realise that I should have used a professional much earlier. Sometimes it is worth spending the extra for a much better result and a bit less stress!”
Don’t give up
KM Virtual Office owner Kate Mellor’s says that they began as the result of a job relocation:
“Oh, and don’t give up! Getting the door closed in your face is hard to deal with but you just need to brush yourself off and realise that you aren’t going to be the right fit for everyone and that’s okay.”
Natalie Chapman owns Trusted Law and specialises in Estate Planning work including Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney and Trusts. With new baby twins in tow, Natalie managed to finish her legal qualifications and launch a freelance legal career. She has since taken on two employees and is on a mission to help all mums struggling to return to their legal career after having children.
“I was on a constant 4-6 month cycle of “shall I just wind it all up and return to ‘proper work?” These were my moments of self-doubt where I was questioning whether or not it was the best thing for me, my family and my career. I got through these moments by constantly talking to my husband, my friends and my business acquaintances – you soon realise that the grass won’t necessarily be any greener elsewhere.”
The HER Business Brew networking group has helped all these women grow and develop on both a personal and professional level. They all agree that working for yourself can be isolating and being able to talk to like minded business women can be incredibly beneficial.
Serena believes that the magic happens when women come together;
“Our groups offer a place for women to connect and collaborate. We come up with solutions that can naturally create new business opportunities.”
And her final piece of advice:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support as even the most amazing superwomen need a sidekick!”
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, Her Business Revolution will be hosting Norfolk’s largest women’s empowerment event – the HER Business, Body & Life Conference at Holiday Inn North Norwich on Friday 8th March 9:30am-4:30pm.
Book tickets £35 includes a seat for all speakers and masterclasses, buffet lunch, refreshments and parking.
Ten Top Tips on being Self Employed
1. During maternity leave and for the first three months after the birth you will have bit more spare time when your baby is asleep, so use that time to plan ahead – write a list of everything you want to do and slowly tick the tasks off.
2. Don’t rush ahead fearing that if you don’t do it all straight away then the opportunity will pass – carefully research the market for your product or find out more about your potential clients.
3. Create a brand – what are your unique skills or product? – create a strong logo and develop key messages to appeal directly to your target audience.
4. Think big but start small – don’t over invest your time and money at the beginning before you are confident that you can bring in the cash and manage the potential workload without feeling overwhelmed.
5. Be selective about networking opportunities – target those gatherings or contacts who will directly benefit your business.
6. Make sure you are clear about the benefits of being self employed and any financial support you are due – use apps such as Squirrel to manage your finances.
7. Find out about the free childcare you can receive as well as looking at the option of sharing childcare with friends and family members. If you have a partner, consider if they can reduce their hours to provide support.
8. Build a presence on social media through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Quality is better than quantity and don’t waste hours comparing your feeds to other people’s.
9. Save positive feedback in a separate email inbox folder so these success stories are at your fingertips to use for marketing your business. Don’t be afraid of blowing your own trumpet.
10. And most importantly let go of the guilt – remember that your children love you for who you are and that they will survive and benefit from having a Mum who is ultimately happy and fulfilled.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, please share any self employment hacks in the comments box below!