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January 2015

Mums are back in business

By | Career coaching

Many women choose to create new paths when they have children, using their experience to set up on their own. This gives them the flexibility and hopefully the income they crave. I experienced this first hand. After ten years as a BBC producer and two children, I decided to go part-time. Somehow, working part-time felt like I had been demoted and I started to feel there was something missing. I noticed a gap in the market for many new parents who were at work. I saw them returning to work but still struggling with weaning, with sleepless nights or with childcare issues. Within a short space of time, I founded Parents Matter, which provides corporate clients with in-house seminars for working parents on a huge range of topics. Staff members were invited to leave their desks at lunchtime and immerse themselves in a parenting topic delivered by an expert speaker. Ten years down the line, Parents Matter has expanded to Employees Matter (www.employeesmatter.co.uk), offering a full range of seminars and webinars for all staff. Parenting seminars are still an integral part of my business offering, but in addition to that we offer sessions on resilience, work-life balance, stress management, bereavement and many other topics. In 2014, Employees Matter ran more than 250 seminars across the country, involving corporate banks, law firms and management consultancies. While the BBC gave me invaluable experience, I love being my own boss and seeing my company grow.

REWRITING THE FUTURE

Meanwhile, Heather Trefusis has taken a similar approach by forming a new copywriting, editing and proofreading service called The Writing Works (www.thewriting.works). `I’d always wanted to have the freedom that comes with working for yourself and felt that even more keenly once I became a mum; she says. `I do feel I’m lucky enough to have the best of both worlds now because I have lots of time with my little boy but also get to keep doing the work I love. Heather worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years and has been lucky enough to write for some of the country’s biggest brands. But when she had her son in 2013 she decided it was a good time to ‘go it alone’ and set

up her own business. set certain days aside to work when my son is being looked after by his grandparents; says Heather, but the challenge I find is that on the days when I’m not “working”, if I need to make phone calls to clients or send emails, these small things are not always easy to do with a toddler around. `I like to respond to clients and to new enquiries promptly, but I often have to wait until his nap time to do so. I guess that’s the difference. If you’re employed part-time, you can just switch off on non-working days:

A FLEXIBLE APPROACH

Louise Leach, who owns Dancing with Louise (www.dancingwithlouise. co.uk), has built a business teaching dance and fitness, including tap, ballet, Zumba, hip-hop, Strictly Ballroom, musical theatre, drama and breakdance. Her pupils range from toddlers right through to retirees. `I was in a girl band and hosting a radio show following a stint on ITV’s Popstars in 2001; she shares. ‘I then wanted my focus to be on family life and not a career in showbiz. That is when Louise opened her first branch of the dance school back in 2002. She now facilitates more than 100 classes per week with more than 20 qualified instructors on her books. `The flexibility to be my own boss and, for example, go away when I want to and stay at home if a child is unwell without having to answer to anyone or let anyone down is immeasurable:

HIDDEN TREASURES

Past experience is also a common theme that empowers mums to set up on their own. `So many of my friends were asking me to sell their bits on eBay as a favour for them as they didn’t know how to use it, says mother Deborah Roberts Mendoza. Deborah previously worked for bereavement charity Grief Encounter, and many people gave her things to sell for the charity, which gave her the experience she needed. Her Hidden Chest of Treasures (http://www.ebay. co.uk/usr/wearehcot) store started off taking anything and everything but is now far more selective about what

it takes. Having started off primarily selling clothes, the company now sells furniture, kitchens and bathrooms and a range of other goods on its customers’ behalf. Deborah says: life is a constant juggling act. I have to arrange to get to a client, go through everything and/ or measure as well as dealing with all enquires and keeping people up to date. You can get a phone call at any time and don’t really have a switch-off period, especially as so much is done online now:

CAREERS COACHING

Natalie Lancer ¬†offers coaching for adults who want to go for a promotion, change career, go back to work after maternity or upskill. She loves the diversity of that work that she does: I am very fulfilled both in terms of being a professional and a mum: However, she recognises that not everybody has a clear-cut idea of how to change careers or set up a business when they have children, and that often it takes a while to get the wheels in motion. ‘Businesses take time to get clients so, if possible, don’t give up your day job, but start your business on the side; she advises.

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