Are you a new mum or maybe you are looking to set up your own business? You might just be a little bit crazy and did both like me. Like many mums out there I thought starting my own business would allow me to have more time and flexibility - not stuck to the 9 to 5 hours with my set hour lunch. I was hugely inspired by one of my friends who set up her own wedding styling company. Her company has just turned five years old, and she now has two babies.
I have learnt very quickly that working for myself and growing my business is like having a second newborn in our household. I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing both at the same time. On this 6-month journey, I have learnt so much and noticed the similarities between being a mum and a business owner.
When I have an idea in my head, that I think will work, I get excited, start making lots of plans, run around a lot, as I want it to succeed immediately. But it has been a little bit disheartening that after six months my business is not the most talked about business in the area. Not even the most talked about agency in my estate. Am I doing something wrong?
While researching for this blog, it was comforting to find that even the founders of the biggest brands don't expect too much of their businesses early on. According to Brian Smith, founder of Ugg Australia (most comfy shoes ever) and author of "The Birth Of A Brand" says expecting your business to take off right away is like expecting your two-year-old to head off to college tomorrow.
I personally think Evie is a genius, but we all know that's not a realistic expectation.
Business or New Baby?
A newborn and a new business don't come with instructions – trust me I have searched. You are always learning on the job and most importantly learning from your mistakes. You learn something new every day and don't stop worrying "am I doing this right"?
It also looks way easier than it is – mums who have a business make it look so simple. I was obsessed with Sam Faiers and The Mummy Diaries. She is always working, looking glam and breastfeeding. When she is on vacation, she's relaxed and driving around LA. When I was in Dubai, I was stuck in the shade, self-conscious in my swimming costume and desperate to find Wi-Fi to launch a new project. Vacations aren't really vacations. It's a 24/7 job; you can't clock off from being a mum or from running your own business.
Having a baby isn't cheap, and the setup costs can eat up a fair few pounds. With the nursery, car seat, pushchair, nappies, formula, and the far too cute baby clothes. It's not too dissimilar to the setup costs of my business. With the logo, website, office, equipment, software and the important insurances - it all begins to add up.
You go from being nice and secure in your job with a regular monthly income. With the biggest worry is making sure you save for the next big holiday while making a huge order to Boohoo. Now, I am more worried about how are we going to pay our mortgage, phone bill and car payments. But like going on maternity leave – you make it work, and you do stay afloat. You become savvier with money, work extra hard to find more work, and with no safety net, you make sure you succeed.
What works for others may not work for you
Everyone had lots of advice when I fell pregnant last year. Do this, don't do that, eat this, don't eat that, buy this, don't buy that — it never stops. Be selective with what you take on board. Some of it is good, some of it is total rubbish. You must follow your gut and go with what works for you and your baby.
Starting a business invites the same sort of conversations. You will get lots of advice and ideas from others, but you need to decide what is best for your company. Some people might have more experience in your industry, but now I am starting to realise that no one can see your vision clearer than you can. You are with your business day in and day out. Only you know what the right thing is to do.
Sleep What's That?
Oh, the sleep deprivation! It is literally a form of torture. Feeding every three hours, in the dark throughout the winter was no fun. But it was a great opportunity to watch the full series of The Crown on Netflix (every cloud). The first few weeks with a newborn are like nothing you have ever experienced before. Once you become a mum, getting four hours of consecutive sleep is a major victory, and you pretty much walk around like a zombie.
Business owners, if they are anything like me are also very familiar with this kind sleep deprivation. I wake up two hours before my family to work, and up until the last minute, I fall asleep. This usually happens when my better half pulls me to bed making sure I clean my teeth before passing out. I know, it's a very glamorous life I lead. But a good night sleep is also a thing of the past with ideas rolling around in my head, things I need to get done and on occasion emails and texts that come through late at night that I need to deal with.
Why am I crying again?
Having a baby brings on lots of emotions. One minute, you are crying because you can't find a way to try and comfort your teething baby; the next minute, you are overwhelmed with joy the first time they pull them self-up and say uh-oh when they fall down.
The same goes for being your own boss. You are told at one minute by a client they have decided to go with someone else as it's not working out, then on the same week receiving fan mail and contacted by an older supplier as they are desperate to work with. The highs are just so high, and the lows are just so low when you are dealing with something you love so much there are days you end up crying like a baby.
It's so worth it
Relating my business to a baby has put everything in perspective for me. It has helped to take a little bit of the pressure off and to go with the flow. I also need to make sure I equally have time for my family and better half as this is what I am doing this all for. I just need to keep things running smoothly through this notoriously difficult period, and not wish my businesses childhood away. You need to love what you're doing above all else just like your child.
I will end this month's blog on a quote that is going to get me through every day this month
"If you love it, no matter what happens, you'll get through it," Brian Smith Founder of Ugg