Well, guess what. I have finally heard from the bank, after 3+ weeks. Inefficiency? Procrastination? Well, whatever it may be, the bank said no. At this point I could U-turn and get a job, a salary and pack it all in. But I KNOW there is something out there that will work, a stone that has been left unturned.
This is a hard knock on my fundraising effort. We have gone so far. Larger contracts have been placed and I can’t develop new products without the funding I was counting on. What next?
I spoke to my neighbour, a successful, experienced builder who is going through a difficult time at the moment. He said exactly the same thing. He needed bank support to make a new project a reality. The equity was there to secure the loan but the bank said they didn’t want to make him homeless- can you believe it? I’ve no words to explain my frustration.
I have been speaking with a couple of investors but they want to take their time and my time is now. How do I say “now”, not later? How?
I think you’ll agree with me that opting to run your own business means NOT settling for the easy option. There’s a huge degree of resilience required, which one needs to develop along the way to cope with the difficulties. As the bank said no to lending to the business, we moved on to (another!) personal loan.
Now it’s all about moving forward... due to a grant we got from the East Midlands Food and Drink iNet, we were able to have a PR agency work with us for a few months. This means we were able to write our first newsletter and we also sent loads of samples to magazines and newspapers. I've had my first interview with a glossy magazine which will hopefully mean that there will be more awareness for the products nationally. We’ve had interest from other national magazines, and a large food magazine is talking about writing a feature on us which would be fantastic.
You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com
I don’t often write about the challenges of running a business and being a busy mum to four children. And whilst I do attend some of the women’s networking clubs, I do like to think that our business can stand on its own two feet - mum or not.
To be honest I think that most of us mums have a massive advantage over the men and child-free ladies who are competing in the business world.
Well firstly women are naturally blessed with amazing multi-tasking and time management skills. Show me a working mum and I will show you a lady who has set the alarm for one hour before the the kids are up to complete a project and who has successfully managed to feed a baby whilst drafting an email on her blackberry.
The second and most influential success factor for working mums is determination. I was a young teenage mum. Before the birth of my (now nearly 19 year old) daughter, I was studious but really lacked any kind of focus on what I wanted to be. Having had a baby before my first job (does a paper round count!?) prompted me to question what I needed out of life. And the answer to that 16 year old mum was money. I chose A-Levels and a Degree that would open doors (Maths, Physics, Business Studies and a Degree in Computing). In fact my whole adult life has been goal driven.
Now in my mid thirties and with baby number five on the way I am so happy to have been able to carve myself a career whilst managing the work-life balance. Just in the last few weeks our home has been struck with a sickness bug, terrible three week long colds and on Wednesday my three year old son woke up covered head to toe in a horrendous rash which later turned out to be an allergy. Had I still been in the corporate world I dread to think what my boss might have said each day as I requested more and more leave to care for my children!
After 11 years of working as a lecturer in further education, I was beginning to feel more and more like I needed a change, but just didn't know what.
What I did know, was that I wanted to work for myself in some capacity. I'd run my own business before, but took the job at the college because I wanted the benefits of maternity and sick pay.
In February of 2007, I found out that I was pregnant. It came as a complete surprise and it certainly wasn't planned. I already had two boys and had made my mind up that I didn't want any more.
As soon as I began my maternity leave, I had an overwhelming feeling that now was the time to start my own business and I just knew that I wouldn't be going back to the college.
But what would I do?
In October 2007, I gave birth to a gorgeous little boy and I became even more determined to work from home, running my own business.
Although my partner was working, he also had a small online business called www.BeingaMillionaire.com. It had been moderately successful but he'd begun to lose interest and because of this, some orders had been overlooked.
I decided to start sending the orders out while I was off work.
I should add that at the same time, we were having a very large extension built on the house and the place was crawling with builders. The only place I could sit quietly and work was our bedroom. So it was there that I would sit on the bed, laptop perched on one knee, baby bouncing on the other while I typed emails with one hand!
It didn't take long for the business to take off. It was such a great idea, all it needed was a little TLC.
I chose not to use childcare so baby had to go wherever I went - to meetings, visiting suppliers, seeing the bank manager...everywhere, and he always got a great reaction.
When the time came for me to return to work, I took the plunge, called HR and told them I wouldn't be back. I did have to pay back some of my maternity pay, but it was worth it.
Even though I was sad to leave as I had made some great friends, I've never looked back.
Two and a half years later and my little baby is now a toddler and I work during his playgroup sessions and nap times.
The business has just had it's most profitable year yet and I'm currently in the process of expanding the product range.
I know not everyone will have such a great experience as me but I wouldn't discourage anyone from taking that big step into their own business.
Andrea Daly, The Accidental Businessmum
What’s my greatest challenge as an aspiring mumpreneur? Not enough time or money. Oh and not forgetting the lack of sleep (milk in the washing machine, dirty socks in the fridge – you get the picture).
The fact that I’ve had the word ‘aspiring’ in front of my job title for about eighteen months now gives you some idea of how long the research phase takes when you have babies.
But we mumpreneurs face even more challenges than a mere lack of time, money and sleep. If you’re short of cash from being on maternity leave or working part -time, then you need to start a business on a shoestring, which means you might have a lot of competition. And that means your marketing needs to be good if you’re to stand out from the crowd. That’s a tall order if this is your first journey into the world of business.
Most businesses have one main aim - to make money. Most mumpreneurs run businesses with two aims - to make money and to work around their family. This is a tough juggling act, especially if you’re grabbing an hour here and an hour there when the children are napping or at pre-school.
So why on earth are so many of us doing it?
Having children shifts your priorities in ways you cannot imagine until you do it. Of course your children become the centre of your world, but with this can come a huge burst in motivation and creativity. Your time becomes more precious – any working time is time away from your babies – so you want to make the absolute best of it.
The urge to provide for your family is not just for the guys. Mums have it too.
It’s this potent mix of instinct, motivation, determination and (let’s face it) necessity that drives us to start our own businesses at one of the toughest times of our lives.
Watch out, here we come.
Helen Lindop, www.businessplusbaby.com
If you're a mum in business, there are a number of areas that could be of benefit to you. As well as making sure you are claiming Child Tax Credits, you could try the following:
Not paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions
Currently £2.40 a week, Class 2 National Insurance Contributions don’t have to be paid if you earn below £5,075 in 09/10, but make sure you understand that you will be giving up rights to incapacity allowance, basic state pension and maternity allowance. Claim a deferment and you can save £2.40 a week (09/10 rate). You are eligible for state pension anyway if you have children under 12. Make a claim on http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/cf411.pdf.
Investing in The Child Trust Fund
The Child Trust Fund is available to all children born on or after 1 September 2002. The government will give you a voucher for £250 which you can invest in a Child Trust Fund savings account of your choice, and they will give you another £250 when your child is seven. If you have a relatively low household income, you may also receive another payment. You, your friends or family, can top up the fund by up to £1,200 annually and there are no taxation impacts. The fund will be available to your child when they reach 18.
Setting up a pension for your children
An even better place to invest for your child’s future could be in a pension. Obviously this is a long term investment and would not be available from age 18, but many parents may consider that an advantage. Stakeholder pensions are available to non earners and children, and you can invest £2,880 a year, which is then topped up to £3,600 by HMRC.
Making sure interest on savings accounts is tax free
In most cases, your children should be receiving interest on their savings tax free. If this is not the case, complete form R85 and take it to the bank to make sure interest is paid tax free.
Involving children in your business
Amy Taylor Accountancy takes every care in preparing material to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date. However no responsibility for loss to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of this material can be accepted by Amy Taylor Accountancy.
Amy Taylor, Amy Taylor Accountancy
Working for yourself is certainly one way in which to take control of your working hours, be more flexible with childcare arrangements and, more importantly, spend more time with your children when they need you. However, nothing in life is for free: everything has a cost attached. So what is the cost for work at home mums?
The house, the husband/partner/significant other and the children all continue to need you, and make demands on your time, but there is also a ‘New Kid on The Block’ – your business. For that to survive and be successful it also needs as much care and attention as a new-born baby. So when all these demands has been squeezed into a day… well there aren’t many minutes left.
On a personal level, being able to do the school run is a very important and key reason for choosing to work for myself. However, the pay off for that is a shortened working day, which results in working evenings and weekends. This in turn impacts on my relaxation time and time with my husband. So how do you counteract this?
Time management is one of the hottest topics around as we seem to be under pressure to cram more and more into each day. Mums generally are very adept at both multi-tasking and fitting 48 hours worth of tasks and activities into a day. Where the problem may lie is in delegation and prioritising, especially when it comes to ensuring we still have time for ourselves and our partners.
If you start with 24 hours and all the things that have to be fitted in, you will quickly come to the conclusion that cutbacks need to be made. The trick is to ensure that every ‘department’ should take a part in these cutbacks. So rather than the ‘me time’ and ‘us time’ sections being all but eroded, why not look to all areas. Highest on my own list for a cutback is housework, and it doesn’t take me a lot of encouragement to miss the dusting for a week or leave the ironing pile for another day. Likewise, much as I love cooking, there are times when the usual home-cooked-from-scratch meal is replaced by a take away or convenience food, and – surprise surprise - the world doesn’t end!
The majority of mums take the decision to work for themselves because of their children. However if this enables you take and collect your children from school and be with them in the holidays, then you shouldn’t feel guilty if Daddy does bedtime or you spend three hours working at the weekend; they will benefit more from the key times you are there compared to paid employment. Equally it is good to have your partner onside who can help understand that your attention and energy is being drawn in a new direction, but will support you and understands that in the long term this is a solution which will benefit you all.
Most important of all is ‘you’ time. This in my experience is the first to go when working for yourself and takes real strength of character to maintain; you have never ending to-do list, the housework is falling behind and the family are missing your undivided attention. How do you justify time for you, let alone actually find it? Firstly you need to re-train yourself; not an easy job if delegation is not one of your strengths or you are used to being 'mistress' of the home. Secondly you need to gradually retrain the rest of the family that Mummy doesn’t do everything, and accept that their way isn’t the wrong way.
And finally, convincing yourself that you deserve that time; you work hard all seven days of the week for the benefit of the family… so even if you only manage a half hour’s peace with a G & T in the bath, you truly need and deserve it. Without you, neither the business nor the family would be so successful. Cheers!
Sam Pearce & Helen Woodham, Mum's The Boss
A version of this post originally appeared on Mum's The Blog