Mums face an extra set of challenges when building a business. Yes dads run businesses too, but the fact remains that mums are still more likely to take responsibility for childcare and that’s magnified of course for the growing number of single mums who run their own business.
What if you have to drop everything to pick up a sick child from school? What if a customer rings while you are at the nativity play? How do you cope during half term?
Most mums will recognise these concerns and the potential stress may even be putting some off starting a business, but there are services out there that can help.
Clare Marshall has first hand experience of juggling business, children and home, and has spoken with hundreds of other mums in similar situations.
Clare is Managing Director of Office Answers, a virtual receptionist service, which she set up with her husband in 2004 when her children were 6 and 4. “In the early days I only had three hours each morning while they were at nursery and school so the real juggling happened in the afternoons” says Clare, “it gets a bit easier as they get older but afternoons and school holidays are still a challenge”.
Clare realised that the receptionist team was ideally suited to helping working mums, particularly those working from home. This has become a key niche for Office Answers and Clare has spoken with many mums in business over the years and helped them start and grow their business.
A typical user is Alison Cadinouche who is a mother of three and was working as a physiotherapist at a doctors surgery but wanted to set up her own practice. She converted her garage into a private treatment room and uses the receptionist service, particularly while doing the school run. “I felt I was losing potential patients by not always being able to answer the phone in person” explains Alison, “patients want the reassurance of speaking to a person immediately, not leaving a message on an answerphone”.
Alison can plan for the school run every day but sometimes child care throws unexpected challenges so you need a support network to help keep the business running.
Clare had a typical request from Jo Wood who runs the business side of Training and Testing Services with her husband who delivers safety training courses. It is a busy and growing company but as Jo said “I have poorly children and a member of staff on holiday so motherhood and running a business is a little tricky this week! Can the receptionists advise callers that we will deal with them as soon as someone is available but there may be a short delay. Also, if it is possible to get an email address I can at the very least email them.”
Basing your business from home creates plenty of flexibility for dealing with childcare and avoids the costs of renting an office, but there are downsides. In addition to having children at home another issue is that few have the space to employ others as the business starts to grow. One approach is to build up a network of virtual services. The virtual receptionist service from Office Answers is an example, and if you need an assistant then consider a Virtual Assistant. Millie Rust Clarke has two young children and used her Executive Assistant experience to create her own Virtual Assistant business, Miracle Millie. “I help small businesses free up time to grow their businesses by taking on all kinds of business administration such as diary management, social media, travel arrangements, event organising etc” says Millie, “and being a mother of a young family myself I fully understand the demands of juggling business with child care”.
It is challenging starting and running a business as a mum with young children, but there are services out there that understand your issues and will help you grow your business.
This post is sponsored by Office Answers.