Helen Lindop is a Mum of two, software trainer and the founder of the blog Business plus baby. I caught up with Helen to find out exactly how she started her business and how you could also juggle your own business and your kids.
Your website Business Plus Baby is fantastic; at what point did you turn your idea into a reality?
Thank you very much!
I started my blog businessplusbaby.com in summer 2009. My daughter was fourteen months old and I was eight months pregnant with my son. I’d researched lots of business ideas that could fit around a family, but none of them were quite right for my family. So I started to blog about my business ideas because I thought they might be helpful for other mums.
That led to me co-writing Start a Family Friendly Business, which then led on to me creating several e-courses and e-books. After that I started mentoring other mums with businesses and this month I’m running a series of online workshops called The Thursday Night Webinars.
So I don’t think there was one single point where my business became a reality, it just grew slowly over time. That’s what’s great about online businesses, you can go at your own speed. And it was the best approach for me because I was juggling my business with two babies in the early days!
Where did you get help and support from to start your business?
I’d been a freelance software trainer for six years before my kids arrived, so that was a huge help. I knew how to be self-employed, I just didn’t know how to do it with two babies in tow!
I found the networking group Mums The Boss brilliant in the early days for helping with the isolation that you can feel when you work from home. Plus I did a lot of networking online using Facebook, Twitter and my blog – Business Plus Baby
My start-up costs were minimal – it was things like web hosting, insurance and a little graphic design.
Where else would you recommend Mumpreneurs go for help and advice?
The first place to go would be your local enterprise agency as some can still offer free training and advice.
If you work mainly alone from home, look around for an inexpensive networking group to stop you from getting isolated as this can really chip away at your confidence and motivation. There are mumpreneur networking groups throughout the UK, as well as conferences, but any networking group where you feel you’ve found ‘your tribe’ is great.
There’s tons of information online, including my own top articles page! But also check out www.gov.uk/browse/business, http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/index.shtml and the Donut websites – Law Donut, Startup Donut, Marketing Donut.
What challenges did you face when setting up your business plus baby and how did you overcome them?
Time was the biggest one because I had virtually no childcare. (Ideally I would have like to have had a day or two of childcare per week, but it was so expensive for two kids under age 3 it made more sense to grow the business slowly for a couple of years instead).Then I felt frustrated because I had so much I wanted to do and so little time to do it. But on the plus side it taught me how to be very productive and focused. So I had be very realistic about what I could achieve in the time I had got and accept there were some things that had to be put on hold until my children were older. It was tough sometimes because the goalposts were always moving – each time my children’s naptimes changed that had an impact on the time I had available to work, for example.
When starting your business, tell us about your typical day working and looking after your child.
I don’t think I ever had a typical day! But when the children were tiny I’d squeeze a few blog posts and some promotion on Facebook and Twitter into a naptime, then the rest of the time I was with the children. As they got older and slept more, I had more energy to work in the evenings, so I was gradually able to do more. Now they are starting school and preschool, so I have more time again.
I sometimes read about mums who set their kids up with a craft activity and then get on with their own work. That never worked for me! I don’t think it gives the business or the children the attention they deserve, anyway.
Finally, what’s your golden piece of advice to other parents who are thinking of starting up their own business?
Start from your own talents, skills and interests. Then do thorough research to match those up with what your market wants. Both are important because unless you love what you do, you won’t stick with it. But on the other hand, if people don’t want to buy what you’re selling, you won’t have a business.
Thank you Helen for sharing the insight to your blog business plus baby. You are a great and a fantastic example of how important it is to use your time effectively and efficiently!