Today’s mumpreneur is my co-author of Start a Family Friendly Business, Antonia Chitty. Antonia is a real inspiration because she’s been a mumpreneur for over seven years now and has had several different businesses in that time. This month she launches her new venture, Become A Mumpreneur with her business partner Erica Douglas and I’ll be telling you more about that over the next couple of weeks.
Tell us a little about your business
Since 2003 I have set up a PR business, written 14 books and created 7 websites for my different businesses. I run a daily blog for working parents at Family Friendly Working, and offer tips and advice for mums in business at The Mumpreneur Guide blog. I have also entered into partnerships: the first BusinessMums Conference which I organised with 2 other Sussex businessmums took place last year and I now offer online training with Erica Douglas via www.aceinspire.com and www.becomeamumpreneur.com.
What was your job before starting your business?
Before I had Daisy I was writing health features for Which? magazine. Prior to that I had worked in promotion for a national charity and before that I practised as an optometrist!
What were your reasons for starting a business?
I went back to work after the birth of my daughter and found it really difficult. She was getting more and more interesting but I was paying someone else to look after her. A session with life coach Suzy Greaves made me realise I could work for myself and I got off the phone and pitched some articles to a magazine editor I knew. Daisy was 15 months old, and finally I could see a way that I could carry on with my career AND spend time with her. But that was just the start.
How did you go from your old career to your new business? How did you get your business idea?
I started small, offering PR services for others mums with businesses. I did trades to get started: I swapped some PR for my website with Sadie of www.glassraven.com and my first press release was written in exchange for a set of cloth nappies. The cloth nappy maker is responsible for the idea for the PR business: after I helped her out it became clear that there was a need for affordable and approachable PR help for mums in business.
Did you use any childcare?
Yes, Daisy was in nursery and I cut down her days when I started but knew I needed at least one child-free day a week. Now I have a lovely woman who has looked after Kit since he was tiny and doesn’t mind having all three of the kids if I need to work during the holidays or attend after school parents evenings.
What training, information or advice did you need to get started?
I had already started my PR qualifications and am a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
In the beginning I simply traded my time for money, providing PR services and charging by the job or by the hour. Initially I made a classic mistake of charging too little, AND I had to keep working throughout the holidays to see my income continue. Now I have learnt how to create an income that comes in every month, whether it is term time and I’m working hard or school holiday time and I’m off having fun with the kids. I have built up a range of products. I get my income from 7 or 8 different streams, and a lot of what I earn no longer relies on me sitting at my desk sending press releases or making calls. That’s a good thing as I now have three children and need to be really flexible to meet their needs.
Plus, in the last few years we’ve moved out of London and live on the Sussex coast in my dream home. We’re right on the beach … just last month when it snowed the children were even sledging down the beach, and sometimes we’re a bit reluctant to book a summer holiday because it is just so lovely here. This has only been possible due to the flexible way I now earn my living.
Now, I love being able to see opportunities and make the most of them. I like the variety of work, and I love being able to control what I do. I relish the fact that I can be really creative in many of my business activities AND enjoy using technology to make the businesses more efficient. I get a real buzz from the lovely women I work with: what I do enables me to link up with some really inspiring women. Most importantly, though, I have the ability to combine work with raising a family with as much flexibility as I need.
If you could give one piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?
When I was dreaming about my business 8 years ago, I wish I’d learnt some of the lessons we shared with the Become a Mumpreneur free e-course. I’d realise sooner that simply offering PR services wasn’t going to work once I had three children. I’d learn about diversifying so my earnings come from several different sources a whole lot earlier, which would have meant that I evened out the financial ups and downs I experienced in the first few years. If you’re thinking about starting up, or in the early days and struggling like I did, join the Become a Mumpreneur free e-course. It could save you making costly mistakes AND free you up to spend more time doing the things you love.
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