I started a business with a baby: Claire Meredith of Zest Payroll

Tell us a little about your business

Zest Payroll Solutions provides monthly payroll services to businesses, charities and parents who employ nannies.  I take care of all the calculations, payslips, payroll reports and the HMRC requirements (apart from paying them!).

What was your job before starting your business?

I was a Payroll Administrator in a Payroll Bureau for a large firm of Accountants doing the exact same thing!

How did you go from your old career to your new business?

I knew I didn’t want to go back to work before I’d even had my eldest son!  I’d been making plans to start my own business while I was still working.  I gave in my notice at the end of my maternity leave and started my business a month later.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

I didn’t want to miss my son growing up so I needed the flexibility of working from home.  We don’t live near our families so childcare was an issue too.  It was also something I’d been thinking about doing for years and it seemed like a really good time to give it a go.

Did you use any childcare?

For the first year I didn’t use any childcare (unless you count my husband on the occasional Saturday morning!).  I worked during the afternoon while my son had his nap, in the evenings and at weekends.  With payroll, most people pay their employees at the end of the month so I was lucky to be able to plan around that too (eg take holidays at the beginning of the month when work was quieter).  For the second year my son went to nursery one day a week so I could have a little more time to work on my business and he had a break from Mummy too!

How did you get your business idea?

I’d worked in two Payroll Bureaux for Accountants so I knew what was involved and thought I could pretty much do it on my own.  When I started out, the business name was “Nanny Numbers” and I specialised in payroll services for employers of nannies and other childcare related services (such as Nurseries and Pre-Schools).  I used to be a Nursery Nurse so it was kind of bringing the two together.  Three years later I’d picked up more un-childcare related payrolls so decided to change the focus and re-branded to Zest Payroll Solutions.

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

There were many, and I still struggle to overcome them!  Time is the big one.  I now have another son, so juggling two little ones, a business and a home is hard.  My eldest son is now at school and the little one goes to nursery two days a week so I have two clear work days (that is until one of them is ill and you can guarantee it’s on a nursery day!).

What training, information or advice did you need to get started?

I went on a Business Link start up course when I first set up the business.  It was fantastic and I learnt a lot.  I also went to a great free HMRC talk on becoming self employed.  There are lots of great free business advice websites too such as www.enterprisenation.co.uk that you can sign up for.

If you could give one piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?

Setting up a business on your own can be daunting.  Use your friends and family to run your ideas over with.  They may also be able to help you with the practical side of starting up.  Perhaps someone you know is good with IT and could help you set up a website or your friend’s cousin is a Book Keeper?  Talk about your plans and accept any offers of help.

Would you like a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to successJoin  my mailing list and I’ll send you one!

4 Replies to “I started a business with a baby: Claire Meredith of Zest Payroll”

  1. Very inspiring. I started my business 2 months before I got pregnant with my baby and as challenging as it was to run the business through-out my pregnancy, and with him now (10 months old) I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. Actually the interview with Claire Meredith motivated me a lot. It is quite clear from the conversation that baby could not have negative impact on your business aspiration if you have the proper positive attitude and know what you are going to do.

    1. Thanks Emily, I agree, aspirations and focus are so important if you’re going to succeed in running a business around a family.

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