Amelia’s Grant for Creative Women

If a £100 grant would  help you with your creative project, then take a look at Amelia Critchlow’s 101 Bird Tales blog.

Amelia, artist and workshop leader, says

“‘Gift Grants 2010’ was an idea that came to me early this year. It is a personal initiative I wish to start, assisting creative self-starters in an arts/creative project. I am willing to give as a ‘gift’ – hence the name – £100 to an individual who has started an initiative related to creativity/the arts, but may be experiencing financial difficulties, or simply needs some money toward materials, a space, paid help, or whatever else might be needed to get a creative project up and flying.

I found it an incredible struggle trying to single parent, earn money, and find something for me, but when I did (art) and with the help I was given, I feel it has been the difference between sanity and insanity for me. Now it’s time I’d like to give back.”

To find out how to apply and if you’re eligible, check out 101 Bird Tales.

And Amelia will be guest blogging here at Business Plus Baby very soon…

Home business phone line: do I need one?

Some home-based businesses use the same phone line for business and personal calls. Personally, I wouldn’t be happy with this and here’s why:

  • You need to be able to ignore your business phone (OK, switch on your voicemail…) after office hours or you’ll be on duty 24 hours a day.
  • You need to answer the business line in a professional manner, which is far easier to control on a dedicated phone line than on one that’s shared by the whole family.
  • Your business phone number will be spread far and wide on your marketing materials, including your website. The chances are you don’t want your home phone number to be so widely available.

The last time I started out as a freelancer in 2000, business phone line options for people who worked from home were limited to say the least. Most got a second home phone number from BT and didn’t tell BT it was for business use, so avoiding paying the full business fee. This is still an option (shh, don’t say I mentioned it!), but technology has moved on and there is more choice now, including:

Mobile phone. I asked some mums in business if they felt that having a mobile number as your only business phone number would be seen as unprofessional. Most said that these days their clients couldn’t care less whether they were given a mobile number or a landline, but some said they felt it might give a bad impression. It depends on the kind of business you’re in and the only sure way to find out is to do some market research.

Telephone redirection service. You can ‘rent’ a phone number so that when clients phone it, it looks like an ordinary landline number  but the call is received at the phone of your choice. You could direct the call to your landline or mobile. A free option if you’re just starting out and have only a few calls is a service like YAC. This gives you a number for free and you can direct calls to your mobile, landline or email (you get a voice message as an attachment). The only snag is that the call charges are rather high for anyone phoning you, so not great for customer service in the long run. Still, it’s preferable to putting your home phone number up on your website for the world to see, plus you can use it for voicemail only and then call back.

Or you can pay a small fee and use a service like which charges your callers the cost of a local call.

Internet phone (VOIP). Instead of having a phone line coming into your home, make your calls over the internet. With Vonage, for example, you plug a normal phone into your computer’s modem or router using the adapter provided. Alternatively, you could use Skype’s Online Number service so that people dial a number on their phone and you receive the call on your computer.

Try:, Skype Online Number

Virtual receptionist service. If a client phones and you’re busy, a  receptionist (i.e. a real human being) takes a message and passes it on to you. And it’s not as expensive as you might think. It could make a big difference if there are big chunks of the day that you don’t want to be answering the phone with screaming children in the background.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Lars Plougmann

(Updated 2 June 2011)

It’s the Business Mums’ Blog Carnival for June!

Would you like more traffic to your blog, plus more links and more comments? How about a chance to network online around the business mum community? It’s free and will take you just a couple of minutes. (The sparkly bikini is optional…)

Then join this month’s Business Mums’ Blog Carnival!

Here’s how it works. Each month, a different business mum blogger hosts the blog carnival, listing the best  posts that month. If you’re a mumpreneur with a blog, you can submit your own favourite post of that month to the carnival.

We’re looking for posts that add value in some way, so maybe they inspire, inform or make us smile. It’s OK to talk a little about what you do (we’re all in business after all) but a post that’s just a sales pitch isn’t going to be much of a read.

UPDATE: The June carnival is now live at the Ivy House Interiors blog

The hosts for the rest of 2010 are:


Email posts to samthewlis (at) by the end of Friday 16th July and the carnival will be posted on Monday 19th July.

August 2010 –

(email and dates to follow)

September2010 –

(email and dates to follow)

October 2010 –

Email posts to info (at) sizzlingscience (dot) by end of Monday 11th October and the carnival will be posted on Monday 18th October

November 2010

(email and dates to follow)


Email posts to maggy (At) familywoodley (dot) com by the end of Friday 24th Dec and Carnival will be posted by Friday 31st Dec.

Photo credit: m8nd1

My Latest Adventure In Childcare

My guess is that childcare is the number one worry for any working parent. Either it’s not up to scratch, it’s not flexible enough, you’d rather be at home caring for your own kids or it’s just too expensive.

Being self employed does give more flexibility, but I’ve found this has still given me some tricky choices. Especially as I have two children under age three, so the cost of childcare for both of them is very high. Like many self-employed mums, I’m stuck in a cycle where I couldn’t  afford the childcare until I got an income, but couldn’t find the time to earn an income without childcare.

The main reason I chose to become self employed was to spend more time with my children, so I don’t want much childcare, just enough to allow me to get some work done in the daytime i.e. when my brain functions better than in the evenings! And I felt my daughter was just about ready to mix with more children of her own age.

So here’s what I did. I’ve arranged for my two-year-old to go back to the nursery she attended last year for one morning a week. While she’s there, her baby brother will have his morning nap and my mum will babysit him for the rest of the morning.  (My mum doesn’t have the energy to care for both of them at the same time). With the childcare vouchers from my husband's job (you can’t get these if you’re self employed), this isn’t going to be too expensive.

That sounded like a reasonable plan, but knowing how good babies are at messing up a reasonable plan, I was a bit nervous. And I was surprised at how stressed I was at putting my daughter in the nursery. It was only one morning a week, the nursery is fantastic and I feel incredibly lucky that I don’t have to use full-time childcare like so many other mums. But it’s never easy, is it?

Well, we tried it for the first time last week and all was fine. There were a few tears (my daughter’s, rather than mine!) but generally my daughter was fine at the nursery. Best of all, it was brilliant to have three hours of day-time to concentrate on my work at last. I hope to be able to increase the childcare gradually as my daughter qualifies for nursery funding in just over a year’s time.

So if you’re wondering whether to use a bit of childcare to free up some time for your business, I recommend giving it a go. Of course it could all go pear-shaped next week (new government, please don’t cut back on the childcare vouchers!), but there really is a limit to what you can do by working in naptimes and evenings.

Have you got any childcare tips for self-employed mums?

Photo by AbbyNormy

Business Ideas For Mums: Gardening, Ironing, Cleaning and More

Tell me more…

People often want help with these tasks around their homes:

  • Cleaning
  • Oven valeting
  • Gardening
  • Ironing
  • Pet sitting
  • Dog walking
  • Window cleaning

As older people now want to stay in their own homes for as long as they can, demand for this type of service could well be on the increase.

What are the benefits?

This type of business is usually simple, cheap and quick to get started (although getting a steady stream of clients will usually take some work).

  • You can do as many hours work as you want.
  • You can choose to offer as many of the different services (listed above) as you want.
  • If you get too much work for you alone, you could employ other people.

Things to consider…

  • Word-of-mouth is a very effective way of finding clients for this type of business. Make sure your friends, family and neighbours all know about your service so they can refer people to you. Even better, get some business cards printed and leave a few with all your family and friends so they can pass them on.
  • Agree with your clients exactly what you are going to do and when. Will you be using your own materials and tools (e.g. cleaning products, lawn mower) or theirs? Which cleaning tasks will you do in the time you are working for your client? This helps you avoid disagreements later on. 
  • You could try to think of a way to stand out from other businesses in your area. How about using only eco-friendly products?
  • Because these types of business are quick to set up, it could be easy to overlook the basics of starting a business. For example, get adequate insurance as you could accidentally break a client’s window, stain her carpet or burn and item of his clothing with an iron. If you’re offering an ironing service, will you need a heavy-duty iron and ironing board to avoid replacing your ordinary one frequently? Also, don’t forget you will need to register as self employed.

Further information

Not convinced that helping others around the house is for you? Take a look at other business ideas for mums.

Photo by Impicard