Growing a Business with Kids: 5 Things I’ve Learned in 2011

Today’s post is by Claire Hughes, co-creator of the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course, which launches next week.

If you run a craft business, take a look at Handmade Horizons between now and the launch on 16th January for lots of free training on marketing your handmade products.

Over to you Claire!

How was 2011 for you? Personally, 2011 was a year of big development in my business and personal life. I learnt a lot – the hard way – but made it through the other side! Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past twelve months about growing a business with kids. I hope some of these will be of use to you, and help set you up for 2012! Continue reading “Growing a Business with Kids: 5 Things I’ve Learned in 2011”

I Started a Business With a Baby: Viv Smith of Poppy Sparkles

I’ve made jewellery since my early teens, and as stay at home mum on a career break from teaching English in a secondary school full-time, decided that this was my now or never time to take my hobby craft business further. I have always loved creating jewellery and dreamed about running my own business.  With the additional motivation of wanting to be with my young family longer than I might otherwise without an additional income to my husband’s, I launched Poppy Sparkles in March 2010, creating special occasion jewellery from Swarovski crystal, Freshwater Pearls and sterling silver.

I soon learnt a business lesson about being flexible and realised that my small range of charm style jewellery for little girls was most popular. Then I had a few ‘eureka!’ moments as I discovered my niche with birthstone jewellery and my USP (unique selling point) with my charm system. So, now I specialise in Birthstone Charm Jewellery.

A lot of my challenges I share in common with other women who are juggling motherhood with a business – fitting things in around children is hard.  Beads and babies do not mix, so all jewellery creation has to take place in the evening.  And, whilst some tasks can be slotted in around my children in the day, such as a spot of tweeting on twitter or a blog post draft, a lot of tasks require full concentration.

I’ve established Poppy Sparkles with no funding.  It’s been a challenge, but I’ve harnessed the power of Social media for free advertising, as well as valuable networking. Unable to out-source things, I’ve had to learn lots of different things from writing a press release to basic web design.  However, having no money does make you think very carefully about business decisions and how to re-invest income from sales.

Establishing a business is hard, but factor in establishing a business whilst also fulfilling the demanding role of being a mum, it can become quite a challenge.  Surrounding yourself with supportive people is important.  Having support from family and friends is essential, as at times you may need to call on them to help manage childcare, but support from other business mums or people in your chosen field is also very valuable.  Twitter has been an excellent resource for me and helped me create a supportive network around me – there are people that share my interests (eg handmade items, Etsy etc), as well as other mums seeking to establish a business and it’s great to share tips and encourage each other.

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I Started a Business With Toddlers: Michelle Williams of The Craft Ecademy

Tell us a little about your business

I run www.thecraftecademy.co.uk which offers a range of craft workshops aimed at helping other women to start their own craft-Business.  My workshops include a growing series of Jewellery making, Life Casting and Ceramics Courses, which are typically held at my studio in Hampshire.

Due to the large number of enquiries I receive from overseas, I now also offer a series of ecourses which allows people  to study with me any time, anywhere over the internet!  This is proving very popular, even from people within the UK, who want to come on my courses, but can’t travel due to child-care issues.

What was your job before starting your business and what motivated you?

I spent 15 years in IT marketing in a job I had no passion, I was desperate for a change and  started my Business initially as sideline.

As a single-parent of two active boys, my life was chaotic and I desperately needed more flexibility.  I took the decision to abandon my job in IT to focus on  the business full-time and I’ve never looked back.  I wouldn’t swap the freedom and flexibility that running your own business offers with anything!

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

The huge sense of personal satisfaction! Running your own business is a challenge – but an extremely rewarding one! No day is ever the same and you constantly learn new things. Most of all, as my business involves helping other women set up in business, I get a real buzz from helping other women realize their potential.

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

The highs are helping other women to fulfill their dreams and the lows are the inevitable problems that any business is likely to face along the way.  However, I believe it’s important to learn from any problems that arise.  I never view such obstacles as a reason to give up – but a chance to find solutions that will help improve the business and make it stronger.

How have you managed to stay on top of your career with the demands of motherhood while running a business?

Starting a business as a single-parent is not easy!  However, I am lucky that I can tailor my working day to ensure I am always there to take my children to school and collect them at the end of each day. I would never want my status as a single-parent or business Woman to compromise these ideals.  The downside has been many late nights and early starts to ensure I can fit the demands of the business around my Children.

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

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but if I can do it as a single parent – then there is hope for everyone! I think it’s really down to attitude and how much you want something to succeed.  However, it’s really important to have balance – to separate your home and business life and ensure you make time for your family.