I interviewed Annabel at The Baby Show in Birmingham surrounding her latest book Mumpreneur – The Complete Guide to Starting and Running a Successful Business. The book is for mum start-ups who want to turn their entrepreneurial skills into a thriving business while juggling all aspects of motherhood. The book is full of tips, advice and inspiring stories.
Hi Annabel, mums often feel stuck in a rut, they want a successful career but struggle finding a job that fits with childcare routines/ costs. Can you relate to that?
A: “Yes. Having a child isn’t a full stop at the end of your CV, some people think it might be, especially with the cost of childcare being so expensive now. Almost as much as you earn can be what you pay for childcare. It makes sense to start a business from home, fit it around your child. I chose specifically to write books as I knew I could do it from home and be a good mum at the same time. For mums who want to start a career I think it’s important to find something that will fit in with their life. It doesn’t have to be all consuming to begin with, spend time with your child, take it slowly. I wrote books for 17 years before I ever did anything in supermarkets”
Mums often feel guilty for going back to work. Did you find that?
A: “You need to come to terms with your guilt, for women you have this extra layer of guilt, a guilt you feel when you’re not with your child, so it’s finding your own guilt threshold. Finding what works for you, for example getting back for bedtime. There’s no good beating yourself up about guilt, its quite negative, so you’ve got to decide, ‘am I going to be totally fulfilled as a fulltime mother?’ or ‘am I not going to be a great full time mother as I need something else in my life?’ You have to be true to yourself. Then decide what time’s sacrosanct, ‘I’m not going to work after 5pm’ or I’’m going to take her to all her baby groups and then work in between them’. Make it fit in with your life and what is good for you. When you’re with your child you’re not on your phone and when you’re on your own you’re not beating yourself up with guilt. Otherwise you’re constantly stressed out.”
You started a business from your kitchen table, what advice can you give mums who think they can’t do it.
A: “Don’t underestimate your skills, if you can deal with an unruly toddler, you can deal with almost any human being. If you can multitask with a child and run a home, you’ve already got loads of skills. A lot of it is to do with confidence, you need to be confident about what you are doing, you need to be your own best advocate, you need to be able to sell your idea to somebody else. I wrote a book about feeding children, there have been other books about feeding children. I just did something better than anyone else had done before. I researched every recipe, I knew it was what scientists said was right to give to babies. I tested everything out on babies. It was a groundbreaking book, but it wasn’t an invention! An entrepreneur isn’t an inventor. Sometimes the simplest idea can be brilliant.”
How does your new book help mums kick start their business?
A: “It’s a very practical guide. Ways you can raise your money. I’d say never re-mortgage your house, it’s far too risky. Find funding, crowd funding, SCIS, there are ways. Learn how to write your business plan and how to do your research. Find out what help you’ll need, you can’t do everything. You need someone to help with your accountancy and the legal side. It’s very much a practical guide.”
To mums sat at home thinking I’m talented but not brave enough to go it alone…what’s your advice?
A: “Its never too late to be who you might have been, you don’t want to live to regret that you didn’t do something that you wanted to do and then see someone else do it. When you’re working for someone you’re working for someone else’s dream. When you’re working for yourself, it’s not really like work, as you have a passion and a love for it. It’s an extension of your life. Being a mumpreneur isn’t easy but you’re driven by passion, it’s very rewarding. It started so small, on my kitchen table, with my husband saying; “why don’t you get a proper job, when are you getting a proper job?”
You’ve admitted starting your business wasn’t easy, how did you cope with knock backs?
A: “I had a lot of knock backs trying to get my first book published. But Marilyn Monroe was told she wasn’t pretty enough or talented enough to an actress. James Dyson went through 5126 prototypes before he came up with his vacuum cleaner. So you need to keep trying. You can’t wait until the perfect time to start a business, just start researching it, get out and about, live it.”
Please can you give BritMums your top five tips to start your own business:
1. Find Your Niche: It’s very important to look for a gap in the market. Do something that is slightly different. You don’t have to be an inventor.
2. Get A Mentor: Try and find someone who’s been in the business that you want to go into, who will help. A lot of people will help you, if you don’t have any money you could even offer a small amount of equity in your business to your mentor. They can help you from making mistakes.
3. Be Safe: Don’t re-mortgage your house, there are other ways to raise money. Go for Crowdfunding, The Princes Trust, CSIS, EIS, don’t put your house at risk.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail: Failure is a part of business. You learn a lot through failure, it’s really important. The opposite of success isn’t failure it’s not trying.
5. Be Confident: Confidence is as important as competence, you need to be confident and have a passion and love for what you do to be able to sell it to somebody. Don’t do something because you think it might make money.