Well, I'll be honest, I wasn't quite sure I'd survive it, but I did. I made it out the other side of an epic run of Christmas fairs & order fulfilment! In hindsight I was maybe a little ambitious with how many Christmas Fairs I signed up to, but as with everything it's a big learning curve right now. In the run up to the festive season I even managed to squeeze 5 fairs into one week! Admittedly I did get help one Saturday when 2 fairs were actually going on at the same time, but I can tell you Starbucks did very well out of me in November and December. With my history in retail though I knew that many business can make around 40% of their turnover at this time of year, so I decided to power up and make the most of it!
I've oft heard it said "when you decide to start your own business for a better work/ life balance - DON'T!" You'll work harder than you've ever worked before! And it's true, but you know what, I'm a grafter, and I actually like working. It's so much more fulfilling when it's your own business, and I truly believe the more you put into it the more you get out. You hold the reigns, it's really only me giving myself a hard time if I haven't finished something in the time I wanted to.
The reality of juggling running a business and having 2 young children is that you are very time poor. I had initially budgeted in my business plan to give myself 1 day of childcare for the first few months to get me up and running. Unfortunately the reality of the cost of childcare in London is that it'll set you back the best part of £100 a day. Maybe not an issue to some, but for me, until the business can generate an income, it's not really viable or sustainable. So, for now I'm grabbing time when my youngest is napping, calling in the Grandma babysitting services when I can, and once the muklets are in bed cracking open the laptop or sewing machine and catching up e-mails, admin and orders.
I was sent some literature a while back from a lady I met at of the networking groups I belong to. It's entitled "The Simple 5 Step Formula To Double your income within 12 months" by Sarah Cox. Sarah has some really great tips, particularly focusing on how you can be very time and money poor when running your own business. Sarah introduces the concept that if you were told you could invest £5 and you would get £10 back, wouldn't you want to invest? It illustrates that you will have to spend money in a business in order to gain back. Reading that passage opened my eyes to another way of thinking. If I was having to pay someone £10/ hour to look after the kids to enable me to work, why not pay someone else around £10 to do some of the work for me, and have the added benefit that it is their area of expertise?!
So, still working on a button and a shoelace budget I set about looking for people that were willing to work with a small business in manageable fees on an ad-hoc flexible basis. I'd also recognised that there was great potential in my local parent peerage. Mostly Career Mums who had either decided not to return to work or struggled to find a work situation that offered flexible hours to work around family life. So, why not utilise this amazing skill base, and offer projects that could fit around their schedules? I also discovered fellow Mums that were happy to meet whilst one or both of our children played so we could have a meeting. Fantastic - making progress at work and not having to pay for childcare! As long as the muklets were happy, entertained and nourished I managed for the most part to achieve productive fulfilling meetings and get some exciting plans in place!
So, this is who I've managed to bring on board so far:
A Momma whose helping manage my production - planning and costing making our muklet wares. Also currently costing and planning out my next collection, possibly moving all our manufacturing to the UK
Momma & Poppa photographers - both professional and amateur, helping with lifestyle and flat shots, also sending out muklets wares to Parent bloggers in exchange for photos
A Momma who's become my Editor reviewing my web content and blog for me
A lovely Muklet buddy who helps at Fairs, and is always up for a challenge so has been tasked with small research projects to fit around her busy week
A lovely Momma seamstress - helping to build my stock levels so I'm not always needing to make to order
And a Social Media Momma - helping to send out e-mails, review my website, ensure continuity across my web store platforms... and more tasks growing by the week!
Now, I'm not exclusive to mostly working with Mommas, it's kind of transpired that way as these are the people I'm crossing paths with now. But having that level of understanding that the reason I took 2 days to reply to your e-mail was because I haven't had a child free moment to breath. Or understanding that I can only arrange meetings during the school run window is a rather priceless, and much less stressful way of working than navigating family life with a 9-9 job! I think the people I've found to work with hopefully can share some of the passion I have for growing this business, and hopefully get a kick out of being part of this 'story'.
I'm certainly very thankful to these guys and all our muklet buddies that have helped us get this far. It literally wouldn't have been possible without them. Now, grab a double shot flat white, roll up your sleeves and let's get cracking with the next bit!
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