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Running your own business after maternity leave

Running your own business after maternity leave

Wise words from working mum and founder of fitness business for parents and their children, Busylizzy Family Club, Julie Clabby

Every week I meet and speak to hundreds of women who’ve reached a turning point in their careers and seek a flexible work-life balance to suit the needs and demands of their young families. So often I hear the stories and woes about employers offering inflexible alternative roles after maternity leave or tales of part-time, four days a week jobs really being full-time roles squeezed into four days and propped up with a pro-rata salary.

Self-employment is often a dream and after maternity leave, there’s a natural turning point to try something new. I’m often asked how I set up my business – Busylizzy Family Club and what advice I have for other parents in a similar situation. If that’s you and if you are considering your career options and perhaps dipping your toe into running your own business, here are my five top tips.

1. Make a plan
Boring I hear you sigh! Your business plan is your road map to success. Write down where you are today, where you want your business to be in 12 or 24 months and benchmark your stepping stones to success. Setting up and running a business is hard work and made tougher if you bumble along with no clear objectives. Make a plan (financial and non-financial milestones) and stick to it. You will be able to monitor bite-sized success along the way too.

2. Headspace
You’ve decided to set up your business so you can spend more time with your family, great. But you will still need some child-free thinking time. Pondering decisions or making an important call with a baby on your hip sends out the wrong message and is very distracting. I learnt this the hard way setting up a business with a two- and three-year-old at my feet. Arrange some childcare so you have a few hours of complete headspace time. You will make smarter decisions and move your business forward in leaps and bounds. We all need time to think clearly.

3. Manage your time
This is the one I battled with the most when I first set up my business. I wanted everything to be perfect, every client to be happy and every interaction to be positive. This came at the detriment to my own time and happiness. I never switched off. Over the years I have learnt to manage my time and actually do less now but get better results. Nothing is rushed but instead planned and results-driven. Carve out some me-time in your week, diarise it and stick to it – just like you would a doctor’s appointment. This might be a personal training session, dog walk or trip to the gym. When you are back in work mode, you will be refreshed and motivated.

4. Don’t do everything
When setting up your business, budgets are tight and you will no doubt have to do everything to get started. You’ll become the accounts department, marketing department, your own IT support and sales team all wrapped into one! When budgets permit and you can begin to loosen the purse strings, surround yourself with good people who specialise in their areas. I’m fortunate enough to have a fabulous team in place at Busylizzy. From social media and design to marketing and PR, they are all experts in their fields and have been integral to the growth of the business. Let the experts do what they do best.

5. Don’t be shy
Enter awards, nominate yourself if you have to. Tell anyone who will listen about your business. Shout about it on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Instagram. Give your customers reasons to chat about you too, perhaps a loyalty offer or referral scheme. Toot your sales and marketing horn loud and clear so you stand out from the crowd. Being shy won’t win you any customers.

The author
Julie Clabby is the founder and franchise director of Busylizzy Family Club – a fitness business for parents with their children 0 to two years.

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