Since I took the plunge to start Baby Beats I have been amazed and overwhelmed to find out how many other ladies are going it alone and starting their own businesses too. I started out feeling really alone and isolated and thought you need to be an expert business person to run a business. But I soon discovered a whole local network of mumpreneurs in the same position as me who have supported me just like co-workers.
Having a baby changes you. When you realise how much money you have to pay out in childcare to have someone else look after your child while you work, it can often make you wonder if the work and the wage is worth it. For me it was fine after baby number 1, I actually enjoyed having my career back and doing something for me again, but after baby number 2, I decided it was time for a change. To leave two babies (well, a baby and a toddler) it needed to be something I was really passionate about as well as providing the flexibility I would need to fit in with the fast approaching school years.
There are downsides too of course. As I'm writing this I've had to take the day off from classes due to my poor little boy being sick throughout the night, and now my eldest is home after being sick at school. Although they bounce back pretty quick they have to stay off for 48 hours. So if I stay off work all that time I can't take holiday or sick pay I just don't get paid. I also don't get a set salary every month so booking clubs, classes, outings or anything 'extra' can be really hard when I don't know how much money is coming in.
The thing I have struggled with the most has been making major decisions all by myself and being responsible for everything. But whenever I have been stuck I have always found support out there, and some amazing new friends too. Networking now comes in all shapes and sizes and the first group I joined was Bizmums which was invaluable as I was starting out. Through our local meetings I realised how many women running their own business there are in my local area. I have learnt so much from them, and pleased to say I have taught them things too, and now some of us have formed our own skill-sharing group.
One thing I have found really successful is working with other businesses, not just behind the scenes to learn from them and share ideas and information but by forming partnerships too, helping to introduce each other to a wider range of customers and raise each other's profiles. I did this recently at my Easter Holiday event by inviting some of my friends along and I wanted to give them a shout out and tell you a bit more about them.
Little Potters - Becky and I have known each other since we met at our local toddler group and she made Christmas baubles with my eldest sons teeny hand print on when she was just starting out. I have seen her business go from strength to strength and know how hard-working she is and how amazing she is with children. I love it that we have both supported each other and bought products from each other, but on social media too and physically when we're at an event and need a hand, or when we need a wine and let off steam. Her products were really popular at the Easter Party especially as we had quite a few small babies, and she offers lots of lovely keepsakes now such as jewellery and hand and foot casts, plus amazing ted-bear birthday parties.
Ivy and Noah - I first met Claire and her son Noah at a Baby Beats class when Noah was just a few months old! I was really interested to learn that Ivy is not a new sister on the way but Claire's grandmother who also had a passion for sewing. Noah once came to class wrapped in a beautiful crocheted blanket and Claire said she had made it herself and would love sell her products and we talked about starting your own business. So I was delighted when I found out she had gone for it and her products made a beautiful display at our Easter Party. Her gorgeous teepees, wall hangings, cushions and bunting are all made to order and can be personalised.
Katherine Barratt Photography - Katherine and her daughter also used to come to Baby Beats and I didn't even know that she was a photographer until I saw her at Faddiley Monthly Market earlier this year. We got chatting about her baby photography sessions and me knowing lots of babies and knew we could make a great collaboration. She offered mini Spring themed photoshoots at our Easter Party and she was completely booked up working non stop, and managing to share the results with us super fast before Easter. We will definitely be offering mini shoots with Katherine at our Chiristmas Parties if not before.
I am now looking forward to my next exciting collaboration with the amazing Kate Barton from Dance Baby Sling for our Mad Hatter's Family Fun Day. This event was born last year and was a sell out so we know we have to make it bigger and better this year. You can book your early bird tickets now to save 20% using code BIRD20 and find out all about it here. And of course we will be inviting all our other business friends along and if you think you can offer something to the day we would love to hear from you too and start another fantastic partnership. We are all in this together, working towards the same goals for the same reasons and it's amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it!