When I started working in my dream job as a cadet journalist, I assumed I would work my way around a few newsrooms and eventually become an editor.
I never thought I would be running my own business where writing made up one part of my daily duties, among tax, recruitment, administration and marketing obligations. I had a watershed moment when I was interviewed for a PR consultancy job by a woman who was running a successful agency. She had children, and I saw that the roles of mother and business owner could go together.
I was inspired, but still a long way off from thinking about having a family of my own.
Fast forward a few years to when I was working in a marketing role at the British Franchise Association. Here I met some incredible women who had started businesses and franchised their operations, or became franchisees so they could be their own boss. Many were mothers and managed both jobs with efficiency and class.
During the 18 months I worked in this role, I started thinking about whether I was cut out to be my own boss and what sort of business would I run if I were. The answer came sooner than expected. Less than a year after leaving the UK to come back to Australia, I was freelancing for a magazine and about to be a mum. After settling into the demands of motherhood and keeping up with my monthly magazine writing commitments, I decided I could do more.
So, I took on some contract public relations (PR) and real estate copywriting work. Not only was I getting the intellectual buzz I needed, but I was contributing to the family income.
Soon my workload expanded beyond what I could do while my first son slept, and so my parents stepped in and looked after him one day a week each. Now I had time to work beyond his 40-minute naps, and I could work at a client’s office if needed or attend business events. I started to feel like a real businesswoman!
By the time our son turned one, he was also spending one day at childcare so I had three days a week to run the business. He loved the social interaction – and I loved the freedom to work uninterrupted. All this time I’d been operating under my own name as a freelancer, even though I already had decided on my business name.
In October 2007, I attended a “Mums in Business” event in Sydney and was so inspired by the women I met there, I drove straight from the workshop to the Department of Fair Trading and registered the name Strawberry Communications. That was an important moment for me in business because from that time on I considered myself a business owner. My attitude changed accordingly. So did my clients. I started seeking out fellow business mums to work with, giving support wherever I could and taking it when offered. I also looked for opportunities to challenge myself through further training, personal development and public speaking. Strawberry Communications continues to thrive and evolve, transforming with each new challenge and opportunity. These include having a second son, moving interstate, illness and studying to name a few, but I know I wouldn’t change a thing.
This post is an extract from my book Business & Baby on Board, a mum’s bible on starting out and succeeding as an entrepreneur.