This week as part of my Mums in Business series I am delighted to introduce Fiona at The Mummy Consultancy. I came away feeling really inspired after reading the response here to my interview questions, there is so much positivity, and it really is possible to turn around your career for the better once you have children. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts in the series, I am totally supportive of any Mum who makes a success of themselves, and has the confidence to do just that…..no matter how big the leap feels. Read on to find out about Fiona’s story.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and The Mummy Consultancy
I’m Fiona Brown, 38, mum to 2 boys who are 3 and 1, married and live in Essex.
After being refused flexible working at my job in London after I had my eldest in 2014, I took a part time Lecturer post at a local college, but after having my second son in 2016, childcare for 2 kids was so expensive it wasn’t actually worth me going to work so I decided to set up my own business to give me some work/life balance and flexibility while the boys are young.
What were the drivers and motivations for setting up The Mummy Consultancy
I wanted to specialise in helping other mums develop skills to either set up a business, work on a existing one or change careers. I do this by providing services such as Professional Writing, Confidence Coaching, help with Public Speaking and developing the ‘voice’ of themselves and their business. I found it very isolating after having children, and I think after a while on maternity leave it’s very easy to lose the sense of ‘you’ and just be in constant mummy mode. I’m still a bit guilty of this but it’s a work in progress like all women with young children.
I’m also a professional writer and write lots of pieces on Parenting, Childcare, Pregnancy, Health, Mums in Business etc for various publications. My website also has a blog where I post lots of interesting things for parents that I think are useful as well as the kinds of things I’ve been up to recently.
How do you balance your business around your family and children
The boys now go to nursery part time, and I come home and work. I work a lot in the evenings when they’re in bed, and from my phone, being self employed means it’s very easy to get carried away working constantly (I have worked weeks where I’ve done more hours than I ever would have in ‘paid’ employment) and you have to be really careful and strive for some balance.
I don’t work at weekends, unless I absolutely have to, as that is strictly family time with the boys and my husband. I also try to give myself one afternoon a week off, to catch up on trashy TV, read a magazine or anything I need to. Obviously in-between the kids and the work I still have to get all the usual things done, so I juggle those with the shopping, washing, ironing, walking the dogs, cleaning etc.
I also do the nursery run for the kids every day that they’re there, along with swimming lessons, as my husband is at work all day and doesn’t have any flexibility, so it still all very much falls on me to run everything.
Since setting up The Mummy Consultancy what’s been your biggest success to date
Taking the leap to do this. It was an incredibly difficult decision to give up a monthly wage, even if it wasn’t very much money after childcare, I was still taking away that element of security but we just couldn’t make it work any other way.
I’ve had lots of great experiences since I started and do lots of press campaigns for various things, and get to go to photoshoots and have my hair and make-up professionally done, and then be photographed by people like Nicky Johnston (showbiz photographer and Judge on Britain’s Next Top Model) and yesterday the Daily Mail actually came to my house for the second time to do a shoot with me and the kids for a piece on Health in Pregnancy. (And that was nowhere like as glamorous as it sounds because my 3 year old played up the entire time and I ended up a sweaty mess after 90 minutes of my house looking like a studio and trying to explain to the boys they weren’t allowed to touch the equipment and had to sit still – it just didn’t work out).
The very best bit of my job is the people I get to meet and have connected with since I started. I’ve spoken to and met people I would never have dreamed of, and has given me experiences that I didn’t think possible. It’s been really hard work and there have been many moments where I just wanted to stop doing it, and felt like it was too difficult trying to juggle being a mum, wife, and business woman – but it is possible, and sometimes you just need to take a step at a time.
What’s your top tip for anyone who’s thinking about setting up their own business
Work to your strengths. If you already have a background in something, it’s worth starting there to see if there’s something you can do with those skills. I worked for many years in the Legal profession, then in education and had written professionally to a very high level as part of my career, then I became a qualified trainer as part of my job and started lecturing and doing some public speaking engagements for groups like Midwives speaking about my homebirth experience with my first son. I also had post graduate qualifications in Media Management and PR – combining those things meant I could easily get The Mummy Consultancy off the ground, and although it’s still been a steep learning curve in places, there are so many accessible ways to gain knowledge and skills now that it’s become easier to get the advice you need.
If you want to go into business doing something you have no experience in it’s totally possible, but make sure you learn everything you can about that particular niche and get as much advice as you can from people already in the trade.
I’d also say surround yourself with people who will support you. It’s incredibly surprising and disarming when the people you consider close to you don’t give you any support, or get upset about your successes. Have people around you who want the very best for you, who will celebrate your successes with you and that understand what you’re doing is for your family. Just beware that you won’t necessarily have the same friends you began the journey with and that can be a hard pill to swallow. The people who are meant to be there in the end still will be. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my husband, so make sure you have at least one person who you can talk to, vent at, shout at, cry with and who will give you the moral support that you need.
Thank you so much Fiona for letting me interview you today, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.
If you want to read more from my Mums in Business series then have a nose at Created by Magic, Studio 44 Pilates, Gift It 2, The Carpenters Wife, RS Virtual Assistant, Love Your Birth, Write My Name and Koru Kids.
Or if you would like to take part in my series, just drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org