This week I’m really excited to introduce husband and wife team; Jodie and Ben who founded The Practical Planning Company to my Parents in Business series. Wow, this interview is good, as both Jodie and Ben have shared their story. It’s so interesting hearing both of their viewpoints on setting up and running the business together, whilst also looking after their son too!
At the same time as doing all of this Jodie has also started her own PR and Marketing Consultancy, which is just amazing, the words superwoman spring to mind. Well done!
I would love for you to have a read of Ben and Jodie’s story below….
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
We are Ben and Jodie, parents of two-year-old Zachary and living in Nottingham. Originally from the Isle of Man, we moved to Notts in 2015 so Jodie could study for her master’s degree at Nottingham Trent University. Since then, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We both entered full-time employment – Jodie in PR and marketing, Ben in architectural design – bought and renovated a house, got married and then had a baby, all within three years.
After the birth of our son, and a couple of difficult career decisions, we both decided to step away from employment, to be closer to home, spend more time together as a family and give ourselves more control. With skills in business development and marketing (Jodie) and Ben’s experience and talent for design, we founded The Practical Planning Company, an architectural design firm specialising in home extensions. Our mission is simple: we believe in giving everyday homeowners the space they need and deserve, and equipping them with the knowledge they need, so they don’t feel lost along the way.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
Jodie: We always thought at least one of us would end up self-employed in some way or another. Ben started out as a joiner and contractor, so was used to working for himself. I was different – I liked the reliability and security of being employed. But once I had my son, my mindset completely changed. Why was I spending two hours commuting every day, working 10-hour days and missing my son’s bedtime most nights?
Ben: I knew we had the skills to do something great together. We’re polar opposites but we tend to work well together as we can be totally honest with each other – and call each other out on things we don’t agree on! It took Jodie some persuading but eventually, we decided to just go for it. We knew, from extending our own home and working in the construction industry, that there was a gap in the market for an architectural firm that genuinely cares about its customers; cares that these families get the space they need without breaking the bank; that the design is achievable; and that the client can actually afford to build the thing they’ve just commissioned drawings for. In our experience, other architects, and builders, can sometimes forget that homeowners are often putting their home on the line to extend, renovate or improve their property; they can’t afford for it to go wrong.
How do you balance or juggle your business around family commitments?
Ben: It’s tough, but it’s far better now than it was with us both in full-time employment. Working for ourselves, we can be totally flexible, working from home 80% of the time and choosing our own hours. Our son goes to nursery 2.5 days a week, so I use those days to get in full, concentrated Practical Planning time. The rest of the week, we juggle. It depends who has the most work on, which one of us has meetings, etc.
Jodie: I’m a part-time marketing manager, and I have just started my own PR and marketing consultancy as well so we do have a lot on, but we make it work as best we can. We end up working some weekends, but we don’t begrudge it too much. We both love what we do. And now, we’re both home for his bedtime every night. No more 7pm commutes home from the office for us!
What do you view as your biggest success since setting up your business?
Ben: Probably just how successful we’ve been in such a short time. We’re not even a year old yet and we’ve built up some fantastic partnerships with other businesses in the industry and we’ve worked with really wonderful clients.
Jodie: For me, it’s that we’ve done everything ourselves. We manage our website, social media, lead generation, client interaction, projects and everything, with Ben seeing every single client through to completion himself. I’m also really proud that we’ve been able to hire my mum as a virtual assistant. It’s been a great help to us as it takes the pressure off in terms of workload, but it also provides her with a bit of an income which allowed her to step away from her labour-intensive, full-time job. I love that we’ve been able to do that.
What are your top tips for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Ben: Be flexible. Be prepared to work late or in the early hours of the morning. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it.
Jodie: Yes, it can be stressful juggling it all but when you sit down to cuddle and watch a film together as a family on a Tuesday afternoon, knowing you’ve just made a client really happy, or you’ve just sold a new job, and all while so many other people are still in the office, it’s incredibly rewarding. Just be prepared to put in the work.
Thank you so much Ben and Jodie for taking part of my series. I have loved featuring you and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Plant Pet Club, Maeve & Me, and In Your Dog House Gifts.