This week on my Parents in Business series I am delighted to feature Louella who set-up her own marketing consultancy in Norwich called Wiio Ltd. Having worked in a similar industry in London for ten years I can relate to Louella’s story, I know just how hard it is to work in this industry with children. The challenges faced with long hours resulted in Louella quitting from her previous role leading to her setting up her own business, which I know rings true with a lot of working parents (sadly Mums in particular).
I loved reading this interview and hearing just how honest Louella is with her clients about her family. It is really refreshing to read and I love how she doesn’t hide the fact that she has a family from her clients. This is a great read particularly for anyone who works in the client servicing industry.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
Hi, I’m Louella and I come with one hubbie, two boys, one cat, three amazing chickens, and one Marketing business called Wiio Ltd. I want to tell you a bit about me without it becoming a long list of “things I’ve done” as I’ve always found that comparing life stories with others always leave me feeling a bit inadequate.
Firstly it is important to say that I have never had a plan for my life. My sister wanted to be a teacher from the age of nine but I never knew what I wanted to do. Random opportunities have been taken as they have arisen, and for the main they have always worked out pretty well.
My first role was in advertising. That came about through a friend I made whilst temping. We got on well and when I came back from travelling in Africa aged 22 she offered me a job in London. I said yes thinking that it sounded like a huge amount of fun. It was, but boy was it hard work! This job taught me an awful lot about time management, about client relationships and about the concept of internal costings. All these skills have proven to be invaluable when you run your own business.
After all the usual kind of varied and interesting career progression both inside and outside of advertising agencies, aged 28 I married my long term boyfriend, and just a few years after that it became clear that 14 hour days weren’t going to cut the mustard when it came to bringing up children. These feelings were then compounded by a very difficult miscarriage that focussed my mind around being mother. And so I quit work. Just like that. Arghhh!!!
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
Well to start with the honest answer was that I didn’t. First of all, I became a childminder on less than minimum wage with the sole intention of it allowing me to be at home with my two boys (and half the neighbours kids too). After a few years, and having seen a friend set up a marketing consultancy, I was lured in to join her and we became business partners. Hand on heart our first “board meeting” focussed entirely on how we could work around the kids and have maximum holiday!
The partnership lasted six successful years but my move to Norwich in Norfolk heralded a new era and I branched out on my own to set up my very own marketing consultancy, Wiio Ltd. Have a look at the website to find out why I called it Wiio.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
Oh to know the answer to this one.
When I was a childminder I saw working Mums struggling to get home on time, feeling consumed with guilt that they had left their baby with a childminder. I saw Mums who didn’t work, quietly going out of their minds with boredom. I saw Mums who worked part time feeling as if they didn’t fit with either the working-mum’s gang, or the stay-at-home gang. Essentially I learnt that it is impossible to get it right. None of the options really work. And. That. Is. Ok.
The truth is that no one manages it, and that the biggest problem working parents face is that we feel we should be finding that balance. I honestly believe that our eternal quest to have it all is our downfall. Luckily my husband is a modern man and does his bit. My boys (aged 9 and 10) are being brought up with a strong feminist attitude and are well schooled in loading the dishwasher, stripping their own beds and even hanging out the washing. I find that by pulling together as a family to get these jobs done means that I have the head space to work and be a Mum, but every family is different.
Since setting up your business what has been your biggest success to date?
On a personal level my kids are my biggest success I’m afraid to say. Honestly, you should meet them, they’re the best!
In terms of business, setting up Wiio Ltd in 2018 and having a great first financial year has been a truly wonderful experience. I have learnt so much about myself and have found skills I didn’t even know I had. My confidence has grown along with my client list, and I am really looking forward to my next financial year.
I also feel proud of the way I have managed client’s expectations. I don’t hide that I have a family because in this day and age it shouldn’t be something I need to apologise for. I am clear about the fact that I do the school run and that if that doesn’t work for them, then I am not the right consultant.
Funnily enough I have only ever had one negative comment about being a working Mum and I’m afraid to say it was from another woman…
What’s your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
1. Trust. Your. Gut. If it feels wrong, it is.
2. Horrible clients don’t get nicer no matter how hard you work. Dump them.
3. Find yourself an amazing networking group and let them know that you are looking for new business. Ask to be introduced.
4. Don’t listen to those nasty gremlins in your head. You can do this.
5. And to follow from that, when you’re doubting yourself, try and think like a man. How would they deal with this situation? Would they be confident and assertive? Probably.
Thank you so much for letting me feature you on my blog, and all the best for the future!
You can find out more by visiting about Wiio by visiting the website, Twitter and LinkedIn profile.
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: De StartUp Lab, Bisou Candle Co, and Mindset by Pinky.