Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Whilst in conversation with a mum the other day she told me that her husband wasn't supportive of her interest in coaching or NLP because he thought it was airy fairy.  It took me straight back.  To the many conversations and situations dotted throughout my relationship with my ex where I found myself in exactly the same position.  'Coaching was hippie'ish' 'I shouldn't expect any money to put into a business' It's great you've achieved this but what's it worth?'

I can't recall a time when I felt truly understood or supported by my ex and the reason was that he was Mr Practical and I was Mrs Passionate.  He believed that you worked to provide for your family and that if you enjoyed it, then that was a bonus.  I believed, and still do, that you only get one life and you should try to do what you truly love and makes you happy. 

This is a fab way to live life if you are single but what happens when worlds collide?  Who backs down?  Who gets to make the decisions?  Where is the compromise?  Because my partner was so traditional he assumed because he made the money (I was working part-time in a pub and looking after our daughter) he was in charge of spending it; and it wasn't on my business.  Arguments were futile as he was only interested in business plans and forecasts, as if these were the only indicators of business success.  

So, how did we work things out?  Well, I wish I could sum this blog up with a neat little tip on how to deal with a conflict like this but in the end, for he and I, there was only separation.  Our views on business and life were just too different.  I would much rather live on a modest income and pursue those things in life that make me truly happy, trusting my gut and not just the facts and figures.  And to this day I'm still running my business and I love, love, love it!

Saturday, 7 August 2010


I have been feeling tired today - doggone tired, tired in my bones.

I am tired of housework, kids, being responsible, always having to think three steps in advance, never being able to stop as things will just pile up, running a business, keeping up with emails, blogging, tweeting, worrying about money, trying to make to make it stretch, organising and managing...

Feeling this way made me take a longing look into the past when I was a twenty-something single gal with nothing to worry about except making it to work on time.  Weekends stretched on, holidays were bliss.  I was the epitome of footloose and fancy free. 

Now, as you can imagine, feeling tired and worn-down and reminiscing about your past isn't conducive to an upbeat frame of mind but I was saved by a revelation.  While scrubbing at the crusty dishes tonight it dawned on me that my life now had parellels to those of a servant in the 'olden days'.  Not that I am often tied up in an apron scrubbing at floors and drawing baths for people but that I am engaged in activity of some sort from very early in the morning to late at night. 

You would think this connection might sink me into a deeper depression but it had the opposite effect.  It helped me see that I am so lucky as the housework I do is in my house, I am wiping the noses of my kids, I am balancing the books on my business and I above all, I was lucky enough to choose this life.  Plus, there's also that little added bonus that my life expectancy is a hell of a lot longer!

Monday, 26 July 2010


Bought She Magazine today.  An interview with Denise Van Outen is advertised on the cover with the words Back at Work after 2 Weeks printed under it.

I would just like to say one thing 'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!'

Why, oh why, when things settle down do the media have to jump right back in and stir things up again?

'Should mothers stay at home?'
'Mothers that work damage their children'
'I gave up breastfeeding after a week!'

These and many more headlines scream out at us from the covers of magazines and newspapers every week.  Why? Because they want you to buy their offering either in a huff of indignation or feeling of self- righteousness and read all about it. 

If the two sides of the argument start throwing facts and figures, beliefs and insults about - even better!  The more controversy, the higher the sales.   

Just because it is written in black and white, however, doesn't make it black and white.  They just want you to believe it is because then you will be encouraged to weigh in on the debate, talk about it with your friends, buy a copy of their latest issue.  I mean, think about it, have you ever read an article on mums and working, breastfeeding etc. that discussed all facets of an issue and didn't just divide mums everywhere by making out there were only two sides - and one had to be the right? 

Now She Magazine will argue that if you read the article it actually presents Denise going back to work in a good light (and it does).  But I have to query if this is the case, why the heading on the front page is in black capital letters with two weeks underlined?  I know why - and I'm not falling for it anymore. 

Saturday, 17 July 2010


My first thought was 'no way!' No way am I ever, ever going to compete in a mums race at my daughter's school.  This year or any year.  I fumbled around for an excuse and came up with something along the lines of breastfeeding and tearing down a racetrack not mixing.

The truth of it was I was emotionally scarred from years of having to compete in school sports, always limping in last, cheeks burning.

Safely ensconced on the side lines I watched the other mums line up for the sound of the gun.  They varied in shape, size and dress.  A lot of them looked in worse shape than me.  However it wasn't until they were streaking past that it dawned on me:

1. Where once I always came in last, the playing field had levelled a bit.  
2. If I decided to run I might actually finish safely tucked in the middle of the pack. (I'm not deluded enough to actually think I would ever win!)
3. My opportunities as far as winning races had changed without even realising it. 
4. I was still leading my life according to events experienced when I was 10 or 11.

Beliefs and limitations I had taken for granted all my life were turned on their head. How many other opportunities had I missed without even questioning my choices? By the time the competitors tumbled across the finish line all red faces and wild hair I had decided to make sure future decisions were informed, and not based on someone I was 20 or 30 years ago.

I'm still not sure if you'll see me taking my place at the start line next year. But I do know that if I don't, I'll be making an enlightened choice. And who knows, maybe I'll still be breastfeeding...

Sunday, 11 July 2010


You know how it is. You swap emails with a mum in another part of the country or in another country altogther, check out each others' blogs, share tweets and before you know it you feel like you know each other - but do you?

Does the face on that Twitter profile match that of the person typing or is the person typing an uncanny match for the Marketing Manager of your new-found friend's business?

I have always known that there are people out there who's sole role is to tweet and blog as their employer and I've never had a problem with it. I mean, if a mum in business can't understand the need to outsource then who can? And there are other valid reasons aside from time - what if writing is not your forte? Or marketing?

Then I forged a relationship with a mum in the US and my point of view changed. We were swapping tales back and forth when it struck me that this was a woman who wrote very well (maybe too well) and had quite a high profile (maybe too high to write her own emails) and was very busy. Was I actually talking to her at all?

All of a sudden it all felt very empty. I realised that if I was talking to her Marketing Department I would like to know about it. I understand if your business is your brand you need to communicate as yourself but isn't this kind of misleading if it isn't actually you? I would be more than happy to forge a relationship with a team member as I understand people aren't always accessible; and who can fulfill every function in their business anyway?

So, I'm about to send an email to my new-found friend and ask her if she is who she says she is. If I get an email back saying I'm chatting to the Marketing Assistant who gets paid $5 an hour to blog on her behalf, I'll introduce myself and get started on forming something real.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


The comment cut clear across the room. One minute I'm getting tips on blogging, the next I'm listening to a Mumpreneur slagging off their competitor. I was shocked to say the least, partly because it was in front of a room full of people and partly because it came out of the mouth of a mum in business.

Now, I may be a babe in the wood but I really thought mums in business were different to most other types of business-folk in that they are so much more generous with their time, support and advice. At my Businessmums' Networking Lunches photographers sit side-by-side and help each other out (my events are non-exclusionary).

But this mum was proving herself the opposite of everything I had come to believe and try as I might, I couldn't understand the comment. Who starts a business with the belief they will never have any compeition? Who thinks that talking about a competitor in such a manner will make them look anything but unprofessional?

So mums, please join me in appreciating your competition. You will come out looking great and they will keep you on your toes. Plus, it's far cleverer to beat out your competitor by being better than them, rather than bagging them.

Have you been put down by your competition or given the cold shoulder by someone 'loyal' to your competitor? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


It got to 12am the other night and I had managed two pieces of toast for breakfast and dinner, something insubstantial for lunch, a few pieces of chocolate, a coffee...

By comparison, my oldest had had her five fruit and veg, juice, a run about the park and was sound asleep in bed. My youngest had had her five or so feeds that day, a bath and was also sound asleep in bed.

It occurred to me in this moment that I always ensured my children were healthy and cared for but I wasn't doing the same for myself. Why? Because Mums never put themselves first, or second or even third at times! We're always so busy running about making sure everything else is going smoothly.

It got me thinking, if I was to treat myself like I treat my kids, how would my life look?

I would:

1. Make sure I eat five fruit and veg a day.
2. Not add salt to my food.
3. Get outside for fresh air.
4. Make time to play.
5. Drink water and juice.
6. Go to bed when I was tired and even, heaven forbid!, nap in the day.
7. Eat only one or two sweets, not five or twenty!

And if it's important enough that my kids are looked after in this way, surely it means I should do the same. Now, to just finish my work before 12am tonight...!

Monday, 21 June 2010


Pop a white board or list on your fridge and train the family to write down any food or drinks when they finish them. That way, when you're writing your shopping list, you've already got a head start and don't have to check through all the cupboards and fridge to see what's missing. The family could also write down anything they may particularly want that week - for their lunch boxes or treats.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I got my groceries delivered the other day. Nothing earth-shattering about that but what I experienced while I ordered my fruit and veg was.

So usually I am a Sainsburys or Tesco girl for the mix of price and service, and the loyalty cards. I love Waitrose but tend to think of them as a little expensive, however, the other day I got a voucher offering £15 off my first online order. I made sure to use it as the offer felt like a good sized amount and it meant the groceries wouldn't be anywhere near as expensive as what I felt they usually were.

Ordering was no different to the other supermarkets, however, delivery was where Ocado really came into their own. I got a free text reminding me of the impending delivery and any substitutions that had been made, the delivery docket also outlined the use by dates of all the products, all groceries were delivered in colour-coded bags for freezer, fridge and cupboard and the bags contained a sample of gourmet tea and a flyer documenting further services offered by Ocado. One of which I will take advantage of in the future.

I was left floored. Not only had Ocado got me to order from them when I was sure I never would, they impressed me so much with their service that I would go back again. And what had I learned?

1. That you need to understand what barriers there are to people not buying from you/using your service and develop offers that address this.
2. That you need to look at every point of contact with your clients and work out the best ways to impress at each stage.
3. That you need to engage in dialogue with my clients and see where you can improve.
4. That you need to look at your competitors and see what you can do better or differently.
5. That you can charge more for something, if you offer amazing service. Also, don't you think people talk more about the amazing service they got, as opposed to the cheap price?
6. That the little touches can make a huge difference!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


Clearly, at the set-up stage of any business its vital, and likely to be a financial necessity, that you immerse yourself in all aspects of the running of your company, so that you develop an intimate understanding of how to create success both logistically and financially. Equally, we’ve learnt the importance of planning and being confident enough to be prepared for success, right from the word go.

In terms of practice, this means as well as focusing on the immediate objectives of engaging with customers and delivering income, that you try to allow yourself the time to look to the future. Doing so can help ensure that, early on, you have a clear vision of the systems and support required to enable the business to scale up.

Thinking and acting big, even when you’re just a start up will, hopefully, help avoid over-burdening yourself with time-consuming and ineffective working practices. It can ensure that you can keep pace with the requirements of a growing business and help you successfully navigate, work alongside and compete with bigger more established companies in your market sector.

Specifically, we’ve learnt (sometimes the hard way), that fundamentals such as relationships with suppliers and financial business partners, can mean the difference between success and failure. For example, many businesses fail not because their ideas are bad but because of a lack of cash flow forecasting and so it is key to get a good working relationship with your bank manager.

It’s also true what they say, great businesses are built on great people. For us, with growing success has come the realisation of the commercial and personal value of not continuing to be a jack of all trades. Learning to delegate to professionals with specific, relevant experience saves on time and, sometimes, un-necessary mistakes. This is perhaps particularly relevant for women like ourselves who juggle our business with hectic home-lives and bringing up young families.

Focus on the bits of the business that can’t do without you and for the rest, find the best people for the job and trust them get on with it. Whether that be a great accountant or book-keeper who’s an expert with tools such as quick-books and can help with budgeting and financial management, or marketing professionals who you can call on to provide resource as and when it’s required. If they’re good at their jobs you should reap the commercial rewards from the investment.

The Micro Scooter mums, Anna and Philippa, are speaking at the Businessmums' Networking Lunch, hosted by Mothers Life in conjunction with Motivating Mum on June 22 in Blackheath.

Monday, 14 June 2010


When you're playing hide and seek with your kids, you can tidy toys and fold and put away clothes while pretending to look for them! For example, tonight I was playing with my daughter and I saw a towel that needed to be put away so I folded it while looking about the house for her and popped it in the cupboard when I checked in there for her! Fulfilled my OCD and didn't leave me feeling guilty because I was playing with her at the same time!

Friday, 11 June 2010


I have been self-employed and running businesses for 11 years. That’s a little over a decade. And there’s a lot of learning that’s been crammed into that time!

So are there things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out? You bet! Here’s five of them.

1. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a Prince

I’m hoping with this as the first lesson, you’re still taking me seriously! What I mean by this is when you’re looking to partner with others to build your business, a number of these partnerships or relationships will fall by the wayside. The fit isn’t right, the other party doesn’t represent your brand in the way you wish, you’re not confident in their credentials – whatever the reason, don’t settle for anything less than the best – it’s your business that’s at stake!

2. Go with your gut

If a negotiation doesn’t feel right, finish it. It’s unlikely to get any better.

3. Follow the golden triangle

In keeping the business in balance, try to spend a third of your time on three things; business development, customer care, and admin.

4. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

Strive to be first to market; whether that be with a new product or a new way to promote yourself/your service. Stand out from the crowd and take in as much as you can (by reading/watching/listening) as this helps creativity flow.

5. Be patient

Realising your vision may take a little longer than you thought but don’t ever let go of that vision. For me, patience is a virtue I’m still having to learn!

Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation, a business expert and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up’ and ‘Working 5 to 9’. She is sharing her tips and advice at the Mothers Life Businessmums' Networking Lunch in association with Motivating Mum.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


I was ill today. I had come down with that disease all mums suffer from on a regular basis; I'm-not-getting-enough-done-itis. You know that illness where you look about you and wonder what you've done with your day and kick yoursef that you still haven't gotten to the ironing, or the accounting, or the many millions of things that populate your to-do list on a regular basis. I was stressed thinking of how little I had done and how much I had to do.

And then it struck me, I was focussing on the negatives, when I should be taking note of all I had achieved. And so, for one day I decided I would do just that. And this is what I came up with:

Fed Freya for an hour at 7am
Went back to sleep (I have a lovely boyfriend)!
Got up at 9.45am
Put away dry dishes
Put away steriliser and sterilised bottles etc
Tidied lounge room
Made coffee and toast
Fed Freya for an hour at 10am
Had 15 minute phone call with Maria (@verybusymama) during feeding
Checked emails and replied to a couple
Started this blog
Put Freya's folded clothes away
Changed Freya's pooey nappy
Dressed Freya
Had a shower
Wrote more blog
Blow dried fringe and popped on a few creams
Put Amelie on the naughty step repeatedly for about 6 min
Had brief conversation with Shazia of Third Door (@thirddoor)
Tidied Amelie's room
Made egg and beans for Amelie and I
Fed Freya for 45 minutes, whilst watching The Biggest Loser
Tidied the lunch dishes and kitchen
Put Amelie on naughty step again
Checked Twitter
Got the three of us ready to head out
Drove 10 min to the Health Visitor
Had 10 min appointment for Freya
Drove 15 min to a friends house for play date and stayed just under 2 hours
Endured 15 minute tantrum in the car as my daughter didn't want to go home
Drove 15 minutes home
Put away dishes
Cooked dinner
Drove Amelie to her Dad's house to stay the night
Fed Freya for an hour as soon as I walked in the door and ate dinner at the same time
Played with Freya and changed her
Fed Freya for another hour while watching last few minutes of The Biggest Loser, Cougar Town and then Junior Apprentice
Did work, sent emails, tweet and finished this blog for two hours
Went to bed at 12am.

Are you exhausted too? Because I know I am, just reading through that list! But I'm so glad I made it because it helped me realise a few things:

1. I get a bloody lot done every day and there isn't really a second wasted. I couldn't be doing any more if I tried.
2. It makes me feel great concentrating on what I've achieved which is so much more preferable to stressed, because I have so much looming over me, or upset, because I feel I'm not getting enough done.
3. That it's easy to feel you're not getting anything done in a day when you don't take into account the little things like car journeys, making a bed and disciplining your children.
4. This is a great way to identify if there is any double handling of jobs or time wasting and actually do something about it!
5. That I breastfeed a hell of a long time in a day - but what you gonna do?!

So, now not only am I a mum, mumpreneur and girlfriend, I am now also a doctor as I just cured my own illness! Why not give it a try and see if it cures yours?

p.s. if any of you mums reading this are thinking, my god, look how much she gets done in her day (as all mums are predisposed to comparing themselves with others) I say to you:

1. This is exactly what I am talking about in my blog post and you need to try my exercise to see just how much you really do.
2. No two situations are the same, so there is no comparison. My daughters may have been better behaved/naughtier today, my boyfriend may work longer/shorter hours than your partner, I may do dishes slighty quicker/longer than you - so just don't go there!

Saturday, 5 June 2010


Now that I have added breast feeding, extra washing and a load of other tasks to my day that come hand in hand with a new baby I have found the my approach to work is very piece-meal; 5 min here, 2 min there. What can you do in such a short space of time to still move your business forward? Quite a lot it seems! Read on for my Top 10 tips for jobs you can do in a minute that will benefit your business:

1. Add ten receipts to your accounting spreadsheet.
2. Take a look at your competitors site and see what they're doing well and what you're doing better.
3. Call a client and ask them how you're doing and if they have any recommendations.
4. Read and make a comment on a blog that your target market would read.
5. Drop some flyers or cards into a coffee shop or business that attracts your target maket.
6. Register your details on a business directory like
7. Contact someone who works in a complementary industry to you and offer a service swap. This could lead to referrals between you.
8. Answer a question on a forum that highlights your expertise.
9. Offer a prize of your product or services on your blog, on someone else's blog or on Twitter.
10. File and organise your paperwork for one minute.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Just reading a fab book by a new Twitter friend, Danielle Raine called Housework Blues. Now I don't have any trouble with my housework but what I do have trouble with, from time to time, is allowing my situation to get me down. My situation being not being able to get back to Australia and feeling stuck in London.

I'm not the only one that suffers from this. I know of several mums who feel stuck, working at jobs they don't like as they can't leave, or at home as they can't afford childcare.

What to do in these seemingly hopeless situations? Obviously, I tried to change matters (on more than one occasion) but when it didn't work out it left me with nothing more than a reinforcement that I was well and truly stuck.

Today, Danielle's book provided me with a lightbulb moment! Where before I only thought there were two states, being stuck or getting out, there was a third. I could accept the situation. As Sun Tzu, the author of Art of War wrote 'Choose your battles wisely. Do not fight battles you cannot win.'

This is exactly what I had been doing. Going into battle in a situation I could not change and expending energy, creating anger when the outcome was already guaranteed. What I needed to do was accept where I was and let go of the associated feelings of depression and anger as they weren't getting me anywhere.

And how did I do this? Well, firstly, I plotted my journey to this point in an attempt at understanding how I got here in the first place. My destination wasn't an accident, I was responsible for the decisions that landed me here. I also outlined the benefits with being where I was and the the things I was learning during this experience, about myself and the world. Lastly, I identified where I wanted to go and what would need to happen for me to be able to get there. I also noted when this might happen to give myself something to look forward to.

Suddenly, I felt better and although I'm still not in Australia I know a lot more about myself and have an idea of when I might get there. I wonder what else I'll learn from a book about dealing with housework?!

Thursday, 27 May 2010


1 house x (no. of rooms in the house + the no. of times they need to be cleaned x the no. of days in a week)
+ the no. of times you need to go shopping + the no. of times you need to run out for something you forgot
x the no. of school runs
x the ballet run
x the football run
x no. of times all the kids come to yours
double it
÷ the no. of relatives that live nearby that don't insist they brought up their kids so you bring up yours
÷ the number of hours that hubby is at home - (the amount of time he's not in front of the football + the amount of time he's not in the shed)
÷ the number of breaks for a cuppa
x the number of times you break up a fight
÷ the number of arms you have
x the number of wines you guzzle at night
now double it
+ the number of times you yell 'Don't do that!'
- the last time you did something for yourself
+ (the no. of nervous breakdowns + no. of grey hairs) squared
x the no. of kids you have
x baby, cubed (the mathematical way, not the chopping way!)

= a Mum

Saturday, 15 May 2010


It strikes me time and again that mums in business are amongst the most experienced and talented people I know. Sure, they may have taken months - even years off - bringing up kids but even those years are spent in a whirl of creativity, organisation, time management and accounting.

For those who are in business, the skills on offer are endless. Years of schooling, career and then running their own business mean they have such diverse experience and knowledge to draw on. Never have I been able to get advice on so many topics from one group of people. Accounting? Check. Marketing? Check. Business plans? Check. Research? Check. And in celebration of this I wanted to include some business gems from those mums I hold in highest esteem (and who also happen to be my Mentoring Mums!)

1. Remember, that as your business goes forward with the times, to maintain good communication and discussion with your staff at all levels. They will respect your decisions and the time you have taken to keep them updated; even in the short term, you will reap the rewards of a fully engaged workforce. Frances Graham, London HR Partnership

2. Don't charge LESS than your competitors. Customers will assume that your product is of a lesser quality. Paula Cox, Sunny Signers

3. PR is the heart and soul of any successful business. You can do it yourself but first get the basics of how PR works. When pitching your business both to media and potential customers remember that 'less is more'. Keep your business pitch as punchy and visual as possible. Monica Costa, Londonmums

4. Develop a clear vision of what your business will look like when it is finished, what and when your exit strategy is and who will buy it! Wendy Shand, Tots to Travel

5. Be adaptable and don't be afraid to delegate or get the help you need. Naz Lewis, Back2Work Mum

Friday, 14 May 2010


I went to a meeting this Wednesday in town at Enterprise UK for a brainstorm with other female members of the steering group for Women's Enterprise Day.

What started as pride that I had been asked to join a group of remarkable women ended in fear that I had been asked to join a group of remarkable women. Reading the bios of all involved was an endless list of awards, titles, company names, experience - I was well and truly cr*pping myself! How was I supposed to walk into this room and say anything that wouldn't expose me for the largely inexperienced businessmum that I was?

To get the most out of this opportunity I knew I needed to walk in with more than quaking knees and squeaky voice so I did what any life coach would do, I coached myself!

The first thing I did was tell myself that bios are written to make people look great and the bios provided certainly did that! However, it didn't say how long it took them to get these awards and achieve their titles. Bios also don't outline fears, insecurities and failures.

I also reminded myself that, as I am a mum relatively new to business (3 years), I was able to truly represent my clients and members, their challenges and concerns in the meeting. I did have something very valid to offer!

What else? Well, I assured myself I was chosen to attend so the organisers must have seen something in me that maybe I hadn't and I focussed on the fact that I would be able to meet some amazing women in business and would learn a thing or two.

Lastly, I recognised this was a challenge and I could either overcome my fears and grow or miss an opportunity. When faced with this decision, I chose the former as I want my life to be about growth, learning, trying new things. And I did it. And it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I had made it to be in my head (it never is). And now I'll be able to walk into the same situation in the future and feel confident and prepared.

Friday, 7 May 2010


So, one month into being a mum with a baby, a toddler and a business and I am a tad stressed. Add to that workload the fact that I only have two weeks to apply for a Visa for my partner for Australia (which usually takes most people a month or more to get together) and I am the closest I have ever been to going grey!

It's hard! Fitting a whole little person into a life that was already crammed to over-flowing. And, of course, initially you fool yourself into thinking you'll still do everything you did before but there are areas of your life that suffer, like sleep, like replying to emails, like Twitter and before you know it you're like a greyhound at the track trying to catch that rabbit. I knew I had reached this point the other day when I found myself gripping the steering wheel of the car, white knuckled. I was so wound up and tense thinking about all the things I hadn't achieved.

So, what to do? Well, number one is to believe everything that everyone tells you about having two. It is more than twice the work and god help you if they aren't a good eater, sleeper, are ill etc etc. In fact, prepare for the worst and then if it's any better than that, you'll almost feel you've been let off the hook!

Number two is to try and continue doing everything you want to but at the same time take note of what's not fitting in and think about why. Is it because you always wanted a good excuse not to fulfill this task? Does the time of day/week need to be changed to fit it in? Where would it fit better with your new responsibilities? Try moving things about. Fitting them in different slots and give yourself time to find a new fit.

Number three is to be honest about whether everything actually still fits in. When you put a brick in a bucket of water some of the water is displaced. Your time is the same. You only have a finite amount and adding a baby to the mix may mean other activities/chores will overflow. What can you let go (even if it's just for the time being)? What can you do smarter? What can you get other people to do? Rather than just allowing the the end of your to do list to get pushed back every day, conciously think about and choose what you want to maintain and achieve in your life and what you want to let go.

Number four is to allow a routine to reveal itself. Life, and babies, have their own natural rhythms and if you give them time you may find that things work out.

Number five is don't compare yourself to anyone else - or if you must do it (as we're all prone to) then remember what you're seeing is only a small percentage of the total picture. It's easy to believe that everyone else is doing so much better than you but it's most likely they're just putting a brave face on it when the washing and dishes are piling up, their email inbox is over flowing and they're so stressed they've bitten nails down to the quick!

Number six is to reflect on what you have achieved every day. That day in the car, instead of thinking of all I hadn't done, I started to think about what I had done; bathed and dressed Freya, dressed Amelie, made beds, played with Amelie, Twitter for 30 min, made breakfast, lunch and dinner, sent some emails, made two phone calls, chatted to my boyfriend, showered and dressed, washed dishes, washed and hung out clothes, updated my website, changed nappies... and lo and behold, I started to get some colour back in my knuckles!

Saturday, 1 May 2010


I had a very fab and informative session on Twitter this week with the extremely lovely and generous Sam Jones of Although I am on Twitter quite a bit, it took a session with Sam to make me realise how much I still didn't know!
I would have to say the top 10 tips I took from the session would have to have been:
1. Even when you start up, have a good idea of the types of things you would like to know, learn and hear so you can determine who to follow. Rather than just following people willy nilly.
2. Treat Twitter like you would networking in person. How do you connect with people at these events? It's not by pushing a business card or flyer in their hand and walking off, it's about sharing and showing interest in the people you're interacting with.
3. The # in front of words means that when people search for particular terms or people i.e. #muminbusiness any tweets with that particular wording will show up.
4. It's great to have a picture of you as your profile pic so people can connect with you.
5. It's okay to post the same message a few times in the same week to ensure everyone sees it. I posted a pic of my new daughter five times and Sam still missed it!
6. Don't be afraid to unfollow people if their tweets are no longer relevant. Chances are they won't even realise you've stopped following.
7. Try and use some key terms in your bio that describe you and your business as people can find you in a search that way.
8. Don't under post as you just won't come upon people's radars at all.
9. Don't over post either - no one wants to know you're eating a bacon sandwich, you finished your bacon sandwich, you washed your plate...
10. When you're starting up, look at your competitors followers and follow them also. Chances are they'll be your market too.

Sunday, 18 April 2010



1. Call a friend or family member you haven't spoken to for a while.
2. Plan your weekly dinner menu.
3. Organise your diary.
4. Work on a negative or limiting belief you hold about yourself or your life. Take the time during breastfeeding to repeat a positive affirmation or hold a visualisation that addresses the belief.
5. Watch a box set you've always been meaning to get around to.
6. Think of a fun activity you can do with your older children once you finish breastfeeding to ensure quality time with them also.


1. Brainstorm marketing ideas and different ways of promoting your business.
2. Call one person and introduce yourself and your business.
3. Think about complementary relationships you could try and initiate i.e. if you are a masseuse, you could team up with a therapist to run sessions together or promote one another.
4. Plan your tweets, or themes for tweets, for the week.
5. Review your business plan and see if you are on track, or need to alter it.
6. Read blog posts to keep up with other mums in the UK.
7. Surf your competitors sites and see what they are doing.
8. Brainstorm different upcoming blog topics so you always have something to write about.

And above all, stroke your baby's hair, love and enjoy them as before you know it they'll be grown up and you'll never have this time again x

Thursday, 1 April 2010


So, as you know from my last post I started out this whole overdue process feeling very positive and proactive. I didn't, however, want to continue on projecting this message as I know there are probably a whole lot of mums out there feeling like me, who would like to know someone else feels the same. And I do. I feel stressed, strung out, pressured, tired and generally very, very down right about now.

Going overdue is a very exhausting process. 9 days overdue feels like about 9 years and every second is spent wondering when, every twinge is a possible sign of going into labour. On top of it all, my boyfriend didn't qualify for paternity and had to take holidays and every day the baby doesn't come is another day he won't be around when bub finally does decide to enter the world.

Then pile on pain when I try and walk long distances and a three-year old that just wants to run and play, very sore skin that has had enough being stretched across my stomach and carrying around a bowling ball every day!

The icing on the cake was my visit to the midwife yesterday. If any of you have gone overdue, you know the appointment I'm talking about - where they try everything to scare you into booking in for induction. Upon my refusal of a sweep and induction, a consultant was called in to spell out to me how every day over 42 weeks I was basically taking my child's life in my hands and that even if I came in for constant monitoring there was no guarantee the baby wouldn't stop breathing an hour after.

There was no outline of the cons of induction, not even a mention of the pain involved or the possible outcomes of this process. When I told her my plan for handling my pregnancy after 42 weeks, every statement was met with a grimace as if I was making the wrong choices. When I asked her what other people did she said she didn't have any answers as if no one else ever chose this option!

Now I completely understand that she needs to make me aware of the risks of going over 42 weeks but the way this appointment was handled made me feel as if there was even more pressure on me now. Every second I don't give birth brings me closer to 42 weeks and the point where I am making the decision to endanger my childs life or not. It is a very tough time and you have to be very strong in yourself to resist all that is going on around you when you feel in your heart you need to give your child the time it wants to be born.

So that's where I'm at now. Watching the seconds continue to tick by with no signs of labour, crying often and fighting every minute to maintain faith in myself and my choices. And in the end I know it will all work's just getting there.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Well, I knew it was going to happen and it has! I am two days overdue and waiting, waiting! Not that I am surprised at all. My daughter was 10 days overdue, I am built like the campervan of mothers so I am sure bub is enjoying the roominess of my huge belly and my boyfriend is so laid-back he's practically lying down - when you add all three factors, what do you get? A baby that is going to take it's own sweet time!

For those of you who have gone overdue, you'll understand why I'm writing this post. For those of you that haven't, allow me to paint a picture. Going overdue is like being told that Christmas is the 25th and you have all these presents under the tree that you can unwrap when that day comes, only when you get there, you're told that Christmas has been postponed. Not only that, it has been postponed indefinitely and that at any minute of any day it could happen but you won't know until it comes! Then look at those presents every minute of every day, wondering, waiting when you'll be allowed to celebrate!

Going overdue is kind of like this - but a million times worse as at Christmas you're not forced to carry a bowling ball round with you the whole time while trying to swallow down indigestion, wondering how you're going to tie your shoes!

So, how to deal with it?

1. Tell yourself you will go over and that your due date is anywhere up to two weeks after your due date. By focussing on your due date only you set yourself up for disappointment if you go over and if you come early or on your due date, it's a bonus!
2. Remind yourself that the longer your baby goes over, the bigger it gets. This is always good for babies as they are generally more developed, better at feeding and will sleep longer periods.
3. Prepare to be inundated by calls, emails etc asking if bub has come. You can either let the answering machine get it or remind yourself that people are only asking because they love you and they're not intentionally trying to remind you over and over that you haven't had the baby yet!
4. Plan little projects for yourself like catching up on photo albums, baby books, reuniting with old friends via facebook, writing blogs on going overdue...
5. Plan a facial if you go over three days, a manicure if you go over five days. Give yourself something to look forward to and there are loads of beauty therapists that come to you.
6. Kick back and let your partner wait on you.
7. Meditate/sleep

And if all else fails? Remember that this will be the last time you'll ever feel your little bub wriggling round inside of you, a part of you, and that from the minute you give birth your child will be gradually growing ever more independent and further away from that warm little bundle you grew and cherished for 9 months.

Cheers! Alli

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I received an email from one of my mentoring mums the other day. She was questioning her role on my site as she did feel '...rather a small pea compared to the fantastically high profile mothers...' I had on board. It wasn't the first email of this type and it won't be the last. And every time I receive this sort of correspondence it makes me want to shout the same thing - 'Mums! Stop selling yourself short!'

I'm not sure why, whether it's the time away from the workforce, the moving into new fields of business, gradual wearing down by your kids or other reason but I have never come across a group of people who (in general) so grossly underestimate themselves.

At a time when we are all juggling home, kids, husbands, social lives, work, business etc etc and proving how amazing we are on a daily basis you would think we would all be walking ego maniacs but the opposite is true. Instead of referring to the incredible things we are achieving, we keep insisting on comparing ourselves with other people, other achievements, our own mothers and coming up short.

But let me let you in on a few realisations I have picked up along the way:

1. That businessmum is more high-profile than you because she has been in business for 10 years longer or has had the money to spend on PR or her husband's in business with her etc. Her journey is different to yours and therefore you are in different places, so there is no point in comparison.

2. Hell! Stop comparing yourself with others all together! If you must use people as a yardstick, simply observe where they are and recognise this is where you would like to be and make it happen. But don't let it make you feel bad.

3. No one person has it that together - you don't see them curled up in a ball on the bed at home dealing with stress, doubts, disapointment and depression. They will always show a different face to the world and it will always look good from the outside.

4. We are amazing people with education, travel, career, business and mothering behind us. We also have eyes and ears, we have opinions and ideas, we have friends and contacts. Even if you are just starting out in business you will always have something to offer because you have lived and have experience to draw on.

So, what am I going to write back to my mentor? That I chose her because I see something in her that she should also be able to see. That she is an intelligent, experienced, bright woman and that I see what she has to offer my clients, even if she doesn't. And the reason I chose my other mentors wasn't because they were high-profile but for exactly the same reason she is on my books. And then I'm going to shout Mum! Stop selling yourself short!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


I was lucky enough yesterday to attend the launch of the first Businessmums' Networking Lunch in Chiswick, hostedby my lovely associate Caroline, and was educated and inspired by the great Cath Kidston. Those that attended, and those that missed out because it was booked out, will know what I mean.

I loved listening to Cath because, first and foremost, she's hilarious, secondly she's very approachable and lastly, because she reminded each and every one of us that she was, and is, just like us and made us realise that there is no secret to success. It's a step by step process and it takes time, energy and passion.

What I learnt from Cath during her talk is that you can be a success focussing primarily on the desire to do something creative with your life instead of the need to make a fortune, and make a fortune in the process! She likened the building of her business to raising a child. She always wanted her child to flourish and didn't particularly care if her child married a rich or poor person.
This attitude to money meant that she resisted borrowing money, grew slowly and reinvested much of what she made. Much like Laura Tenison of JoJo Maman Bebe did (see my previous blog).

Cath also spent a lot of time on her brand and developed a strong idea of what she wanted Cath Kidston to represent; practicality and prettiness. This focus has allowed her to develop a name that is instantly recognisable, understand which products to develop and ensure her market are able to relate to her ongoing.

The last thing she really impressed on me was that it can be scary sharing your business but the only way to achieve success is by doing just that, letting people come in and doing what they're good at. Cath felt that as a businesswoman she needed to be honest with herself and identify the areas she would never be good at, or wouldn't want to do, and farm them out.

Other things I learnt from Cath were:

  • Don't make ironing covers out of flammable materials.
  • Don't have someone else negotiate orders for you in Czech or you could end up with a pallet of duvet covers.
  • Get help with areas you don't excel at, like warehousing, otherwise a customer may get an empty can of Special Brew with their order.

So I'm going to walk away from yesterday's lunch knowing that I am running my business because I am passionate about what I do, that I won't be aggressive financially and it will never be all about making money (or even a little bit) and that I can still be a success anyway. What a lovely lesson to learn x

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Usually I write about business topics but today I felt moved to write about something more personal. Firstly, because as a mum in business you can't separate the two and secondly, because I always feel like if I'm thinking these things, there may be other mums out there feeling the same.

So there is something in my life that far outweighs the guilt of say, putting my daughter in nursery a couple of days a week or working on the computer when she wants to play and that is leaving her Dad and separating them. It gets worse though, in September I will be moving to Oz and taking her with me.

For those of you who are in a similar situation to me, you will understand the guilt associated with this move is the worst of all. To take your child away from their father. And it's probably magnified three-fold for me as I am a product of a broken home so I know exactly how it feels on all sides. I feel my pain, I feel his pain and I know all of the pain she will feel in coming years when she has to leave her Dad at the end of the holidays or when she's angry with me for something and wants his comfort. And I'm feeling it all now.

It isn't pleasant, it is sometimes debilitating, so how can I do it? Unfortunately, this world isn't black and white and there is no perfect answer, nor any street signs pointing me in the right direction. Every step I take is unsure and laden with doubt but I have to take a step otherwise nothing happens at all.

So first, I go with my gut. My gut has never let me down yet and I can't imagine it will start now. I have also looked at the pros and cons and thought about what I want for my daughter and I. Now, after looking at this list there is still no right answer but at least I am sure about the reasons why; like it will be a better, more outdoor lifestyle in Oz. I also know that if I stay in London I will probably have problems with depression and feel that my daughter needs a mum that is happy and healthy and not wallowing in misery.

The cons? She's not with her Dad all of the time. But I have to try and remember every time I feel like crying with frustration that I am only trying to create the best possible scenario and this is all that is in my control. I can do no more.
The other thing I always try and remember is that this will be a better life in that she won't be growing up with warring parents (as I did). And that by the time she's 18 she'll probably be living in London anyway and travelling for 10 years (as I did) and then he'll be the one getting the pleasure of all her company.

So the next time I feel the guilt come over me I'm going to remind myself that I have a good heart, that I love my daughter, that I care for my mental health, that I respect my ex and that I am doing the best I can in a world that isn't perfect.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


From time to time during the three years running my business the issue of money has come up. Not the lack of it, I've always had enough to get by, but the question of whether my business was financially viable when all was said and done. The answer? I honestly have no idea. To date, I have never sat down and actually worked out how many hours I worked and whether I was running at a loss when I accounted for my hours. I love what I do so it seemed fine not to account for something that is just so fun!

My ex was the opposite. His first question when I would share good news with him on my business would always relate to cash. How much are you making? What is the profit? I used to get so annoyed as rather than sharing in my joy of achieving something personal it always boiled down to money. And, in the world of business, this is the norm.

Well, so I thought. But at the Laura Tenison (MD of Jo Jo Maman Bebe - lunch today, run by my associate Clare of SE London Mumpreneur Network ( she shared the unthinkable - money isn't important to her, job satisfaction is! I couldn't believe my ears as this is what I have been waiting for all my business life - to hear someone so successful in business share the fact that you can create a success built on crazy notions like doing something you love, investing in people, donating to charity.

It made me believe that maybe I could do it too - and wouldn't have to go down the road of trying to make people membership for Motivating Mum (something I have been advised to do but have always resisted) or increase my prices for lunches and events (as I want them to be accessible to everyone).

It also made me realise that there are different reasons people enter into business and it doesn't always have to be about making millions. Although in the pursuit of your passion, you just might make them anyway...

Saturday, 6 February 2010


I recently held another of my Brainstorm in a Teacup sessions and whilst sitting listening to the six mums around me offer advice and support to each other, I had an epiphany - we are bl**dy amazing really!

This wasn't just a meeting of seven mums, but seven incredible women who have backgrounds in marketing (Shazia Mustafa of Third Door), IT (Linda Louis of Maison Louis), coaching business mums (Robyn Hatley, running successful villas in Tuscany (Rita Kobrak, and mums with a social conscience (Kristin Hayward and Jessica St Clair, Green Families and A Yoga Life). All of whom are, of course, having or raising kids at the same time!

Between us we managed to give feedback on the viability of a gluten free cake business, marketing of a natural birthing site, getting coverage in magazines and newspapers, the use of Twitter, handling accounts, identifying the niche for a yoga business and much more. I couldn't help but marvel at the breadth of experience each mum brought to the table after years of schooling, career, babies and now, running or launching their own business.

It really helped cement for me the reason why I run these sessions and also, made me so proud to be a mum in business. Not only are we extremely under-estimated in the world of business (in my opinion) but we are a force to be reckoned with as not only are we all brilliant, but we're willing to share it with our fellow mums and help each other to greater heights. Not a trait I have come across in business before...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


As always, racking my brain as to what to write today and thought I would share with you a few of my time saving tips, which allows me more time to fritter away elsewhere like on blogging and Twitter!

1. I always get my daughter (3 yo) dressed first in the morning and then she has breakfast. If I'm running late or she's dawdling, breakfast can be on the go, getting dressed can't!
2. When she's having a bath, I scrub any stained clothes in the bathroom basin so I can chat to her while getting work done.
3. I plan for my business day in ad breaks the night before - and I stick to my plan!
4. I plan meals for the next few days in ad breaks and write all the ingredients down.
5. I take a pen with me to the supermarket so I can cross off what I've picked up and be sure about what I still have to get.
6. I search the BBC food website for recipe ideas as you can pop a quick meal option in thsearch engine and get ideas that don't take too long.
7. I only iron if I absolutely have to. There's a lot to be said for flicking clothes before hanging them up and hanging them up properly!
8. I organise catch ups with more than one friend at a time. Even if they don't know each other, they soon will, and it's lovely creating new groups of friends.
9. I use my diary religiously and write in everything I need to do and remember. If I call someone and leave a message, I leave a note for myself a few days on to query if they have called back.
10. I only blog once a week and leave it at that. I only look at Twitter once a day and leave one message and reply to two. I never do either on weekends.

Cheers! Alli

Friday, 8 January 2010


Tip #1

When was the last time you sat down and really thought about what you spend your time on each day? How many activities do you fulfill that you simply take for granted as a necessary part of your day? I know of one woman that irons her sheets and another that spends a lot of time doing dishes while her kids watch tv.

I'm not saying don't do these things (hey! who am I to argue with the smoothness of an ironed sheet?!) but sit down and ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, do you need to do them? What can you delegate? What can you do faster? With less fuss? Are there other things you would prefer to be doing? If so, what? And what jobs do you want to continue with because they mean so much to you?

Now I know you're reading this thinking fab, great idea, but when do I get the time to do this with that pile of washing/accounting staring at me from across the room? Well, for the very organised, a little time keeping throughout the day in a notepad is very easy. For those with an aversion to list-making, how about a review of your day in the ads of your fave show of before bed? Or, even crazier, how about you tell your hubby/kids what you're trying to achieve and ask they cook dinner/wash up/look after themselves for 10 min a day for a week while you dedicate yourself to this exercise?

The point is that it will take time initially, but the time and stress it could save you in the end could be immeasurable. And isn't it about time you did something for yourself?

I'd love to hear your successes/challenges in achieving this exercise. Let me know how you do by replying to this post! Cheers, Alli