When I first attended Bizmums, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Business networking conjured up images of white, middle-aged men in suits competing for sales and little old me feeling insignificant and overwhelmed.
Bizmums seemed to be offering something different though…and I like different. Their meetings were child-friendly and held in child-friendly locations such as soft play centres. To a confidence-lacking and inexperienced me, that sounded a lot less intimidating.
I attended and enjoyed my first meeting but if you had told me then that Bizmums would become my invaluable support system, I would have laughed. Life had taught me to stay fiercely independent. I was “absolutely fine” on my own and nothing was going to change that.
Supporting mums in business
Bizmums mission is to support mums in business feeling isolated. Many mums choose to work from home and build their own business because the lack of flexibility from employers and the cost of childcare make it almost impossible to return to the workplace (seriously, the amount of mums I’ve met who’ve been made redundant whilst pregnant or had requests for part time or flexible working turned down…it’s criminal).
They run business networking events and groups all over the UK. Two years ago, when my teaching career had left me in tatters and my confidence was at rock bottom, I sat down contemplating my lack of future and decided I was going to start a business…with zero knowledge or experience. I stumbled across business networking, discovered Bizmums had a meeting in my local city, Chester, and decided to give it a go.
A warm welcome & friendly atmosphere
Walking into your first meeting can be scary. What if they have their own cliques? What if they don’t like me? What if they think I’m stupid, because let’s face it, I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing? What if I don’t look the part…what if, what if, what if. We’ve all been there, right!
The best thing you can do with those “what if’s” is stick them in the nearest bin! I was welcomed with open arms and made to feel like I’d known everyone forever. The meeting opened my eyes to a whole new world.
I had been in a profession surrounded by other people in the same profession and had felt trapped, unable to see other options. But here were a large group of mums networking (some with children, some without) and talking about a diverse range of businesses that they ran around their families.
There was no stuffiness, competition or formality. The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and supportive. Some women tried to deliver their 60 second introduction whilst feeding their babies and coping with a toddler hanging off their leg. Some women didn’t even have children but helped those who did and clearly liked the more relaxed approach to networking.
Business and friendship
Over the last two years I have gone to numerous Bizmums meetings across the North West and found the same friendliness. As teaching friends stopped staying in touch, my circle filled with fellow Bizmums.
We laugh together and we cry together.
The support and advice has been phenomenal and it goes way beyond the meetings. The Facebook member’s group online is a lifeline. It’s raw and it’s real. Forget the mums who compete over their child’s development, try to convince you that their parenting methods are best or want to show you their perfect life. It’s a place where you can be honest and receive genuine support.
The real life of a Bizmum
You know those times when your to do list has to do lists, you haven’t slept for a week, deadlines are approaching, your child gets sick, the washing machine breaks and school have requested home baked cakes for their summer fayre and you REALLY need to ugly cry? Bizmums are there to pick you up. They’ll sympathise, give you advice that’s actually helpful and give you a much needed hug, virtually and in real life.
You know when you are really excited about something in your business and no one else really gets it because they think it’s just your little hobby and they keep asking, “when are you going back to work, dear”? Bizmums are your personal band of cheerleaders, celebrating and whooping with you every step of the way.
You know when you’ve spent hours fighting with something technical or trying to work out something that everyone else seems to understand but you’re worried about asking…because you know…the what if’s? I can guarantee there will be other Bizmums experiencing the same struggle who’ll let you know that you’re not alone. Meanwhile someone else will explain what you need to do AND make sure you’re on the right track.
It’s more than just networking events
Bizmums is so much more than just a mum’s networking group. It offers an insane amount of value. There’s online networking for when you can’t get out the house, an academy full of resources and information so you can actually learn about running a business, daily live videos in the members group to keep you inspired and motivated and so much more.
You just can’t put a price on the support. Being a mum in business is hard and most people just don’t get it. But Bizmums do. You’ll see siblings squabble, children wide awake when they should be in bed, mums stuck to the sofa with a child lying on them, children climbing all over the place and making demands and do you know what? None of it is “unprofessional”, it is just the life of a Bizmum.
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