Owning your own small business can feel very isolating; especially when you’re a mum. I know this from personal experience.
18 months ago though, I discovered a network that completely changed everything for me and set me on a path that has allowed my business to grow beyond my expectations.
What is so exciting is that it is still growing and I now see that I have limitless potential. Without doubt, if I hadn’t taken action when I did I would not have experienced this success.
A few years ago I was trying to get my business off the ground but it felt like an uphill struggle. Working from home around the children seemed idyllic in theory but I soon found the reality very different. I sometimes felt like I was feeling around in the dark, not really sure what I was doing and feeling extremely alone.
I would go to play groups and meet with friends and family but no-one seemed to understand what I did or why I did it; sometimes I wondered myself. I had started my business because I was inspired by an idea but there were so many different elements to making it a success and so much to learn that I often felt overwhelmed.
The problem with feeling overwhelm is it actually keeps you stuck. When you can’t see past the problem then the solutions will never come.
I kept going, even when loved ones urged me to ‘get a proper job,’ I felt in my heart that I was on the right path and through pure grit, determination (and a dash of stubbornness), I soldiered on, hoping that the light at the end of the tunnel would eventually appear.
Then, one day it did.
I saw an advert on Facebook to join a national network for mums in business called Bizmums. Initially I was just excited to connect with other mum’s who were doing the same as me, who understood what it was like to take business calls while feeding a baby, or using nap time to cram some work in. It was liberating to finally see that I wasn’t on my own. There were other mums’ out there making their business work, if they could do it – so could I!
What did I have to lose? It turned out I had an awful lot to gain.
When you work from home you don’t get the camaraderie of a work place. For much of the time, you are alone. This isolation is not only bad for you as a human being but it can also be detrimental to your business.
When you join Bizmum’s though, you can access support from your kitchen table. The Facebook group for members is the most supportive I have come across (and I had already joined a few business groups). The women within the network come from all over the country but they have clearly become friends. When someone is having a bad day and they reach out in the group, they are met by dozens of messages, offering emotional and practical support.
There is a misconception that women like to see other women fail, this might be true in some cooperate, Wall Street circles but not here; in Bizmums everyone embraces each other’s success. The atmosphere is inspirational and enables me to stay motivated, even if I’m having ‘one of those days.’
Training and development
When you are self-employed, you are responsible for your own training and development. The problem many entrepreneurs face is trying to keep up in a world of business that is constantly changing, especially online. If you cannot stay up to date with current trends, in this competitive market, you are likely to fail.
Bizmums offers an amazing array of training opportunities, the themes they cover are mindset, marketing, organisation, growth, products and services and money management. The knowledge and skills I have gained through this training has enabled me to develop my business, I have seen a positive impact on both in my finances and my personal well-being.
Local networking groups
Sometimes we need to get out; we need to physically meet adults, women who understand what it is like to be us, otherwise we risk loneliness and our businesses becoming stagnant.
It was only after I joined this nationwide online network, that I realised I could actually attend a networking event in person. Unlike regular networking opportunities in my area, Bizmum meetings are child friendly and are held in venues that accommodate small people. The first time I went to a meeting I was really nervous, but I needn’t have been. My baby was crying half the time but no-one minded, in fact people were doing everything they could to help. It was clear that these people understood how I felt.
The women who attended that day were as diverse as the businesses they represented, not everyone had children in tow, in fact some didn’t have children at all but everyone was so welcoming and accepting, it felt like a cosy extension to the online group.
Access to a new market
Gaining new leads is a daily challenge every entrepreneur must face. Without them you literally have no business. Since joining Bizmum’s my sales have seen a big increase, in fact they have quadrupled in size! Part of that has been down to the training available, but many of those sales have been direct to Bizmum members or as a result of their recommendations. I never go to a meeting with the intention of making a sale; I go with the intention to connect but these connections have led to sales.
The supportive ethos of Bizmum’s, means that people want to buy from each other so they can help each other grow; it’s wonderful to be part of something that evokes such loyalty. I understand why, I too get a buzz when I buy from a Bizmum because I know I am helping someone just like me provide for their family.
Are you ready for Bizmum’s?
Looking back now, I hardly recognise myself before I joined Bizmums. I didn’t even like to describe myself as a business women for fear of being judged. The support, training and friendship that this unique network has given me are immeasurable. I am now a proud, strong mum in business and the future is limitless.
All you have to do is ask yourself the same question I did… What have I got to lose?