Your Name and Age: Jane Hopkins, 35
Tell us about your family
I’m a single mum to one – Jamie who’s just 4. I split with Jamie’s father when Jamie was weeks old although it was one of those things that had been on the cards for some time. But it left me with financial problems and I needed an income. Employment wasn’t an option for me, so I trawled the internet looking for information, couldn’t really find what I was looking for but found a few business forums and made a few new online friends who were women, like me – with kids and wanting an income. I decided I’d like to find more women in my situation, so we could all help and support each other.
I’d always been creative and arty so I retrained as a web designer and learnt new design skills, took a refresher marketing course to brush up on the latest ideas and built my own website for mums like me. It didn’t take long to find other mums, the forum became busy and I added more articles and information for everyone to benefit from and it developed itself from there.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea (previous career, stay at home mum etc) and how was it making the transition?
The transition to my new business life was surprisingly easy. I was going through a rough time personally, my new baby was giving me the normal new baby difficulties – namely sleep deprivation but having this new goal of a new business gave me direction and the motivation to keep ploughing on.
When did you launch?
How did you get started?
I enrolled on a web design course to give me the basic skills I needed to put a website and forum live on the internet. I then researched everything else I needed as I went along.
What research did you do before launching?
My research was for me, I just didn’t realise I was actively planning a business as I was looking for information to help myself, I think that was partly why it was an easy transition because the research was all done – in my head. I knew what I wanted and I was meeting other mums like me, who wanted the same as me.
How have you funded the business?
On an absolute shoe-string budget. I built it up by networking and word of mouth, I later introduced a paid for membership with exclusive services for members and started to sell advertising which enabled me to rebrand the site and advertise on other sites and magazines.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Networking, without a shadow of a doubt. I truly believe networking is the key to business success and I encourage it whenever I get the opportunity.
Advertising wise, I tried many ways to advertise with little response. I wasn’t convinced the means of advertising was ever reaching my market, so I started my own magazine to ensure it was seen in the right places. The Business Mum’s Journal is now up to a distribution of 20,000 and I’ve secured a distribution deal with Mothercare Plc.
What has worked well about your business?
Being unique. There was nothing like mumsclub when I started and although there have been a few imitations popping up since, it is still unique. I have so many ideas that I’ll be launching over the next few years that mumsclub will always remain unrivalled.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
There have been so many challenges purely because I put myself under pressure so often. But time is the one challenge that I deal with daily, but that’s no different to any other mum running a business. I squeeze more than a full day’s work into part time hours, and my day is spent catching moments to get work done. More work time would be heaven but I’m happier knowing I’m not missing a moment of my little boy’s early years and if that means composing an email to secure a business deal, whilst he’s sat on my knee drawing me a picture then so be it.
How do you fit in work with the family?
Whenever possible. Sometimes just one email or one press release could take me all day to write but there are days when my little one is happy to occupy himself and I get tons of work done. The evening hours are great – the phone’s not ringing, there are less emails coming in and I’ll sometimes have a glass of wine while I work…fab.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Well I have general business advice which is to focus. This is one thing I don’t do and I know I should. Have a business plan and stick to it. If you have a new idea, think it through before diving in because although it may be a superb idea, make sure you have the time, resources and support to see it through.
If you have a flexible working business opportunity, please explain briefly what you offer and how people find out more.
MumsClub provides a selection of business opportunities for mums. They all offer family friendly working conditions and range from party planning & direct selling right up to buying a franchise. They are available to browse from www.mumsclub.co.uk and we have also produced a guide to Business opportunities which is available to order for free also on mumsclub (p&p costs apply).
Your website link. www.mumsclub.co.uk
There are regular free PR opportunities on mumsclub. The latest is Business Mum Week which encourages women who juggle business with children to hold events – anything from a local meet up, to a baby show. As long as the event promotes mums working from home, then we will support and promote the event from our website. www.businessmumweek.com