The co-founders behind AusMumpreneur, Australia's number one online community for mums in business, Peace Mitchell and Katy Garner share their tips for mothers trying to run their own business with kids in tow.
The ladies have been awarded for our work in the community and in business, with Peace receiving the Australia Day Citizen of the Year award and Katy being awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Katy Garner states: "We have 7 kids between us. We understand the challenges women face as mothers starting and running businesses and are passionate about ensuring women feel supported to find success through our online community, business school, events and awards."
When you have babies and young children it's not viable to be working long hours so it's important to be realistic about how much you can do and be mindful of not taking on too much work. Be ok with saying no to some opportunities, ideas or projects. When setting timelines for client's work to be completed give yourself some extra time in case things go pear shaped during the week. Technology is here to help you so make the most of it by automating as many aspects of your business as you can. Automated website systems can help to ensure that things can happen without you having to be there all the time.
Do what you love. Choose a business idea that you're passionate about. When you're doing something meaningful or enjoyable it doesn't feel like work.
Which things are you doing in your business that are a waste of time? Writing a list of everything you do and crossing out everything that doesn't have a good return on investment for your time or money can help you find more free time. Think about things you can simplify in your business to create less work but still achieve the result you need. Regularly re-assessing and re-evaluating what's important and what isn't is essential will help you create the life you want.
When you need help, ask for it! No-one expects you to be wonder woman so call on friends, family, fellow business owners and your partner to help you whenever you can. I've found that asking for help really makes a difference in how much I can achieve and my happiness levels too.
The most important thing is to remember to breathe! Your babies are only little for such a short time so don't lose sight of what matters, spend time with your children when you want to, take breaks whenever you need to. The work will always be there when you're ready to go back. Downtime is important. Don't feel guilty for taking time out and changing your plans when you need to. It's your business and it should work for you. It's essential to look after yourself so that you can be the best you can be for your business and your family.
Peace Mitchell exclaims: 'I believe women are the key to changing the world. By empowering women to embrace their full potential we can create change for women which then helps their families and communities and in turn flows on to the whole country with social, emotional and economic benefits for everyone. I believe we can change the lives of women everywhere through education, empowerment and entrepreneurialism."
The 2017 AusMumpreneur Awards are accepting nominations until the 30th of June 2017.
Question: How do you survive motherhood whilst running a business?
Peace Mitchell: I find that business and motherhood are actually quite compatible. When you're the boss you can set your own hours and create a business that's as big or small as you want. It's completely up to you. I've also learnt to ask for help when I need it, I have an au pair who minds my youngest daughter 3 days a week, my older children are now old enough to help make dinner and do washing and I have virtual assistants I can call on for help with the business too. Taking breaks and looking after yourself is important for all mums so I try not to work late at night or on weekends so I can come back ready for work feeling refreshed.
Question: How do you support each other in business and personal life?
Peace Mitchell: As sisters we're very intuitive and know each other really well. I can always tell when she's having a hard day or needs to take some time out and the same goes for her. I had a baby in 2013 and then she had one the following year and we each allowed the other to take all the time that we needed to be ready to come back to the business. I really think anyone who has a business partner needs to be able to understand that there will be times when one of you will need to step away for weeks or months and the other should be prepared to step in and allow that to happen. We're in this for the long haul and there are good times and bad in every journey so it's all about being there for each other along the way.
Question: Why is it so important for mothers to return to work?
Peace Mitchell: There are so many reasons women return to work and some women don't and that's ok too. I love that we have the choice now. It was not so long ago that women didn't have this freedom! For many women returning to work is so important for their own sense of identity and personal fulfilment too. Babies change everything, they turn your life upside down (in a good way) but they also change the way you feel about things and see the world. We've been noticing a real trend recently that more and more women feel compelled to start businesses that make a difference to the world in some way and I know that that sense of purpose and doing something meaningful is a reason many women want to return to work.
Question: What is your main advice to a mother starting their own business?
Peace Mitchell: Always be learning. No matter who you are or how experienced you are, there are always things you can learn that can make your business better. Whether it's doing an online course, like ours, The Women's Business School Ignite program, reading a business book, listening to podcasts, watching TED talks or attending a conference it all helps you to get better at the way you do business and can help give you the confidence to try new things.
Question: Can you share your seven secrets to standing out, in business?
Peace Mitchell: 1. Give exceptional customer service
2. Be unique
3. Become an expert in your field by writing a book and creating a keynote presentation
4. Use social media to connect with your tribe
5. Write guest articles for blogs and magazines
6. Partner with other businesses that share your values
7. Give back to your community or causes that you're passionate about
Question: Can you tell us about AusMumpreneur?
Peace Mitchell: AusMumpreneur is the peak body for mums in business in Australia. It was created to provide education and support for mums in business and also to be a voice for women at a state and federal level. We started in 2009 when we recognised a growing trend of women starting businesses after having children and this trend has skyrocketed since then with over 330,000 mumpreneurs now in Australia.
Question: How does AusMumpreneur empower women?
Peace Mitchell: We connect women starting out in business with inspirational role models and experienced businesswomen that can help those starting out to grow their business. Our educational course -The Women's Business School' also provides education to give women the skills, techniques and confidence to get their business off the ground. We provide scholarships for a number of women each year because we're passionate about giving back and ensuring that the women who need support are able to access education.
Question: What are the AusMumpreneur Awards?
Peace Mitchell: The AusMumpreneur Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of mums in business who are excelling in customer service, innovation, sustainability and business management. These awards also challenge the stereotype that mums running businesses from home are just -hobby businesses'. The awards also highlight the fact that these women are leading the way in digital innovation, creating new employment opportunities and bringing millions of dollars to the Australian economy.
Question: Who and how do we nominate for the AusMumpreneur Awards?
Peace Mitchell: Mums in business can be nominated or nominate themselves by going to ausmumpreneur.com Business owners at any stage of business are welcome to nominate including pre-launch, early stage and established businesses with a range of categories to suit any business. Nominations close on 30 June and winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner in Sydney on Friday 25 August.
Question: Most importantly, tell us about how empowering women they will change the world:
Peace Mitchell: We believe that right now the world needs women, but not just any women, women who are strong enough to create change and have their voices heard but soft enough to heal the problems of the world and nurture the next generation. Our vision for this business has always been bigger than just Australia, we feel a strong calling towards making a difference for women everywhere. In China we can see potential for more women to be creating environmentally conscious businesses. In Africa we can see women making an impact financially that benefits whole communities. In the United States, where maternity leave is limited, we can see ongoing health benefits as more women will be able to breastfeed babies for longer. The benefits of empowering and educating women in Australia and around the world are substantial with the flow on effects of social, environmental, economic and health benefits felt globally as a result of enabling women to create change in their own lives.
Question: What is your business goal for the second half of 2017?
Peace Mitchell: Our goal for the second half of 2017 is to hold the AusMumpreneur Awards, launch our new business course, host a retreat in Bali, and start working on some special projects to help women in disadvantaged areas. I'm excited about it already!
Question: Have you set personal goals?
Peace Mitchell: I've always wanted to meet Elizabeth Gilbert and I'm hoping to attend a conference in Colorado in October which she's speaking at. I've also recently taken up running and would love to be able to run 10km.
Interview by Brooke Hunter