Serial entrepreneur and parent, or more aptly, Parentpreneur, Bridget Daley, might just have a recipe that works for today’s self-employed parents. The secret sauce includes a group of gorgeous kids, two self-employed parents, a splash of gumption, a lot of patience, a time management app, and a good old family chat on the sofa. The Freelance Informer learns more.
Bridget, what’s your startup story? How did the Parents in Biz platform start?
I had no prior experience in setting up a magazine or working in the publishing industry, many people just assumed that I had an editorial background.
However, the reason I set up the Parents in Biz platform was that when I was running my second business, I noticed that there was a lack of support groups for parents running their own businesses. Some groups catered to Mums in business, but nothing for parents in business. I went to networking events for Mums, but I just didn’t feel that I actually fit in and in the end, I never felt comfortable anywhere. So, I decided in 2015 to create my network of parents in business and geared up to reach this audience. However, after I registered my business, and created my social media handles, got on Facebook (I’m still a newbie when it comes to LinkedIn), I didn’t get around to launching the business officially until 2017, and that was when the magazine was born.
Did you launch with a paid subscription model?
I believed that there was nothing dedicated to parents running their own business – it was a niche, so I decided to offer the magazine for free for the first year. The investment was all on me, but it paid off since the content was well received by the audience. People started to get in touch for interviews, contributing to articles, and it was like a snowball effect. So, after a year, I decided to charge for the magazine.
How did you build your audience?
I built the audience through my network. I had built businesses before- one in the communications sector and the second, which was a women’s e-commerce site. There were productivity challenges on the site initially, but it just felt like the right time to embark on launching a magazine.
What content do you think your audience gravitates to the most?
I have learned so many valuable lessons – costly lessons – over the 10-plus years that I have been in business. I have built up a bank of knowledge on how to run a business around a family and also the effects it has had on me and our five children through all the different stages of child development and all while running a business. It is just me sharing my knowledge with my audience. The magazine is very much a collaborative experience.
In addition to running my own business, I have also worked in permanent positions. I come from a social care background, so I’ve worked with families in the social care system and I’m a qualified counsellor. Therefore, I have a multitude of skills and experiences that I can share with my audience. For example, I have had to take on work, because at times my business was not bringing in enough money, so I had to go back into employment, even if it was temporary; a side hustle. Many parents are juggling the three things – running the business and the additional work, and a family, just so they can put food on the table.
Um…did you say, five kids? How do you do it?
Yes, I have five children. I would say my top tip is when you’re going into business, especially within the first six months, is to factor in time and money- and good management of both- and above all patience. This is very much your family’s journey that you are about to embark on. I keep telling my audience, running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.
I use project management tools, such as Trello, which my personal assistant uses, too. I manage all my projects and my day to day tasks. I also time myself on each post, so I can set realistic time goals from start to finish for the next one and try to improve on it. I use time blocking, too. When I first launched the magazine, I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know this was such a big thing I was taking on and maybe I could have published a better magazine, but sometimes you have to go in a bit naïve otherwise you would never get anywhere.
How can you prepare your family for a startup?
You should sit down and explain to your children what Mummy and Daddy do each day. You can also get them involved, so they have a larger understanding of what you do. I get my children and family involved by asking their opinions on things, such as logo design and in other ways.
For instance, with the magazine, my youngest helped me pack the magazine – it’s important to get them involved in some ways and show them what you do daily. This makes them mindful when you need some quiet time to work, whether that’s putting up a sign on your home office to let them know you need quiet time, letting them know that they can slip a note under the door or be mindful when you have your headphones on, that you are in ‘focus mode’ so they do not interrupt you. Once you find these tricks things will work smoother.
But there are times when you’re just going to want to cry. So, it’s always good to have a support network and that means finding people who are supportive of what you’re all about.
With the onset of lockdown-induced remote working, did you find that the juggling acts of self-employed parents were appreciated? That more people are now in tune with the challenges and benefits of the family work-life balance?
Yes, I think everybody’s more or less remote working at the moment, whether employed or running their own business. Children are a real part of our lives as we famously saw in that BBC interview. I think working around children is not as frowned upon now.
Also, with both partners working from home, they can balance childcare. One partner might be on a lunch break with the children, so the other can get some emails done in that space of time. Remote working has helped balance out the childcare and that enables better quality time as a family.
There are challenges, too. I wanted to conduct events this year but had to cancel on account of COVID. Webinars and online networking events were also going to be hard for me on account that I never knew what life was going to throw me with all the kids at home. But I am looking to do more of these events next year when we return to some form of normality.
What are your thoughts on self-care for the self-employed?
Everyone is becoming more aware of self-care, but especially those who are self-employed. They are becoming more aware of how important it is, but I believe that the actual act of ‘self-care’ depends on the individual. For some, it means getting spa treatments, for others, it is reading a book. Self-care is vital and can even happen in just five minutes when you first wake up and the house is still quiet. Your brain will thank you for that moment of quiet and calm.
I have suffered from burnout before where I just didn’t listen to my body until my body shut down. I never want to feel that way again. Because no matter how much in your mind you want to get up and go, your body won’t let that happen. With the whole COVID experience, I wasn’t scheduling self-care at that time. I had my older children who were working from home, my partner is also self-employed and working from home. I had my daughter and my son who were homeschooling, everything was a bit chaotic. And when the lockdown eased and there was one day when everyone was out of the house, I just took a moment to appreciate that time and read. When you see that opportunity, take it, because the work will always be waiting for you.
If we start to see more redundancies in the UK, do you sense that more people will want to set up their own business or side hustle to make ends meet? To monetize their skills on a freelance basis if companies in their field are not hiring permanent positions?
I am already witnessing on a few Facebook groups that people are wanting to start a business. I see a lot of people using their skills and turning them into a self-employment side hustle. So, I wouldn’t be surprised when the statistics do come out that a lot of people have decided to start a business. During the lockdown, I knew people who have started a side business. People had more time on their hands during lockdown; to slow down and say hey, you know, I’ve got skills that can be packaged and utilized.
The lockdown has also revolutionized the way many business owners now do their business. A lot of parents in business have had to switch to remote working and to go online to sell their services whether they are a personal fitness coach or a personal organizer.
What challenges may the newly self-employed come against?
Mistake number one for a lot of parents is their struggle with time management. Childcare options are getting better, however, with co-working and integrated nurseries, but these services are mainly based in large cities. Student nannies are also a good source to use when it comes to managing your time. Outsourcing may seem like a cost you cannot afford, but sometimes it is time well spent so you can work on other things that bring more money into your business.
Is there anything new happening at Parents in Biz?
I have been working on a Parents in Biz Community Hub. I am aiming to have experts on board as well as people from different parts of the business industry, such as PR social media marketing so that people can share their expertise with people who are members. It is also to help with tips on having harmony at home, which is very important since the [responsibilities] of raising a business and family often collide.
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