Is Mumpreneur a dirty word? Five pearls of wisdom for mums who want to run a business from home

Over the weekend I was featured in an article in The Telegraph on the ‘Rise of the Mumpreneur.’ Here’s what I had to say:

‘Childcare is a huge expense, but setting up a business is a struggle, too’

Amy Beeson, 32, from west London, is mother to two-year-old Ava. After leaving her job in communications for maternity leave in 2011, she decided to spend her time at home co-writing a book with her mother [Sarah Beeson MBE].

It wasn’t straightforward: before the book, The New Arrival, was picked up by a publishing agency [HarperCollins], she had to return to work. Only now has she decided to stay at home working full-time for her business, Wordsby Communications. “Working from home and becoming your own boss is empowering but it can be financially difficult,” she said. “While going to work and paying for childcare is a huge expense, starting up your own business from home means you are likely to struggle financially to begin with as well, so it is important that mothers enjoy the business they are starting up and are able to be adaptable.”’

Telegraph MumrepeurWho am I?

Six months after returning to work from maternity leave I waved goodbye to my full-time Communications Civil Service job after getting a three book deal with HarperCollins to co-write two memoirs and a parenting book with my mum, Sarah Beeson. I started up Wordsby Communications at the beginning of 2013 which provides communications, design, writing and branding services. Our first memoir ‘The New Arrival’ is a top-selling book and tells the heart-warming story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London. Working from home gives me the flexibility to do a job I love and take care of our Little One.

So, some days I’m doing what Reviewers have called “beautifully written and moving memoir” and others I’m developing brand language for Kali Theatre Company or a new brand for Notting Hill Vets. Life as my own boss is certainly never dull. It’s full of highs and lows but it feels like I am living my life.

Mumpreneur?

The label “Mumpreneur” causes ontroversy. The first time I had it applied to me was when I was asked to tell My Mum Story by Pippa Best at Story of Mum, she told me it was great to have a Mumpreneur’s story. I thought that’s not who I am. Yes, I’m a mum but I just work freelance and run a small Creative Communications business Wordsby. I’m hardly Alan Sugar or Richard Branson material.

To some “Mumpreneur” is a dirty word but for me in a world of hashtags I now see it as a tool. Because in social media words are tools. Find the right word and it will open up your digital world to networks and communities, fans, friends, peers and clients; and if you work from home it’s a lifeline.

The hashtags I most often use are #Freelance #Copywriter #London but the support and opportunities I’ve discovered by connecting with other women (often mums) on twitter constantly amazes me. When we have our #TheNewArrival #Twitterparty and #Quiz I just love the community of readers who gather together – it makes writing and communications a two-way street and that’s so much more rewarding than broadcast media. #Mumpreneur is just a tool to make connections in a world filled with buzz.

Here are my five Top Tips for mums who want to be their own boss and look after young children.

1. If you don’t value yourself no-one else will.

A lot of people out there want something for nothing. Know what you’re worth and be confident and clear about what you are offering. I regularly trade services with other mums in business where we are each getting something out of it, but don’t let people pick your brains for the price of a coffee.

2. You can’t do everything.

I bring writing skills, creativity, energy and serious graft to any project. When you run your own business time is money and for me doing my own accounts is a false economy. I use an e-accountancy service called Crunch meaning I don’t waste those precious working hours trying to work out my own tax.

3. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.

Most mums could run military operations they’re so organised. Flexibility, reacting positively and proactively to change and planning ahead – no problem! Transfer those skills to your business and you’ve got a winning formula. But most women are very hard on themselves – we put enormous pressure on ourselves to be great at work, as a mum, as a partner, to be a domestic goddess and look well-groomed and in control. If you can achieve 2-3 of these things in one day – you’re a superstar!

4. Do something you love.

Running your own business means working whenever and wherever you can. To find the energy to do that, your business needs to be something you love doing. It’s unlikely you’re going to strike it rich straight away and there will be times when it’s nail-biting, that’s why it’s got to be something you really want to do.

5. Be kind to yourself

Getting a little R&R for yourself is usually the toughest challenge for any mum but it’s essential. Your children and your business depend on your well-being, so be a good boss and give yourself a break, whether that’s going to the gym, a movie or the night-off from dinner and bedtime. It’s amazing the boost just having an hour or two to yourself can give you.

London Writer and Communications Strategist would like to meet…

  • New Clients. To work on copy, creative content, brand development and communications.
  • Account Manager. I would love to meet another “Mumpreneur” who would like to be her own boss and work with me to win new business and manage client relationships and projects.

Email amyibeeson@gmail.com

 

To work or be at home? Talking motherhood with Harriet Scott on BBC London 94.9

I was very excited to be asked to join Radio DJ Harriet Scott and Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Watkins on BBC London 96.4 to talk about going back to work after having a baby. In truth, I was slightly star struck to chat feeding, sleeping and shopping with an Olympian and her lovely baby William in the Green Room at Broadcasting House while a very obliging Ava slept in her buggy because I didn’t have any childcare.

You can Listen Again to the interview and here are a few of the highlights from what I had to say on my working life after having a baby.

20130403-225022.jpg

“I’d changed as person during maternity leave…”

I was due to go back to work when my daughter was a year old. I did go back to work but I only stayed in my job in the Civil Service for six months because I definitely felt that I’d changed as person during maternity leave in what I wanted from work and what I wanted from family life. If anything I think I was a bit braver. I’ve always written but before I had a baby I needed the cushion of having that monthly paycheque.

“We didn’t get the book deal offer until three days after I handed in my notice.”

It was a real gamble leaving work. During my maternity leave I wrote a baby book with my mum [Sarah Beeson MBE], it’s a first year guide to a baby’s first year which will be published in 2015. We got an offer for the book from HarperCollins for that and two memoirs of my mum’s life [‘The New Arrival’ out on 27 March and ‘She’s Arrived!’ out later this year]. Which was amazing but, we didn’t get the book deal offer until three days after I handed in my notice. So, I’d definitely reached a point where I felt we had an amazing Nanny, she was doing an amazing job but I wanted to be the one painting with my child, I wanted to be the one taking her to the Science Museum. I didn’t want it to be somebody else.

And was very difficult. I worried about how we were going to pay the mortgage, even now it’s nail biting month after month but I feel more like myself when I am home with my daughter, writing which is a big part of who I am, rather than being away from seven in the morning until seven at night just to pay a Nanny and to pay the bills and keep my career going so we could have that comfort zone.

Amy opens up The New Arrival

Amy reading The New Arrival

Being a good parent isn’t easy

I don’t think any decision you make as a good parent is easy. Parenting isn’t about quick easy decisions – it’s about doing what you think is right for your child, and your family and yourself within the parameters you have. Finance really impacts on that. I think people’s expectations impact as well. I had a daughter, I didn’t want to send her the message that women just give up work when they have children, but I think if women do want to be at home with their children they should be supported.

There’s not a one-size fits all solution to childcare

What’s really sad is when it’s divisive and it’s Working Mothers versus Stay at Home Mothers. Actually, they’re all just doing their damndest and what they really need, and what all parents need is more support – whether that’s Wrap-around care or maybe more women should be enabled to work part-time which means Wrap-around care isn’t the answer. There needs to be more flexibility in the provision, it’s not a one-size fits all solution.

With our Nanny, she was really lovely and I spent the last two weeks of my Maternity Leave working with her side by side so the transition would be easier for my child and easier for the nanny. And in some respects that was a sacrifice but I think it did make a big difference and we always treated our nanny Elizabeth as part of our family, and even now we don’t have her anymore because I can’t afford it and because it seems like a bit of luxury when I’m only working part-time, she still comes and sees Ava all the time.

And for us it was cheaper to have a nanny than it was to have a nursery. London Nurseries are off the scale in how expensive they are so I worked compressed hours to afford childcare. I used to get in at eight in the morning and work solidly until six at night, and I did feel pressure to show that I was working when I returned to work. You feel like you almost have to demonstrate that you can still do your job.

Mums are so organised they could run military operations

I’ve found since I’ve become a mother that I’m so organised, I could run military operations I’m so organised, to get here today even. If you look at most women and dads, they are balancing a lot. One of the reasons our life works is that my partner is incredibly supportive. Everyday there is a lot of variables, and all you can do as a parent is influence what’s happening – you give up control when you become a parent. You cannot control the outcome of every situation, you just hope it works out – my child is asleep right now, I’ve walked round London Zoo all day to make that happen.

Ava at London Zoo

Ava at London Zoo

“It’s very political having babies”

I felt when I went back to work it’s like everybody jabs your wound, asking you if you’re missing them. You just want to say, ‘Yes, I do. Can you just be quiet!’ And everybody constantly asking you if you are having another baby, implying that’ll you be off again on Maternity Leave soon – people used to say that to me as a joke and I used to not find it funny. It’s none of their business. It’s very political having babies, it’s almost like you become public property in the things people assume about you.

You can listen again to the interview on the BBC website. The New Arrival by Sarah [and Amy] Beeson is available for pre-order in paperback and Kindle. Amy Beeson works as a Freelance copywriter through her limited company Wordsby.

Since you became a mum what’s your biggest fear?

Amy story of mumSince becoming a mum and going freelance I regularly find myself walking into a room of women I don’t know who are also mothers. What to wear? What time to arrive? Will anyone talk to me? It’s like being the new girl at school.

A huge amount of social engagement is now conducted online. Everyday, I’m chatting away on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. So venturing out into the real world sometimes is a wee bit scary.

When Pippa from Story of Mum asked me to come and share my story at The Photographers Gallery I immediately said yes. Making the video was a piece of cake – I am married to a video editor after all; and the great things about video is you don’t have to face your audience. Standing up in a room full of strangers is another matter!

When I get the wobbles before a mums event I remember my friend Katie saying at the beginning of 2013, “What’s to be scared of? They’re just women; we like women don’t we?’ Katie is the same friend who told me to ‘Stop shilly-shallying,’ when I was trying to decide whether to go freelance. The woman speaks her mind.

The thing is when you have a baby you go out less. I get tipsy more easily and need to get home before I turn into a pumpkin. But going out is good. It’s nice to be a person (empty out the nappies, raisins and calpol sachets from my handbag and replace them with lipstick, powder and cab fare home). It is liberating being with other women; sharing experience can be really powerful. Together women are natural creators; they make things happen.

I just love hearing other women’s stories and it’s nice when people listen to mine too. I now realise it’s good to say yes and normal to feel apprehensive. When I told friends about my Story of Mum video and being asked to speak at the event I kept saying, ‘I don’t know why they’ve asked me.’ Maybe what I should have said was, ‘I’m really glad they asked me!’

And though my live performance of telling my story wasn’t as safe or polished as the video I made for the exhibition, I’m really glad I did it. Thank you so much Pippa for creating Story of Mum and making me and hundreds of other mums part of something special. It’s been a blast.

Tell me, tell me, tell me…which video do you prefer?

Do you like the pre-recorded version? (watch the video for a treat)

OR

Me telling my story live? (watch the live recording if you dare)

Is there something about a real life experience that connects us in ways that the virtual world can’t? (I do realise the irony of asking this online, I do, I really do!) Please comment, tweet, email etc and let me know what you think?

Do you find going to mums events and groups a bit scary too? Are you glad when you make the effort to go out into the real world?

One thing I’m super excited about is The New Arrival coming out and all the amazing women me and my mum are going to meet. Bring on 27 March 2014!

Amy sharing story

Featured are some of the photos of me and the other intrepid mums who came, shared and created. Photos by Pat Kelman Photography.

Do you think good things are really worth the wait?

Why is it good things keep you waiting but bad things pop up all the time? Are you waiting for that life changing moment that will transform your life?

In a modern world where so much is instant I’m starting to wonder if the expectation of instant gratification is preventing us from recognising that over-night success isn’t just unrealistic for most of us it could actually be detrimental.

On 17 October 2012 my mum (Sarah Beeson – baby expert) and I got a three book deal with HarperCollins. It’s been a year since we jumped up and down and cracked open the champagne. We know a lot more about the publishing world now than we did then – but how can it be there are still five more months until our book hits the shelves. It’s longer than pregnancy!

But some things are worth the wait – like seeing your debut book cover for the first time just last week!

THE NEW ARRIVAL medium cover image‘The New Arrival’ is £7.99 available for pre-order ahead of UK publication on 27 March 2014.

Sometimes I do find it hard to go at someone else’s pace – my energy is often one of the things my clients most value, but it can make me a little impatient. One thing motherhood has taught me is how to go at another person’s pace. It can literally end in tears if you don’t learn the cues of when to push ahead and when to calm down and guide your Little One in the right direction.

What have you learnt over the past year that’s helped you determine when to put your foot on the accelerator and when to let things develop at a steadier pace? I’d really love to know.

Could you pick ten photos to tell your mum story so far?

It’s a bit funny where twitter can lead you. A few weeks ago I was casually browsing on twittersphere while waiting for my nails to dry (let’s face it, the invention of iPhones means a lot of us do social media in the bathroom to pass the time!) Any-hoo, I came across a twitter party by @givemumsabreak and I ended up chatting to Pippa AKA @storyofmum about just that – ten photos that would show my journey over the last 2 years and 4 months – and boy oh boy, do I have a lot of photos! My iPhone is my diary.

After taking part in The Motherhood Exhibition a few months ago where I’d had my portrait taken by Juliana which became part of the virtual and touring exhibition – I’m a mum and a....(mine was Lion Tamer – see below) I’d wanted to meet Pippa. I’d hope it would be at one of the summer events but I couldn’t make any of them as I’d been chained to my laptop writing ‘The New Arrival’.

photo (16)Pippa asked me if I’d do My Mum-Story – a video of about 3 1/2 minutes which told my story using ten photos for a fab event she’s organising at The Photographer’s Gallery in London on 18 October, if you haven’t booked; book now – it’s free and an excuse for an evening out. I don’t know about you but evenings out are few and far between for us these days.

I’ll be one of five mums (the others are Sue Atkins, Lorna Hauff, Shelina Janmohamed and Emma Murphy) sharing their short video self portraits. There’s also a Britmums networking event at 6.30pm before the exhibition kicks off from 7pm. Plus the very talented Hollie McNish is curating the mums’ poem and performing, which I’m excited about as I’ve only seen Hollie on YouTube and you can’t beat a live performance.

It’s free but do book with The Photographers Gallery…it would be lovely to see you there. Do tweet, email, Facebook when you book so we can look out for you. And if you’re now feeling a bit inspired to do something creative or tell your own story then scoot on over to Story of Mum and get involved – there’s still time.

Hope we see your at Story of Mum: Mum’s making an exhibition of themselves on 18 October…my mum’s coming to babysit! I might even venture to Wardour Street afterwards, it’s so close, it would be rude not to.

Amy Beeson is a Freelance Writer and the Director of Wordsby Communications working with many women running a small business on a limited budget who need affordable solutions for their communications needs. Amy’s currently busy working away on three new books with baby expert Sarah Beeson MBE (Amy’s mum) for HarperCollins the first of which ‘The New Arrival’ is now available for pre-order and will be published in the UK on 27 March 2014.

@amyibeeson

@wordsbycomms

Like us on Facebook

If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not doing it right

Why I’ve decided to try and do one thing at a time and accept nobody’s perfect.

At the beginning of 2013 I started out on a freelance career – attempting to balance caring for my daughter, setting up my new business Wordsby Communications and writing the first of three books with my mum ‘The New Arrival’.

Well what do you know – come June I felt wrung out. I’d get the balance right for a week or two but then before you knew it I was working till midnight every night and weekends, barely seeing my husband, feeling like a bad mother but you know what I was managing my twitter account, regularly updating my blog, meeting all my deadlines and making all those really important meetings.

But what’s the point of being good at your job if you feel like you are failing elsewhere I asked myself – isn’t that why I gave up my secure job and started working for myself – so I could have greater control over my life? I was fortunate enough to be doing something I’d always dreamed of but I felt swamped. So I thought just STOP.

I’ve now got five new rules and I’m back to enjoying my work and the rest of my life.

1.    Only do one thing at a time.
Emailing clients from the sandpit is not effectively multi-tasking – it is switching from one thing to the other frenetically and doing neither particularly well.

2.    Take some time for yourself.
Once your child is past the newborn stage we all need a little more time to look after ourselves other than washing our hair and brushing our teeth – having a shower is not time out. I swear that after I’ve had an hour off for a swim or to read a book even if it’s just once a week I’m a more fun, less snappy person and my writing is definitely smarter and sharper.

3.    I am not perfect – and I like it that way.
I just can’t manage to write brilliantly, have a sparkling house, a contented child, a gourmet dinner on the table, all the laundry washed, folded and put away and be well groomed all on the same day. I might be able to manage two of these things on any given day – and I think that’s pretty darn good.

4.    Don’t work all hours unless you absolutely you have to.
OK we all have times when you’ve just got to knuckle down and get something big done but working long hours all the time is just not sustainable or healthy.

5.    Have more fun.  
I am a creative because I love writing and coming up with new ideas. If I’m not getting satisfaction from what I’m doing I now ask myself why is that? Often it just means a tweak here and there and I’m back to feeling in control and most importantly happy.

Amy Beeson is a Freelance Writer and the Director of Wordsby Communications working with many women running a small business on a limited budget who need affordable solutions for their communications needs. Amy’s currently busy working away on three new books with baby expert Sarah Beeson MBE (Amy’s mum) for HarperCollins the first of which ‘The New Arrival’ is now available for pre-order and will be published in the UK on 27 March 2014.

@amyibeeson

@wordsbycomms

Like us on Facebook

Birthdays, Parties and Cbeebies card

I put all my limited crafty abilities into making Ava’s birthday card for cbeebies. So we were all jumping up and down on the big day when it was on. Check out my handy work by watching the clip http://telly.com/V9AW92

I think though I’ve improved over the past year.

20130624-155305.jpg

Here’s last years

20130624-155427.jpg

Thank god for my mum who helped me do all the food for the party which had 15 small people and 20 adults. We are an mixed faith family so opted for a vegetarian alcohol free party in the afternoon at the local community centre. So that solved any potential tensions and we centred the whole event around the tots.

Here’s the toddler table

20130624-155758.jpg

The party lunch boxes with a tiny poke of pomme bear, juice box, heart shaped cheese sandwich and a packet of raisins. With jelly or vegetarian jelly and ice cream to follow.

20130624-155846.jpg

The homemade cake

20130624-155957.jpg

And as it was fancy dress the birthday girl wanted to be a ballerina

20130624-160054.jpg

We did singing, party games, dancing and free play. All the children were golden. So glad we did it – I was a bit anxious on other people’s expectations but all the Little Ones had a great time and for me that’s what counts.

Big cheer for the Dads…

Tak, Ava, Phil and AmyTakie (my husband) talks to Phil Spencer from Location Location Location about being a dad

Naturally I spend a lot of time talking, thinking, writing about being a mum. At the moment Takbir is busy filming mums on their experiences for the upcoming Kensington Mums Motherhood Exhibition – he wrote his virgin blog on it last night called Scriptsby.

That got me thinking about just what a difference Dads make. My mum (Sarah Beeson MBE and Health Visitor) often says this is the best generation of parents she’s seen and one of the many reasons for that is more men and women working as a team to bring up their families.

With all the video clips playing in our house at the moment as Takbir does the editing for the exhibition I remembered a video clip from last year when Phil Spencer from ‘Location Location Location’ did a revisit on us and Tak brought tears to my eyes when he talked to Phil about how much being a Dad meant to him.

Do watch it…it’ll make your day http://telly.com/MSWXIQ

Busman’s holiday

I’ve been at my mum’s in the countryside with nothing to distract me for just over a week. Downside no cafes, no trips to holland park or the science museum, no mums and toddlers…so no gossip either.

Upside I got lots of work done didn’t have to do any housework or cooking and got to see my mum.

Managed to get quite a lot of work done on the 1970s East End Nursing memoir, which is v. good as the hand in date is looming.

Also spent all day Saturday finally doing a website for our communications business. So back to the smoke.

Visit our business website Wordsby Communications.

logo lower res