From school run to Successful Mum!
A chance conversation on the school run proved the lightbulb moment for new business owner and mum-of-three Lynda Smith. Here, accountant Lynda talks about going it alone and the joys and challenges of being her own boss.
I was itching to get back to work after taking a year out following my last maternity leave. I wanted to feel like I could still use my brain in a professional capacity but I also wanted the flexibility to be at home for my kids, do the school run and be involved in their school lives.
I had a lightbulb moment on the school run after assisting a fellow parent who has a small business with some administration issues. He really appreciated the help I was able to give and it got me thinking that perhaps I could help small business owners with the skills I have as an accountant.
I refreshed my skillset by taking some courses with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and achieved my practice licence. Although I’m a CIMA-qualified accountant with more than 20 years’ experience, working with small businesses is different to working with large corporates, so doing this gave me the confidence that I actually did know what I was talking about.
A Successful Mums Taster Session helped me focus on my next steps. Jane Knight’s advice was very useful, particularly around being clear about your market and your customer and being “the paracetamol to their headache”. I recently gained a client who said that exact thing to me: they wanted me to take their headache away!
“It’s so important to believe in yourself. As Jane points out, we’ve amassed all these amazing skills as parents that come in very handy when you’re running a business or in the workplace.”
I now have four clients, in areas ranging from TV production to business coaching, including one taken on through the Successful Mums Job Board. I’m hoping to gain a few more this year but am going slowly as I have another year before my youngest starts school. The plan is to become a trusted business partner to clients.
Flexibility is the biggest plus of being your own boss and I love having the freedom to decide how I want my day to be. Of course, there are also challenges and one of the biggest for any business is cashflow, which can be a struggle at first. In the beginning, it feels like you’re paying out a lot but it’s an investment and worth it in the end. I also find it a challenge to ‘switch off’, as I mainly work from home, but I’m working on that!
I’m really proud that I’ve actually been able to do it… and it’s all me! It is no doubt the scariest thing I’ve done but I feel vindicated when I get nice feedback from clients and knowing that I can take away a headache for them.
It’s so important to believe in yourself. As Jane at Successful Mums points out, we’ve amassed all these amazing skills in our working lives and as parents that come in very handy when you’re running a business and are also in demand in the workplace like never before. I’ve managed staff in the past but I know I’d be a much better manager today, having now had experience of dealing with an assertive preschooler!
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