Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, your business and your new book
My passion is design. I set up my own studio, Lasso Creative, back in 2004. I moved the business home while pregnant with my first child and mid-way through a major dream-home reno on Sydney’s North Shore. I was encouraged to put pen to paper after years of fielding questions from friends, family and colleagues on how work actually gets done with kids and a business. In many ways, I’d like to think all the trials and errors, triumphs and joys I experienced could inspire others to dream-chase. Business & Baby at Home – a set-up and survival guide for mums, was published late last year by Finch Publishing. With three little superheroes in the house, two boys and a baby girl, life is crazy-beautiful and happy.
Why do you believe more women than ever before are starting their own businesses from home?
I think there’s a few factors at play. The first is the rise in the cost of living, real estate prices are sitting at an all-time high and the weekly family food shop is an expensive exercise. Secondly, I think women want to retain some independence, and have an interest beyond motherhood. A lot of us enjoy our chosen professions, and want to stay connected with it. Others find becoming a mum is the inspiration for starting a new business. Plus, the world is changing, it’s now more acceptable to work from home, or create more unique work practices. Technology is continually evolving to support flexible work arrangements.
What do you believe are the greatest barriers for women starting their own business?
A lot of mums tell me they don’t feel supported by their husband or family and friends. That there’s an attitude that what they’re doing is not a proper job. Particularly in the early days, when the business may not be making a huge profit. Support is very important. I talk in the book about adopting an equal-parenting approach, but also an equal approach to all the responsibilities of running the household. The other factor I’ve found is having the determination to persevere, even when you feel disillusioned. You can often hit roadblocks or speedbumps, and it can be tougher than you think to get the business moving.
How can these barriers be overcome?
Have really open conversations from the start about how important the business is to you, so everybody is on board. I remember a mum who has a cake business saying to me, ‘I cried because my kids told me they don’t want me to make cakes’. And I advised her to say, ‘well mummy is very good at making cakes, she enjoys making cakes, and people pay her to make cakes to eat. So it’s important to me and our family that I do it.’ In regards to equal-parenting or successfully managing the general running of the household, if something is not working, find a better way. If you’re constantly arguing over who does the vacuuming, hire a cleaner!
What are some common mistakes business owners make when it comes combining work and family?
I’ve found one of the biggest issues is knowing when to switch off. I know for me, the self-discipline required to not constantly check my phone, or think about the design project I’m working on, is huge. But it’s really important on many levels to know when to take the work hat off, or vice versa, take the parent hat off when you’re working. It’s about being present, living in the moment, when your children are telling you about their day, or being completely on task when you’re working to meet a deadline. Work/life balance is never achieved, it’s just maintained.
What are your top 5 tips for making it work?
1) When you’re starting up, don’t rush out and buy the best of everything. Re-use furniture you may already have and build up your office assets as the business can afford them. More money out than in does not make a healthy business. It’s good motivation to ‘earn’ new equipment, and it won’t put stress on your personal finances.
2) Keep a work-in-progress (WIP) list at all times so you have a record of your jobs. Update this throughout the day so that nothing slips through the cracks. Go over it at the end of your workday to help you switch off and relax, knowing that everything is in place. This also means you start your day with a clear direction of what needs to be done first.
3) Set reasonable lead times for yourself so that when you’re particularly busy you’re not overly stressed trying to deliver on time. It’s better to surprise a client by getting a job done early rather than it being late. If it’s taking longer than you expected, retain clear communication with the customer, assuring them you’re doing the best you can and that they’re a top priority.
4) Set short and long-term goals for both personal and professional achievements. These may be setting financial benchmarks, acquiring a number of new clients, or getting to Pilates once a week. It’s a huge encouragement and as you tick them off they give direction to keep you on track for where you want to go.
5) Maintain a strong routine that enables you to get your work done. A lack of routine can result in shapeless and unproductive days with no progress. We all know as a parent, you can get to the end of a day and think where did the time go? So create and stick to a routine that works for you and allows blocks of time that you’re working through your WIP.
What do you think is the secret to success?
The old saying, ‘do what you love, love what you do’, is a huge factor in finding success. Do something you’re passionate about because this is what will keep you motivated when you lack enthusiasm or are feeling exhausted. Whilst they may look like it on the surface, not many businesses are over-night success stories. People spend years planning, working, networking and building their business, hopefully with joy in their hearts cause they are doing what they love to do.
How can we get in touch with you?