My name is Susan Payton and I am a farmer’s wife, mum to Daisy 6 and Amy 23 and founder of The Business of Mums – a website and online community that supports, connects and inspires women in business.
The first version of the website went live in August 2015 but, after a lot of tweaks and a change of web developer, we relaunched in January 2016. We launched our private Facebook group at the end of February 2016 and had 250 businesswomen sign up for it in the first month.
We’ve had lots of great PR already and have featured in publications including Sunday Express magazine, The Sunday People’s Love Sunday magazine, The Business, ABC magazine, Family magazine, Junior, Mum’s Survival Guide, UK Mums.TV and local press.
My background is mainly in media, providing PA & event management services to celebrities, but I am also an advanced NLP practitioner and life coach and had a buy-to-let property business. So quite a mixed bag. But I learnt the hard way that when you are a busy working mum, it is easy to work yourself into the ground and not have any time left for yourself. I completely burnt out around 2005, and had serious health issues for a number of years, so my real passion is helping mums to take care of themselves.
What inspired you to start The Business of Mums?
It was a way to combine all my skills, experiences and passions – and I could really resonate with mums who were busy running businesses and juggling family commitments. I knew what kind of support they needed and I went about creating the sort of website I wish I had had access to.
It was a perfect fit for me as I was able to draw on my skills in NLP & life coaching, my passion for connecting people, my experiences of being a mum in business, and the lessons I had learnt about doing too much and not taking care of yourself.
As you know, running a business means taking on added responsibility. What key advice would you provide to a mum who wants to start a business
My three key points are:
Be kind to yourself.
Don’t be critical. Take care of yourself. I know from personal experience what can happen when stress and exhaustion starts to affect your health.
Ask for help.
Everyone needs support. Whether it’s a mentor or another business owner to bounce ideas off, another mum to help with childcare or getting your partner to help with household chores, don’t try and do it all on your own.
Don’t try and be perfect.
No-one is perfect so striving for perfectionism is soul-destroying and you will constantly feel deflated and disappointed. Doing your best is more than enough.
The skills you have acquired from being a mother and being in business, do you find that some are transferable?
Absolutely! I think mums running a busy household acquire a very impressive set of skills, which are all transferable to business. We are nurturers and we have to learn patience and how to think on our feet. We have to master time management, juggle diary commitments, keep on top of the budget, organise events, not to mention develop communication and negotiation skills.
I also think that mums are incredibly supportive of each other. We are very open and willing to share and very good at motivating and inspiring each other. Some of the conversations that have taken place in our Facebook group have been really touching.
How important is it that mums build up other areas in their lives other than just being a parent? What have you learnt from your own community?
I think that is a really personal thing but it upsets me that women often feel they are failing if they are not on top of everything, in control and keeping all the balls in the air. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, who we think are ‘doing it all’, but we all have our challenges, none of us are superwoman, and we’re all just doing our best.
I think the most important thing is for mums to take care of themselves, enjoy time with their family and, in doing so, pass those values onto their children.
What are the most common issues that get brought up when it comes to motherhood and running a business?
Funny enough I did a survey amongst my members last week to ask them what their biggest challenges were and some common themes quickly started to show up – namely time management issues, the constant juggling act, feeling guilty, struggling to prioritise and focus on what to do next, unsure of direction and believing they can do it.
I think self-belief is a big one and confidence can be an issue for mums who may have been out of the workplace for a number of years having children. It is also the constant battle of trying to achieve what you want to get done, in the time you have available.
Where do you want to go with The Business of Mums, what are your hopes and dreams for it?
It is still very early days but I am thrilled with the way The Business of Mums has grown in such a short time. We had 250 new members join the Facebook group last month and great conversations, connections and introductions are being made on there every day. The thriving online community I dreamt of, where businesswomen are supporting and inspiring each other, has come to life beautifully.
My vision is to continue growing the community and to provide exactly the help and support that women are looking for –whether practical business support or moral support. I am working with some awesome women at the moment to make that happen.