workingmums

A SEASON FOR CHANGE

With the long sunny days of Summer behind us, Autumn is often a season of change and new starts – school, university, jobs, careers, homes, lifestyles. In the UK, many women are choosing new beginnings by setting up their own businesses. It is reported that female entrepreneurs account for nearly 10% of the UK working population and having attended a number of networking events across the Summer, I have certainly seen how women are grabbing the hand of opportunity and carving out a new future for themselves.

We have the great pleasure of working with Bettina Siddiqi who owns BusyB Solutions. As a fellow business owner experiencing the ups and downs of running a company, I was curious to know more about why Bettina has made the move from corporate life to working for herself.

Karen:  If you had to sum up your business in a nutshell, what would you say you offer?

Bettina:  I offer Social Media Marketing with the aim of raising my clients’ profiles on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook; helping them to gain traction and increase business. I train people 1-2-1 to use LinkedIn, helping them to effectively use this superb marketing tool. LinkedIn is a great way to gain new business, retain existing customer relationships and re-establish contact with old clients. In collaboration with my extensive contacts of photographers and web designers, I can help my clients have a more visible presence across a range of social media platforms.

Karen: What led you to set up your business?

Bettina: Having worked in corporate Sales and Marketing for 15 years I was approached to undertake some freelance marketing work. When the contract ended I thought to myself, “if I can do this for one client I can offer this service to many others.” I also wanted the flexibility to spend time with my young children and be able to attend their school events such as Christmas shows and sports days.  Commuting into London took up much of my time and I felt I could be much more productive working from home. I like the variation my work gives me: from attending meetings, networking, delivering an exceptional service, to being able to focus on home life as well as getting the right amount of exercise –  worklife balance is incredibly important to me.

Karen: What did you do before you set up BusyB Solutions?

Bettina: I worked for a Records Management Company called Iron Mountain in their Sales and Marketing Department and helped to implement a CRM system and trained all the Sales and Marketing team in how to use it effectively.  I also worked in Law in a Marketing department, helping to organise events, CRM and campaigns.

Karen: What gave you the confidence to take the step of working for yourself?

Bettina: Having children gave me the confidence to start my business. It hasn’t always been easy as I’ve had to work hard at networking with potential clients and building the visibility of my business.  When the children were very little I only had 3 hours between nursery runs, but I managed to do lots in that short time – telemarketing, online marketing as well as attending network meetings.

Karen: Now you’ve made the change, how are you feeling about it?

Bettina: I feel great about it! I couldn’t have made a better decision; the joy of being with my family and being able to pick up my children from school is a wonderful feeling, as well as eating a lot healthier and getting that all-important exercise.

Karen: What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Bettina: Time management – making sure I have enough time to get everything done (there are never enough hours in a day), getting the right clients and also regular, consistent clients. As a sole trader I get approached by many different people, so making sure I invest in the right type of business is important in how I will grow my business, whether that is finance, marketing, web design or IT support.  Another challenge is not having a team to work with; there is no-one to delegate tasks to as I did when I worked in the corporate world. I also miss the camaraderie that comes with working in a team.

Karen: Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on your journey?

Bettina: Yes – a few things. Most of the time I have been extra careful with my budget, although I did once overspend on a networking membership, which didn’t result in me winning any work. So, I would definitely re-think which networking meetings are worth attending,

Karen: What advice would you have for anyone setting up a new business?

Bettina: Always be careful about what you spend, especially on your marketing.  Find a group of people you can trust and maybe even collaborate with. Outsource things which are time-consuming such as Finance, IT and Social Media,  as there is always someone out there that can help.

Karen: What does success look like for you?

Bettina: To be content in what I am doing.  Seeking ways to expand my knowledge, skills and collaborative relationships and most importantly to always have a goal!

 

A very big thank you to Bettina for sharing her story with us.  You can find out more about Bettina offers at www.busy-bsolutions.com

And finally, if you are contemplating the move to working for yourself, be reassured that you are not alone, there is a wide and supportive community of female entrepreneurs who will warmly welcome you into their fold. If you would like to hear more about how we support aspiring female entrepreneurs, then please get in touch at hello@change-gear.com

 

ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Greetings from Dubai!

Once again my offspring are appearing in my blog. Trying not to make a habit of it, but given that I’m travelling with my 15 year old daughter (sorry, she would most definitely correct me by saying “16 in 31 days actually”) it’s a bit unavoidable.

So, at the age of “almost 16” my super lucky daughter was given the opportunity by a very generous friend to gain some invaluable work experience in Dubai. To say she’s had a blast would be an understatement. I am so grateful that she has been so well looked after and has learned so much in such a short space of time. If only more businesses could follow suit and give our emerging young talent this type of invaluable life experience – I am positive that young people would be so much better equipped to start out in the workplace.

When the opportunity was first discussed over 6 months ago, both of us were very excited. A trip to Dubai, working for a very well-known lingerie and beauty retailer (exceptionally popular with ladies, young and older, around the world). Maddie has been the envy of many friends – having said that, she’s had a busy week with a real marketing project to do as well. I’m sure this experience will stay with her for many years.

So, she needed a chaperone and here I was to be that person. It sounded like a ball… Maddie busy at work and mum could sit by the pool… maybe not! Firstly, it’s not entirely in my nature to watch my daughter go to work while I indulge in “me time”.  Secondly, I wanted to make the most of this great opportunity to network in the UAE and take some uninterrupted time to focus on doing some business development.

So, five days in I’ve started to realise a few things. Firstly, sending your daughter off at 8am in the morning whilst you’re cooped up in a hotel is nothing but odd! I found myself a little lost and wondering whether I was supposed to relax or get straight onto my work. I settled for working while she was working and then chilling out with her when she had finished. Secondly, the challenge of working remotely from an unknown hotel in the UAE was harder than expected. My normal routine had gone out of the window. I wanted to eat well, work out, swim, get some sun and be productive = it was all too much. So what did I learn and how did I cope? I needed a few strategies to keep me focused.

Here’s 5 top tips that might help if you’re planning something similar:

Internet – Have a plan for your Internet connection. When you’re travelling internationally, you can’t always rely on the corner Starbucks. If you’ve griped about the WiFi speed at the coffee shop in the UK, the connection can be even more frustrating abroad. Do your research before you travel and find out what WiFi provision is in your destination, and have a back-up plan, whether it’s purchasing an Internet SIM card or securing a spot in a co-working space.

Old-school rules – Carry around a notebook and pen. There will come a day when you can’t connect to WiFi and you’ll be grateful you have this.

Time after time – Be mindful of the time differences. Keep track of time zones so you don’t end up calling a potential client or another important contact at 3am without realising it! Most smartphones allow you to set a clock for another time zone, or you can download an app to keep track.

Be realistic – The days are shorter than you think. Don’t over-estimate what you can do. And plan some down-time. You’ll feel more productive as a consequence.

Be culture savvy – Every country has its own specific customs and traditions. Although immersing yourself in a culture is the best way to learn what is appropriate and what is not, try to research and avoid any major faux-pas before you pack for your destination. I’ve only worn 10% of the wardrobe I brought with me so far as everything else is either inappropriate or unacceptable.

And so today it’s my official day off with my gorgeous daughter – a well-deserved trip to the Burj Khalifa – and I can’t think of a better person to be on top of the world with!

 

 

#employabilityskills #luckymum #pricelessmoments #fabworkexperience #workingmums #beautifuldaughters #worklifebalance #verygrateful

All Change…

Some of you may remember in my last blog I mentioned how my son had done a complete u-turn by choosing not to go to university and getting himself a job instead. I was just about coming to terms with his change of mind when (the day before his course started) he decided that he actually did want to go! Somehow after a frenzied trip to IKEA and some crash packing we did manage to get him there (albeit on the Wednesday as opposed to the Monday of week 1) and 3 weeks later I am pleased to confirm he is still there! So, change can happen fast and as I repeatedly told him – there’s no such thing as a wrong choice – just a different outcome.

So this change of path got me thinking about how easy it was for him to just change his mind and would that be the same for me, or for anyone else, once we are firmly embedded to our careers. We hear all the time about people who have “Reinvented Lives” … I decided I wanted to speak to some of them. I didn’t really have to look too far. Our lovely Clare, who is now an integral part of the Change-Gear team has herself recently undertaken a huge change in her career journey. So I decided I’d see if she was happy to share her story.

Carrie:
Clare, firstly just to say how pleased we are to have you on board the Change-Gear team and what a great difference you have made already for us. Thank you also for agreeing to share your experiences with us in this blog. As you know it’s all about “Changing Gears into a different career”

Clare:
“I’m enjoying the opportunity to flex my skills and I’m really pleased to be making a difference.”

Carrie:
It would be great to hear a little bit about your background – where did you start?

Clare:
“I worked in a branding and design agency as an Account Director”

Carrie:
So what made you decide to do something different?

Clare:
“I started a family and wanted to be able to prioritise their needs – but I still wanted to be able to work, and keep a career going. I have three children under 7.
I have lots of experience working with a wide range of clients in a wide range of businesses – I realised that some of what I did within the agency could be done on a consultancy basis. And so I became a freelance branding and marketing consultant.”

Carrie:
And what gave you the confidence to actually make that change?

Clare:
“The skills I gained in dealing with clients and accounts gave me the confidence to sell my own abilities. I attend networking events as much as I can, and keep in touch with colleagues and clients – these interactions have been the key to keeping my confidence.
Plus, becoming a parent has given me a different kind of innate bravery!”

Carrie:
So now you’ve made the change, how are you feeling about it?

Clare:
“I love working on my own terms, and planning my own time. Seeing positive impacts from my work motivates and encourages me. Making great new contacts makes me feel connected and enthused.”

Carrie:
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Clare:
“Figuring out how to present my skills without limiting myself or pushing myself too hard – I’m still working on this! Making sure I have time away from work and family commitments is tough – I find yoga helps me to focus and rebalance.”

Carrie:
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on your journey?

Clare:
“I wouldn’t do anything differently, I believe that each step of my journey has led me here for a good reason – and I have learned valuable lessons along the way.”

Carrie:
And is there any advice you’d give to anyone out there thinking about making a change at the moment?

Clare:
“I’m a big fan of change, it keeps me feeling inspired. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you! Don’t be afraid to draw on the expertise and connections of your contacts – friends, family, colleagues, networking – all these have supported and helped me immensely.”

So, I hope that Clare’s bravery and determination has inspired some of you to just get out there and do it! Big thanks to Clare for sharing this with us. We’d love to hear from anyone out there who’s made a change in their career and how that’s impacted upon them.

This content is blocked. Accept cookies to view the content.