Trying to balance work and life can be difficult at the best of times, but what if you are doing the work bit with a three and a half year old at your side? If you can do that, launch a successful business venture and stay sane, you have got to have a huge range of skills. Jane Hopkins should know. She runs mumsclub.co.uk
, an award-winning business networking organisation, while looking after her son Jamie.
“It is all about multitasking,” she says.
Jane was living in Spain running a property business with her partner, but spilt up with him when Jamie was tiny. She came back to the UK and was looking for something she could do with herself with a baby in tow. “I didn’t have a clue what,” she said. She retrained as a web designer and already had a degree in marketing. She found while surfing networking sites that there were a lot of mums working from home, but there was no forum for them. “It snowballed from there,” she says. The mumsclub website went live around 18 months ago, some nine months after Jane started working on setting it all up. It advertises businesses set up by mumpreneurs and offers business advise, opportunities and networking facilities.
She now also publishes a magazine, the Business Mum’s Journal, which she piloted last year. The magazine is written by members of the mumsclub forum who write about issues allied to their businesses or give tips on anything from how to advertise on a budget to relaxation during pregnancy and baby massage. The members pay for adverts for their businesses to cover the cost of printing. Jane took it to a baby show in the Midlands and Mothercare is now backing it and it is being distributed round all their stores in the Midlands. She hopes that it will be distributed nationwide by the end of the year. Already the website, which gets 2,000 hits a day, is getting contact from mumpreneurs as far afield as Switzerland – a Scottish woman there is in regular contact – and there is one couple from Australia who are on the site.
Jane puts the Business Mum’s Journal together herself and puts in “quite a lot of hours”, particularly when the deadline for the magazine approaches.
She works around Jamie, checking emails and then grabbing a half hour here or there if he’s happily detained playing, and once he is in bed around 7pm she comes down and carries on working “as late as I can within reason”. At the moment, within reason is around 11pm. She says she has been known to keep going into the early hours, but she knows that it knocks her out the next day and, as a mum, there is no time to catch up on any lost sleep. “Plus chances are that I will be woken up a few times in the night too...” she comments, adding: “If high flying executives had to spend a dya in the shoes of a working mum they would have a nervous breakdown, especially if you factor in the lack of sleep and the feeling of constantly running on empty.”
Jane is planning a makeover for the website which hosts numerous competitions. This month she launched a pr competition to get more mums to do their own pr. “Many haven’t got a clue how to do pr,” she says. She has teamed up with a pr company and they will award points to mumpreneurs who get into their local newspapers or school newsletter. If they get on tv, they get 10 points. The winner will be announced in the summer.