Christine Gouchault’s book, Business Mum, is a three-step self help guide for mums wanting to run a business alongside family responsibilities.
Christine Gouchault has been running her coaching company, Mors Business [Mums’ Business Network], for five years, helping other women set up thriving businesses while advancing her own career.
Now she has written a book to share what she has learned with a wider international audience and inspire more women to set up a business alongside their family responsibilities.
“I wanted to show you can run your own business while running your family. In Denmark [where she is based] you often have to choose between being good at business and being a good mother, but you can be both. Running your own business gives you that flexibility. You can structure your own hours and doing something you really love gives you more energy, which is necessary when you have children,” she says.
Christine’s book, Business Mum, described as a three-step guide, packed with practical tips and exercises, is just out. She says her mums business community and blog are fulfilling, but a book is something which is more solid and allows her to be taken more seriously too. Also writing it was about fulfilling a personal ambition.
The book goes through every aspect of running a business with a family, from finding something you really love to working around children. Christine has woven in 10 different business mums’ stories and advice to show that there can be very many pathways to running a business and many different role models. “If it was just about one woman you could jump to the conclusion that there are particular reasons why they succeeded and you can’t, for instance, that their children are older or they have a rich husband. I wanted to highlight different kinds of mothers, different situations and different businesses,” she says. “It’s not a matter of what you have, but how you use your resources and circumstances.”
Christine is also keen that the examples she gives are realistic. The media can sometimes propagate stories of instant entrepreneurial success which seem almost impossible, but Christine says everyone makes mistakes in business. They learn from these and move forwards.
Christine says her experience running a business mums network has shown the kind of things women can struggle with. The most important thing is to do something you love and understand what you want to get out of running your business. “It has to be a gut feeling that you really want to do it,” she states. Everything else will flow from that.
She says worrying about the financial risk involved in starting a business can be a big barrier, as can feeling that you don’t know enough to run a business. “It can be overwhelming, but if you break things down it helps,” she says.
One issue that comes up constantly is self care. Mums with young children in particular can find themselves totally exhausted if they don’t take time to rest, she says. “You cannot make good decisions if you are exhausted. You are more productive and effective if you take your well being seriously. Otherwise you will burn out and be a bad mother and a bad businesswoman.”
Christine also advises that if you work from home it is important to get out and meet other entrepreneurs to get advice and give it too. “That helps you feel you are making progress,” she says. “Otherwise you can get stuck in your own mind.”
As a mum of four, she understands perfectly the kind of things that can put you off your stride as a businesswoman – illnesses, holidays and so forth. Indeed, approaching the deadline for submitting her book to the publisher, two of her children got chicken pox and another one broke their arm. “You have to understand that there are phases when things don’t go so well, but that is not your whole life. Don’t beat yourself up,” she says.
Christine started the business after moving to Denmark from Paris. In Paris she had set up her first business – a recruitment company – with a partner. She says that she didn’t have a big plan to start a business, but there was a demand for help with recruitment so she and her partner “went with the flow”. She was 25 at the time with a background in sales and marketing and found she really enjoyed being her own boss and doing things she wouldn’t have been able to do as a young woman employee.
Then she had children and wanted to spend more time with them. She sold her part in the business and moved to Denmark. After the 2008 crisis her husband was struggling to find a job so Christine went back to a regular job. By then, though, she had got the entrepreneur bug. When she became pregnant with her twins, now aged five [her older children are 11 and 13], she decided to set up a home business, coaching other businesswomen from home. As her twins got older, she was able to get out more and network.
Christine runs time-saving workshops to help business women squeeze the most out of their day. A key issue is focusing on the important things and knowing what the things are that will keep your business moving forward. She agrees that prioritising, organising and adapting to change tend to be skills that parents have in abundance – at least they are skills they use everyday so it is about honing these and giving women greater confidence in themselves.
Christine is now doing promotion and workshops around the book’s main themes and has had positive feedback from mums and dads.
She has also just started a new business on a totally different theme. She is CEO of Nordic Data Intelligence, a business focusing on cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence and big data. Her business partner has expertise in these areas and Christine has the business nous. She will run the two businesses alongside each other.
Christine hopes her book shows that women don’t have to work in a corporate and work all hours to succeed in business. “There’s more than one way to be a businesswoman,” she says.