Mum-of-two Kim Longman felt she was missing out on her children, so she took the brave step of giving up her full-time job and settling up a consultancy with her husband, Tim. Here, she tells Workingmums.co.uk how she transformed her family life.
Mum-of-two Kim Longman felt she was missing out on her children, so she took the brave step of giving up her full-time job and setting up a consultancy with her husband, Tim. Here, she tells Workingmums.co.uk how she transformed her family life.
Kim had worked in a high level role as HR director for 17 years, but she wasn’t happy at the effect it had on her family role.
‘’My children were six and five and I felt I was missing out,’’ she said. Husband Tim was a stay-at-home dad and did 100% of the childcare. ‘’I didn’t see any of their assemblies at school, didn’t see them in the mornings before setting off, and they were in bed by the time I came home,’’ said Kim, now 50. ‘’I felt I could have a much better balance in my life.’’
Five years ago, she took the decision to set up the Longman Consultancy with Tim. ‘’I took the lead,’’ she said. ‘’My aim was to use the skills I had learned in HR to provide a consultancy to companies – mainly in retail at the beginning, but we now have other clients too. We offered a whole range of services. I was quite opportunistic and had a lot of contacts – I did whatever people wanted, whether it was coaching, strategic planning for board members, running away days for a team of people, or recruitment. I had done all of these things previously in my job.
‘’We were apprehensive because we didn’t know if the phone was going to ring or how many people were going to contact us – the first year was nerve-wracking. But it worked well in the end. We did masses of networking and got to meet people. We don’t have a website, because I think word of mouth and meeting people is much more effective. Particularly where a consultancy is concerned, firms are doing business with you as a person so talking to them is better than having them read about you on a piece of paper.’’
Although Kim concedes she was the one in charge at the beginning as the consultancy developed, she and Tim are now doing everything equally.
Tim, now 53, had been out of the workplace for several years. Previously, he’d worked in IT but recognised he was now a ‘’dinosaur’’ in terms of technology. However, he was keen to get back into the world of work so he went on training courses and Kim took him with her when she went to meet clients.
‘’He had played the role of mum because he had been at home for six years and was suffering from the same things a lot of mothers suffer,’’ said Kim. ‘’He had been out of the work force for so long and couldn’t get into any of the mums’ groups – it was worse for him than mums at home because he was a dad. We had to make him believe that he could do things.’’
What about working side by side? ‘’90% of the time it’s great,’’ laughs Kim. ‘’We don’t see each other all the time because we are out at different clients. The only thing we argue over is the paperwork because neither of us likes doing it. We’d rather be out with people.’’
Working from home
Kim and Tim work from their home in Barnet, Hertfordshire. They have an office with two desks and there’s a separate door so they can shut themselves away from the rest of the house. Most of their work is with clients in the Greater London area.
‘’One of the benefits is that we’re able to collect the children from school, spend some time with them, and do some work later,’’ says Kim. ‘’I’ll often be e-mailing at midnight, but I’m a bit of a night owl anyway.’’
Kim and Tim each work three days a week and are happy with the work-life balance for daughters Imogen, 11, and nine-year-old Nina.
‘’We don’t earn as much as I made in my full-time job,’’ says Kim, ‘’but we earn enough to live the lifestyle that we want to live. We have a very, very good work-life balance. I now get to go to all of the assemblies, the Christmas nativity play and all the other school events. We are able to balance the childcare in the week.’’