5th December was Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate the 5 million small businesses we have in the UK, and encourage everyone to shop small.
It’s only now that I’m in it I’ve realised there is a massive community of exciting businesses and services run by women and in particular mothers. When I read this article about mothers and creativity by Clemmie Telford from Mother of All Lists, I whooped and gave her a virtual high five – too bloody right women shouldn’t be written off after having kids! Oh the bonkersness when a mother on maternity or not working might look apologetic and say ‘I’m just a mum’. Just? JUST?? Jeez woman, you’ve been doing one of the toughest jobs in the world. Even better, if running a business is something you want to do, you might not realise it but you have been honing the skills required.
When you start a business, you will be doing everything. Planning, finance, promotion, customer services, packing orders, making the tea. Mothers know juggling. I found myself on one particularly frantic school morning last week on the toilet, putting on socks whilst cleaning my teeth. A graceful scene, as you can imagine. A lost lego man had thrown the morning in to disarray and I was trying to make up time.
Everyone has an opinion about raising babies. Breast, bottle, baby-led, cry it out, blah. I’m amazed how much space is devoted to arguing right or wrong ways to be a mother. In both business and motherhood, people will tell you their thoughts on what they think you could be doing differently, or better. What we realise, and I think it grows over time along with your confidence as a mother, is that you are following your own path. You learn to nod and smile, in with the good, out with the dross. You know what you’re doing, it is your choice. The difference is that in business, opinions that challenge your own can actually be really useful in a way that they’re generally not in motherhood.
In my first year of running a business I’ve also learned that, as in motherhood, we are absolutely the hardest on ourselves.
There will be times you make mistakes because you’ve never done it before, and it’s a steep learning curve. In both roles we need to let go because it simply doesn’t have any use at all. I need to stop beating myself up about the birthday party we arrived two hours late for two months ago (we made it for the birthday cake and the handing out of party bags as everyone said their goodbyes. I wanted to weep as Mabel heartily thanked the birthday girl for a great time).
Every single mother I know is doing her absolute best. People are generally keen to say how impressed they are that you’ve set up a business. Mothers crack on with very little feedback, and still show up the next day (and night and forever more). Despite that, dedication is so high it’s often at the sacrifice of nights out, relationships and yourself. Perhaps we should book in a weekly slot to give ourselves a bit of an appraisal and remember how far we’ve come.
And finally – the first year of Don’t Buy Her Flowers has been fantastic and exhausting and exhilarating but never as hard as that first year of motherhood. Whatever you do, you are never just a mum.
I’d like to say the hugest thank you to every single person who has shared, liked, bought and let us know how well their package was received; you might like to check out our Christmas gift guide. As with the first year (or two) after having my babies, running a business has at times made me a *little* tired and emotional and unable to think about much else. Biggest thanks of all to Doug.
Small Business Saturday interviewed me about starting Don’t Buy Her Flowers and the journey so far…