When Esther Radnor couldn’t find someone with complementary skills to start a business with, she realised there was a gap in the market. So she launched a website to help other mums connect with business partners. She tells us how Mum Plus Business was born.
What’s your career background?
I studied Communication Science in Amsterdam, and following an exchange program with University College London I completed my degree in England.
My degree focused on all aspects of communication including interpersonal communication, psychology, marketing communication and media. After my degree I worked in PR and Marketing.
How did your career change after having children?
While I was on maternity leave with my eldest son, I decided that I didn’t want to return to a full time city job. However I did want to develop myself and grow my career and the best option seemed to be to start my own business where I had more control and flexibility.
Why did you move to the UK from Holland?
My husband was living in London (before we got married) and at the same time I was offered a wonderful opportunity to complete my communications degree at UCL. I believe in taking opportunities as they arise, so though the move was a little scary I decided to go for it.
What inspired you to start Mum Plus Business?
Starting my own online business seemed the best option after becoming a mother. But having never done this before, and having always worked for other companies, I needed some help and direction.
I was looking to work with someone in a similar position, but with experience in the tech sector and who could understand my family commitments.
There wasn’t any way to find someone to collaborate with at the time which is what inspired me to start Mum Plus Business.
What was your initial vision for the website, and how has it evolved?
The vision has always been to help mothers from all backgrounds and levels of experience develop flexible careers.
Initially we only provided a free business partnership program. Members could search by industry and location to find a compatible partner to team up with.
This was popular but only offered a limited opportunity to develop a flexible career. Over time we met mothers who wanted to find flexible jobs or needed business guidance. This led us to widen the range of services available.
We launched our latest version of the website less than a year ago. The new site offers a free collaborate program where you can now find someone to exchange skills with, work on a project together or find a business partner.
We added a job board dedicated to flexible work opportunities along with a business directory supporting parents in business. And there is also a business advice section with lots of useful tips on starting your own business.
Over time it has become clear that the business world is changing for the better. We see this in the latest government initiatives entitling all employees to request flexible working. In addition, the growth of women in industry and co-working hubs means there is more opportunity for mothers to tailor their work around their families.
Who is Mum Plus Busiess aimed at?
Mum Plus Business is aimed at mothers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience. Although the focus is on mothers we welcome anyone looking to develop a flexible career to join.
And how can you help them?
There are a number of ways depending on their journey.
The free collaborate program is great for those looking to team up and are developing a business concept. Maybe they already have a business idea but need help to make it work or they could be looking to grow a business without the need to spend money. The service allows them to post an opportunity for free and make contact with someone compatible to exchange skills with or to find a business partner.
On the idea generation side, the website offers a wealth of information and business ideas to begin a flexible career. The blog has some wonderful writers and we are constantly trying to provide relevant content that adds value to our audience.
Finally, for those looking for a flexible job, there is our job board. We offer part-time and full or part-time home working roles.
When did you start Mum Plus Business, and how have you grown it over time?
I launched Mum Plus Business in July 2011 and have grown the site to a network of over 20,000 mothers. We work in partnership with leading national organisations including Jobcentre Plus and The Centre of Excellence for Women’s Entrepreneurship. In addition we have formed strong relationships with various MP’s who champion work and family life.
Most of the growth has come through hard work. Writing articles, making contact with supportive organisations and attending events. After developing a following and community it it becomes slightly easier as you look to them for guidance on what they need most. We have polled our audience over time and listened to our community of mothers.
On the technical side, developing an up to date website and using SEO helps the growth of the audience. Using Twitter and Facebook effectively are also key aspects of engagement.
And what has been your proudest moment?
Visiting Westminster to discuss ways of helping mothers in Edmonton work flexibly.
What do you think is the biggest barrier most ambitious mums face?
Within the conventional workplace there are setbacks that may occur during maternity leave if other peers take over key positions during an extended period of absence.
The cost of childcare and the time needed to drop off and pick up children can also provide a tremendous pressure when balancing a full time job with being a parent.
What does your average working day look like?
Firstly there is the school run. I bring my eldest to school, followed by a nursery drop off. I then work for several hours, catching up on emails, writing and on calls.
After picking up my youngest from nursery I continue working until the school pickup run. Some days I need to be on more calls than others. We fortunately have a developer and designer who need little management, so a quick catch-up with them is normally all that is needed.
There are also many late nights and parts of the weekends spent working and developing content that can be scheduled to be sent out at specific times during the week.
What tips do you have for other mums wanting to launch an online business?
Plan your work on a regular basis and monitor your progress. By asking feedback from your members or customers you can measure your results and improve your offering to grow your business.
Accept that it will take some time and a lot of work and dedication to reach your goal but if you are passionate about what you are doing that shouldn’t hold you back!
You can find out more about Mum Plus Business on their website.