Janey Holliday is a busy woman! She’s 39, a single mum of seven-year-old twins and about to have another baby by herself. She also runs online coaching hub Making Things Easy, providing online lifestyle programs for busy women.
She tells us why she believes anything is possible in business, even when you’re bringing up three children by yourself!
What’s your career background?
I have a degree in International Relations where I specialised in International Gender issues and wanted to be a frontline war correspondent for the BBC!
I worked for the government for two years after graduating and after a strange twist of fate I worked for a TV company and then in marketing and PR. I sat at a boardroom table one day and looked around. The woman at the top was 40, had just had her first baby and was stressed out. Her baby was in nursery 11 hours a day, five days a week, she only got 4-5 weeks holiday a year and I thought ‘I’m working up the ladder to be that?!’
I realised then that the corporate rat race was not for me, even at 24! About six months before this time, I’d got into fitness and in a moment of madness (or I’d argue an epiphany) I quit my job, sold my flat and became an aerobics instructor. I spent six months freelance teaching around all the gyms in London and got my PT qualification and in 2003 I set up my first business, Fit for a Princess.
How did your career change after becoming a mum?
It was more that it changed after I became a single mum really. In 2009 I got divorced when my twins were just 13 months old, also around the time the recession really kicked in.
Fit for a Princess really suffered and as I found myself in a terrible economy, bringing up twins by myself with no family living in the UK.
I was extremely stressed and broke and I knew I needed to do something new workwise, alongside my bootcamps. So I studied between 7:30 and 9:30pm or 4-6am while the twins slept most days and retrained as an online coach and learnt how to set up an online business.
What is Making Things Easy and how does it help people?
Making Things Easy basically helps women improve their lives on line. As my needs changed (and I experienced first hand the benefit of participating in online programs), I migrated a lot of what I was doing outside to online with the addition of adding lifestyle components that I knew women needed.
We run 28-day online fitness bootcamps, food management and emotional eating courses and confidence and mindset programs, all aimed at busy women (whether mums or not) who want the flexibility, value for money and most importantly results that you get from doing an online program. I also coach people online 1:1.
What else inspired you to start it?
I realised as a mum, and especially a single mum, that it would be more helpful for me to create a job where I didn’t actually have to be anywhere at any specific time. I also decided to move out of London when my twins were four because house prices are cheaper and there are great schools there.
I wanted to be able to take and collect my children from school when they started and I didn’t want to commute that would take me away from being with my children. So I got an au pair and worked from 7:30am to 5pm (breaks for taking kids to school).
This meant I could have breakfast and dinner with them, and essentially I built my business around my children. By working on line, I was able to do three other crucial things:
- Carry on working with clients in London even though I wasn’t living there anymore.
- Carry on working with clients who used to live in London that were now scattered over the UK and abroad.
- Reach out to more clients internationally, which is obviously part of the bigger picture business plan.
How did you go from idea to actually making it happen?
As one business was nearly about to go under and I was literally facing bankruptcy, I just went for it. I had this burning desire within me to make it work no matter what.
My first online program sold out in 48 hours and not having a back up plan, no husband/other income coming in and two young children by myself made me so determined.
The feedback and testimonials from this first program gave me the confidence to create more programs fairly quickly and I was not only able to recover financially, but have a much better work-life balance on a path I hadn’t even considered until I nearly went under – the joys of a life plot twist!
Who is your ideal client?
It’s interesting because my online clients range from 16 to 78 at the moment, and are based between the UK, America, France, Spain, Portugal, Dubai, India, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 75 % are working mums and 80% of all my clients are between 30 and 55 years old.
But I suppose my ideal client is someone who needs help to reset their health or lives, someone who needs some life-long inspiration as well as results, someone who is serious about creating changes but also has the commitment and patience to get where they want to be. Making Things Easy is not about quick fixes, even though we get great results on our 28-day fitness programs!
My ideal client is also someone who is also prepared to invest in themselves. I’m observing that a lot of women want cheap fixes as well as quick ones. When I retrained in 2009, my online program cost me over $1,000 and I couldn’t afford it. But I put it on my credit card because I knew I needed to do it and the fact that I really invested in myself meant I worked my socks off and actually created what the program was designed to do.
Women avoid investing in themselves or feel guilty about it but this is where so many go wrong.
What are your most popular programs?
They are all popular in their own different way and they’ve all been created from my observations of women and what they need.
We have a very high client retention rate because often clients start with a food program and then realise that the reason they’re eating the wrong things is because they have high stress levels or are an emotional eater for example.
90% of clients do at least 2-3+ programs over time. But that’s also because enjoy doing these so much – it’s not all about results, it’s about education and being inspired and being part of a group of women online that creates positive camaraderie.
My 40-week mindset program BEST is extremely popular which runs every year and out of the 28-day fitness programs the Tummy ATTACK and Best Body Bootcamp are big sellers.
But the original Food Management Made Easy program is still one of the most popular programs that really help women manage food better after a lifestyle of dieting. And most recently, our Emotional Eating program (created off the back of Food Management) has been very well received!
What have been your biggest challenges in launching Making Things Easy?
Internet connection is probably my biggest challenge actually. If there’s an internet blip (as there often is the countryside!), it’s a nightmare. And time. As a business owner I get so frustrated that I can’t do as much as I’d like to do, but there are so many hours in the day.
I once went to a Mumpreneur lunch with Cath Kidson and she looked at us all in the eyes and said ‘I would never have achieved what I have done, if I’d had children’ and I burst into tears afterwards!
It was so refreshing to hear someone say, yes I’m hugely successful, but I haven’t had to juggle pregnancy, babies and bringing up children. From that moment on, I’ve just accepted that I’m not able to put as much time into my business as perhaps I’d like. But I’ve been a single parent for nearly seven years as well and you know what that’s pretty incredible!
I’m also still running Fit for a Princess and running two businesses is more of a challenge than I realised, but we’re getting there and I can’t imagine not popping into London to teach bootcamps around my online work!
And your proudest moment to date?
Well nothing beats getting an email in or a card through the post that says you’ve changed someone’s life! It happens a lot and it’s an incredible feeling.
The testimonials we get from clients who do our programs literally blow me away. But I’m actually most proud of creating a working life, doing something I absolutely love and helps women, that also means I can take 12 weeks off a year for the school holidays and see my kids a lot.
It’s also a nice feeling that everything you own and buy and provide for your children comes from the money you make by yourself because of the hard work you’ve put in.
How has your approach to life/health changed your own life?
When you are fit and healthy, being a mum and coping with the juggle of work and kids is so much easier and I wish more mums would realised this!
I exercise regularly, eat exceptionally well, indulge guilt free when I fancy something I like and I sleep extremely well. It is effortless. I can’t be an unfit mother who eats rubbish and doesn’t look after herself, it must make things so much harder and as you know from my business name, I like to make things easy for myself!
How do you balance your work with being a single mum?
It’s simple – I look after myself first, I don’t care what others think of me and I create the rules in my life. I put all my focus on me, I ignore the noise of what others are doing and have in their lives and I always ask myself what do I need (often over what do my clients or children need).
This isn’t selfish this is essential! Because if I’m not in a good place, I’m not a good mum and I’m no use to my clients either. So I take regular breaks, I say no a lot, my house gets messy and most days I’m often in my PJs by 4pm. My laptop goes away at 5pm and only very rarely do I work after the twins have gone to sleep now.
I’m also happy everyday within myself, no matter what is going on. I have very tough weeks as a working single mum, but just because things are tough, it doesn’t mean you need to be stressed or miserable.
I’ve taught myself to cruise through the difficult times because I know I’ll come out the other side and sometimes I can’t get all my work done and that’s OK. I’ve taught myself to be extremely efficient at work and then completely relaxed when I’m not. I’m a human being not a human doing I do as much being as I do doing!
What tips do you have for other ambitious mums?
You can do anything you want to, but make sure you’re making whatever you are doing work for you! And most importantly adjust things along the way if you need to or things aren’t working for you without feeling like you’re failing or you’ve done something wrong.
Next month I’m having another baby (by myself) and so I’m shifting my business slightly to fit in around me. I’m constantly working out what I want to do vs what I can do.
You need to be the boss of your own life, so do the things you love, work out what money you want to earn and what hours you want to do each week, how many holidays you want a year and then MAKE IT HAPPEN!
If you want to try one of Janey’s programs, use discount code TLC20 to get 20% off (excludes BEST) at Making Things Easy.