Interview with self-employed mum Samantha Sweetland
When account director Samantha Sweetland became a mum, she used the opportunity to start working for herself. She tells us why she did it, and how she fits her work around her seven-week old son.
What’s your career background?
I trained as a designer but soon went into marketing, working in a dual role as an in-house designer and marketing executive for a global printer manufacturer.
I then took a job at the largest digital marketing agency in the South East as an account executive, progressing right up to account director, working on large B2B blue chip clients managing large multi-channel campaigns and complex technology builds.
How did your career change when you became a mum?
Becoming a mum has changed me considerably, both in myself as a woman and as a professional business-person. It’s made me realise that as much as I want to continue to have a successful career and be a role model for my young family, the shape and nature of that may have to change somewhat. There’s someone waiting for me now, and they need 100% of my attention.
When and why did you decide to work for yourself?
I have always been interested in health and nutrition, so when I heard about this business opportunity it certainly peaked my interest, but I considered the opportunity for several months before I took the leap.
A former colleague and friend of mine had become an independent franchise owner and was having great success. This meant that, rather than returning to work full time, she could stay at home and raise her daughter working part time hours but earning almost as much as she was earning when working full time.
I was hugely inspired by this and I watched from afar, observing her success until I thought… enough is enough, I want in!
This coincided with me finding out I was pregnant with our first child, so I decided this was as good a time as any. I approached her and asked her for some more information and signed up to the company in December 2014.
What do you do now?
I run an online community promoting healthy living for the whole family.
I share motivation and inspiration to help families get balanced nutrition through clean eating and regular exercise, and where applicable I recommend our fantastic products to my customers on a case by case basis.
My goal is to inspire healthy living for all, from babies through to grandparents, and already our products are helping my customers fight illness and dramatically improve the quality of their lives by fuelling their bodies with optimum nutrition.
Your son is only seven weeks old. How do you fit work around caring for him?
It actually works really well! He’s in a lovely sleep routine, so when he wakes for his feed at 2.30am I log on and start work scheduling posts and responding to enquiries. I do this until he’s finished his second morning feed at about 6am, then I go back to sleep when he’s done.
He’s a hungry boy, so he spends quite a while feeding and the nature of my business means I can do a lot from my phone, so at intervals throughout the day I jump online to chat to customers and prospects too.
A lot of the people I meet with are mums too so he comes along to my meetings with me! That’s what makes me love this business so much, you really can do it anytime, anywhere to suit your lifestyle.
Why do you believe that having a baby is a great time to start a business?
Having a baby just changed everything for me. Everyone always says how your priorities change but I couldn’t quite understand just how earth shatteringly different life would be.
Every normality goes out of the window when you have a new baby, so it’s actually a great time to mix things up with a new business venture. While everything from our daily routine to our life plan and goals was shifting, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to see if we can pave the path to our future. A
lso, in my pre-baby role as an account director in a very busy marketing agency I was constantly having to think very strategically, pushing my brain to the absolute max And in all honesty I was a little concerned that ‘baby brain’ would take over and I’d lose my mojo, so I saw it as an opportunity to keep my strategic brain well-conditioned!
What have you found the hardest in starting a business?
I guess the thing I have found the hardest is the duration of time that it takes to guide prospects through the conversion funnel.
It takes a certain amount of touch points to convert a prospect, and I just wish I could get as many people as possible to use these products – not from a commercial profit perspective, but just because I want as many people as possible to reap the benefits from them!
And what has been surprisingly easy?
I think for me finding the time. I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to find the time to commit to the business, and I would struggle to give it what it needed, but actually we’ve got into a nice little routine and I’m really enjoying the time I spend working on my campaigns etc.
I love that I get to have lovely sleepy cuddles with my son whilst I’m working on content or projects (much like I am doing now!) – something that I’d never be able to do sat at my desk in my agency office!
Who inspires you?
I seek inspiration from a number of people but at the moment there are two main people in my life who inspire me:
- My mum for teaching me that it is entirely possible to be both a wonderful, kind and nurturing mother and a professional business woman.
- My friend (the same one that introduced me to the business) for demonstrating on a daily basis that this opportunity can change your life, giving me the motivation to work harder and smarter to give my family and me a decent future.
Where would you like to see your business in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I’d like to have a strong sustainable business with a large team, generating a substantial residual income that gives my family and me true financial independence.
I’d also like to reinvest my profits to sponsor myself to become a qualified nutritional advisor and group exercise instructor so that I can extend the service offering of the brand.
What advice do you have for other aspiring business mums?
Take this time to make a change. Use the dramatic upheaval of your life to take the step into entrepreneurship and teach your children to follow their dreams!