Updated: May 23, 2019
Helen is a cheerleader of women she supports mums returning back to work after maternity leave and helps to organise their lives via online courses.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Helen and I am the founder of Guilty Mothers Club. I’m a mum of four (8,6,4,6mnths) and live in Manchester.
Guilty Mothers Club provides online courses, community and encouragement for mums. We run programmes like Game Changers (on how to change career or mix things up so work fits better around family life), Rock your Return (for support on returning to work after maternity leave) and Organise your Entire Life (no explanation needed!)
What inspired/motivated you to create your business?
After having my first baby I unfortunately experienced what I now know to be quite common. My career stalled after going part time, I felt totally overwhelmed trying to be and do everything, and I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore. A few more kids later and I decided I needed to make a change but didn’t know where to look for help. I knew there must be other women out there feeling the same but didn’t know where to find them.
My background is in HR (training and development) so I gradually started trying out some of the stuff I’d been designing and teaching for years, but in a new context. I started off by running free workshops in my front room! I also did some supper clubs locally and just kept trying things out to find out what worked.
Over time this evolved into paid ‘in person’ workshops and then we moved online with a full course for women wanting to make a change (Game Changers). We’ve now had over 1000 mums go through a workshop or course of some sort over the last 3 years which makes me hugely proud.
What advice would you give others wanting to start a business? Or rise up through the ranks?
Start with a minimum viable product (if you’ve not heard of this then look it up) and figure out whether there is a market for it in the quickest and cheapest way possible. You probably don’t need to have a fancy website or beautiful branding or spend loads of money on marketing at the start.
And when it comes to rising up through the ranks I’d say if at all possible find someone that can be your cheerleader and help you get out of your own head. Be that in the form of a mentor or a sponsor or even a coach. Finding that person can be the difference between talking yourself out of going for a promotion and having the confidence to give it go.
I had an incredible mentor when I returned from work from maternity the first time who helped me apply for flexible working, manage conversations with my boss and just feel so much more prepared. It was partly this that inspired me to start our Rock your Return workshops – for those who don’t have this type of support in place, because I felt first-hand the difference it can make.
What have you learnt on your journey as a business owner?
That is not nearly as easy as it looks! I mean I wouldn’t swap it for the world but those Instagram squares don’t always show behind the scenes where you are panicking you haven’t earnt enough money one month. I’ve learnt that this is normal, that most other business owners have huge ups and downs and it’s more about managing your expectations and being kind to yourself.
I’ve learnt that having a purpose behind your business, a reason for doing it which is more than just to make some cash, is really important. This helps you to weather the storms, so to speak and also retain focus.
What has been the toughest challenge being your own boss? Being in such a high position?
Probably working on my own. I do collaborate with others and have regular coffee dates with other women doing their own thing, but it can be quite lonely being your own boss. Basically I love being in charge but get bored of my own company sometimes and miss having a team to run ideas past or share the challenges.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Full autonomy and that includes flexibility about how you work. I get to set my own agenda daily and direction for the business, which I really enjoy. I can get up and start work at 7am meaning I am all done by lunchtime. I can go for a run on a sunny day and work from lovely coffee shops if I fancy a change of scene. I mean some of the latter should be the same for working for an employer and hopefully one day in the future it will be!
Seven random facts about yourself:
I used to do gymnastics and can still get my legs behind my head (well until recently anyway, don’t dare try right now – ha)
I am a HUGE stationery geek, I have draws full of notebooks and pens that my children are not allowed to even touch
I am addicted to bullet journaling, it’s been my organisation method of choice for years and I could not function without it
We have a slightly unusual set up in how we share the load at home and our ambitions at work. Over time we’ve taken it in turns to focus on our careers. I originally went back part time whilst Gazzy worked full time. Gazzy then took a year off to be a stay at home dad whilst I worked full time. He now works part time in a senior role for a large corporate whilst also helping run my business, whilst I am taking some time off with our youngest. We are very conscious about how that means we spend our time and divide up the home stuff too. It works well for us.
I am a failed crafter. Big plans, never seen through. I cannot tell you how many half-finished pieces of knitting and other random projects there are around our house.
I have a head full of ideas constantly and my lovely sister in law bought me a book to keep them in. One was called the ‘poo catcher’. It never took off.
I am really not interesting enough to find 7 random facts!
To connect with Helen over at the Guilty m club website www.guiltymothersclub.com
Or via guilty mothers club Instagram www.instagram.com/guiltymothersclub