Ten Tips for Starting Up A Home Business

When we spoke at a recent back to work event, we listened to Debbie Blott,
Founder of The DecorCafe HomeBizClub, talk about how to start a home business. We’ve invited Debbie to share her advice for women who are interested in starting their own home business as a route back into work
after a career break.

1. Be Authentic: Taking a career break offers an opportunity
to rethink what you do. The most successful start-ups are founded on passion.
Knowledge builds confidence and confidence attracts customers.

Sarah Betteley, co-founder of Fruits of The Fridge, took the
opportunity of her career break to change from working as a lawyer to creating
catering company Fruits of The Fridge. Passionate about providing good
wholesome home cooked food she has built her business on her own way of life,
as someone who thinks nothing of putting together and packing up a complete menu of delicious food for a week’s holiday. (see Fruits of the Fridge).
2. Create Your Vision: Be realistic about what it is you
want to achieve and how much time you have to give. Is it a business to give
you an interest alongside caring for your family or do you want to grow and
sell a multi-million pound business?
3. Choose the most appropriate business structure: Setting
up as a sole trader is quick and easy. Creating a limited company separates
your personal and professional identities and protects you by limiting your
financial exposure to your business investment.
4. Set Simple Goals: It is easy to be immobilised by
planning and re-planning. Once you have decided what you want to achieve, set
achievable goals and an action list. Review regularly as you progress.
Jane Michell, founder of the UK’s leading delivery diet,
Jane Plan knows what it is like to struggle with your weight and initially
trained as nutritionist to build her skills. She describes herself
first and foremost as a mother of three children rather than a qualified business woman. She didn’t start with a complex business,
rather she had a clear vision and some simple goals and progressed step by step. Following her passion
to help her clients lose weight and transform their lives she has grown her
business, from preparing weekly diets for friends from around her SW London
kitchen table to more than £4 million in just 4 years. (see Jane Plan).
5. Make Space at Home: The lines between home and work can
blur. Put a structure in place to ensure that you can close the door on work,
ideally literally.
6. Build Your Brand: For many people working from home, your
brand is you. Ask yourself what is distinct about what you do and your values
and communicate it clearly and consistently.

Virginie Dunne worked as a
nurse, but had to stop when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she
began to recover she decided to retrain as a lighting designer to quite
literally share her joy and shed some light and so she named her company,
Splash of Light. (see Splash of Light).
7. Become an Authority: The most effective way to market
your business is to become an authority. Build strategic partnerships with
complementary businesses, write relevant articles for press, get involved in
local online forums and spread the word through social media.
8. Seek Support: You may miss the water-cooler conversations
in the office but you are not alone. Join local networks and you will find many
like-minded people who collaborate and help each other. Employing a business
coach or mentor provides valuable extra support in the early years. Join
networking organisations of like-minded people.
9. Stay Legal and Protect Your Ideas: Don’t forget to tell
the tax people that you have set up! The law is on your side and can help you to
protect your ideas and business if you put confidentiality agreements,
contracts and trademarks in place.
10. Get started! There is only one way to find out just what
you can do and you will learn quickly. Good luck!

About The DecorCafe HomeBizClub
Based in SW London The DecorCafe HomeBizClub is a
collaborative community of people starting up or running their own home
business. All about connecting, building skills and sharing ideas, they provide
ongoing inspiration and support to make building your
business more fun and less stressful. They welcome anybody who is interested to
come along to one of their sessions to find out more.
Posted By Donna

Q&A with Macquarie Group: An employer’s perspective on a returner programme

Julianne from Women Returners interviewed Fiona Griffin, Division Director at Macquarie Asset
Management to get the employer’s perspective on the benefits of running a returnship programme.
Macquarie Group has recently launched the new Macquarie Returner Programme in the UK. What is your motivation for running a returner programme?
We recognise that there’s a significant pool of highly
qualified, experienced professionals who are looking for the right opportunity
to get back into the workforce. By having a structured programme specifically
designed for that purpose, we hope to facilitate a successful return that
brings benefits to both Macquarie and the individual concerned. It’s also
important to demonstrate to our existing people that we value the investments
they make in their careers. A career break doesn’t mean the end of your career
with Macquarie, for many it can represent a new opportunity.
How does the Returner Programme fit with your other diversity initiatives?
Our commitment is to create and promote a diverse and
inclusive workplace for everyone. The Returner Programme fits in perfectly with
this. We recognise that the diversity of our people is fundamental to our
success. Testament to that are the four employee network groups that were
started by our people in EMEA. Each works on a different area of inclusion–
Balance – which promotes gender balance in the workforce; Pride – supporting
LGBT people and their allies; Engage – for those who are multilingual; as well
as a network for Parents and Carers.
What can participants expect from the Returner Programme?
The programme aims to show a Returner what it’s like to
own their career – something Macquarie people are expected to do on a daily
basis. If it’s a concept they enjoy, then participants will hopefully apply for
roles based on a deeper understanding of what it is like to work at Macquarie.
The programme is full time for 12 weeks and is designed to fit into the school
term. We believe in providing a positive environment for our people, which
is illustrated in all the additional benefits as part of our programme. Participants
are assigned to one of our business groups and given a mentor from that area. They will receive specialised group coaching support from Women Returners to aid their return to work, and there will be an opportunity to take part in various networking opportunities, gaining exposure to senior leaders across the entire group. My Family Care support and emergency backup care can also be provided, if it is required. At the end of the programme, participants will be eligible to be considered for a permanent role.
What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
If you have been contemplating a return to work after a
career break, this is a wonderful opportunity to get back into the workplace,
refresh your knowledge and confidence and re-engage. Change can be good – take
the opportunity.
Further information
Posted by Julianne

Mature competence vs youthful ambition: Career break mother wins Masterchef

In case you missed it, the 2016 Masterchef competition was won, last week, by a 50-year-old stay-at-home mum of four. While Masterchef doesn’t enjoy the same profile as The Great British Bake Off, the achievement of its winner and the opportunities the winner enjoys can be just as life changing.

It was clear to me in the final week of the competition that Jane Devonshire would be the winner, not simply because of her skillful and creative cooking but because of her character. Her maturity, self-knowledge, leadership and unflappability gave her the edge over her younger, seemingly more energetic and ambitious, male rivals. While one of the three finalists was running round in ever more desperate circles as he had done throughout the competition and the other succumbed to the pressure, Jane was a picture of serene competence, calming executing all her dishes perfectly. In winning, she exemplified so many of the aspects which we know make returners valuable to employers.

It was only in the final episode of the competition that we heard more of Jane’s story. She had started work as soon as she left school and by the time she was married and expecting her first child she had built up her own successful business. However, despite only seeing herself as a career woman up to this point, becoming a mother changed her perspective, as it often does, and she chose to leave her business to focus full-time on her family. Entering Masterchef was the first thing she had done for herself in many years and from a nervous start, she visibly grew in self-belief and assurance as she progressed through the rounds.

In the final episode, Jane also revealed that she had overcome cancer twice in the previous decade. Her win was a triumphant assertion that reinvention and a return to work that you love can be achieved. As I’ve said previously, entering a televised national competition might be an extreme way to regain your self-belief, but I hope Jane’s example might inspire you to think about some small steps you can take to return to your professional path.

Posted by Katerina

Sharing is Caring: Job sharing as a supportive way to return to work

For parents looking for a flexible way to return to work, job sharing is an option worth considering. Sara Horsfall, Founder and Director of Ginibee, a job share network, describes how job shares provide extra benefits for job sharers beyond reduced working hours.
of the (many) times in a parent’s life we find extremely
challenging, is reconnecting with our inner professional after
discovering our inner parent. In other words, returning to work.
Thinking about returning to work can
be a particularly lonely time,
when we can feel a range of conflicting emotions including guilt (for not being with our child 24/7), paranoia (that none of our parenting skills are
relevant /we have “forgotten” our professional skills /people
will think we can’t
do our job
anymore) and gratitude (when we find a role). These feelings can make it a stressful time and one
which is often
insufficiently supported. So, what if there was a proven way
to return to your career, without
leaving behind new life priorities, that benefits both you and your
One of the overarching benefits of successful job sharing we often see at Ginibee, for returners, is
the supportive nature of the job share partnership. Imagine returning to work with someone who is
faced with similar challenges in terms of creating time for other life commitments, whilst sharing similar career experience and ambition. Forming a partnership with another
enables job sharers to share the responsibility and opportunity of a full-time role without the associated time
commitment and in doing so improves confidence (since women often find
it easier to recognise the strengths in others than in ourselves), as well as creating the mental and physical space to attend
to their life. By
being aware of and respecting each other’s motivations
and strengths, job sharers live a very fulfilled
life both in terms of their career and life outside of work.
Benefits of 
Job Sharing 
what does being in a supportive job share mean to us?
  • Reduces Stress

Although progressive
employers understand that mentoring support is a key requirement to retain and
develop parents as they return to work, it can still be rare. The
great thing about job sharing is that successful partnerships self-mentor as part of setting up and
maintaining the jobshare. Ruth, who switched from part-time work to job sharing in order to progress to a more
senior level as Director of Strategy, said “I feel less stressed as a job sharer,
because there’s a proper release valve. In other roles you might vent to your
partner or husband at the end of the day, but they’re not in it, so with my job
share partner we can really vent to each other and share the challenges, which
means it’s not all in your head, and I find that to be really valuable.”

  • Increases Confidence
Another job sharer, Polly, says “job sharing is really supportive, which
means you can take braver decisions faster, because with the best will in the
world, your boss, your mentor etc. isn’t going to be quite as interested and
involved as your job share partner. In particular, on
management decisions where you might be worried about being too subjective
about a matter, when you have both picked up on it you can give clearer,
stronger, more objective messages.”
  • Improves
you know your days off really are
days off, you have more energy to fully apply
yourself on your working days. Employers of job share partnerships report that the inherent accountability of job share partnerships means they are easier to manage
as they have another to share ideas and challenges with. Polly says “Being
accountable to your job share partner keeps you focused and
only need to look to organisations like the Civil Service, Barclays, Transport for London that have launched jobshare schemes for their employees to
see that this is now receiving a higher profile as part of creating and retaining diverse workforces.
you would like to progress your career with a job share partner, you can find more
information and
support, including Ginibee’s jobshare platform at www.ginibee.com. Ginibee are currently recruiting for a Jobshare Consultant to work as a 2.5 day job share with Sara, in Cambridge. For more information and to apply see 
here. Apply by May 9.
Posted by Katerina