It’s International Women’s Day 2019! As #IWD trends each year, the waves of women who want to ‘be their own boss’ continue to rise.
Taking the plunge
In this blog, Theresa Nicholson, director of Nemo Swimming, chats candidly about her experiences of building a business model and being a model business mum. Sitting down with Theresa, I decided to dive in at the deep end (pun very much intended) and ask her THE question: why did you decide to start Nemo Swimming?
“My son was the inspiration behind my business model”, Theresa begins. “When he was a baby, I worked as a baby-swimming teacher. As a working mum, I wanted something that most mums are trying to find: a flexible ‘work-life’ balance. However, it wasn’t just my own needs that drove me. My son had been learning to swim since he was a baby, but when he was three, I noticed that there was nothing out there in terms of swimming lessons that met the requirements of that age group. Since I was already in the swimming industry, it was from here that I was able to find gap in the market and began Nemo Swimming.”
“Baby swimming is such a rewarding industry, and part of my job as director of Nemo Swimming is to help develop that crucial bond between baby and parent in the early stages. What I’m particularly fascinated by is nurturing a child’s independence, as when they get to three years old, their caregiver stops coming into the water with them (a big step for both child and parent.) This is when my creativity can really come into play! Most people are quite tentative about teaching this age group – which is part of what drove me to pursue my business model further. I’m a firm believer that if you trust in your own knowledge, the child with trust in you too.”
Let’s talk about role reversal: when mum becomes the ‘breadwinner’
Of course, International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the social, economic and political achievements of women – from a business perspective, this is about promoting equality and breaking down old-fashioned ‘roles’ of men going out to work and women staying at home. But what are the real-life effects of this role reversal on your family life?
“I’m originally from London, so when I was starting out, I didn’t have my family around me. My husband made the decision to drop some hours at work and dedicate that time to the household instead – which I’ve been fortunate to have. However, while I celebrate my freedom of being able to focus on my business, there’s one feeling that has always been hard to overcome, and not a lot of people openly talk about: guilt. You feel guilty at this role reversal: that suddenly, you’ve become the breadwinner; you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time at home and when you do, you feel guilty you’re not investing enough in your business! It’s so important to commit to a regime and make an investment in yourself to overcome these ‘guilty’ feelings.”
From running a tight ship to plain sailing: tips for business mums
In a brilliant article on entrepreneur.com, Lisa Druxman writes “My family flourishes most when I run it like my business”. I asked Theresa if she identified with this statement: “It sounds a bit authoritarian!”, she laughs, “but I do agree. For me, this means allocating specific ‘family time’: phones off, feet up, and absolutely no talking business! It’s not all plain sailing though, and often, the flexibility of your work sometimes isn’t as flexible as you’d like, so you’ve got to be strict. Running a business and being a mum is a tough job – and I’m still learning how to run myself like a business: I’ve got a really strong work ethic, and I’m definitely guilty of not carving out any ‘me’ time.”
For any woman thinking of starting their own business, Theresa suggests these three tips:
- Be in business for yourself, not by yourself – but always look after yourself! Listen to your own needs. Don’t short change yourself by never giving yourself that essential ‘me’ time that you need.
- Base your business on your passions: this way, you will be able to better listen to what your business needs, allowing it to grow organically.
- Finally, I asked Theresa to share an inspirational quote to celebrate International Women’s Day:
“Behind every great business woman… is a really great team! I couldn’t do anything without my team behind me. Always remember how important it is to reward, praise and thank them.”
Happy International Women’s Day from the Nemo swimming team!
Are you reeled in by the idea of starting your own business? Find our Nemo swimming franchise opportunity at https://nemoswimming.co.uk/nemo-swimming-franchise/