“I’ve had a bumper year this year,” says Antonia Chitty, who won the Inspirational Business Mum of the Year Award in 2009. “ I gave birth to a 10lb baby in March. I’ve had four books that I’ve been writing over the past couple of years all published. Winning the award has just topped it all off.” But how does mum to three Antonia fit it all in?
Antonia started her PR business, ACPR, in 2003. She says, “I went back to work when my daughter was six months old, and lasted around nine months. It quickly became clear to me that I was spending my salary paying someone else to look after her yet she was getting more and more fun. A session with a life coach showed me that I could work for myself, and I’m so glad I took her advice.”
Antonia started her business working evenings and weekends, which left her initially with even less time to spare. “Starting the business this way gave me the confidence to know that I could earn as a freelancer. It also gave me time to research customers’ needs. While I thought I might start with freelance journalism, in fact I found that there was lots of demand from mums in business for help to do their own PR.”
ACPR also helped her start out as an author. She says, “The first book I wrote came out of some factsheets about PR that I had devised for clients. After comments from a couple of people I turned the factsheets into A Guide to Promoting Your Business, which offers practical advice on doing your own PR on a budget. It has sold consistently well since I published it in 2007.”
Antonia wrote A Guide to Promoting Your Business while on maternity leave after the birth of her first son. She has since written eight books and is working on her ninth. To fit in the PR, copywriting and book writing, Antonia aims to be well organised. “I’ve learnt that I can’t waste time. Every week I note down what I need to do, so when I sit down at my desk I can get stuck in. I have worked out shortcuts and time savers. I do most of my shopping online to save time at the supermarket, and know when to ask for help with the business too.”
Antonia sets aside different days each week for client work and her own writing as well as time to spend with the children. “At the moment I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday and am at home with the boys on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every morning I spend the baby’s first nap time running through emails and quick jobs. I have a lovely girl who helps by taking the baby out a couple of times a week, which gives me ‘telephone time’.”
Antonia’s most recent book is aimed at any mum running a business as well as mums who would like to run a business. “As with most of my books, The Mumpreneur Guide is written from my own experience. I’ve been offering advice to mums running their business for a number of years, and this book puts all the basics in one place. There is now also an online business development programme that mums can work through at their own pace to help them grow their business. It is really nice that all the experience I have developed over the past seven years can be used to help other mums get the work-life balance that they want.”
Antonia has some tips for any mum wanting to run a business and spend time with the family.
- Be clear about your aims and motivation. Do you want to run a business that supports the whole family or something to just boost your family income while you get to spend time with the kids?
- Set yourself goals. If you know what you want to achieve it is much easier to get there.
- Allow yourself time. As a busy mum it can take longer than you think to develop your business. Be generous and realistic when planning your timescales.
- Get some support. Use a forum like UK Parents Lounge to contact other mums who are running their own businesses. If you can build up a good network you will always find someone to help if you get stuck on a business issue, and in time you will find that you can offer help and advice too.
So, what has Antonia got planned next? She says, “I’m really enjoying developing www.themumpreneurguide.co.uk and there are lots of exciting things to come on the site. I’m continuing to run the blog at www.familyfriendlyworking.co.uk. I’m working on my next book – on Down’s Syndrome – and enjoying watching the family grow up too.”
If you want help to develop your business, you can get in touch with Antonia by emailing Antonia@themumpreneurguide.co.uk.