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“I can work anywhere: the garden, the train and in coffee shops”

I interviewed Clara Wilcox about being a parent and a business owner

Clara Wilcox is an employment coach and training provider. She says that she started The Balance Collective because she wanted to give parents the skills, the tools and the confidence to regain their work-life balance. On its website, The Balance Collective describes itself as a home for parents who are caught on ‘the treadmill of rushing between work and children’ or suffering from ‘guilt over never being able in the right place or never having enough time’.

Clara from The Balance Collective

Tell me about what you do.

I am the creator of The Balance Collective, a social enterprise focused on improving the lives of parents, by working together to build inner confidence and promote a healthy work/life balance. I offer straight talking, practical and experienced coaching and mentoring, helping clients navigate the tricky waters of returning to work, career changes, business start-up and professional development.

What advice would you give to parents thinking of starting their own business?

To consider what you are good at, what people want or need and what they will pay for. This is the very basics of any type of business and will help you understand if you have something that will be viable.

If you had a time machine and could go back to meet yourself when you were first starting out, what present would you give your younger self?

I would give myself the physically kick up the backside to start by booking a meeting with an accountant who specialised in self-employment. My worry about getting it wrong made me procrastinate and avoid starting!

The Balance - newspaper article

Did you end up with more or less time with your kids as a result of setting up your own business? And do you work with them around?

I have A LOT more time with my two; I can do the school run (both ends of the day) and I’m around for homework, playdates and them ignoring me whilst they play on SIMS. I am VERY public about working school hours only; I’m unapologetically part-time.

Do you feel that you’re passing on any particular values or skills to your kids by working for yourself?

I’m showing them that they create work that is suitable for them; that you don’t have to be stuck to one path. That security is about being in control of what you want to do; with good financial management and conscious spending, you can still feel relatively stable without a regular income!

What are the advantages / disadvantages when turning a ‘passion’ into a business?

Advantages:

  • staying motivated when things can feel hard;
  • loving what you do can help you stay energised and creative.

Disadvantages:

  • Sometimes your passion isn’t enough to be a business.
  • You may find that your passion is better kept as that, and you are better to stick with something that pays the bills.

Thinking about how NOT to set up your own business, what are the biggest mistakes a parent business owner could make?

Thinking that you need to be all things to all people; saying “YES” to everyone as you worry about where the next client is coming from, then having no energy or time be with your kids. Also, being scared of money by burying your head in the sand and not understanding what income you need; this can be exaggerated by “shiny item syndrome” assuming that the next course or service or product will make you rich over night!

What are the most important skills a parent needs when setting up their own business?

  • Resilience,
  • The ability to understand and communicate your boundaries,
  • Flexibility and
  • Financial management.

What about infrastructure, when you first started out? What space / equipment / help did you need?

I am three-years in, and I still work from my laptop and mobile phone. As long as I have internet connection I can work anywhere. That place is usually my dining room table, but it has also included the garden, the train and in coffee shops. I have quickly learnt what I am good at and where I needed support, so I have an Accountant and have contacts in IT, Digital and Design.

What do you love most about your business?

The fact I have no job description; I can usually say “Yes” to the things I find useful or interesting, rather than being constrained by what I “should “ be doing. I have expanded my skill set to include blogging (I have two books due out by the end of the year), reigniting my childhood love of writing!

If you would like to find out more about Clara’s work, take a look at her website.

 

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