Se­crets of be­ing amumpreneur

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - BUSI­NESS GINA CO­HEN

ICOMPLETED MY ac­coun­tancy qual­i­fi­ca­tions, worked my way to a se­nior po­si­tion at a lead­ing US in­vest­ment bank, and I was able to ne­go­ti­ate work­ing part­time af­ter my twin daugh­ters were born. I had a sta­ble, well-paid job and good ca­reer prospects. How­ever, some­thing was miss­ing. I wanted to give my girls more time and at­ten­tion than even my part-time ar­range­ment would al­low. I had plenty of hours each day to ded­i­cate to my ca­reer but I wanted the flex­i­bil­ity to also ded­i­cate time to my chil­dren. A fa­mil­iar story for women up and down the coun­try, but I de­cided to do some­thing about it.

Af­ter a year of soul-search­ing and plan­ning, I de­cided to leave be­hind my in­vest­ment-bank­ing ca­reer to go it alone. I said good­bye to the daily com­mute, fixed hours and fixed hol­i­day days and set up my own Mi­crosoft train­ing and con­sult­ing com­pany.

It was a very ‘‘Un-Gina’’ thing to do — in some ways, I am a clas­sic ac­coun­tant. I need rou­tine, or­der and sta­bil­ity, but I also knew that my kids needed rou­tine, or­der and sta­bil­ity and I needed to be able to help cre­ate that en­vi­ron­ment. I am also de­ter­mined, stub­born and am­bi­tious, and hoped that those at­tributes would be the right ones to cre­ate a suc­cess­ful ven­ture.

I am proud to say that two years later I have a bet­ter life, feel more ful­filled, en­joy what I do, and have more money in the bank that I did be­fore! Th­ese are my top tips on how to leave your safe, se­cure, job and cre­ate your own busi­ness.

HAVE AN IDEA

Even long be­fore you de­cide to leave your job, think of your big idea. Ev­ery time there was a round of re­dun­dan­cies at my pre­vi­ous em­ployer I would plan what I would do if my name was “on the list”. Thank­fully, I never got on the list (al­though the pay-out would have been a nice starter for the ven­ture) but I was pre­pared in case I was.

DON’T BE TOO PROUD

When start­ing out, no job is too small. You never know where it might lead. It is im­por­tant to get your name out there and you never know who might rec­om­mend you in the fu­ture. Ini­tially, I pro­vided late-night train­ing to clients and trav­elled quite far to pro­vide con­sult­ing. Ev­ery penny counts and you can­not pick and choose be­tween the jobs you are of­fered.

I also do lots of un­paid char­ity work — I can give some­thing back to the com­mu­nity and at the same time it is all good prac­tice. If you are go­ing to of­fer your ser­vices to a char­ity then it may as well be in your area of ex­per­tise. I have main­tained my shul’s fundrais­ing spread­sheet and worked on my kids’ school cal­en­dar spread­sheet. Be­ing the “go to” per­son for Mi­crosoft is a com­pli­ment — even if I don’t al­ways get paid for it!

TAKE AD­VICE

It is sur­pris­ing how many peo­ple want to help you when you start your own ven­ture. Ev­ery­one has a nugget of ad­vice that may or may not prove to be help­ful but take it, write it down and give it a try when you have a quiet pe­riod.

IG­NORE SOME PEO­PLE

There are al­ways peo­ple who say un­help­ful things, maybe to make them­selves feel bet­ter or to try and be­lit­tle you, but just ig­nore their un­sup­port­ive com­ments. When I re­signed from my job, some­one came up to me and said, “I heard you are leav­ing to be a mum”. It did not even war­rant a re­sponse. Can you imag­ine a man leav­ing work to set up their own com­pany and be­ing told that he was leav­ing to be a dad?

More ac­cu­rately, I left my job to be­come a Mumpreneur —“a woman who com­bines run­ning a busi­ness en­ter­prise with look­ing af­ter her chil­dren”. Ac­cord­ing to re­search com­mis­sioned by eBay con­ducted by in­de­pen­dent econ­o­mists De­vel­op­ment Eco­nom­ics, the num­ber of Mumpreneurs has grown by 23 per cent since 2011. Mumpreneurs gen­er­ated £7.2bil­lion for the UK econ­omy, sup­port­ing over 200,000 jobs.

RE­MEM­BER YOUR GOALS

When times are tough and clientleads are run­ning dry, re­mem­ber what your goals are. For me, half of my goals are work-re­lated but the other half are life-re­lated. Pro­vided I con­tinue not to miss a Sports Day, Shab­bat party or a Mock Seder, don’t have to count my hol­i­day days and have a var­ied pro­fes­sional life work­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple, across dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries in dif­fer­ent of­fices from hedge funds to gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, then I know my work-life goals are be­ing met.

Gina Co­hen, Sun­bird Ad­vis­ers

PHOTO: GINA CO­HEN/ TWIT­TER

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