Tell us about The Sleep Escape and the Catalyst behind starting it?
I had been a neonatal registered nurse for 3 years prior to starting my business and became aware of parents' worries and concerns when being discharged home (often after their baby had been in hospital for several weeks) and sleep was one of their biggest fears. I loved teaching parents about other aspects of their baby so I researched courses that allowed me to become certified to advise on sleep so I could up-skill as a nurse in hospital, and then I eventually took the plunge and created my own business helping families in the community.
You started The Sleep Escape baby free and since growing the business you have welcomed the most gorgeous little girl Vivi into the world. I imagine this phase would have been very challenging, all your energy and love now being redirected to your newborn and the worry that you're not giving your business your all. How did you juggle the act? Do you have any advice for mammas starting their own business with a newborn?
I was lucky with my business being service based that I could put consults on hold completely and take a proper maternity leave (minus product management) and I am so grateful for this as I have been able to really enjoy and be present for the wild ride that becoming a parent is.
I created 2 x products In pregnancy (White noise and black out blinds) and I have been managing selling both of these since Vivis arrival which at times has been overwhelming, but I always remind myself how lucky I am to have a product based business that requires work but also allows me to be so present with my baby and will continue to allow me to be.
My advice to other mums that own businesses is to plan ahead in pregnancy and try to outsource help for when the baby arrives so that your focus and energy can be on becoming a mum.
Besides the obvious juggling act between managing your own business and now motherhood - what has been the biggest challenge starting your own business?
Building a consistent client base was definitely the biggest challenge and when I would feel most frustrated as I would experience weeks of lots of clients and then things would slow down, but being a referral based business I knew this was very normal. I'm also a neonatal registered nurse which meant I could work on wards casually so I was lucky enough to just pick up extra shifts through quieter times to help get through the quieter times financially.
What have you learnt so far about running your own successful business, has anything surprised you or anything you wished you knew sooner?
Growing a business takes time, especially when you are caring and helping parents with their precious little bubbas. I definitely had moments of thinking that I should go back to full time nursing, but usually when those thoughts came in, I would get some really positive feedback from a family or an increase in consults to remind me that what I was building was worth the hard work and frustration.
What does a typical day of operations look like for you and The Sleep escape, although I imagine no day is the same!
When consulting, I would usually spend an hour before the consult assessing my clients questionnaire on their baby so that I could get a rough idea of what was going on. I ask parents to describe their baby's temperament and this is important to make sure I would approach this family/baby in the right way so reading about them before meeting them is very helpful. I would then either call or go to a family's home and spend anywhere between 2 hours on the phone or 4-5 hours at their home discussing their baby. After the consultation I then write up a plan of everything discussed as there is a lot of information to take in, and then for the next 2-3 weeks, support this family via phone and/or a shared notes doc so that we could make daily changes as their baby was learning how to sleep.
Do you have any must have rituals to help set your day up for success?
Nothing in particular other than a big walk most mornings and coffee
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business and on the flipside, the one thing you dislike the most about running your own business?
I have always loved the flexibility of it and I think I will even more so now that I have my own baby as apart from getting orders out on time, I'm going to be able to pick when I consult to suit my family life. On the flipside I really miss having a workplace to go to with colleagues to work alongside with as my type of business can be quite a lonely one but I do get to meet some very cute baby’s so it’s not all that bad working aloneYou can follow Fran here and visit her here