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Mother and baby

Q&A with Balance Me co-founder Clare Hopkins

Balance Me co-founder and director Clare Hopkins spent time on Mother and Baby magazine’s facebook page today, answering busy mum’s questions in the lunchtime #WorkingMumsClub

Here are some of the questions and her answers. Please let us know if you have any questions you’d like to ask Clare, you can always get in touch via our facebook, twitter or email info@balanceme.co.uk 

Clare: Hi everyone, I'm Clare, one of the founders of Balance Me. I'm online and happy to take any of your questions about being a working Mum. I find it a real juggle but very rewarding having my own career running our business and also having two beautiful young children...there isn't much time for me though!...

Caroline asked:  I work for a very family friendly company so am fortunate I work flexible hours and from home. My two children have both fallen asleep and although normally I would be flipping open the laptop and doing some work, today I'm having a cuppa and enjoying half an hour of tv, what do you do when you have a unexpectedly free half hour?

Clare answered:  That sounds good. I do that most evenings as I'm exhausted once I've put both my two to bed! I do love swimming though and try to leave for work an hour early one or two mornings a week and pop for a swim. There's a heated open air lido close to home so I get to swim in the outdoors and doing exercise in the morning means I'm more energetic. It is really important to have some time to yourself to re-energise and it often doesn't happen. I'm aiming to start going to a yoga class once a week this autumn too.

Anonymous asked: I read that you work with your sis – how do you find that?! I bet that’s a lot easier in terms of booking time off to go to your kids school events etc but do you argue more than you would with a ‘normal’ boss? Do you think going into business with a family member is the way forward?'

Clare answered: I love working with my sister. We are very close and there is a total trust there. We have known a lot of businesses where friends have gone in together and some haven't worked out (some have though). In the early years, you aren't making any salary and can sometimes have different views on where to take the business. This is really stressful. I don't think I would want to be in business with my partner as it is good to keep work life separate if you are living together. I know lots of successful husband and wife teams, but I think you have to be disciplined to not talk about work at night. My sister and I can also both be very honest with each other. We are comfortable disagreeing, but don't take it personally. All these are very important when running your own business.

Elizabeth asked : I've set up my own business, which I've been running for over 7 years now- does Clare have any tips for keeping the momentum going once the 'buzz' of starting up has passed?#workingmumsclub

Clare answered: I'm lucky to have been in business for over ten years with Rebecca, my sister, and Sian for over six years. I do marvel at how people run a business by themselves as you always have bad days and need a partner to pep you up. Are you in business on your own?  I've been thinking about this. I would build up a network of other people that run a similar business to you. We have done this in the Beauty industry. You can all help motivate each other and offer advice. You can choose to share what you want, but often you can give lots of tips and help without giving anything competitive away. It is good to arrange to meet monthly. That is then your network and you can pull on any of them at any time when you need help and support.

Elizabeth replied: Thanks Clare- yes, I am on my own (although my husband helps out, he has a stressful full-time job of his own!). I did meet up with a couple of local ladies who also run their own businesses, but it was a while ago. I think I'll try and get us together again for regular meetings- thank you!

Anonymous asked: What are the biggest downsides of being a working mum (people talk about guilt and being away from kids) and how do you make up for this?"

Clare answered: I love working as I do find I have some quiet thinking time in the day and really enjoy running Balance Me. However, it is hard to leave my children in the morning, particularly when we've had the weekend or a holiday together and they are used to having me around and hang onto me as I leave the door. However, I always see a smile when I come back from work, so I know they have had a great day. I think it is healthy for us all to have time apart and it does make me really value my time with them. I make up for it by trying to be around at breakfast and for an hour at bedtime where I read lots of stories and talk about their day. If ever I feel they are being a bit off with me because I haven't been around, I know if I gently persevere and give them a big cuddle, they slowly soften.

Chiquira asked: Hi Clare! I read Balance Me Beauty´s about story and like the others here am amazed that there are women and moms behind the products. Till recently, I worked as Head of Social Media for 3 major international product brands. I am a mom and would love to work with smaller mom & women founded brands. I just don´t know where to start in finding them. Would you happen to have any thoughts, suggestions or ideas on where to find a community of moms & women founding amazing products and companies and would need my sort of work?

Clare answered: Hi Chiquira, it sounds like you've had a great career. I would suggest looking on Diary Directory. It is a great source of jobs. Also network within your industry and with friends. If you let people know you are looking, I'm sure you will get lots of interest.

Anonymous asked:  I’m a stay at home mum but thinking about starting a business so I can work but also be with my son. Realistically, how long should I expect the set-up to take – I would love to know approximately when I can start making money from it all!

Clare answered:  I think being your own boss and being a Mum works really well but there are a few things to watch. Positives are that you can be with your children and work flexibly so be there for all those special, important events and the everyday important things like breakfast and bed time. However, you still have to get your work done, so it does mean working after your children have gone to bed. I do find it less stressful though, because you are answerable to yourself. I have also found that I am so much more focused, make decisions faster and get more work done in less time, so that helps. It does take a while to start earning, though. This depends on what you are looking to set up, but often when you start making money, you need to plough it back into your business. Also you need to find yourself a quiet place in your home where you can focus on your work without being disturbed. Whenever I work from home, my children like to come to find me!

Follow us on facebook, twitter or email us with your questions info@balanceme.co.uk 

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