Finding your passion in business and motherhood.
Amy Box is a dedicated mother of two daughters, Bailey who is almost five and Phoebe who is two. She is also a wonderful wife to her husband, Dan and runs a successful business as a vocal coach in Bristol, UK.
She has run three businesses since I have known her, one of which she sold for a profit before launching her dream business, all before the age of 26! I have known her a few years, and have so admired her as she sets out to achieve things in her business that I very probably would be too afraid to do. I admire her even more so as a mum in business, as she is able to put her family first in all she does, and even going as far as to say that they are her main source of inspiration and motivation in business.
I often wonder how on earth she does it all, and still remains such a kind, patient and loving woman who not only cares for her family, but also genuinely cares for those around her. If she has been able to do what she has done already, at such a young age, I am so excited to think about what she has in her future! So it is my pleasure to share with you, a little insight into Amy’s world.
What was your reason for starting up your own business?
I sort of accidentally set up in business! I intended to be a full time mum until my children reached secondary school age. Then when my eldest was 6 months old I was tearing my hair out looking for something else to do (I'm in awe of those mums who are able to devote all their time to their children without losing their minds!). I loved my daughter with all my heart, but I was losing a sense of who I was and I needed to do something for me. Even though I always wanted to sing and even looked into teaching after my degree, at this point it never occurred to be to go self employed and if I'm honest - I doubted my skills and abilities and suffered dreadfully with comparisonitis. So I put the singing thing to one side and chose something else I enjoyed - nails. I didn't intend for it to be a business at this stage - I just wanted to study so that I had something else to focus on other than nappies and weaning. So I qualified in manicure and pedicure! Over a few short weeks this snowballed and I was charging good money and being recommended left right and centre, so I thought I'd better declare the income and register as self employed and voila! I accidentally went into business and ended up falling in love with it :P
It doesn't seem quite right to end the story there. This business as a mobile nail technician took off and I got involved in the nail art community and subsequently fell in love with indie nail polish (independently made polish). There seemed to be a gap in the UK market so after 6 months researching, experimenting and perfecting my method I founded Box Polish. Fast track a couple more years and I realised that while I loved being a business woman, I wasn't in love with my business, and my heart just wanted to sing. A difficult few months of hard decisions later and I sold Box Polish and re launched myself as a vocal coach (with a new qualification in vocal teaching to help my confidence).
How do you juggle being a mum while running a business?
With careful consideration, lots of mistakes, and wine! Seriously though, this one is tough...and I don't always get it right. I tried to work on my business while I had the girls and found my attention was always divided and I felt guilty which ever way I tried to juggle it. The best thing I did for myself, my business and my children was to invest in some childcare. Just 2 days a week, 9-3 gives me enough child free time to teach students, keep up with my accounts, manage social media and do my marketing. Somehow I try to fit in my own singing practise and rehearsal time too. Sometimes it's crazy, sometimes it's quiet - but I've learned that my work pace ebbs and flows and it's better if I run with it. 2 days each week are for my business. 3 days are for my children. I don't work on my mum days (unless they both sleep) and I allow myself to work guilt free on my working days.
What does a typical day look like in your family?
Well it depends if it's one of my working days, or one of the other days! On any day (and every day!) I'm up at 6am with my small ones - sometimes earlier! We get breakfast and we might watch some telly (cbeebies is brilliant!). Then on a working day I'll drop them with the babysitters and prepare my lessons for the day. In between students (typically 2-3 each day), I'll set myself a list of tasks I'd like to get done. That might be social media posts, writing a blog, rehearsing a song, fitting in some piano practise; and I just work through the list where I can until 3pm when I switch off from 'work' and give my girls my attention again. We might go to the park or play puzzles, then tea at 5.30 and bed at 7. On a non 'working' day I might occasionally give the girls crafts at the table so I can get 20 minutes of work done, or I might not! Anyone with small children will know it depends on the day, on everyone's mood and on how much sleep they give you the night before!
What advice would you give to any mum wanting to start their own business?
Do it. Don't wait til they're older if you have that burning desire now. Don't listen to the guilt gremlins who tell you to devote all your time to the children: I am a much better mum now than I was when I was tearing my hear out and resenting my baby for stealing my identity. And even day to day - I realise I'm a much better mum when I've had some time to work on something for me. Something I love. My children get the best version of me because I've allowed myself days out to sing, teach, study and build my business. It's so good for them to have that role model in their lives.
And buy lots of wine. I find black tower hits the spot very nicely ;)
What advice do you seek being a mum in business already?
Gosh - that's hard because I've learnt so many lessons already! I guess my question would be about other mum's experiences. I often want to work harder and grow my business faster and have to remind myself that at this stage in life - it's okay to go slow. How have other mums found this balance?
How has the Women's Business Club been there for you in your business journey?
I joined the Cheltenham WBC when I'd only been in business 6 months. I knew very little and had practically no confidence! Angela planted little seeds occasionally that she thought I ought to be singing or doing what I love - the question she asked which I'll never forget is this: What would you happily do for the rest of your life without being paid for it? THAT should be your business. I knew in my heart it was never nails - it was always singing! The WBC gave me the support network I never knew existed, taught me lots of practical things about business and gave me the confidence to grow and develop the way I have. I'll always be grateful :)
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