Tuesday 18 February 2014

2Inspire Network Business Profile: Hannah Martin, Co-Founder of The Talented Ladies Club

In this 2Inspire Network profile we meet Hannah Martin who co-founded The Talented Ladies Club with Kary Fisher, a website and online community for working mums. Read her inspirational business story and be motivated to live your best life.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

I get up about 5am, make myself a cup of tea and start work in my home office while the rest of the house sleeps (except the cat who curls up next to me on the printer) – it’s often my favourite time of the day!

Then at 7am I wake the kids (if they’re not up already) and get them ready for school. After dropping them off at school (which is very handily right next door!) I sometimes cycle to the gym for a quick workout.

I usually work until lunchtime when I make myself a quick snack and maybe grab half an hour of reading or TV – but usually I carry on working while I eat.

At three I pick the kids up from school and then help them with their homework and maybe do some baking or housework with them if work is quiet. But if I have a deadline I’ll sometimes let them play while I work.

I’ll start cooking about 5pm and eat with my partner when he gets home between 6-7pm. Once the kids are in bed, I may catch up on work if anything is outstanding – if not I’ll try and grab an hour of TV before going to bed around 9-9:30pm.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

I was inspired by my own experiences as a working and freelance mum, and those of my friends. I realised that all around the UK, successful women were struggling to make their careers work after having children.

It’s really tough trying to balance your ambitions with the demands of work (and competing with colleagues who don’t have to get back home for teatime) and the desire to be the mum you want to be.

When I had my son I was a single mum, commuting five hours a day to a demanding full time job. I loved my career (I was an advertising copywriter in London) but I missed being a mum to my boy. My au pair got him dressed, made his lunch, took him to school, helped with homework – I didn’t even know his friends!

So when I had my daughter, I decided to give up work in London and freelance from home – and gained a much better quality of life.

I teamed up with a friend I met when pregnant with my daughter, a freelance designer called Kary Fisher, and together we launched a website to help other mums find their right work/family balance too.

We started thinking about the site in December 2012, and set a launch date in April 2013, and then worked towards it. In hindsight it was a stupidly short length of time to conceive, design, write and build a site this big in, but we did it!

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I’m really proud of Talented Ladies Club and what we’ve achieved so far. I think the quality of our articles is great, and the design is brilliant. It looks professional, stylish and accessible, which is what we wanted.

We’ve also learned so much in the months since we launched – social media, marketing, what articles work and which ones don’t – and have started running training workshops for women. We’re also exhibiting at the Work and Family Show, and I’m giving a talk on social media – all firsts for us!

We have big plans for the site, and it’s exciting shaping a product that has the potential to help so many people.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

Initially it was believing in ourselves enough to start it! It was through the help of a brilliant business coach that I came to understand that no one is a business success until they’ve just gone out and done it!

Since then it’s time. As mums with freelance careers to manage, we just don’t have enough hours in the day. I would love to just devote every waking hour to Talented Ladies Club, but unfortunately the kids need feeding, my partner needs attention and clients need work!!

Seriously though, I am looking forward to the day that Talented Ladies Club can pay me a salary and I can devote myself to it as a paid job, and not a very time-consuming but enjoyable hobby.

What are your future plans for the business?

We’re launching a membership scheme in September. It will be a 12 month programme that will take women from frustration to inspiration. It’s for ambitious but stuck mums who need help to identify a clear and achievable goal, and practical advice to get there.

There will be expert advice and practical exercises covering everything you need to be a success – whether you’re looking for a flexible job, want to launch a freelance career or start a successful business.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Lots! But to pick one thing it would have to be paid advertising. We’ve experimented with it a couple of times, but it was an expensive lesson for us as we just don’t have the budget to do it properly yet. We get more (free) traffic from social media. So if I was starting again, I wouldn’t pay for advertising.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

It’s SO important to follow your dreams. We spend most of our waking hours working, so it’s vital to do something you feel passionately about and that fulfils and challenges you (in a good way). You also work harder and smarter when you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing.

I think older women have a responsibility to show younger women that they should strive for a career they love and realise that it is possible to achieve your ambitions if you’re determined and hardworking enough. I know I want my daughter to grow up with a good role model… a mum who is happy and fulfilled.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

Just do it! Look around and see what you can do differently or better than other people. Use your passion, skills and experience to create a business that suits you, that you’re good at and that you’ll enjoy investing time, money and emotion in.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

Other women making it work! I love the network of amazingly driven, generous and passionate women I have met since starting Talented Ladies Club. There’s so much support and positivity out there, and I love hearing other peoples’ success stories. Nothing fires me up more than the sense that great success is out there to grab if you work hard and cleverly enough.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been” by George Eliot.

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