How she started: Turning a career frustration into a business opportunity
Jane Knight created training and advice organisation, Successful Mums, after struggling to find rewarding and flexible work that would fit around her children. Successful Mums supports women returning to work after a career break, starting out in business or changing careers. Since 2014, its courses and workshops have helped more than 3,800 women start new chapters in their lives.
We asked Jane to share her business advice and career insights with our FL members, to inspire us to break the mould.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
Successful Mums was inspired by my experience of looking for flexible work after becoming a mum back in 2009. I had been a teacher, business coach and career advisor for more than 25 years and loved my job. But after a year’s maternity leave with this amazing little person, I knew I didn’t want to return to my full-time post.
I wanted a role that would use my skills and experience but offer a better work-life balance. It felt like a huge challenge and I soon realised that thousands of women were in the same boat. It was then that I hit on the idea of a business to help mums get back into work; it was a business venture close to my heart and would allow me to be my own boss.
After talking to lots of mums, local employers and funding bodies (not to mention having my second child), I set up Successful Mums in 2014. Our courses give mums the training, inspiration and confidence they need to return to work or set up their own businesses; to achieve flexible careers that fit around their family lives.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same when you run your own business! But I tend to get up early and tackle my inbox before getting the kids up and ready for school. Then I might head off to talk to a local employer about taking on Successful Mums grads, get together with the team to book in our next courses, or research some new guest speakers to inspire our mums. Then it’s home to the kids…or to one of their many after-school clubs! I also love running, it’s my ‘me time’, so I’ll try to squeeze that in if I can.
What advice do you have for managing work and life?
Be as organised as possible: preparation, routine and checklists are your friends! Reciprocal playdates can also be a godsend. Little things like weekly meal planning and online supermarket shopping can save so much time when you’re juggling work and family.
If you work for yourself or work from home, it’s also important to be disciplined. Set yourself strict rules so that when you’re working, you’re not distracted by home, and when you’re relaxing or hanging out with the kids, you’re not constantly diving for the phone.
What’s the biggest myth about your industry/sector?
The biggest myth is that business or career success means the same thing for everyone. At Successful Mums, we help women achieve ‘personal success’, which means working out what’s important to you and your family and then figuring out how to get there.
How can networking and support organisations like Forward Ladies help women on the way up?
Bringing people together is really the heartbeat of organisations like Forward Ladies and Successful Mums. The connections that are made, the business that happens, the friendships that are formed – all of these things are invaluable.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Be consistent, be kind and stick to your vision. It’s easy to be distracted by opportunities and people wanting to pull you this way and that, so it’s important you focus on where you want to be and how you want to drive your business or organisation forward.
What is your favourite book and why?
Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. It’s full of wise words to stop you getting overwhelmed by the little, insignificant things and to help you gain perspective and focus on what is really important. That’s definitely helpful when you’re a mum!
What is your motto?
The opposite of success is not failure. The opposite of success is never having tried.
Jane was a shortlisted finalist in the Diversity Champion of the Year category at the London & The South regional finals for our #FLNationalAwards
The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to your region with events in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out – HERE