Gemma Dorsett Aimee Foster came up with a very clever and unique way to help mums find other mum friends. Here they share their story and advice to other mums looking to start a business..
Tell us about your business
Mum Amie is a unique, meet-a-mum website that matches users’ profiles for compatibility. Being a mum can be a lonely experience and our aim is to help mums connect with other mums with similar personalities, interests and circumstances. The website is free to use and users can sign up, answer the match questions and then be matched with similar mums looking for friends in their local area.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I’ve always wanted to work for myself. When I had my daughter, almost five years ago, I gave up my job to stay home with her. When she reached 3 years, I decided I’d like to go back to work part time but the cost of childcare was too prohibitive. I decided to start my own business and at first joined a direct selling company. It turned out selling was not for me and so I then bought a franchise of Baby & Children’s Market to run events in Berkshire. That has worked out really well and fits around my family commitments perfectly. Starting Mum Amie has added to my existing workload but I still manage to spend lots of time with my kids and do the majority of the work for both businesses in the evenings.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I came up with the idea when I was on my journey to make friends with other mums. I was the first of my friends to have a baby almost 5 years ago. I posted a message on the meet-a-mum board of a parenting website and over the course of about 6 months I met over 20 mums. Some I clicked with instantly and they are still great friends to this day and others I had little in common with. Each time I met another mum from the website we joked about how it was like a blind date. And so the idea was born. All the joking about blind dates aside, for me finding mum friends online was very hit and miss. I began to wonder how my quest could have been simplified. How could I have ensured that more of my dates were hits, thus eliminating the misses? If making mum friends online was similar to online dating then surely the same logic could be applied? The idea of a website that allowed you to create a profile, answer match questions and then be matched up with similar mums began to form and 3 years later it is finally here!
What were the challenges you faced when you started your business?
Mainly trying to find a good web design company. Building a website was completely new to me. When I told my friend Gemma about my idea and she said she wanted to come on board, we became business partners and co-directors of the company. Without Gemma I’m not sure the idea would have ever got off the ground as she has a much greater understanding of the ‘techy’ side of the business. It’s also great being able to share the risk, the workload, the stresses and the achievements!
Another challenge was actually developing the website as it was quite complicated. Our initial launch date was delayed by several months as the website took a lot longer to create than we had first thought. This was quite embarrassing as we had already announced the date via our social media channels and press releases and had lots of interest as a result.
Tell us about the first steps you took to get your business up and running
The first step was to find quotes from web designers and decide on which company to go with. We then started to put the idea out there by promoting the company via social media and press releases. It became clear early on from the fantastic response from mums that the website was badly needed.
What is the best part of running your business as a mum?
Not having to put my children in childcare. I can be there at the school gates for drop off and pick up every day and get involved with school activities too. I can spend quality time with my kids and work when they are asleep or in school.
How do you manage working from home with your child? Do you have any childcare help?
No, although my husband works shifts and so he is around during the day a lot more than if he was working 9 – 5. I work in the evenings or during school and nap times.
What advice would you give to a mum interested in starting a business?
You have to LOVE what you do! This may sound obvious but actually I think many people overlook the fact that how they feel about the product or service they provide will have a big impact on how successful they are. And also make sure you conduct very thorough research before you jump in. If possible, find a business mentor who can guide you through the early days. Learn how to use social media to market the business (there’s lots of free advice on the web from experts such as Jon Loomer, Amy Porterfield and from companies such as Post Planner and Social Media Examiner). Using social media to market your business is a cheaper and more effective form of advertising for small businesses than traditional methods. Make sure you have support from family and/or friends. You will need practical support, such as childcare or help running the business, and also emotional support as it can be very stressful and all-consuming. And finally come to terms with the fact that you probably won’t make money straight away. You usually have to put a lot in before you get anything back.
What is your favourite quote?
‘All that we are is a result of what we have thought’