Clare Manning


Clare Manning“I had worked in Higher Education for 17 years before deciding to leave and set up my business in 2011. Reflecting back, I think this move was 2-3 years in the making. I was ready for a change and, whilst I had always been able to work part-time after my kids were born, I wanted even more flexibility and time with them.”

“So, I retrained whilst doing my management job and had to slowly but surely overcome my fear of leaving employment and going it alone.”

“Initially this felt insurmountable but as I talked to other business owners, had coaching, read books like ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers I came to realise that fear can be a natural part of the process and if others ran their own businesses then of course I could too. I knew I had a good business idea – I just had to believe in myself!”

“So I focussed on what I wanted my business to look like, imagined success and a really positive scenario for me and my family… took a leap of faith and have never looked back.”

“Bev James in ‘Do it or Ditch it’ says something along the lines of ‘all employed people spend their time worrying that one day they might lose their job and all self-employed people spend their time worrying that one day they might have to get a job…’ That still makes me smile today!”

“So, as a mum, I have structured my business around my family. In fact, the mind map of my business plan has my family at the heart of it which really helps me make decisions about the type of work I want to take on, the hours i’m prepared to work etc. Early on I decided that my working hours would be 9-3 so I could do the school run and spend time with the kids after school. Now they are older, my day has extended to 8-4 but I don’t work evenings or weekends outside of that. Initially, this felt like it might restrict client interest but that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“My advice would be to make a plan that works for the whole family and then stick to it because that way you’ll create a business you love.”

“I also decided that I would only work in term-time so I could be with the kids in the holidays. So I blank out the holidays in my diary at the start of the year and don’t take any bookings during those blocks. Another tip you might like is to work out how much you need to earn a year and then divide this by the number or working months you have instead of by twelve. That way, so long as you’re meeting target, you will not feel guilty or worried about taking the holidays off with the kids.”

“What I love about what I do is that I get to work with a whole range of people, in lots of different ways but the theme running through it all is helping people feel good about themselves and being able to bring out the best in others.”

“I think that when you love what you do, the drive, motivation and commitment come easily and help sustain your business.”

“What I like about running my own business is that I get to decide what work I take on, when I do it and what new services I want to develop. I also get to establish really good working relationships with clients yet don’t get embroiled in the daily politics of the organisations. And, best of all, i’ve got the flexibility I wanted to support the kids as they grow up.”

“I’ve also realised through trial and error that it’s important to carve out ‘time for me’ in my diary so that I stay refreshed, relaxed and enjoying what I do. So, I have one day a week off to do whatever I feel will help me stay energised and attentive when I deliver my services and look after the kids. Sometimes, this can feel indulgent but then I remind myself that when we are running our own businesses, we can get overly focussed on meeting others needs and forget that we are the business and we need to take good care of ourselves.”

“And lastly, as mums, we know how important it is to have our network, for fun and for support and I have certainly found this to be true for my business too. I was a bit uncertain about networking initially but got out there and spent the first 6 months meeting lots of really interesting people. These have become friends, advisers, associates, referrers, and clients and I make sure I make time to keep in touch because it feels good to support others and you also need others as your business grows and develops.”

“So, my message to any mum looking to set up a business is ‘go for it’ and remember – how you think about yourself and your business is just as important as what you do with your business. Picture growth and success and enjoy the journey!”

Clare Manning

Owner of Manning Change

Coaching, Mentoring, Mediation and Training Services