Advice for Aspiring Mumpreneurs
Mumshape founder Lisa recently spoke at the Female Founders in Tech panel. An event hosted by Embolden_Her, an organisation who are on a mission to foster the next generation of female leaders in tech. Their goal is to connect and support women to empower each other and create powerful relationships in order to bridge the gap and break the ‘glass ceiling’ in the world of tech for women helping them to become leaders in their field.
Speaking about MumShape and how she got started in the Tech Industry Lisa offered helpful insights for any mum or mum-to-be looking to start their own business. She discussed challenges she encountered, lessons learned, how to get funding and finding the right balance between work and motherhood.
Lisa comes from a background in design and architecture. She started Mumshape out of her own need to stay physically and mentally fit when she had her daughter.
With no experience in running a tech startup and no previous background in health, she started on her journey to make fitness and wellbeing more accessible to pre & postnatal women with a simple map platform where mums can search for and book local fitness classes.
Following growing demand and such amazing responses from both mums and gyms, she is now launching her MumShape app platform at The Baby Trade Show at the end of this month with new and exciting added features.
Challenges and lessons learned
Naturally, it can be very challenging for anyone to start a business, especially being a mum.
Lisa started her journey with little experience so she had to learn as she went along. It takes a lot of time, dedication and reading to become an expert in the field you want to go into.
“I think the whole journey has been a challenge, I am doing everything for the first time. Raising a baby and running my own business, every day I find new challenges to overcome, you need to be persistent, resilient and ambitious to see it through”
In the male-dominated business of tech, a (single) mum can often be overlooked and not necessarily be taken seriously, Lisa mentioned that the biggest challenge she faced was how to approach investors and make them believe in her idea and that she was dedicated and had a strong work ethic.
One tip that Lisa uses is to look at investors as ordinary people, we all have dirty laundry at home, everyone has problems or issues they may be dealing with. Placing yourself in the other person's shoes and speaking to them as equals help level nerves or worries about how they are perceiving you and how to speak with confidence.
You can start by getting advice from friends and family, they can be your advisors and help you determine the first steps.
In a book called (Lean In Women, Work, and the Will to Lead)- there is an interesting chapter on how women and men perceived mentorship differently, it explains that most women feel they need to go out and find a mentor in order to become successful but suggests that if you are good and passionate about what you do, mentors will find you themselves.
However this goes without saying, they won't find you at home. Attending networking events that are relevant to your field can help you find people who are willing to give you advice and there are plenty of free resources online so talk to as many people as you can.
Lisa started her business whilst on maternity leave. She was faced with a decision whether to go back to her old job or find another way to support her and her baby. Thanks to special government schemes and funding she had the financial freedom to look after her child and focus on getting her business off the ground.
During the panel, she mentioned The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which was created to offer great tax-efficient benefits to investors. By investing in a small and early-stage startup in the UK the investors would in return benefit from tax reliefs making it very attractive to potential investors.
There is a lot of support out there for anyone who is willing to dig deep and look for it, so make sure you do your research and consider all your options.
How to balance work and life
Sometimes we get so involved in our work trying to juggle everything at once. We often forget to take a moment for ourselves. This can cause a mental burnout which puts a strain on both your mental and physical health as well as the quality of your work.
“allow yourself to take a break and recognise when you need to take a step back”.
By setting aside a few hours in the evening, to eat dinner with your little one, bath them and put them to bed, it allows you to step back from work and spend quality time with your baby, helping you bond and allowing you to reset.
Don't be afraid to accept help from those around you. In Lisa’s case, it was from her neighbors, who offered to help look after her little one so that she could have an hour or so to go out for a run to clear her mind and gather her thoughts and get a bit of work done.
Lastly, and very simply, breathe. It may sound obvious, but taking in a few deep breaths helps with your concentration as it increases blood flow to the brain.
As an entrepreneur, you will face many setbacks and people telling you to give up. If you have an idea and ambition, follow your gut. Hard work and a few sleepless nights do pay off if you are persistent. Find something that motivates and drives you, write them down and manifest them into reality. The journey will be hard work, but the pay off and freedom will be worth it.
If you have any questions for Lisa, share them in the comments below, we would love to hear about your journey.