Archive for August, 2012

female breadwinners

Walking the female breadwinner tightrope – 5 steps to getting the balance right

  • Feeling guilty about being a working Mum?
  • Torn between family commitments and work?
  • Thrust into the role of breadwinner when your partner has retired or become ill?
  • Non existent work life balance?

You are not alone, a fifth of women in the UK are the breadwinner, and the number is growing.

Not sure if the term breadwinner fits for you? If you’re a working woman from any background, class, heritage and culture, married or co-habiting, with or without children, and you are the main or sole income earner in your home, then I am talking to you. Surprisingly, being a female breadwinner is one of the last taboos in society.

Often juggling work, life and family in secrecy, you’ll rarely discuss or seek coping strategies for your complex role in the world.

Rhonda, a successful business woman, working in a male dominated environment, with a child under one year old sums up the challenge of being the breadwinner eloquently:

“By being a working career woman or career mum, I’m trying to get the best out of both worlds. I’m trying to be true to who I am, not to who other people want me to be or what people think people I should be. And that is difficult”

Jenny Garrett, executive coach and author of Rocking Your Role, the ‘how to’ guide to success for female breadwinners, shares 5 tips to success from her experience of coaching hundreds of female breadwinners.

1. Check Your Ego

Victoria, a 40 year old entrepreneur with one child, has a growing training company found that earning the bulk of the income was giving her an over inflated ego, she decorated her home around her husband, after all it was ‘her’ money. It’s only when the cracks started showing in her relationship that she realised her husband was resenting her behavior.
The combination of your role at work and being the breadwinner at home can become a heady cocktail intoxicating you into thinking that you are the only one who has something valid to say in your relationship. If you notice yourself thinking that your opinion is the only one matters because you’re the one holding the purse strings, it’s time to check your ego.

2. Drop the Superwoman Syndrome

Femi, an accountant, in her thirties with two boys, found that her husband was waiting for her to come home to decide what to cook for dinner. She understood that she had created this problem, always wanting to be in control and make sure things were done ‘properly’. She had to take a step back and give her husband permission to cook.

“Now the children are fed before I get home in the evening, it’s not always what I would have chosen, but they’re happy and healthy and it’s one less thing for me to worry about.”

Listen and listen carefully, it’s OK not to be able to do it all. Repeat after me, it’s OK not to be able to do it all. Now say it out loud, it’s OK not to do be able to do it all. Trust others to do it their way, you might even learn something.

3. Talk about money

Andrea said:

“subconsciously I just don’t talk about any element of my work success. I would say I work mainly because it’s interesting, it’s never because it’s financially lucrative, it’s paid for the extension or it’s paid for the car”.

Don’t let money be the elephant in the room, talk about money with your partner. Decide who manages money, how it’s managed and how you will make financial decisions. Ensure you have two-way communication about finances, your relationship and your work.

4. Look after your spiritual, physical and mental well-being

Connie, married with grown up children, has a senior strategic role in education. She found that contracting our chores like the gardening and visiting the hairdresser were life savers for her.

“That little bit of me time restored my sanity”

You physical, mental and spiritual health are critical, investing in you now will avoid painful derailment of your work and family life later. Take time for you, it could be with dance classes, developing yourself through courses, dates with your partner or even full on retreats. My thing is meditation.

Do whatever restores balance, gives you space to breathe and let go of all the roles you play in life.

5. Ditch the Guilt

Sally, an interim manager recalls times when she was trying to work with the children climbing on top of her for attention. She has come to recognise that it is quality rather than quantity that matters.

“We’ve had really good weekends where I’ve just been able to focus on the family possibly better than if I spent more time with them feeling distracted. Yes, I think I’m finally learning that one”

If you’re feeling torn between many roles, such as: spouse, carer, mother, home-maker, career woman, guilt will drain your energy and take away from the freedom up have to enjoy your life and time with loved ones. Choose quality time over quantity of time.

Author: Jenny Garrett is a female breadwinners and leadership specialist, and motivates women to live their best life. She is the author of ‘Rocking Your Role’, she’s appeared on Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ and mentors for the Cherie Blair Foundation. Find out more about her, and her specialist programmes and one to one coaching at Reflexion Associates

Jenny has kindly offered to give away a  free 30 minute One to One Rocking and Shocking Consultation via Skype, and a copy of her new book ‘Rocking Your Role’, to anyone signing up to our Monthly Update in September. Read more 

Looking for more tips, guidance and insights on Navigating your Career and Children? Why not join us for a high-impact fun workshop on 9 October in Central London. Speakers from Ernst&Young, Sapphire Partners and more






Returning to work: from investment analyst to on-line entrepreneur

Returning to work: from investment analyst to on-line entrepreneur

Amanda Seabrook is a 38 year-old mother of 3. Returning to work to work after a 7 year gap, she founded Workpond, a new online job site for flexible work. Her story isn’t short of large amounts of juggling, much frustration and a lot of determination, as she explains how she has got to the point of starting her own business on-line.

I imagine there are many mothers out there who, like me, have felt the frustrations of not finding work flexible enough to fit in with motherhood. I started my career in the financial world in 1996 and worked my way up the ranks. Having worked in Sydney at ABN AMRO Asset Management as an Investment Analyst, my husband and I decided to move back home to the UK when expecting our first child in 2003. Being four months pregnant, it was hard to look for a job from scratch, so we decided that I would take a career break and face the challenge of raising a family head on.

The Career break

Once all three of my children were born, what I had intended to be a short career break had become a 7 year gap. Like most mothers, I had spent much time wondering what I could do once the kids were at school, believing that I would need to start my career again from scratch in a more flexible industry, or where I could be self-employed. What I really wanted was to use some of my existing skills. I felt strongly that my job should:

a) not be full-time, to allow for school holidays

b) not involve a time consuming commute, and

c) allow flexible hours so I could manage the school run.

Starting a new business – get all the help you can!

My interest in the flexible employment market (or the lack of one) quickly became a passion and I began researching it in depth. It soon occurred to me that there is great demand throughout the country for flexibility, both from men and women at all stages of their career and from businesses large and small. I thought that I would have a crack at helping these people by making it simple and low cost for businesses to find them and give them the opportunity to market their skills to businesses.

With the blessing of my husband (once he had scrutinised my business plan) and the help of a part-time nanny, I scraped together as much money as I could find, and went about setting up the company. At first I felt daunted but within a few weeks I felt exhilarated by my new role and having the freedom to work through problems at my leisure. After 7 years of raising children it was a luxury to be able to work again. Luckily I had an army of friends willing and able to help – accountants, editors, PR, HR and marketing professionals, computer science graduates, experienced entrepreneurs, management consultants. They all stepped in willingly and lent me their experience – the vast majority of whom were sourced from the playground.

With all the planning and web-design completed, we were ready to launch. Workpond is an online marketplace helping businesses find experienced professionals who want to work flexibly and high calibre individuals find stimulating flexible roles, but on Day 1 it had no candidates and no roles. I quickly had to learn marketing from scratch, so to help me I brought in an expert – another mother of 3, Sara Acworth, with a terrific marketing background. With her she brings not only skills and experience, but enthusiasm and ideas. Prior to Sara joining, my husband had to endure the regular evening download – absolutely the last thing that he wanted – and a far cry from the good old days when I would welcome him home with his pipe and slippers! Having Sara to share it with means that I can now spare him the detail!

Very quickly Sara got us all hooked up onto the different social media platforms, and we got working on face-to-face marketing to businesses. Steadily the numbers of candidates have grown, the majority of whom have fantastic professional experience. We are marketing these high calibre professionals to start-ups and high growth small companies that can gain enormous benefits from employing flexibly. As a result we have a broad range of fabulous roles coming onto the site.

So, where are we now?

We are still right at the start of our journey and have a long way to go. We are receiving support from partners, who believe that flexibility will play a large part in the future of work.

Where are we going?

We aim, to make it simple and affordable for businesses to access the skills of experienced professionals on an interim, contract or part-time basis. As a result, we hope to act as a catalyst for the flexible employment market.

Am I enjoying it?

Absolutely – sometimes I feel that I could do with fewer ‘balls in the air’, but I am my own boss, working flexibly from home – perfect.

How does the family feel about it?

My husband believes in Workpond, so supports me in it. He helps me keep the work/ life balance that I had aspired to, but now find hard to achieve. My youngest, who is 2 would really love to have more time with me, so I try to make sure that he gets lots of one-on-one when I am not working.

My elder two, who are 7 and 8 hardly notice as they have fairly long days at school. They are very interested in Workpond and ask a lot of questions, which I always answer. I can see early entrepreneurs in them both – trying their luck at selling home made nettle-tea to the brave and cleaning our friends’ shoes.

What would I say to anyone considering starting their own business?

  • Keep it simple
  • Make sure you have the support of family and friends
  • Make sure you are happy with your childcare arrangements
  • Make sure you can afford it – most businesses are much slower to generate revenue than you have forecasted
  • Make sure you are resilient – there will be downs as well as ups
  • Listen to advice, but only follow the bits that you really believe
  • Once all those are in place GO FOR IT!

Author: Amanda Seabrook is the founder of Workpond, a new online market place for part-time and flexible work. Find out more about Workpond and how we can help you with your career.

9 tips on balancing family life and business

9 tips on balancing family life and business

Wondering how a father working from home balances work and family? Check out these 9 brilliant tips from David Risley. Doing some of those took me the better part of 2 years to learn, but from personal experience I can tell you they all work.

Read more on David Risley’s Blog