Launch Interview: Motivating Mums Launches their Mumpreneur Mentor Scheme

Clare Oliver, Laura Tenison and Alli PriceAfter mumsnet hosted live webchats last month with Gordon Brown and David Cameron, it is believed that the site can greatly improve people's participation in politics.  So it seems the Prime Minister has recognised the rising power of geek mums as they work together in communities for the greater business good, and just looking at the wealth of support coming from, and going to mums on the net, he is spot on.

Today Alli Price, Founder of Motivating Mum, launches the Motivating Mum Mentor Scheme for businessmums.  Aimed to prevent the reinvention of the wheel, the scheme is amazingly cost effective and has some high-profile mentors already signed up, including Laura Tenison of JoJo Maman Bebe.  Here, Alli Price talks to The NextWomen about the potential isolation when starting a business on your own, the importance of mentoring in the 21st century and how people should learn to ask for what they want.

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Tell us about yourself – your background and education

I have a Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management and Catering and initially worked in the marketing department of a 4* hotel in Melbourne, working my way up to Marketing Manager.  After a few years, I returned to school to study Film and TV and then worked as a Production Manager in a Production Office, also in Melbourne, making TV commercials, corporate videos and pilots.

After years of talking about wanting to travel, I finally left in 1998 aged 28 for a trip to Sweden to edit a film for a friend.  The film didn’t work out but the backpacking bug had well and truly bitten and five years later I had been to much of Western Europe, America, India, Nepal, Fiji, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Slovenia and Poland.  Although I had worked a lot in the corporate sector, I realised that I was only truly fulfilled when helping people so trained to be a life coach.  I completed my training at the same time as giving birth to my daughter and launched Motivating Mum.

What is Motivating mum? When did you launch and what are your objectives for the next three years?

pic_alliprice_daughterInitially, Motivating Mum was a coaching service for mums, whatever stage of pregnancy, launched in 2006.  However, running a business from home, coupled with looking after my daughter full-time quickly revealed how lonely and isolating it can be, being a Mumpreneur.  In the belief there must be other mums out there like me, I launched the Businessmums’ Networking Lunch, a chance for mums to get out of the house, network and rest assured they weren’t the only crazy ones.  The first lunch attracted 45 mums!

Following three years of mixing with Businessmums, I recently relaunched my service as a website offering support and advice to Mumpreneurs.  The site consists of mentoring with established businessmums, a forum, articles and features and details of events now being held across London.

My objectives for the next three years are to provide Mumpreneurs with a service tailored uniquely to them.  This includes providing mentoring and events for an exceptionally good price (as mums in business traditionally don’t have a lot of disposable income), having events offered across the UK (as although online support is great, it doesn’t combat the isolation), developing the forum to a point where mums can connect, network and help each other succeed and have each and every visitor to the site or an event walk away with whatever it is they need: a connection, information, inspiration.  Lastly, it is to always be accessible.  My pet hate is trying to contact businesspeople and their websites offer plenty for you to buy, but no details for contact.

What is your business model and how do you differ from your competitors?

logo_motivatingmum_high resMy business model is to help Mumpreneurs.  Everything I have done to date has been a case of trying to help fill a need or offer a service and I have had success with this approach as a result.  I feel I differ from my competitors in that I always try to maintain approachability no matter how busy I get, I don’t charge membership fees for my services and I encourage face-to-face meetings in addition to online connections.  I like to feel that my site is set up to offer support and advice, first and foremost, not to simply make as much money from people while I sleep.

What were your start-up costs and how were they funded?

My start-up costs were minimal as I only needed a website and business cards.  The re-launch of my site and other investments have all been funded through money raised by the business.  I am lucky in that the most expensive thing required of me for the success of my business was my time.

You are about to launch your Motivating Mum mentor scheme for businessmums and already have some great names onboard like Laura Tenison of JoJo Maman Bebe. How important do think mentoring is in the 21st century and how have you secured your mentors?

screenshot_motivatingmum_croppedI think mentoring is extremely important in the 21st century for Mumpreneurs, as having a mentor addresses many issues including time, confidence and money.

Mentoring can:
•    Help mums starting out in business, as many reinvent the wheel.
•    Give them the confidence to achieve their dreams as a lot of mums have been out of the workforce for a long time bringing up children or are launching businesses in fields they have never been trained.
•    Save mums money as support is offered across the full spectrum of business and can save them having to take on accountants, lawyers, business consultants etc.
•    Provide them with a ready-made network (the mentor and any contacts they are introduced to through the process).

The way in which I secured my mentors was by asking.  I think a lot of people underestimate the power of just asking for what you want these days.  It also helps that mums in business, in my experience, are extremely generous with their time and experience.  Laura Tenison had already donated her time to speak at two Businessmums’ Networking Lunches, simply to help other mums starting out.

You are charging £20 for a 30 minute phone session.  What is your business model that allows this bargain price to work?

My motivation is that I have the greatest interest in helping mums and I am one of those people that is happy to earn enough to have a roof over my head, happy family and keep my business ticking over.  I am not on a mission to make a million pounds.  I arrived at the price after considering what I felt Mumpreneurs could pay, what I would like the mentors to make and then what I would get.  My aim is to get a lot of mums using the service and then this will benefit everyone involved as a result.

How do you match your mentors and mentees?  Does the process allow either party to refuse the match?

Mentees can search through the site by category i.e. sales, manufacturing and read the career bio and personal information on all mentors listed.  They then book the mentor and complete an information sheet for the mentor prior to the session.  The mentor is able to refuse the match, although I have yet to have this happen.

Do you make use of social networking or is this not necessarily a tool that works for your business?

I was very resistant of Twitter initially as I just couldn’t see how it would work for business when all it seemed people tweeted about was when they last burped!  However, since joining I have found it very helpful for making new contacts, attracting visitors to my site and furthering my aims of helping mums in business.  I am still trying to get my head around it and, at times, find it very difficult to keep up – especially when I am also trying to blog – but all in all I would recommend social networking to anyone in business.  I would just suggest making sure you have a very clear vision of what you want to achieve before you start.

Have you always had the entrepreneurial bug and have you had any mentors along the way?

My whole working life I have always been the type of person to perceive opportunities for starting my own business but becoming a mum gave me the time and flexibility to finally go out on my own.  I haven’t had any mentors myself but have picked up numerous tips and advice from all the amazing mums I’ve had speak at my lunches and all those I’ve met in the three years running my business.

On a lighter note, name one website you wish you’d founded

mumsnet.com – Carrie and Justine have done an incredible job of creating a thriving community and I’m sure they have helped, and continue to help 1000’s of mums.

Any Female Internet Heroes?

Sarah Tremellen of bravissimo.co.uk has built an amazing online business, Antonia Chitty of ACPR uses the internet really effectively running her website, selling e-books, blogging and tweeting.  I have only just connected with Cally Robson of shesingenious.org but she’s a wealth of information.

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