Podcast Show Notes - Episode 1 = An introduction to MuboApr 20, 2022
So in today's first episode of the MUBO podcast, I'm going to give you more of an introduction to me ‘Ceri’, what I do, the road that has got us and me here, to the point where I am doing podcasts, named after my business talking to other mums about starting and growing a business. I suppose to get back to the start of it, I have to rewind quite a few years but the most significant years have been the years where I have become the mum of my beautiful, sometimes slightly rowdy son ‘Fred’.
So I’ve actually worked in business development for quite some time, since before I had my son. I found out I was pregnant in 2014, and like, maybe like you, or your friends will have experienced this as well, when I found out I was pregnant I really started to worry about how I was going to manage to work after I had my baby.
My partner has his own business, he has a six day a week type of job. I was the one who was more flexible to be the ‘stay at home’ parent, and I wanted to be, I wanted to be at home with Fred as well, but I hadn’t really thought about the impact that was going to have on my career after I became a mother.
I live in rural South Wales, I had spent a large portion of my working career, working in some bigger cities so the jobs that were available local to me were not paying the salary I had been used to, just to be quite clear and upfront. Also throwing in the cost of childcare, and having no family close to me, meant I was looking at jobs, thinking “can i afford to go back to work?” it was going to be a really big deal. So, James and I decided to start a business together. He has 25 years of catering experience and I basically knew how to start a business. So i thought ‘how hard is this going to be’ i have worked in business development ‘I have got this’.
That's not really how it went so we dived in to that experience and set up this business, thought we had everything covered, what I wasn't really banking on was how much confidence, i had lost in that particular time of my life, really now in hindsight, coming out of my career, leaving a lot of my ‘work friendships and work family’ a people call them, really affected my confidence, and actually with hindsight i can also see that as a ‘workaholic’ a lot of my self esteem, my self worth came from my job and my career, what i was doing and what i was good at then when i didn't have that anymore and i was a mum to a small baby that never slept and i was a start up business owner, i suddenly was really not confident!
I felt like I needed my handheld to make a lot of decisions. Actually what I really wanted was for someone to tell me that starting a business when I had a child to look after was the right thing to do, because it felt really risky. I kept thinking ‘is now the right time?’ ‘i've got bills to pay’ ‘i've got a child to feed’ ‘am i ridiculous thinking i can do this’ and none of my qualifications, none of my experience, none of james’ experience, none of it really mattered, because i couldn't quiet that voice in my head, it didn't matter how much i wanted to give it a go, my own mindset around my business and my confidence around what i could do, was a massive boulder, that just landed in my path for both me and the business. I did what you might have done, and tried to get some support to start and grow my business. I did the usual routes, i went to my local council, my local authority and some large business support organisations and i remember having a meeting at a very business-y hotel near where I live, I remember going through all my trousers and seeing which ones would fit me, seeing if any had elasticated waists because none of my clothes would go anywhere near me. It was one of my first proper outings since I had started the business but also since having the baby. So I trekked off to this corporate hotel and I met this guy in the cafe, and I remember the look of horror on his face when he noticed that I wasn't carrying some weird bag contraption and I actually had a baby strapped to the front of my body. He asked me in that meeting if my husband was going to be coming to future meetings with me, big mistake! Also if the baby was going to be coming to all the meetings as well.
Now, a nearly 40 year old me with a much older child and much more confidence, would absolutely bat that back to him and be like, absolutely does not matter if my child is at a business meeting with me. But at the time, I remember feeling like I was never ever going to be able to make it, I just turned up to a business meeting with a baby strapped to me and the baby cried the whole meeting, who's going to take me seriously? Loads of chatter like that going through my head.
I just walked up a really big hill, I probably should edit this out but let’s be honest, I’m going to leave it in.
Anyhow, I had that meeting and it didn't deter me but I had to have a lot of conversations with myself about pushing my business forward at that point, because I tried to get support from quite a lot of places, and I could never get it, and instead of thinking there was something wrong with the support system, I kept thinking something was wrong with me and I know that might resonate with you, and a lot of you might think like this.
If something goes wrong or they can't access something or if something doesn't work, we blame ourselves. We don't look at the wider situation. Now, six years down the line, I can absolutely say that it wasn't me. I spent most of a year saying to myself ‘well, maybe I couldn't get support to start my business because my idea wasn't good enough’ ‘maybe I couldn't access support because i'm not good enough, it's not a good enough idea, my website is terrible. No one is ever going to buy from me. Blah blah blah, keep going keep going.’ and it just spiralled, now the business is a great business, it’s still trading yay! Even after covid! But I felt really disheartened, that I used to see these support organisations advertised everywhere, talked about by everyone, recommended, and I would look at them and think ‘but they couldn't help me, so where do people like me go to get help’.
So, 18 months after starting the business, we were looking for growth support, we were looking to take on our first premises, and take on additional staff. I got in touch with some organisations, again about helping us navigate that, because we had never done that kind of work before, and we didn't know the impact on the business. So I contacted organisations again, set up meetings in fancy hotels again, I turned up with Fred and met a man in a suit who didn't seem to understand me. And I remember sitting down with a guy who had actually printed off my website, which is quite a difficult feat and he had highlighted in red, all the words he felt made me very confident. He said to me `` you're very confident and bold with some of your statements you have on your website, what makes you confident?” and I knew in that moment that i wasn't going to get the growth support that I needed for my business, and again, I came away from that meeting disheartened, thinking what is wrong with me that i can't make this work, because other people seem to be getting support for their businesses, they are managing to grow their businesses and they're saying, these organisations help them, yet i'm here trying to get help and everything seems to be wrong. Nobody seems to be able to me.
As my business grew I was often asked to talk at events, always mums in business events, startup events, I was very much hailed as a mum who had a young child who managed to make business work. I was always asked the same questions by mums which was ``where did you get help and support to help you start your business?” and I would have to send them to the same places where I had gone, or tried to go to get help and support for my business and it hasn't worked for me. Occasionally some of those women would circle back to me and say ‘thanks very much, for that recommendation but i didn't find them very helpful, or get very far with it.’ and it used to really, piss me off that there were these organisations claiming to help, and i'm sure they did help some people but for people like me, it wasn't working, I couldn't understand why products couldn't be more up to date, i couldn't understand why more of their services couldn't be online, I couldn't understand why they couldn't send me an advisor who was like i was, it seemed so simple to me.
So, I started collecting data, because I am that geek. If you give me half an hour I will create a survey and I will distribute it to my friend and I will wheel that survey with power. I started my little survey around any female business owner I could find and within a couple of short weeks I had over 400 responses to that survey. I knew at that moment I was on to something that I had hit upon a problem and I knew it wasn't just me, that was the best feeling in the world, it wasn't me! There was a bigger problem.
From that survey, I started sending out my findings and my recommendations from my box bedroom- we didn't call them that but that's what they were, the corner of my box bedroom from my house in South Wales. From my bedroom I sent out those recommendations to some very fancy organisations, and the government, and a lot of people had a little call with me. They nodded and smiled when I talked about mums in business, but no one seemed to want to change anything. They weren't going to implement anything I had recommended, they kind of celebrated that I had got so many people interested in it, they said there was loads of support out there, I just had to access it, I took a big deep sigh and went back to my house.
One night I was sitting at my dining room table and said “Ceri, you can either carry on getting really bloody annoyed that no one wants to do anything about this, or option B you have to do something about it yourself”.
That night I set up a facebook page called ‘business mother club’ and I went on my facebook profile and told people what I was doing, I decided I was going to build a business accelerator for parents, I was going to build it myself and it was going to be all online, it would be up to date, relevant and I was going to build this community of mums.
Looking back at it now I'm like ‘Ceri, girl, you had no frigging idea what you were doing’ but I think that is where all the best ideas come from. I set up my facebook page and I did go on to build that accelerator and grow that community, and that is where I am today, and from that point I decided that I needed some money to help me build out a business and help me build out a business accelerator. I ran a 28 day crowd fund to raise money to build out that minimum viable product, the ‘MVP’ of our accelerator. Our crowd fund was successful, we were awarded the funds and I set about building the business. Due to a legal letter landing on my doorstep we had to change the name and it became ‘MUBO’.
MUBO is a non profit, social enterprise which is really important for me because I wanted everyone who became part of our community to know that this wasn't a business that was just created in order to line my own pockets, and ensure that I profited from it.
We pay me a wage, obviously- fantastic, I highly recommend you all have a wage from your business. But all the profit we make has a social enterprise come back into our business so that they benefit our community, and hopefully we go on to award grants and support mums with the small pot financial needs that they need to start their business. But i'm digressing,
We launched our website, we launched our accelerator, and the business has grown from there even with covid hitting, in fact I think covid hitting gave us more work because instead of just talking to women who wanted to start a business we were talking to women who were existing business owners, who really needed help and support to get through the pandemic and find information about what help and support was available at that time. Many of them had to pivot, a lot of them had to start something new, including me . It has been a crazy few years, but I'm so proud of MUBO.
I knew when I had the original idea that it was different from anything I had ever done before, and I had a lot of ideas. I'm an idea kinda gal. I knew MUBO was the one, and there is this energy around MUBO and you might have this around your own business, but when I have always talked about MUBO or talked about what I wanted to do I have a different energy inside I get filled up with the most excited energy and I always felt like for years all the work I was doing was pushing a boulder to the top of the hill, and then I got the idea for MUBO and I just released it and let it fly and I have been chasing after MUBO ever since, it almost has a life and power of its own and I absolutely love it!!
We have gone on to work with some amazing corporate partners all across the UK who really believe in our mission, to help more mums start and grow businesses.
We have worked with the national government, local authorities. We have on average trained 400 women a year on start up courses. I have gone on to mentor and join to boards of other female owned businesses, and it's gone on to be this huge adventure that started in that problemIi suppose, and deciding that even though I knew nothing about it I was going to be the person who was going to step in and take action in an area where I didn't think other people were taking action. I hope that makes sense.
Some of that might resonate with you because maybe you are at the idea stage with your business and you might be wondering whether it's the right thing to do for you, whether it's risky, your mum your dad, your friend, your aunt teresa might have told you ‘having a business not the safest idea, post pandemic, no sick pay all that kind of stuff. I know those thoughts weigh really heavy, because they used to weigh heavy on me.
Maybe you're not part of an entrepreneurial community, you don't know tonnes of business owners so you haven't seen what's possible, you might be looking at communities online and they are really glossy and everyone is talking about ‘7 figure launches’ and making millions and all this kind of stuff, and instagram posing and you might be thinking ‘jeez, I can barely shower and brush my teeth before 11 o'clock because the kids are crazy and you might feel like you don't fit there as well, but thats why MUBO exists and it's also why I want to do this podcast is because I don't believe you have to be perfect in order to create a strong and profitable business.
I'm not perfect, I'm a woman walking around a field with her phone attempting to create a podcast, picking up loads of feedback on her air pods, but we're going to do it anyway.
You don't have to be perfectly knowledgeable, you might think ‘do i know enough’ ‘ i'm not an expert’ ‘i'm not experienced enough’ ‘ I don't have the right qualifications’ well neither did I friend, neither did I.
I had a career in business development before so that kind of let me know some of the language that I leaned into, when I started to build out my business. But my experience of a business accelerator was the free one that was being run by my bank, and I thought I could do that, and I could probably do it better!! There were times where I thought “Ceri, you have no place doing this, you have no special skills, you didn't even pass GCSE maths the first time, who the hell do you think you are?’ and ‘who the hell do you think you are?’ is something that comes up often for me,
I think are people thinking about me- who the hell does she think she is?! Because I'm often walking into spaces where I don't know everything, but guess what? I don't claim to know everything and that's fine. What I do know is that people like me needed something differently, so I just set out to do that, maybe imperfectly. But those imperfect steps got me to where I am today, and actually the secret about business is, you don't have to know everything about your business! At some point you can bring people on board who know a lot more than you do and that's a really good idea, and that makes for a really good business.
So, some of that might have resonated with you. You might be here because your business is established, you might be here because you're trying to grow it, but you're shattered because the kids never sleep. Or you're working in school hours, I feel you. I do all those things too. And I hope that if you've listened to this and any of it has made sense to you or resonated with you then, I hope you keep listening.
You can follow us on social, we do a lot of stuff over on instagram but also on facebook you can find us @wearemubo and were going to be updating this podcast weekly, I would love to tell you that I knew what it was all going to be about but I don't. I'm taking imperfect action anyway. I hope that in this podcast can share with you some of my journey from building out multiple businesses, some of my experience in growing businesses, so pre- having my own businesses when I worked in business development when I worked in the areas I worked in was very much business growth and profitability, so I have done a lot of work around growth business strategy and diversifying income streams particularly with online businesses and online marketing and i’m a qualified business coach, I do a lot of work with mindset and confidence with female entrepreneurs, I do a lot of teaching for other organisations, so i'm going to bring all of that to the podcast and probably a bit more, because i’ll probably be telling you about the good, the bad and the ugly bits and I don't sugar coat anything.
Hopefully I will be bringing some lovely guests on as well, because I've got some amazing friends whom I have met on this journey who I would love to share with you, so thank you for listening to this podcast. It would make my day if you could tell a friend about it, tell me you’ve listened to it, maybe screenshot it and put it on social media, let me know i'm no recording these just for myself, and I Will be back next week where i will be walking around a field again, where I will be sharing more hints and tips and inspiration, to help you grow a business because you really deserve to.