Adaptability is a word we quickly learn as mothers, especially in the context of harmonising our career ambition and family life.
An astounding 30% of business-owning women start their own business while on maternity leave. Often prompted by the realisation that the corporate world may be unable to support their work and family life balance. An experience that we often hear from our community.
One Mums & Co member whose experience leaning into her freelance and consulting role has helped her redefine her idea of motherhood and business is Neva Read. Neva is the founder of the successful digital marketing agency, The Artful Brand.
00:01:10:21 - 00:01:12:00
Adaptability is a word we quickly learn as mothers, and this is never more true than in the context of our working lives. An astounding 30% of women start their own business while on maternity leave, usually after realising that the corporate world will be unable to support their work and family life balance. This is an experience I understand.
I founded Mums & Co when I was pregnant with my second son. And looking back now, I remember feeling fairly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responsibility on my shoulders. But I also had a deep feeling of trust that I was taking the right path. Five years on, and I'm glad to say I know that I made the right decision. When today's guest became a mum, she too quickly realised her corporate career no longer fit her family lifestyle.
Neva Read, launched a digital marketing agency, The Artful Brand, and says leaning into her freelance and consulting role, has helped her redefine her idea of motherhood and her business. She has also relied heavily on the Fiver Platform to connect with more customers and find clients. Welcome to the Mumbition Podcast, Neva.
00:02:14:19 - 00:02:19:01
Thank you, Carrie. I really appreciate it. I'm excited to be here now.
00:02:19:02 - 00:02:25:01
Our first question for any business owning mother, what's your 30 second elevator pitch?
00:02:25:03 - 00:02:43:19
Well the Artful Brand is a digital marketing agency. Providing unique approaches to create brand magic and transform native marketing. Which is aimed at leaving an emotional impact with a target audience that results in long term sales and loyalty.
00:02:44:07 - 00:02:49:09
Amazing. So Neva, what do you love most about your business right now?
00:02:49:16 - 00:03:16:13
I really love inspiring people to follow their dreams. I work a lot with startups and people starting their businesses. I also work with blue chip corporates, but where my real joy comes from is helping the entrepreneur who's stepping out. They don't know why they want to do it or how they want to do it and I love helping them sort of shape and design what their business looks. It is absolutely mind blowing.
I get to work across such a wide range of industries and sectors. At the moment I'm working with a company in New York, a company based out of Los Angeles and an Australian company. It’s interesting working and dipping into different industries. I'm in what people call the creator industry and it's really exciting. It’s what I love.
00:03:54:15 - 00:04:18:20
That sounds phenomenal. This whole transition for you from having this great career before your kids and then and then changing down that freelancing consulting path. It's very inspiring.
As Carrie mentioned in the introduction, it's something that so many of our members also experience after becoming mums. I'm just wondering what it is that you've had to stop doing in order to make this wonderful business of yours a success.?
00:04:27:05 - 00:04:53:08
That's a really good question. I think one of the biggest things that I had to stop doing was to stop getting scared of stepping out. Stepping away from corporate and into consulting or doing your own business is possible when you stop listening to that voice in your head that's telling you you can't do it. And say to yourself “I'm going to feel that fear and I'm going to do it anyway”.
It was quite a transition. It took months of practising, facing myself and going, I can do this, I can actually do this. It was baby steps into confidence. You’ve got all the knowledge you need at your fingertips.
But stepping out on your own without a team around you or without a CEO. It’s about building your confidence every day. I found when I meditated every morning and just take some time to really focus, calm myself down. It’s helped a lot with getting my confidence where it needed to be.
00:05:35:00 - 00:06:00:08
I absolutely love that. The baby steps to confidence is a great concept. Because as you say, you're running your own business, you're doing everything and it’s liberating. I absolutely love that you're using meditation to help you focus. I too am a very committed meditator and also tend to it more when I am at a time of stress in my own life.
00:06:10:21 - 00:06:32:22
It's a mindset switch and you can't do it on your own especially when you haven’t got the right voices speaking into your life. One of my biggest champions has been my husband. Having someone in your team that really pushes you along is amazing. Because when you're working by yourself and there are no other adults it can be lonely. So he's been the only person I can bounce things off. Making sure that you have a really great cheerleader beside you is also really powerful.
00:06:42:19 - 00:07:04:22
Wonderful point. Carrie mentioned that we love asking women to practice their pitch here at Mums & Co, but another part of that is because we love being able to make really meaningful interactions between our members and our community. So is there something that you would ask for right now in your business or your life that someone in our community could help you with?
00:07:06:24 - 00:07:29:00
I do run two consultancies. One of those is Artful Brand and the second one is Brand Ninja. I'm starting to do a lot more of what does it take to have a powerful brand that actually resonates with audiences?
I’d love to talk to the community and ask, What would you be looking for with advice on how to actually set up your brand or tell your brand story? Because that's what I actually help a lot of companies do. It would be great to get a sense of where everyone's at, what are the pains and the problems they're having? And then see how I can then help them from a brand strategy perspective, pull that together for them. So that would be really fantastic.
00:07:55:04 - 00:08:11:00
That's a great ask. The next question I have for you is what do you think your most powerful transferable skill is when it comes to business and motherhood?
00:08:11:04 - 00:08:35:22
I've got to keep a very strict schedule, and I think that was the biggest skill set that I took from the corporate world. I remember learning from the first CEO I worked with, she was amazing at teaching me how to manage my time and how to prioritise and make sure that you are balancing out all the important priorities of the day. Of course, making the kids feel like they're important as well, and not putting them to the side.
I'm waking up a little bit early in order to get their homeschooling done, some sometimes I'm working back a little bit later. But I'm also finding time for exercise. Fitness is that one thing for me that can actually allow me to unwind and have the energy to keep going the next day. So I think the biggest thing is organisation. Planning out your day was really what I've learned and what I've put into practice every day today.
00:08:57:22 - 00:09:24:07
I love organisation as well. It's something that we almost have to do with military precision sometimes. It’s certainly a really useful skill to have in both the worlds that we operate in. I got a sense before when you mentioned that your husband is part of your community. Our Co might be partners, friends and family, even our clients. Can you tell us a bit about your Co and how they support you?.
00:09:29:10 - 00:09:49:04
So I've got a few people. One of them, as I've mentioned is my husband, a brilliant cheerleader. One of the things I love about him is, he lets me fly. He just lets me come up with great ideas and just go with them. He's an amazing support.
Another person who's really fantastic is a girlfriend of mine who’s actually a business coach. I go to her a lot for things like sense checking, am I doing the right thing? Am I going in the right direction? We sense check each other at the beginning of the year and go through what are our plans for the year? She's also been an amazing support. And then I've also got lots of friends around me who are starting their own businesses.
We sit down and chat with each other. There's one person, in particular, we call each other probably every two weeks and we check-in. I think the importance of that connection, understanding the challenges and having a good laugh with a glass of wine is really powerful.
I think having community is so powerful. I think the people with you associate yourself with enrichn your experience of being a business owner. Don't be scared to reach out, talk, connect and laugh with someone else who is going through this similar journey. It'll be so worthwhile.
00:10:56:10 - 00:11:18:17
Such good advice. I absolutely love the power of laughter. I think we underestimate it way too much and it's very energizing. That actually brings me to the next question I was going to ask you about what you do to manage your own sense of well-being. You've mentioned some fabulous things already being meditation and exercise. What is something that you do every day that helps all of those things?
00:11:29:21 - 00:11:56:16
I think one of the absolute things that I had do is nail was my nutrition and fitness. It was I went through a bit of a health hiccup after having my second son and it was really important for me to find a solution that would keep me energised through the day. Something that would keep me focused, and it help me feel confident about myself. I think making sure that you're eating well, and you're adding a bit of fitness into your day is important.
Without fail I do an one hour of fitness every day. It relaxes me and helps me focus. I'm able to unwind and think through a lot of the things or challenges that I'm going through. I really encourage all women to really focus on what makes you feel amazing.
00:12:32:03 - 00:12:54:06
It’s amazing what the right foods can do almost instantaneously. There are so many things I think we need to consider when we're running a business. Wellbeing is one of them, but I'm just wondering if there's anything else that you do to protect your business from risk.
00:12:54:12 - 00:13:25:04
Good question. One of the things you can do to really protect yourself is forecasting. And when I say forecasting, it's looking into the future and understanding what do I want to achieve over the next couple of years. Then what are the challenges that I have to overcome and what are the possible risks to my business from a financial perspective, from a marketing perspective through to a sales perspective.
I encourage people to do this once a year. An annual health check on your business. How are you going? Where are the problems? What are the challenges and how can you fix them? That helps a lot in building up the risk aspect so that when you are hit with a crisis, you have a plan in place. It’s a really important part of what I call brand building. And building a brand that can be strong into the future by understanding what are the possible challenges you might have to overcome.
I also think that if you're a woman and you're naturally drawn to social media and being out there it’s also good to do a sense check on how you respond and how you act on social media. It can be a big downfall for a lot of businesses. It's an area that I'm particularly passionate about.
00:14:56:19 - 00:15:15:00
Brand risk is kind of underestimated. Great advice and thanks, Neva. I love to ask what's one thing that you tell yourself before making an ask in the business context?
00:15:15:05 - 00:15:39:13
I learned from one of my mentors that when you ask yourself what's new in your business. By doing this it almost changes your mindset and actually allows you to open up new horizons. What's new in the sense of, what are the new things that I could be looking for in my business?
What are the new trends that are coming up for the next couple of years? What is the new sort of consumer behaviours that I need to be looking out for? I think asking what's new allows you to stay a bit fresher, removes that whole thing of being stale from a business perspective is and it's always about transforming.
Business is all about transforming, reshaping and pivoting to a new normal. Lots of businesses have had to do that. And if you don't have that mindset of asking yourself what's new and learning and being curious then you're in trouble.
00:16:16:00 - 00:16:33:18
It's an amazing consideration. A great question to ask yourself. You were talking before about the importance of managing your social media as well, in terms of risk. But I'm just wondering what is an insight into Neva as a businesswoman and mum that we might not actually see on your socials for?
00:16:35:22 - 00:17:06:03
One of the big ones is that I really love being genuine. I'm about being real and I’m actually a little bit shy, believe it or not. I think what I've found is that by being true to myself, I've overcome that shyness and being genuine and being real and not adding on trying to fake it. I'm just who I am.
I just present myself as who I am and I found that I've accepted myself as who I am, and I think that's a big part. Also, being a business leader, is accepting who you are. It allows you to accept all those parts of you that allow you to lead others with a sense of compassion. That has been a genuine surprise for me that by accepting myself, I've actually become a better person and a better leader.
00:17:30:12 - 00:17:47:21
I absolutely love that advice. And it's so true that holding space for other people to be who they are is so much easier when you are okay with who you are. Absolutely, love that. Neva, is there anything in your business at the moment that you're promoting that you'd like to share with our community?
00:17:49:03 - 00:18:10:19
I do a lot of brand strategy work and I love it because it's helping businesses from the ground up really talk about understanding who they are and set themselves up for a really fantastic future. So I'm very open to businesses that I feel struggling with sort of who they are. What is there positioning? Do I actually have a message that stands out in the market?
I'm more than happy to help you. So I offer a brand strategy package. And if you mention Mums & Co when you enquire I'm happy to give a discount of 15% to every person who comes through. I want to really open businesses up and help them with your messaging, the branding and how they can go to market.
00:18:39:11 - 00:18:57:08
Now I know that you've learned from a lot of business owners as well and helped a lot, particularly through your work with the Fiver Platform. So to those that are considering starting a business, what's the most important tip for them in growing their business?
00:18:57:08 - 00:19:29:18
The first tip I'd say is to really nail your positioning. What is it that you're offering in the market? Why should people believe in you and what is different about you? I think understanding how you can find that gap and fill it is really important. Secondly is the professionalism in everything that you do from your emails through to your website, your written comms, your ads. Make sure that everything is just reflecting that professionalism and your ability to deliver.
The third thing would be your customer service. I think a lot of clients really need to nail this area and really understand that nowadays people want connection, especially in the world we line in now. Where people are very digital, they're not doing a lot of things face to face. They want to know that someone cares for them, is listening to them, and is connecting to them.
So making sure that the customer service aspect is really nailed is so powerful. I think customer experience, which is key, is going to be a really big factor in what makes businesses successful in the future. Making sure people feel taken care of, from your social media to answering emails within 24 hours to just being responsive. It’s going to be really powerful and make a difference in your business success.
00:20:20:12 - 00:20:41:08
I love how you described that connection and that care. Because it is that element where you are able to show that you do deeply care and that your customers are in the right place and that they're spending money in the right place too. At Mum's & Co, we talk about harmony as a triangle of ambition, of livelihood and of wellbeing. I'd love to hear how you describe the shape of a good life for you.
00:20:45:02 - 00:21:07:17
A good life for me is like a circle and I think a circle for me is really amazing because it's all about embracing and bringing people in and inviting them. I remember one morning my son was doing a home schooling exercise in which was asked How do you make people feel welcome?
And I really loved that because I think in the world again, I said, people are so disconnected. There's a sense of you versus them. I think where we can make a difference for all the members of Mums & Co is let's welcome people, let's bring them in this embrace them. So circles to me are so fantastic. You have circles of friends, you have circles of community, you have circles of business mentors. Make circles in your world and bring people in and you'll really get so much more satisfaction from it.
00:21:40:18 - 00:22:05:04
I really like the way you describe things, Neva. Speaking of circles, in the spirit of women supporting women, who are the people in your own network that you'd like to say hello to you at the moment?
00:22:13:03 - 00:22:38:02
The first one, hands down is my best girlfriend is Alicent Wong. She's a business owner. She runs Home, Cook, Love, which is a really fantastic platform where she sells sort of kitchenware and dinnerware. She's one of my best girlfriends and we talk almost every other day about business, about what's happening and what challenges we're facing. She's definitely in my inner circle.
I think one of the other people I'd like to shout out to is my sister. She's a content strategist. She's an absolute gun at what she does, but she's really growing in that sense of running her own business. She stepped out and started doing social media for a lot of clients.
She's amazing at it, but she's just doing it with so much compassion and care and it's actually getting so many results. I think I also want to shout out to both Carrie and Lucy at Mums & Co. I think you guys are doing a fantastic job at embracing women and bringing them into the fold and giving them the right skillsets to step out and be confident. So big shout out to you guys.