After being made redundant while pregnant with her second child, Jody Allen turned a simple Facebook page about money-saving tips into a thriving business.
She’s now an in-demand author and the brainchild behind the phenomenally successful lifestyle site Stay At Home Mum, which boasts more than a million browsers every month.
As part of our ongoing Mumpreneur series, Jody takes time out of her busy day to share some of her secrets.
1. Tell us about your business and how you got started
I had been looking for a business to start for 12 years, but as I had zero funds, even when my husband and I found a great business, there was no way to afford it. After having two babies in 12 months and being made redundant from my job, I started a group on Facebook about saving money at home – and called it Stay at Home Mum. Really it was for selfish reasons, I wanted help for myself. But I inadvertently created a hub for all Mums wanting the same thing.
It grew, and grew, and grew….. And six years down the track, we have 16 full time employees and have over a million unique users per month on the Stay at Home Mum website.
I still work from home, from a spare bedroom in my home in Gympie which is in rural Queensland. I get to wear my pj’s or tracksuit pants to work and sit on Facebook all day talking to other Mums, it is so much fun, hard work too of course learning how to run a business when it was all new to me. Plus I’ve become an author of a book – something I have wanted to do since I was five years old!
2. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever got?
My Dad always told me ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get’. He instilled in me a great work ethic that I still have today. I do work damn hard. Some weeks I clock over 100 hours…. But I figure, I’m giving this thing a red hot go, and now that I have employees who have children to feed, I can’t let them down. Plus you really do have to love it…
3. What’s the best secret you’ve learned to running a successful business from home?
I’ve learned that you don’t have to live in Sydney or Melbourne, or even a capital city, to run a great business nationwide. Thanks to advances in technology (ie Skype, Facebook Chat) – I can talk to clients and staff face to face from my spare room. Gympie is a tiny little town, and we have a terrific quality of life, housing is cheap and food is fresh and available literally from the farm next door. So I think I get the best of both worlds.
Plus I don’t have the expenses of a big office and all that goes with it. It has been my dream to work from home (I’m a real homebody) – and seriously, if it wasn’t for the kids school drop off every day, I would never leave!
4. What’s the best money habit every smart businesswoman should adopt?
As much as you might hate looking at the finances of a business (and I seriously HATE IT) – keep a close eye on the money. I’ve had staff spend more than they should on advertising. And if you don’t keep it in close check, it can easily get out of control.
I’ve also learned that if you aren’t good with money, employ someone who is! I now have a full time Bookkeeper that I sit next to that treats the company money like her own, she is a bulldog at debt collection and keeps me in the loop with every dollar. That is simply invaluable!
Know where your money is going.
Plus I know they say to pay yourself first, but I don’t. My staff come first…. I’d rather eat cup a noodle soup for weeks and know that they are eating well (and I’ve done this many a time I can tell you!!!!!). Good staff are the backbone to every business, I couldn’t do it without them. And if they know you are putting your money where your mouth is, they respect that more and are more willing to help you when times get tough.
5. What is the secret to keeping your career and home life in balance?
That’s tough. I try, I fail. I keep trying. My kids come first – and I try and work around them. But they also know that if I don’t work, we don’t eat… So they have learned that Mum and Dad (my husband is the General Manager of Stay at Home Mum) are working to put food on the table and pay for their swimming lessons and school fees.
I have learned that I can burnout if I’m stressed. I have burnt out on a few occasions. Now, I get up every hour and spend 15 minutes doing some housework or something else ‘normal’…. I don’t have a cleaning lady or help – I’m still a Mum and wife and have to do all the stuff busy Mums do – and that keeps me grounded. Plus secretly, I love being a housewife.
6. What’s your advice to others thinking about becoming a Mumpreneur?
Don’t think you will get rich overnight. You won’t.
Don’t think that it will happen overnight. It won’t. It takes time. It is like a snowball though – so keep on keeping-on.
If you ask someone for help, and they do, make sure you repay that debt.
Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your entire life.
Haters gunna hate. There will be people trying to bring you down. Give no fucks to these people. This is what a middle finger is for.
Do do it because you love it – because you need to do it. Because you want to change the world.
You don’t need money, experience or even talent to do well. All you need is tenacity.