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Anna’s Story of Getting Started with Merbabies
Swapping the office & corporate life for a swimming pool & 3 large bags of toys!
Everyone knows running your own business is hard work, building your own start-up is even harder right? Add being a parent to two very small people, a husband who also runs his own business and entering a brand new industry into the mix and I must admit I did wonder (more than once) if I was having some kind of temporary madness / mid-life crisis when I resigned from my long term corporate job during my second period of maternity leave, leaving a job that I had previously loved to run my own baby swim school, without so much as batting an eyelid.
When it came time to plan my return to work my son was six months old and my daughter had just started pre-school. Going back to work after my first maternity leave was hard. Going back after my second leave just did not feel like an option. It wasn’t so much a rational decision not to return, more that the only viable option was to do something else. I wanted to use all of my professional skills and experience to be successful and secure a great future for my family, but I didn’t want to commute, travel internationally, or in fact do most of what I had been doing in my previous role. And after having managed other people’s businesses, I was 100% certain that I wanted to run my own business. I needed something which was professionally rewarding, but would also fit with my new phase of life.
I’d been taking my son to swimming lessons, which were really magical, there’s something about the skin to skin contact, the non-verbal communication the eye-contact, it really is just a lovely experience. And of course a very rewarding one as babies develop and progress so quickly. I knew there was an opportunity to take over the existing business as the business owner was looking to move on, and I was confident I could grow it into a sustainable business, so jumped straight in at the deep end! It’s become a bit of a ‘Mumpreneur’ cliché now but when I signed the paperwork on Merbabies on day one I was feeding my son at the same time. (He also filled his nappy just to keep it real before I got too carried away with being #Blessed) It felt fantastic to have him with me. He’d been with me at lessons, he’d snoozed in his cot as I’d written the business plans and was there giving me encouraging gummy smiles for this stage too.
Eight months in I’m working hard and there are never enough hours in the day but this is true for any working parent. Unlike lots of working parents, I have complete flexibility to plan my working week exactly as I need it to be, to get everything done and also spend time with my children. I’m happy and they are happy. I’m also doing a job I love, and growing a successful, ethical business that I am really proud of, and have complete autonomy over.
My biggest (and happiest) surprise so far is actually how many of my skills have been transferable and helpful to me in quickly establishing and growing Merbabies. Who’d have thought there was so much cross over in running an international medical recruitment business and delivering baby swim lessons! There has definitely been lots of learning, and some challenges along the way but in the time that I have been doing this I have never once questioned or regretted my decision. I know unequivocally that what I am doing feels right, both professionally and personally. The freedom, the opportunity, and the full weight of responsibility is refreshing, invigorating and energising, as well as slightly terrifying, but I quite like that mix.
So, my advice is, if you want to make a change in your life and you have the drive and ambition to make it happen, go for it!