Member success story – single mum in business created three female breadwinners, and has now hired a new member of staff who is pregnant

To try and articulate how immensly proud I am to share Laura’s story seems too great a task. Not only is she a single mum who faught to make work work for her and her family, she sustained, she grew, she employed, and during Covid-19 when the self-employed partners lost work, she created and sustained three breadwinners. To add icing on the cake she has now employed a new member of staff who is pregnant. That story will follow. I always wanted to showcase the single mums who dispel misconceptions that single mums are work shy living on benefits to get a free house. We are women, and amazing women at that! Here is what Laura says:

I remember distinctly, as I am sure we all do, listening intently to Boris Johnson telling us all that we are going in to lockdown and cannot leave our homes unless absolutely necessary.

As a small business owner with not only your own mortgage but also staff who rely on you to pay theirs, that is terrifying. But as a single-parent family, with no second income coming in to the home and two small children to support, it is……..well, I cannot think of a word that really sums it up, but it’s a million times worse than distressing or petrifying!!

Thankfully, I cope well in a drama (it goes with the job as a single parent!), so I took a pause and looked for a way through. I am fortunate that my business can be carried out remotely, but I did think that our clients may stop needing us or would see us as money they couldn’t afford to spend. I expected our revenue would last for a period, but then would take a sharp drop. We had to prepare for everything slowing to a grinding halt.

I had a pep talk with the two ladies who worked for me at that time, and I said that we had to keep going as long as we could. We had to bring in the revenue for as long as possible. We needed to work together and find a way to work around the new life balancing work, home, schooling, childcare etc etc. It just so happens that both ladies’ partners were self-employed and the nature of their work meant that they could no long bring in an income. Us women had to make it work for all of our families. We were all the breadwinners now.

We did make it work, we worked the hours we could, when we could. If my team had somewhere else to be and had to prioritise home, that’s what they did. We started early, we worked late, we stuck children in front of the TV sometimes, and sometimes we had to end client calls to deal with an upset child. We had a combined need to survive and we knew we would get through if we worked together and supported each other.

Fast-forward to 1st September and we are having the best year ever, having been in business for four years. We have moved into premises and hired another consultant. Business is booming and the phone doesn’t stop ringing. We remained present for our clients and their unique set of needs (some are booming, others are in crisis, and most are in between), and importantly, we were there for each other as team and helped one another, listened to each other when we’d had enough of lockdown (we all cried at some point!!).

I am incredibly grateful that we pushed ahead and didn’t stop, we seized every opportunity and made it work. We never accepted defeat, we never considered giving up. I maintained my business development activity and we found new ways to deliver to our clients. I will be glad to see the back of this year, but I will take forward my learning forever.

Laura Callaghan – Willow HR

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