The lockdown Swan, A new Business, a new Woman, a new Mother, The Power of Networking!

12 months ago you would never have been able to tell Shannon what she would feel like today. She was struggling with her full-time job in a school and battling childcare, home, life and work and she was desperate to take the plunge and use her incredible art skills to start her own hand lettering business. When our Surrey County Coordinator Lidia encouraged her to join the SMBN for a supportive community she did just that, and I am so pleased she did! We have watched this Cygnet find her Pen in more ways than one!

When Shannon joined the SMBN she lacked some confidence as a business woman and struggled to join the first meeting, she epitomised imposter syndrome, but kicking and screaming she was chucked in the deep end and forced to introduce herself as a business woman for our live recording! She was not glowing with confidence but that soon changed…



Shannon was already a winner in the eyes of the SMBN, her talent, her bravery, her lovely personality and incredible effort and website. She won a Highly Commended Accolade Award for Super Startup!


It was a real pleasure to commission Shannon to do the Name Place Cards for the 2020 SMBN Awards, and it was a job to help her see why she should not match typed pricing from Ebay or Amazon, this was Art, and she had to value her time and skill and charge properly for how long it would take her to hand letter each placard. Then, it was the interview on BBC Radio 2, to talk about her bravery in starting a business in lockdown and leaving her full-time job so that she could spend more time with her children with less stress over the holidays. You can listen to that interview HERE Shannon was starting to get her sparkle. She was over the moon with her new freedom and getting used to working full-time as the children were in school or sleeping. I encourage all of my members to join Twitter and LinkedIn as well as FB, it makes it much easier to tag them when sharing stories and helps them increase their audience. At this point Shannon had joined – but with her business logo as her profile pic! Our confident bunny had not quite come out of her shell yet, but, that was about to change…


As a mutual connection on LinkedIn, Paul Wakefield, who I had met a few months earlier, spotted Shannon’s potential and offered to work with her. Shannon wasn’t sure, but I reassured her that I had met Paul and trusted his core, his ethics, his reasoning. He is a business development specialist and founder of the FreedomPreneur Acadamy and he really took Shannon to the next level. With his specialist support, advice, butt kicking and encouragement Shannon really stepped up her business game, she created sales literature for business premise signwriting to ensure she wasn’t inhibiting her margins with placards and personalised diaries and within months she quoted for and completed her first commission for Dramatize Tea Room – Dramatize has been running since 2011, when Karen & Jo recognised the need for activities for adults with learning disabilities within the Spelthorne area. You can see the amazing artwork below:


Shannon is a woman, an incredible woman who took a very brave leap and has worked her socks off to make her dream a reality for her and her children. With her own blood, sweat and tears, hard work and determination, and the added benefit of getting out there and finding positive and encouraging community around her, Shannon is an inspiration to all mums, to all single mums, to all dads, to all artists, and to all primary carers who need to make work work because flexible working isn’t quite there yet! Well done Shannon, and I shall look forward to watching this space as you continue to flourish in your business and personal life.

Normally I just post blogs, but because I was being very personal about Shannon’s confidence I asked her to read the blog first to confirm that I would not embarrass her, and this is what she added:

What lovely words, thank you Julie Hawkins. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without the support of yourself and the SMBN family. I was so lost and confused at the start of my journey however with your support, radiant smile and encouraging words, you pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the spotlight (on many occasion), something I will forever be grateful for. When I think of that first live recording I cringe at how awkward I was as I struggled to even put a sentence together, it is however a good indicator of how much I have grown as an individual. 

As a businesswoman (and yes I can now confidently call myself that) I am no longer scared to talk about my business, sell my services or hold my own in business meetings, something that brings me great satisfaction. 

So if anyone needs support starting their business or help to scale it further, they really should reach out to the SMBN or Paul Wakefield. In the short time, I have been in business I have learnt how important it is to have a network of like-minded people backing your corner – so please don’t go it alone.  

If you want to commission Shannon for your business signage – visit her website HERE, or connect with her on LinkedIn HERE.


Do you want to be a Single Mum in Business? – Check out the Salary and Job Description (and join the SMBN if this sounds like you!)

Do you want to be a Single Mum in Business? – Check out the Salary and Job Description (and join the SMBN if this sounds like you!)
Hours – 119 to 126 per week (must not expect Sundays off)
Salary – £2.30 per hour OTE £30K +
Holiday Pay – No * Sick Pay – No * Perks such as Gym Membership or Costa – No
Bank Holidays – No * Annual Leave – Sorry, No (needy springs to mind)
You must be driven, able to work autonomously, and free to carry out emergency childcare (without taking any time off) in case of pandemic, 13 weeks of school holidays, in-service days or sickness.
If that sounds good so far and you meet the job description below (read on) – you may want to join your comrades in the SMBN!

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2020 – The Year We All Made History. 2021, The Year of Imminent Fun

We have all fought this year. We all have our own personal challenges and triumphs. The main thing is that we are here to tell the tale. We all know the dance isn’t over, but we all know it will be soon. Whatever you have survived for 9 months, you will survive for 3 more. The human timescale for rebirth and readjustment. A future that learns from the past..

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I should never have been on benefits, but lack of flexible working cost the tax payer thousands…

I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ON BENEFITS, BUT LACK OF FLEXIBLE WORKING COST THE TAX PAYER THOUSANDS…

I was blissfully unaware of issues surrounding flexible working in my 20’s and early 30’s. As I was blissfully ignorant and judgemental around benefits. I had been quite happy for 20 years in my 9-5 (or more like 8-8), and short of wishing it was a four day week, so that I could get things done, like mortgage phone calls and fridge deliveries or electrician appointments etc, I wasn’t too troubled, as at least I could swim at 7am and visit the gym until 9pm.. it was when I became a single mum, I realised I was living this crazy world of presenteeism, that actually destroyed so many people!

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SMBN MEMBERSHIP – PROFIT OR PURPOSE?

For our children, we work together, for change, for a better life. PARENTING SHOULD NOT CARRY A FINANCIAL PENALTY, We NEED to create tomorrow’s carers, nurses, shopkeepers, vets, cleaners, administrators ETC. We have to continue the life cycle! and we SHOULD not be dismissed for doing it!

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SMBN Awards 2021 – New Sponsor – Laura Callahan, Willow HR

When Laura joined the SMBN in 2019, I could not have imagined how supportive she would be. She has offered guidance, coaching, she always wants to find ways to support me and my other members, and I have a had a front row seat as she has expanded her own business, and supported so many families through such a difficult year. She not only won the Family Employer of the Year category 2020, she has now pledged her support for the 2021 Awards by sponsoring the same category. Membership fees are so low for the SMBN, at only £5pcm, and without any charitable status or Grant support, outside of my own income I am cannot express my gratitude for sponsors enough

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Award Entries now OPEN

The awards are FREE to enter and the event will be kept as cost. The event is early evening for parents AND children. We already have some great prizes and will continually look for support to make sure amazing memories are created for these children watching their amazing single mums!

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