By Holly Gould (Hair by Holly Gould)
If you were anything like me before parenthood, full-time work was the norm, with endless workweeks, mundane chores on days off and of course a busy social calendar! Life is most certainly different these days and I love being a mum to my beautiful son, Tanner. It truly is something amazing and my heart has exploded with love I never knew existed. I now work for myself as a mobile hairdresser on the stunning South Coast of NSW, choosing my own hours, expressing my creativity and making new friends. Life is good!
Here’s my story, perhaps you can see yourself in it!
I had worked full time for twelve years before I had my son and when finally, the much anticipated maternity leave arrived, I found myself questioning what on earth I was going to do with myself, up until the impending arrival of my little love. Here I was in the middle of a scorching summer, sweating profusely, waddling, and what seemed like my only hobby... watching my ankles slowly disappear! Who had time for hobbies anyway? I had never really given much thought to these fantasies as I would always say yes to extra shifts at the last minute or fill in quickly escaping minutes to catch up with family or friends to feel I had some sort of a life left!
When my boy arrived, I was suddenly thrust into the world of motherhood assuming I would have infinite time, drink coffee all day, read books and play with my beautiful baby, or so I thought… Instead, reality called and now I was more time poor than ever and couldn’t keep two thoughts in my head as my brain slowly started to resemble that of a gold fish.
As the parental leave was disappearing at an alarming rate, I found myself getting pangs of anxiety at the very thought of going back to work! With little eyes staring back at me, I had adjusted to my new lifestyle as a mummy and really enjoyed the time at home with my boy. Unfortunately, though, the bills don't stop, the rent doesn't pay itself and as most Gen Y folk would realise, saving for a home feels like an unattainable goal most days!
So I found my mind wondering, how I can do this? Is that so-called balance between work and living a myth?
I am a qualified hairdresser and I have loved learning my trade and perfecting my skills as a professional. Like every career, it has is pros and cons! There are aspects I love, such as the social and creative side of hairdressing; I feel that my clients become great friends and when they love their new hairstyle it gives me a great sense of pride. What I did not enjoy was the excessive hours of standing, the long twelve-hour workdays and the short appointment slots, which employers seemed to have the irritating knack of filling just before you could take your next breath!
So, I decided to build a mobile hairdressing business for myself and I absolutely love it! I now have flexibility with the days and hours I work, I can offer clients appointments outside of traditional retail hours and I can schedule clients when my baby sleeps. Best of all, I choose the work that best suits my creativeness and wonderful families open their homes to me. My job has never felt so rewarding!
So you have decided to give it a red-hot go… now what?
Don't be afraid to ask for help! Like the saying goes- it takes a village to raise a child and isn’t that the truth! It's obvious that I could not operate my business without the extra help of someone looking after my baby. I am very fortunate that my mum lives very close by and with a less demanding lifestyle these days, she is very happy to help. My husband works many different shifts and this gives me flexibility to offer clients appointments when I know he can be home with our little boy. Find what works for you and your family dynamic!
There are so many ways to buy yourself some precious time, so you can focus on your energy on your family and your business. Could you arrange with a friend to look after each other’s children? Maybe family day care or long day care works for you? Can you nap time to your advantage? Could you hire a cleaner? There are even services that deliver home cooked meals to your house!
Find your niche and start small
For me, I love doing family haircuts at home, as well as wedding packages! For you, maybe you’re a yoga teacher, a make-up artist, a music teacher, a masseuse? The possibilities are endless! Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from giving it a go! Start small, offer one job to one client and just like that, you’re in business. Don’t rush and put a time limit on yourself, just explore the world of working for yourself, it can be as little or a lot as you like. It turns out there is such a thing as a work/life balance after all!
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself
I don’t know about you, but for me, putting myself out there and promoting myself doesn’t come naturally and can be daunting. However, as a mobile hairdresser I’ve come to learn that the single most effective method of reaching new clients is word of mouth! I took the plunge and posted on some local Facebook groups, with some incredible results! I also got some professional business cards printed, which I hand out at every appointment. I make a point to ask customers if they know of friends who might need a mobile hairdresser – often people love the idea of someone coming to their house to cut their kids hair so much that they are keen to share the experience with their friends! You could even offer discounts for referrals. Most of all though, if you love what you do and love your customers, it will shine through and they will happily tell their friends about you!
Work smarter, not harder
There are many options out there for software which takes care of the mundane tasks for you. I invest in a great scheduling and appointment system, Ovatu Manager, and I can’t live without this pocket genius! Did I forget to mention that I am a first-time mum who is time poor with a goldfish memory? For these reasons, this app gives peace of mind. It allows my clients to receive appointment confirmations and reminders, tax invoices and online bookings. It also provides easy accessibility to my daily appointments and reports, customer sale’s, information and service history and invoices. I can keep track of everything through this app and I can secure customer payments right there on the spot - signed, sealed and delivered! So now I am always ready for tax time, because if you were anything like me before owning a business, these tasks just seemed all too overwhelming! Bonus - it makes you and your business ultra professional!
Be kind to yourself
It doesn’t matter if you have 1, 10 or 100 clients, be patient and loyal to your customers! After all, they are what keep your business alive. Be proud of what you want, stay true to your visions. We are only human and lets face it, we are going to make mistakes along the way. The best part… we can always learn from them, improve and grow.
Oh, and don’t forget to cut yourself some slack every now and again!