Monday Mumpreneur with Sarah Alcock
They share with us their motivation, their challenges and their proudest moments in business and they also tell us how they take time to nurture themselves.
If you’re looking for inspiration, then our featured business mums show you what’s possible.
I just know you're going to love this week's featured mumpreneur. When she heard of a colleague's brilliant business idea, instead of sitting back and watching his success, she took the bull by the horns and demanded a slice of the action - I love that!
Your name: Sarah Alcock
Your website: www.training-by-eos.com
Also known as “the blue one”! Don’t worry, we are in the process of rebranding. For a sneaky peak check out www.trainingbyeos.com, but there is not much there yet.
You can also find me on LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/sarah-alcock/19/840/800
Training-by-Eos is an accountancy tuition service specialising in the ICAEW Case Study exam. We offer a mix of traditional classroom tuition and online tuition.
Tell me about your children
My eldest is Tom, 5½. He is a very active little boy; he does gymnastics and martial arts on a weekly basis but I’ve yet to wear him out!
Jamie is my not-such-a-baby-anymore 18 month old, a cheeky little chap who loves to laugh and will eat anything – anything – on offer. Jamie was born just over a year after Training-by-Eos began; the pregnancy and new baby certainly added an interesting dimension to starting a business!
Where do you live?
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK
PC or Mac?
PC all the way. As much as I’d like to be a creative type, I spend a lot of my time writing programme descriptions and building spreadsheets. I’m a bit of an excel nerd.
Tell us about your business
We offer tuition for the last exam of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) qualification; the prestigious (and often feared) Case Study exam.
What motivated you to become a mumpreneur?
Ultimately, the motivation to start as a mumprenuer, and to keep going when it gets tough, is the flexibility I have. I work a pretty full week for most of the year, anywhere between 30 – 50 hours, but I can do this around my children.
I can go to the assemblies, pick Tom up from school and go to the park or activities if I want to, and finish my work in the evening. Jamie goes to a childminder 3 times a week, and to his Nanna twice a week so he gets a great balance of home life, socialisation with other children and quality time with his grandparents.
The other great thing about my job is that the exam is at the end of July, and the results come out the end of August. The time between is a bit of a limbo for the students, so we get the month off!!
What's been your biggest challenge in business?
There is a challenge everyday, but the biggest was last year when we had a successful product and happy clients, but the company was barely breaking even.
How have you overcome it?
We had to step back and look at our costs and efficiency levels. It was awful, but we made 2 staff members redundant. Our IT systems are now much more effective (although we a have a little way to go), and we use the materials we put so much time into developing across a multitude of products.
What's been your proudest business moment?
It’s always Results Day! We get to know a lot of our students pretty well, and when they phone us 2 minutes after the results have been released squealing down the phone that they’ve passed (and that’s just the blokes!) it puts a huge smile on my face. We have some fantastic testimonials on our website, and my favourite stat about our business is that 100% of 2012’s students would recommend us.
What's your catchphrase or favourite quote?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein. This quote was part of my wakeup call last year; something had to change.
What do you do to relax or nurture yourself?
I love a hot bath with an easy book to read (often Terry Pratchett or a Harry Potter) and a bar of chocolate! I also make sure I spend the day in a local Spa (Whittlebury Hall) at least twice a year; it is my happy place.
What was the last treat you bought for yourself?
A gorgeous drawing from TiffsArt (www.tiffsart.co.uk) – she is a talented lady with a very distinctive style. She draws ‘loved ones’ for a very affordable price. I love the family drawing she created for me.
Completely dependent on my mood, but I’ll say yellow today
Red roses in the winter, daffodils in the spring
What one piece of advice would you like to give to a new mumpreneur?
Use the skills you have and make your own opportunities; don’t be afraid to talk to people – whether to ask for help or to offer it. People appreciate honesty and openness.Training-by-Eos was the idea of a colleague of mine – he had the expertise to teach the subject but he couldn’t have managed the operational side of the business. When he told me about his idea I could have sat back and thought “Isn’t he lucky, he is going to run his own business”. Instead I thought “I want a piece of this” and wrote him an email telling him why he needed me to be involved. We are now 50/50 partners.
Finally, don’t wait for the “perfect” time to start a new business or business stream – there is no such thing. If you have the idea and you believe in it, then go for it.
Fancy featuring as one of our amazing mumpreneurs? Drop me an email over on the contact page – and I’ll be in touch. Or let me know in a comment below.