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Inspiring mum's in business

Interview with Zoe Arpin from Teapot Communications

Zoë Arpin is a lover of terrible puns,  mum of two boys under four and the owner of Teapot Communications. Zoë is a digital copywriter and helps business owners with all things word-related so they can focus on running their empire.

Writing not your cup of tea? Get in touch with Zoë!

What is your Why? What motivated you to get into business?

I’d always liked the idea of running my own business, but it was only after being made redundant following the birth of my first son in 2015 that I was given the push I needed.

I was well aware of the challenges of running a business as my husband ran his own landscaping company for 12 years, but I felt it was the best option for for me to spend precious time with my kids while they’re young, but also contribute financially. Very few families can thrive on a single income these days - and we’re certainly not one of them!

I’m not motivated by money - but we all obviously need it to live ! I hugely value life experiences over material things. When I’m on my deathbed and my life is flashing before my eyes I want it to be full of laughter and precious moment with family and friends, not sat at a desk working all round the clock. So my “Why” is to be able to support our family, pay the bills and have quality time with the people I love. That fact that it’s doing something I really enjoy and find rewarding is even better.

So far, so good!

What are some of the challenges/obstacles you have had to overcome?

Two challenges spring to mind.

One is “Imposter Syndrome”. When I first started Teapot Communications I just had to make it work, so I wasn’t worrying about what my peers were doing unless it was from the viewpoint of them being a source of inspiration.  But when our second son was born last April I took four months off and really, really struggled with not feeling good enough when I came back. Four months felt like a lifetime for me to be out of the loop and I just felt everyone had their act together and meanwhile I was a hot mess at home juggling crying kids, a messy house and a laptop! I do still have those moments but I think everyone does. I’m mostly inspired by the amazing work women in my field are doing!

The other challenge is when I’m going through a really busy period of work and one (or both) of the kids get sick and need to stay home from daycare. I find that *so* stressful because I know I’ll have to make up that lost day of work when the kids are in bed, or at weekends. I’m learning to roll with it though - last week both boys were kept home from daycare for two days because they had suspected chickenpox, and it was at the same time as a client was launching her new website. I had to laugh!

What did you worry about most when you started your business?

Definitely getting enough work. I got two clients very quickly through people I know which was amazing, and thankfully things took off from there! About 80% of my business comes from happy clients referring me to business owners they know. I’m pretty proud of that!

How do you find the juggle of kids and a business?

It’s bloody hard!!!! I’ve now learnt to very much compartmentalise my work and family time, which has made a huge difference. Before that I found it incredibly difficult. I’m not someone who can seamlessly switch into a difference headspace.  

I now work on the days that they’re in daycare and some evenings when they’re in bed, but otherwise I’m in family mode. I spent well over a year when I first started Teapot Communications trying to answer emails while my son played, and not only was it stressful trying to wear two “hats” but I was also missing out on quality time with my baby.

How do you prioritise/ block out work time when working from home?

If my boys are at home and awake, I’m not working. I only work when they’re at daycare three days a week and in the evening when they’re asleep. A lot of the work I do requires real concentration for hours at a time, and I just can’t do that with them at home. I’ll occasionally take a client call if it’s urgent, but otherwise I keep things very separate. It’s been the only way to preserve my sanity!

6. What has been a game changer for you in your business?

DAYCARE! I have the most incredible respect for mums who can work from home with their kids around them because I am *not* one of those people. I love my kids with the fire of a thousand suns… BUT there’s absolutely no way that I could have grown my business like I have if they’d still been at home!

7. What do you think is the biggest barrier most ambitious mums face?

The mental load. The majority of mums running a business are also trying to do 4,865 loads of washing each week, tend to their kids during the night, keep an eye on the time because they need to do the school run, take time off work if their kids are sick, remember to pay the electricity bill, book that doctor’s appointment… it can be very draining. I can fully understand why mums sometimes feel forced to give up their dreams of running their own business because they’ve just got so much else going on.

8. What tips do you have for other mums wanting to start a business?

Absolutely GO FOR IT - but be kind to yourself. Self care is crucial. I’ve been known to take a day off work to just chill out and rest while the boys are at daycare and make up the work during the week. Burnout is common amongst working mums and we really, really need to take care of ourselves while we’re juggling everything. You can’t pour from an empty cup!

It’s also REALLY rewarding. I absolutely love seeing how happy my clients are with my work and knowing that I’m helping them build their business.  

Terri Watson