Interview with Jane Wilson from Modern Housewives and Fantastic Cleaners
1. What is your Why? What motivated you to get into business?
Well, it was actually a combination of many things that threw me into this direction. For once, it was my education, I have two degrees, one in analytic journalism and one in business management. The other thing was that I was in my early 20’s, I really wanted to be taken seriously, and was tired of people being condescending towards me. Ever since I was kid, I had big dreams of achieving something meaningful and important that would change people’s lives. Of course, everyone around me kept laughing it off and telling me I’m cute for some reason. Well, the only thing they achieved is to make me angry and more determined in my goals. So, after working marketing jobs for a few big companies, I landed a job for the Fantastic Services office in London. After a few months there, I packed all my things and moved to the other end of the world to work on creating our Melbourne office with my now husband and a few other colleagues. This was around 6 years ago.
2. What are some of the challenges/obstacles you have had to overcome?
My way towards success was mostly obstacles. Except the condescending attitude from some of my friends and family, I also received a lot of opinions that I was mad for moving to Australia. I guess this could be because the main thing people in Europe know about Australia, is that every animal around here wants to kill you. Which is clearly an exaggeration. Another challenge we faced was the fact that the laws and regulations concerning businesses based in Australia are quite different from the ones in the UK. We had to learn everything from the start, if we wanted to do things right. Another big issue that we faced was organising proper communication channels between our departments and between the company and the technicians we had on site. It took a lot of time and effort to create proper rules when it comes to operating internally. Our office also got flooded during a storm a few years back, but that’s a whole other type of challenge we had to deal with.
3. What did you worry about most when you started your business?
I was afraid of failure. That was the thing I was worrying about day and night. And not so much that I would lose money or that I will have to look for a new job, but that people would tell me “I told you you would fail”.
I always try to not pay attention to all the negativity around me, but the thought that they would turn up right in the end, was my biggest fear.
4. How do you find the juggle of kids and a business?
It’s both exhausting and rewarding. Our daughter actually arrived shortly after our move and while we were still organising and developing everything. So, everything happened at the same time for us. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because everything worked out great in the end. Of course, I receive a lot of help, both from my husband, my mother, who is a widow and moved close by after our daughter was born, and from our local community. My husband and I cut all our responsibilities both for the home, the child and the business in half. My mum helps out almost every day. And we have a great community here in the neighbourhood, I communicate with many other working mums and we have a support group. We often organise group babysitting, depending on our schedules. So, sometimes we leave our daughter on a play date when we have to work or go on work trips, and sometimes we are hosts to play dates with over 10 kids.
5. How do you prioritise/ block out work time when working from home?
Sometimes I work from home, my job allows it. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, separating the work stuff from the home life while you’re at home, is a very difficult endeavour. But with a few simple rules for everyone, and by turning part of the basement into my personal home office, I managed to find the balance. One of the most important rules is that kids with toys are not allowed in the office. She can come in with a book to train her reading, but the office is not a place for games and legos. My personal opinion is that it’s good to keep these things as separate as possible, for good productivity. Of course, I don’t lock myself in there for the entire day, I try to take short 5-10 minute breaks every once in a while, to go check on her, make sure everything is fine. It was tough to explain it to her in the beginning when she was little, but she’s a smart kid and understands it. Sometimes she even gets interested in the things I do, so I guess I might gain an awesome sidekick someday.
6. What has been a game changer for you in your business?
The amazing development of technology and the Internet was definitely the thing which helped us develop and grow. Only about a decade ago, service businesses like ours had to rely on word of mouth recommendations to strive and gain new clients. It was nice, but it didn’t give us much exposure and popularity. Now we have websites, search engines, social media, social media groups, home assistants, and all kinds of other technological means to reach our audience and promote our services to them. Thanks to all that it’s a lot easier for potential clients to find us, they have many different options to contact us, and when the word of mouth happens online, it’s available to a lot more people than just a few neighbors. The automation of all online processes also helps us work faster and provide a better quality of customer service.
7. What do you think is the biggest barrier most ambitious mums face?
Other people’s opinions is the first thing that comes to mind. For every 1 person that will tell you they believe in you, you will probably meet 10 others, who will tell you to stay in your lane and don’t bother even trying. The enormous guilt many new mums feel when going back to work is also a big obstacle for many women. Even though our society has evolved, sometimes we still go back to the old habits of thinking, where the place of the mother is in the home. But what we often don’t realise is that these barriers are placed there by our own minds, if we truly want to achieve something, we will always find a way.
8. What tips do you have for other mums wanting to start a business?
Don’t let the small setbacks discourage you. Starting a business is a very difficult endeavour and many things can go wrong, some of them are not even in your power. So, just do your best to be prepared and face the difficulties on time. It’s also important to do your thorough research before you throw in all your money on an idea. Check the field you’re starting in, check the competition, try to research their tactics and plans. More than half of new businesses fail in the first year, because they throw themselves into it unprepared. It’s also a good idea to draw a plan for the goals you want to achieve with your business. Many startups fail, because the people behind them start with big dreams of success, but without a thorough plan on how they will achieve them. The best way to make plans for your business is by following the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. It states that all business goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Everything that doesn’t fit in these criteria is a dream, not a goal.