I love sharing the stories of Inspiring Parents.Taking the leap to self-employment from the security of employment can be a scary thing, but it is something hundreds of parents do every year. There is nothing better than reading about each journey, to understand how people prepare to take that leap. This month, Maxine, the owner of Digital Bon Bons, share’s her start up story.
Over to you Maxine
Hi, my name is Maxine and my business is called Digital Bon Bons.
I started working when I was 17, in a retail job whilst I was at sixth form, continuing whilst I was doing my Drama and Theatre Studies Degree. The “corporate world” called, and in 2012 I started working for a fashion brand, originally managing their wholesale administration, but I soon got the bug for digital marketing. As a small company, we were kind of doing the online marketing ad-hoc with no real focus. Then when a colleague of mine was due to return to New Zealand I saw this as an opportunity. I really wanted to drive our online presence and spoke to the director about leaving the wholesale admin behind and working as their Website and E-commerce Manager, which I then did for over 2 years. In this role, I really got immersed in all things Digital, again as a small company I was responsible for running the website, updating stock, online merchandising, customer services, email marketing, social media and more. I really got to experience the whole realm of what digital marketing meant for businesses and I have been hooked ever since.
I left the fashion brand because I wanted to work closer to home, I was commuting to London at the time and my husband and I wanted to start thinking about having a family and I didn’t want the commute anymore. So I looked for local jobs and started working for a company focused on design and launching a website for their care division, this was a great challenge, designing the whole thing from scratch and working with my manager who would build it. My role within the company expanded over the next five-years where I then worked across all the businesses we owned as a whole and then in 2014 I left to go on maternity leave to have my daughter, Ava. I enjoyed a lovely 12 months off with her and returned to my job in 2015.
When I returned some things had changed slightly and the team I was working with wasn’t going to exist the same way anymore, naturally on my 2nd day of returning to work this was a huge surprise and I was full of emotion – having just left my little girl and also returning to work in general, never mind to come back to change. It all worked out for the best though and I started working with another lady who I knew in a more focused role in one of the divisions. I had the best work-life balance I have ever experienced in a job and they offered flexible working, which was fantastic. I returned to work, 32-hours over a 4 day week.
Why did start your own business?
I had always wanted to eventually work for myself, but I had never found the right idea for me. Then in the Summer of 2016, it happened. I had the “moment” that all business owners get, the idea.
I knew that I wanted to use my digital marketing skills to help other businesses grow and develop. I also knew they now being a parent, I wanted to focus my business towards organisations focused on parents and children.
When I was on maternity leave, and suddenly thrust into the “parent world,” I went to loads of baby classes and shopped online at fabulous childrenswear brands; I realised just absolutely love this industry and these businesses. It was a no-brainer for me.
I also knew that a lot of the business owners were often parents themselves, juggling parenthood, other jobs and their business and often had little or no marketing experience to help get their businesses out to their audience. It was suddenly all so clear!
I had always wanted to be my own boss, I think everyone does to a certain degree, to be in control of yourself, your workload, your hours and have more flexibility. I wanted all of that and even though my corporate role was flexible it’s a different kind working for yourself, it is another level and I really wanted to work with clients I am passionate about. I want the freedom to be hugely creative and explore all different options. I am also looking forward to being there for my family even more, as that’s what it’s all about.
How long did it take from idea to your business launching?
After this revelation, I spent the next six months working on my business idea.
On 31st December 2016, I launched Digital Bon Bons. It was both exciting and scary moment, finally taking the leap. I had dreamt of this moment for so long that now I was actually doing it and launching something for myself.
I worked on the business while still doing my corporate role, and I won’t lie it’s been tough! A lot of hard work and a lot of nights working as that’s the only time I had to do it, but I have loved every minute. It’s enabled me to see that what I have is of value to people and I can really help businesses out there.
I then handed my notice and went full-time on business in October 2017. It was a huge change for me having been in other people’s employment for so long, half my life, but I am so excited and thrilled to be doing this. I get emotional just thinking about it.
What skills, experience and training have you had?
When I started I had no training in digital marketing, I learnt from being in the industry, my peers, other companies, people I admire and more. I have over eight year’s experience now and am always expanding my skills and learning. You can never learn too much.
What existing skills have you used from your old career/ business to now?
Everything! I think starting in a role that required me to wear every single hat involved in digital marketing was an exceptional experience. I got to learn every angle of the industry and how to grow a business. This has not only helped me in other job roles but certainly for my own business and my clients.
What has been a challenge? How have you overcome it/them?
There have been two challenges so far. The first; actually going live. I think you dream about something for so long and putting something actually out there that people can see is very hard and it’s overcoming a personal challenge of feeling like you can’t do it when really you can. I used to see other amazing business owners and just think “they can do it” but I can’t. Starting a business it was other people do, not me. But that isn’t the case at all, if you want it badly enough and work hard you can do it, it’s all about having the confidence in yourself and following your dreams ( sounds so corny, but so true).
Another challenge has been the juggle of working in my day job and then doing the business on the top, essentially two full-time jobs in one, plus being a parent, a wife, a friend and all the other roles that you play. I’ve worked a lot of nights and even weekends but it’s all been worth it because it has got me to where I am now. I’ve had incredible support from my husband and close family/friends. They remind me to switch off, take a break and be kind to myself. They also power me on and have tea and chocolate ready when needed. I also have to say I have found an incredibly supportive community on Instagram who are real advocates for me and always there for advice and encouragement, which has been amazing.
What has surprised you?
If I’m completely honest just how well it’s been going so far and how supportive people have been. I think when you launch a business it is such a huge step that you automatically think negative like it will fail, so I am so overwhelmed by all the amazing clients I have worked with so far, the collaborations that have come my way, the communities I am part of. It is really, really amazing and I pinch myself every single day.
What advice would you give someone in the same position?
I think to always believe in yourself. I have had huge problems with self-doubt over the years and in many ways, it has held me back from opportunities a lot, so I would say have that belief and don’t look back.
What an amazing journey! I love how honest and open Maxine has been about her transition, and hope this Inspiring Parent has inspired YOU to take the leap!
Come over to The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your business dreams with a supporting group.
Want to take the leap, but not sure of the next step?I hear you. You are still wondering if you can work for yourself. If only you could get that BIG idea or meet that ultra CONNECTED person.I’m here to tell you it all there, inside you, waiting to be uncovered. I have uploaded over 20 years of sales experience into my first business course. Click here to find out more!