Tell us about yourself and your company.
I’m a mummy of two, my daughter is nearly 18 and my son is 3 and a half. My background is law and I was a paralegal in a City firm for 15 years. After my first child, I struggled to carry a baby full term again and had three miscarriages, ended up nearly dying and then found out I have Coelic’s Disease. I was told I could never have children again and then found myself pregnant with my miracle baby.
I started working for Utility Warehouse last April, so around 18 months ago. Utility Warehouse is a discount club, we are a FTSE 250 company, we provide discounts for services such as broadband, gas and electric, mobile and home insurance. We provide it on one bill, so it’s easier and we provide a cash back card. Every time you spend you get cashback so your bill is always getting lower. We are Which? Company of the year for broadband, and have been in Which? Magazine for the past 11 years. Utility Warehouse are so highly regulated, we do face to face visits and we do all the inputting on the screen in front of people so they can see the saving in front of their eyes. We are only 2% of the market so the opportunity to grow is massive and only need a couple more percent to go into the FTSE 100.
How did it all start? How long have you been doing it for?
I was a customer for the last five or six years and when I had my son my outlook on life completely changed. Something had to give and I was so unhappy, after a near death experience and a miracle child, both made me totally reassess my life. My fifty hour week in law was not where I wanted to be. It felt like my one opportunity to actually start my life again, it was a second chance with a child I never thought I would never have and my daughter also got LUPUS at the same time and was really poorly so working for Utility Warehouse allowed me to change my life, help people and stay at home more to be with my children.
After being a customer for a few years, a friend of mine who works for Utility Warehouse asked me if I wanted to get more involved. She knew I wanted out of law and it was a good opportunity to give something new a-go and it spiralled from there. It was a big step to take, to move away from a good job in the city and we had to cut our belts a bit but it makes you appreciate the finer things of life and not take things for granted so much.
What do you love about being a business owner?
I am really enjoying it, it’s a good challenge in finding your next customers. I started with my cold list of customers than my warm list of friends and family. I was dubious at the start and wanted to make sure it was really working before I went to them and it spiralled really. it took me about 8 months before I went to my family and they absolutely love it and are chucking me referrals left right and centre! For me, I started it to have a little bit of extra income and have that money for myself to be a little bit more financially independent again after not working in the City, but now I’m making a good living every month.
I love being able to be with my kids. I missed out on a lot of my eldest’s life, she was in breakfast clubs and after school clubs and I’d be home after dinner, so to be able to sit and have a chat with her after college now as a family is amazing. For me, it’s what it is all about. Not just that, from a customer point of view, I love helping people save money. I go in to a meeting to see how much I save that person and its really satisfying to see it in action. Especially when it’s with the elderly, it’s made me realise how so many people get ripped off, where big companies just keep renewing contracts and people get rolled over. One elderly customer was paying £120 for a phone line and basic broadband having been a customer of a named brand for over 12 years and she never challenged it. It happens so much.
What are your dreams and ambitions for your business?
I hope to just keep growing and building my customer base. I want to reach my branded mini when I reach that target, hoping to get to that by March. I just achieved the weekend break to Rome. Longer term, I don’t have a pension really to hand on, so this is me making that money for my retirement now plus Utility Warehouse is willable, so I can continue to build it up and my kids can take it over if they want or they can use the residual income from it as support for them.
What advice from your experiences would you give to other women business owners, and to women thinking of starting up their own business?
Time management and planning is vital. It’s so easy to sit down, get a cuppa and put the telly on and be distracted when you work from home, you need to be accountable for the work you need to do, whatever works for you, either a buddy or a target. You need to stay on task. And delegate. No one can do it all. We like to think of ourselves as super mums, but we really can’t do it all.
I time manage myself by using my diary, which is colour coded! I have colours for work, kids, personal. My diary helps me visually to see what I need to focus on, more work time, or more kids time if that colour is short that week.
Are you part of any networking circles that you would recommend? How have they helped your business?
I am part of MIBA Essex which is very helpful for contacts and tips as well as friends in business to help me personally grow. It’s helpful to realise there are lots of other mums and women in business going through the same as you. I was a part of 4N, it was fairly corporate and for men and women, which I found a little harder to network in that world since I left the City. There is also a big network circle within Utility Warehouse. I’m part of the top achieving team in Essex and we have social nights as well as a lot at Headquarters that goes on, Facebook groups, etc, there is always somewhere there to talk to, ask questions and get support from.
If people have got part time jobs already, this is the kind of job you can spend what you want to on it, we have full time people and we have people who see a client once a week because they already work full time elsewhere. One client a month can bring you in £100 a month, 1 client a week can bring you a £1000! It’s totally flexible, it works around what you want to do, we work on a plan with your team leader to find what works for you. Its nationwide, a team will be local to you wherever you are.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t doing your current job?
I love the law, it was my dream job for years, but really if I could do anything it would be working for myself, making the time for my family, so I’m doing my dream job. I love it, it’s giving me the time I want, an income and its helping people which I love as well.
How do you make your home/work life balance?
Definitely planning, I f you don’t do that, you go all over the place. You have to be strict. Stick to what matters, kids swimming lessons or family time, don’t see clients then otherwise you end up resenting it. Spending time with my kids is the reason why I’m doing this.
What’s your top organisational tip?
Time management and delegation, definitely as I said earlier. If it means getting a cleaner in, I know sometimes its hard to afford it but if it means you get to put time in with your kids, or with clients, but the time spent is quality and its so much more important. Or just leave your housework altogether and go play! The dishes can wait!
If you are interested in joining the team at Utility Warehouse the next Essex training session is County Hotel on the 14th November.
Its also a Business Opportunity for people thinking about it and just wanting a little more info before taking the plunge. For more info click this link!
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