Women who decide to become entrepreneurs after having children are definitely in for a hard slog. You want to work hard on your new venture, but how do you do that without sacrificing family time? Over the next few months we’re going to be hearing from the women who became entrepreneurs after having children and how they have made it work. First up is Lacey Filipich from Money School. She shares with us how she founded her business, when her daughter was just 18 months old.
My mother Fran and I founded Money School (https://moneyschool.org.au/), an independent financial education provider, in 2014. We are perhaps best described as having a similar philosophy to The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape), though we do differ in opinion on a few points, specifically credit cards, joint accounts and property investing.
We offer online training, such as:
- our free course on how to get out of debt fast (https://www.moneyschool.org.au/free-course-debt/)
- our comprehensive financial education for the whole family, ‘Achieving Financial Independence’ (https://www.moneyschool.org.au/raising-financially-savvy-kids/)
- our course on entrepreneurship and starting a business for school-age students, Maker Kids Club (https://www.moneyschool.org.au/maker-kids-club/)
We also deliver financial education seminars for all ages on behalf of organisations such as schools, government and businesses.
Prior to starting her business
I moved to Kalgoorlie after graduating from chemical engineering to work in the mining industry. Chemical engineers are more traditionally aligned with oil & gas, but I found refining quite dull compared with the ‘rough and ready’ mining industry.
By the age of 26, I’d become a superintendent managing a diverse team of trainers, apprentices and process trainees. Around the same time, I had some life experiences that changed my outlook:
- I took my first extended travel overseas (three months in South America),
- my sister committed suicide, and
- I burned out, resulting in five weeks bedridden (turns out I had a virus and lost half the hearing in my right ear as a result).
It was a wake-up call, and I decided I didn’t want to continue slavishly climbing the corporate ladder.
My first life change was to switch from a full-time job to contract work as an operational improvement consultant in the mining industry. I took jobs for half the year (over the Australian winter), flying all over Australia and even moving to the States at one point. For three years, I worked six months of the year, Monday to Thursday, then I’d take a five to six month ‘mini-retirement’ for the summer. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I would move to Busselton and basically chill out. During my mini-retirements, I would focus on my other love – investing. I had started in property at 19 when I was in my second year of university, thanks to the financial education Mum had given me growing up. I’d kept investing the bulk of my earnings in property and shares and as a result was starting to earn a passive income.
During my mini-retirements, I started to write notes about what my mum had taught me, and I started thinking about how I could perhaps teach other young people the same skills as they’re sadly lacking in our education system. I started by writing a book about saving for young children, which I published in 2010. That’s where the seed that became Money School was planted!
Starting a business with children
My daughter was 18 months old when I started working on Money School in earnest. My mother moved over from Queensland to spend more time with us, so I took the opportunity to give Money School a red-hot go while she looked after Zoe. Owen came along a year later, and now Mum spends three days a week caring for them while I work.
I surprised a lot of people by not going back within the first six months. I was the typical ambitious high achiever. When I was still working for BHP, they had me in the ‘talent pipeline’, on track to be a VP by my early 30’s. It was a great shock to my past employers and the consulting company I contracted to when I started turning down work. I just wanted to stay at home with my kids, who have turned out to be a lot of fun (who knew?) After all, that was the point of building up my passive income – I didn’t HAVE to work, so I could choose not to.
After a year of being home with my daughter, I was finally getting some sleep so wanted something to do with my brain. I took a non-executive director role on a not-for-profit board and got my governance qualification to get the cogs turning. Then Mum moved over, and I saw it as a golden opportunity to follow my passion for developing financial capability in others. I was attracted to the idea of starting my own business as I loved the idea of working whatever hours I wanted, and at whatever speed I wanted – so far I haven’t wanted investors or a board to answer to for that reason.
Lacey’s advice for women transitioning from the workplace to their own business with children
- Save. Put aside a sizeable chunk of cash – at least six months of living costs – before taking the leap. This will reduce anxiety and give you space to make good decisions about your business rather than madly chasing the money and risking your reputation.
- Test your idea. Read ‘The Mom Test’ and follow it. Do not leap into a business unless you have confirmed you have a market.
- Work away from home if you need to. When I have to focus, I go to a co-working space or arrange for my kids to go to one of their grandparents for the day. Interruptions are the enemy of productivity.
- Don’t be lonely. Go to some networking events for business owners and find someone (or even better, a few someones) that you can talk about your business with. Then – and this is the important part – call them when you’re having a rough time to talk it through.
- Systemise as you go. The sooner you have a clear procedure for how you do something, the sooner you can outsource it and spend your valuable time on something more important.
- Don’t feel you have to give up your past life. I still go to mining networking events, to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry and connect with friends and colleagues. If nothing else, hearing them complain about office politics and endless meetings will remind you why you’re now working for yourself 😉
- Building a reputation will take time. In the early days, it felt like publishing blogs and writing a newsletter was howling into the void. Turns out people WERE reading, and now I get random comments from new connections all the time about my outstanding reputation, not to mention my SEO is solid. Slow and steady seems to work, though no doubt there are other alternatives.
- Take care of your health. The work is NEVER done when it’s your own business. Every thing I outsource creates a gap that I can fill instantly with the next thing I want to work on. I’ve had to impose rules on myself, otherwise I can find myself working 90+ hours a week (though it’s nothing like doing that in my old job – I absolutely adore what I do now so I get lost in it).
- The business will be there when you’re ready. Don’t miss anything you deem important with the kids for the sake of your business if you can avoid it. I already lament moments I missed with my 4.5yo – imagine what it will be like when they’re both teenagers! It can feel like you can’t turn your back on the business for a moment, but don’t worry – it will be there, waiting for you, after you’ve had a cuddle with your bub.
Money School runs an “Achieving Financial Independence’ eCourse” that will give you the skills you need to build and implement your own financial plan. https://www.moneyschool.org.au/money-school-training-courses/