Carolyn Cronin from CC:ME - Parents in Business
This week we are launching our first series about parents in business.
In these blog posts, we will introduce you to the achievements of wonderful parents who also run their own businesses. We hope you enjoy finding out about them and what they do.
Name: Carolyn Cronin
Business Name: CC:ME
Nature of business: Virtual Assistant
Years in Business: 5
Tell us about yourself..
Hello, my name is Carolyn. I live in Reigate and I am married with one 5 year old daughter. My husband and I have been together for 18 years, married for 9.
In my career before setting up my business I worked for over 20 years in corporate environments, helping to manage projects, databases, keep track of expenditure, investigate and resolve problems and help my teams and managers successfully and consistently achieve targets and deadlines.
I love to read books, from science fiction to self-development. I always have about 3 books on the go either audiobooks or physical ones!
My hobbies include making and decorating cakes, and anything crafty. I have recently got into sewing and making dressing up outfits for my daughter.
Tell us about your business..
I’m a Virtual Assistant, so I take on the admin tasks of small business owners. This gives them time to get on with other things in their business. Or gives them their free time back instead of working all hours trying to fit everything into their day!
I started my business after being made redundant in March this year. I knew it was coming from June 2019, so I took a course and learned how to set up a VA business and planned to launch in April. When COVID happened, I delayed my launch to look after my daughter, and over the months it became even more apparent to me how much small businesses need help, now more than ever.
I offer 1-2-1 coaching to help business owners manage their time effectively to achieve their goals. I also have a free Facebook group called The Planning Club where we talk about all the issues related to goal setting, time planning, distractions, and mindset. I really want to help as many people as possible in this uncertain time. I realise not everyone is ready for a Virtual Assistant in their business, but they could still benefit from my experience and knowledge.
How do you balance work, personal life and motherhood?
When I went through my redundancy last year, I had a lot of pressure and stress put on me. Lots of my colleagues left the business early and I ended up taking on their workloads as well as my own. I was under so much stress that my hair started falling out, and I realised this could not go on!
That experience, and now living through lockdown, has taught me that I need to realistic about what I can achieve each week. We tend to be our own worst enemies and pile pressure on ourselves, but it need not be this way.
I am also realistic about when I can get work done, for instance once my daughter is home from school I know that I cant sit and think about new business ideas. She needs, and deserves, my full attention. Saying that, I know if she is happy colouring or watching a cartoon that I can do something like unload the dishwasher!
Working smarter, not harder, is my philosophy.
What did you find was the hardest challenge about being a business mum and how did you overcome it?
The hardest challenge was, and still is, not feeling guilty about how I spend my time.
As above, I am realistic about what I can and cannot do but that does not mean that I don’t feel guilty about not doing work when I’m playing with my daughter. This especially happens at the weekend when my husband isn’t working, and I keep thinking there are things I ‘should’ be doing for my business.
Or feeling guilty I’m not with my daughter when I am doing an evening work phone call, and my husband is putting her to bed instead.
I know logically that feeling like this is perfectly normal, and lots of people feel the same as me! It doesn’t stop the thoughts popping into my head though.
I have learned to recognise when I am feeling this way and remember to be kind to myself. That I am choosing to spend my time in the way I have planned, and I am living based on the values most important to me. And that it doesn’t always fall to me to look after our daughter, and my husband loves having his own time with her also!
How did you find home schooling your children during the first lockdown?
I delayed the launch of my business because of the 1st lockdown. My redundancy happened on 31st March 2020, so for a few weeks I did have to work and look after my daughter. My husband was also working from home (and still is now) so between us we were trying to keep her entertained and work.
It was impossible to say the least! As she is only 5 (at the beginning she was 4) she couldn’t be left alone and of course didn’t fully understand what was happening.
I was so grateful to be able to stop working after only a few weeks and just concentrate on her.
I tried my best to homeschool, and some things she engaged with more than others. However if she became too distressed about me asking her to do a task we moved onto something else. Making sure we were all happy and healthy became my main priorities!
What are your top three tips for mums who are thinking to start their own business or have just started their business?
My top three tips would be
1) Set yourself a goal for your business, and really take time to focus on how you will feel when you achieve this goal. When you are having a hard day, focusing on that feeling and your goal will really help to motivate you.
2) Don’t put pressure on yourself to have everything set up and sorted immediately! Building a business takes time, and you will get there.
Look for support. Either from family and friends, or by networking on social media. There are so many helpful people and groups out there that you need never feel alone in your business.
If you are interested to contact Carolyn, she can be reached via her website www.ccmeva.co.uk
Linkedin : www.linkedin.com/in/carolyn-cronin-ccme