As my husband runs his own business, and I run my own charity I have a slight idea what it is like to run your own business (slight). I’ll be doing a series on friends of mine who run their own businesses, to help encourage people to run their own businesses, give advice etc.
Name: Meryl Bailey
Brief description of business: I started the very first trilingual pre-school in South Africa one year ago and have since been building our new brand of education through curriculum development, R&D, and teacher training. Our school offers quality education to children 1-5yrs old in English, Chinese and isiZulu with remarkable results.
Since when have you run your own business: July 2013
Why is it better than working for a boss: I have my own time that can fit into the needs of my family, i.e. I can cancel appointments if my kids are sick, I can schedule ‘fun’ social things in traditional ‘work time’ and there is so much flexibility and opportunity of where my business can take me and my family.
Thing you enjoy most each day: I love that my ‘job’ of setting up this school and developing a unique model in education directly benefits my own children. I love that I get to be so involved in giving them the exact kind of education I want for them, and helping other families do the same, while also building an income for me and my family.
Thing you enjoy least each day: It’s probably the thing I love and hate the most: and that is juggling all the roles I have to have. Wearing the hat of mommy for a few hours, then wife and homemaker, then businesswoman, then back to breastfeeding mommy, etc. and so it goes. It is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!
Advice for people starting their own business:
- Plan as much as you possibly can before you start, so you have a good idea of what you are getting into. But once you have started, go with the flow, so much changes every day and you have to be able to adapt your original ideas (or die).
- Spend time every month working ON your business not just IN your business – things like market research, mentorship, financial guidance – you can’t see all the gaping holes in your business until you take a step back and you need to give yourself regular time to do that so you don’t miss the important things you can improve.
- Having your own business is wonderful and I wouldn’t change my life for anything – but it’s not a fairytale and I think many people say they want their own businesses but in reality it’s much harder than working a job and earning a steady salary. So I would say you must be convinced it’s what you want, and be passionate about what you’re doing because if it’s going to be what you live and breathe for the next few years you better love it!
Top three things you have learnt from having your own business:
- You work harder in your own business than you do for a boss; I am a much tougher boss to myself than someone else would be.
- You never stop working, and this is hard because you need to set clear boundaries about when you’re going to work because ‘working from home’ can infringe on family time very quickly and easily. I have to be deliberate about switching my phone off and not answering emails during prime time with my kids, and then I have to stay motivated to take small gaps of time when they are sleeping or occupied to work on my business.
- I believe small businesses are the future of this country – if we are to combat the unemployment and education crisis it’s going to be through empowering small business enterprise so I am committed to small business!