Alison Deary – M.O.M Diary

by Claire Minnaar


Tell us a bit about YOU and your family (where you are based, single / married, number of kids, etc)

I have four children aged 20, 18, 9 and 7, they are all boys! I have a partner, Juan, who is 14 years younger than me. We have been together for the last 11 years and are extremely happy in our relationship.

I live in Southern Suburbs, Cape Town and work from home, which is the absolute best as this is my “happy place” with my family all around me.

What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?

My company is MOM Diary and this is my first year in this business although the idea has been buzzing around in my head for a couple of years.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs…… going back generations. I have had a couple of businesses, the first was an IT Company which I left with my ex husband when we got divorced. After that I worked for my brother for a few years (which was sort of like running my own company anyway). I decided I wanted to work from home when I had my last 2 kids so I started a book keeping business which I ran for about 4 years and then sold.

I believe that people are not necessarily cut out to do just one thing and that it is not a “job” which creates income for us, it is “us” whether we do that as a job or by running our own business.

It is far easier to do something if you are passionate about it.

What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?

Way back when my older boys were little I used to find that working from home was challenging because I was there but not really available. This time round I am working in the lounge with the kids all around me. I sometimes have to ask for volumes to be switched down but most of the time they are completely considerate and it works well.

I have a fantastic domestic helper who has been with me for years. I have taught her to cook so that I can rather spend any spare time doing things with the kids rather than been stuck in the kitchen during the week. I love to do the fetching in the afternoon as that gives me a little bit of quality time each day to catch up – you will be amazed how much your child can tell you in 10 minutes. I always switch the radio off when I arrive at school so that they have my undivided attention.

I also have the most supportive partner who takes the kids to school and backs me up 100% with them in every way.

I choose rather to coach hockey than do tuck-shop as it means I can interact with my child but still give a service to the school. I love lifting for outings as well as you get to know the other kids during those times (although this year I have hardly been able to do any because of being so busy with the diary). I chose to take karate with the kids as it also gives us time together and something that we have in common as well as being good for me.

All in all I think that with the help of my partner and Pam, we run a pretty smooth and happy home where everyone just seems to fit in with my working day.

What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?

The main difficulty that I have had was trying to raise finance needed for print deposits. No one wants to back a project that has not been done before and with the economy still being down, people are very reluctant to let go of their money and banks have so much red tape when it comes to lending.

I had days when I literally had to drag myself out of bed – when all the odds are against you, it is difficult to carry on working as if they aren’t. I had to keep convincing myself and pretending to others that everything was fine even though I knew I did not have a brass farthing to continue.

The other thing was I had no idea how much work was going to go into this project. I probably started a little bit late in the year – all my ideas and basic design was in place by the middle of the year but I had not done any sale of advertising, marketing or the actual final design of the diary……………not to mention print, etc. I have literally not stopped working since the world cup, and that includes weekends.

How do you balance your business and your family?

As mentioned above I have really good support from my partner, Juan and my domestic, Pam. I include the family as much as possible and get them to help me for pocket money wherever they can. My children are also very easy going and during the holidays will get up, make their beds, dress themselves and then come down and just get on with their own thing. We really do work well together as a family.

During school holidays I often get up earlier so that I can get a good few hours of work in before the day starts so that I don’t have to feel guilty if I can’t work all day.

Oh, did I mention that most days I get up early any way – I love working when it is peaceful and there are no phone calls or emails to distract me.

What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?

My entire family, including my mom, my brothers and obviously Juan and the kids have all supported me through this.

Juan has supported me financially as obviously I have not earned much income during the year – that will come later!

My faith. An idea has to come from somewhere and if it feels so right, it was meant to be. Everything about this diary has just fallen into place even though at times I have had to really dig deep to keep believing that.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I have learnt so much during the course of this year and there are so many things I could do differently or at least better. The nice thing is I get to do it over in 2011 and I can apply all that I have learnt.

With regard to the actual product, I am perfectly happy with the result.

What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?

  • Do something that you are passionate about and that makes you want to get up and go every day.
  • Set written goals, believe in yourself!
  • Before you start draw up a business plan – you just need the headings and you can fill in the rest (don’t outsource this). A business plan is like a big written goal, it’s the working papers of your business, you can change it as often as you like and no one else needs to see it (if you need a copy for a bank or anyone else, you can do a condensed or more formal version)
  • Start your business with the idea of selling it – this may not necessarily be so but could be the case one day (start off by not naming the business after yourself)

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that I may have missed?

If we try and achieve what seems to more than possible for us, we often reach a point where we have to push past what feels comfortable. This is when we need to be our strongest as it is at this point where most people, no matter how far they have already come, will back down and say “I can’t”. Our subconscious mind is more comfortable with what it knows and will resist when we consciously try to go beyond that. Be aware of this and know that it will pass.

What inspired me to do a diary?

Firstly, this is how I personally organise my own life and I wanted to share it with other busy mom’s. I know all the challenges that I have faced over the years and have tried to incorporate as much as possible in this one book. The other aspect is the goal setting and gratitude. I have spent years reading self improvement books and have gained so much in terms of happiness and inner peace, finding a place in this world where I feel content with what I have and enjoy what is going on today. I will always strive for better but I know that it is not just about money or material things.

If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?

For now FaceBook would be best unless it is something that they don’t want to share, in which case they are welcome to email me.

Once I have some time I will start a proper chat forum on my website – there is so much for me still to learn.

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