It has been a really LONG time since we had a Momtrepreneur interview, so it’s way overdue for sure. Today, we have a fellow Mom-entrepreneur, Jana, who shares her experience and insights into being a working mom.
Tell us a bit about YOU and your family
I am Jana Engelbrecht, owner of www.moomie.co.za and mother to a four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy. We have a sister on the way who will be arriving end March/beginning of April. Apart from running and managing Moomie, I am also a magazine editor and freelance writer. Our days are full and chaotic, but we have lots of fun. The best thing about having my own business and having the freedom to do my magazine work from home, is that I have my own working hours. I am at home most the time, which is a great thing, since my husband, who is a helicopter pilot, travels a lot for work.
What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?
The parenting forum, www.moomie.co.za, was started in January 2010, a few months after the birth of my first child. I was in a euphoric state of love after I had my baby and I was so inspired to create something that can add value to others’ lives and also to eventually earn an income from. At the time I was a hard news journalist at a newspaper and the working hours were hard and long. Moomie gave me an outlet to connect with my “mommy side”. It was where I lived out my passion.
What inspired you to start your own business?
During many nights of breastfeeding, I would read blogs. I found this blog, www.dooce.com, which at the time was just the most interesting blog on the net. I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to choose a medium that provided me more freedom. At the time I was a member of another forum and I wanted to create my own, with my own spin and feel to it. Maybe it was the after-pregnancy hormones, but I was so inspired after I had my baby. I just wanted to try new things and create a life for myself where I could work from home and be with my baby.
What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?
Time or rather lack of it. The biggest challenge it to do optimal work when I sit in front of my computer and not surf the net, reading up on things that don’t add value to my life or business. I try and schedule my day so that I do most of my work in the mornings and then have a bit of free time in the afternoons. It doesn’t always work out that way, especially if I have meetings or urgent emails. I rely a lot on my nanny, who is just the most amazing person and so great with my kids. Each day is a new challenge to try and organise things better. It’s a constant learning experience. I am a big “list-maker”.
What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?
I literally dived into my venture, without any regard for the fact that I had limited knowledge of the internet and web design. I am not a designer myself and I had many struggles with hosting companies. When my website first started, the amount of traffic I received exceeded all my expectations, so my website would crash a lot due to high traffic volumes. I think I moved servers three times in a six month period, which was highly stressful. Can you imagine a large group of women wanting to chat online and all of a sudden there is a website time-out? It was so stressful! I was learning all the time. A few absolute angels were sent my way and helped me along. I am so grateful to those people who helped me even if they didn’t know me that well or was forced by their wives. J
How do you balance your business and your family?
Because I work from home, I can work around things. I can fetch my little girl at school, I can attend to my boy at home, I can drive them around in the afternoons and my presence is felt in my home all day long. One thing is for sure – if you work for yourself or from home, you are never “off”. If I don’t get something done in the day, I have to put the hours in at night, or very early the next morning. Weekends I try and switch off and not even open my laptop.
What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?
The girls on my forum. They are amazing. When I read about someone who, for instance, overcame post-natal depression after she made friends on the forum and was able to speak openly about it, it warms my heart. Moomie is different from other forums, I don’t really know why. It just has a very familiar feel to it and the girls become friends off-line as well. Lots of the girls are friends of mine on Facebook and I have met a few in person. It’s so great to see or hear how people feel supported and how chatting on Moomie has made an impact in their lives. And off course there’s Matt, my web technician/developer. Without him, I would be LOST. I am eternally grateful to his wife, Rikki, who persuaded him to become involved with a group of crazy and busy women.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would most likely plan a bit better, work even harder, and educate myself before I started it all. I would also get a partner in who can manage the “business” side if it better. I am a creative person, so for me it’s all about the passion but passion doesn’t put bread and butter on your table. Haha!But you know what? If I took the route of going on courses first and trying to learn from books, I would not have been where I am now. It has been a journey. A journey that I would not have had, had I not just taken a leap of faith. I love learning. I would love to plug in my brain at night and download the programmes that I want to learn. My pool of ideas never run out and I am constantly planning or plotting a new idea. At the moment I am working a very big pitch for an investor and it takes a lot of research to persuade someone to believe in the idea you have in your head.
What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?
Draw up a business plan, know your market, research and read as much as you can about your field of interest. But have passion. Do what makes you feel good and what you enjoy, because that will make all the long after-hours worth it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that I may have missed?
If you are not a member of Moomie yet, you must register right now.
If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?
- Website: www.moomie.co.za
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Skype: jana.grobbelaar
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