When Hannah Young's home-decorating challenge became a fun business idea, she decided to see where it could lead. It wasn't long before her new side-project took off, so she shifted her lifestyle to accommodate a little bit of everything she loves. Here's how she did it.
What work were you doing previously?
I was working full time at a coffee shop.
What are you doing now?
I now work part time at the coffee shop, whilst being a stay-at-home mum and running a small business online.
My business is called Little Moo Boutique: I make and sell personalised prints for all kinds of different occasions.
Why did you change?
I was on maternity leave and needed something to do to pass the time.
Since we were in rented accommodation and weren't allowed to re-decorate, I decided to make prints for my little girl's nursery. I shared some pictures of the prints I made on Instagram and Facebook, and very soon friends started approaching me for prints for their own children, or as presents for people they knew who were expecting.
After this, I decided to start selling the prints in a bit more of an organised way, and came up with a whole range for every occasion. The business grew from there.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I think it was when I was due back to work after my maternity leave.
My business was thriving; I found I just loved it so much that I decided to only go back to the coffee shop part time. This was partly so that we still had a guaranteed income every month, but also because I still enjoyed getting out of the house and talking to people.
Are you happy with the change?
I absolutely love what I do.
I get to be creative, meet new people, and create wonderful gifts from the comfort of my own home, with my daughter.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss being able to come home from work, switch off, and not worry about income.
But I don't miss the early starts and I love being my own boss.
How did you go about making the shift?
It was easier when my daughter was very small because she would sleep lots during the day, giving me time to work on my business.
Now that she is older, it's more difficult to leave her on her own to play. But I find balance works well for me ??? having time with my daughter and allowing her to play by herself while I catch up on some work, then doing some more work later on, after she's gone to bed.
What didn't go well? What 'wrong turns' did you take?
I made a couple of wrong decisions with the platforms I chose to sell my work on.
There were a couple I didn't get any sales out of, and another where the person running it was demanding and put me in positions where I couldn't say no to something she'd asked of me. This made me feel uncomfortable, so I made the decision to leave the platform.
I had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you have to say no, and it's ok to do so. Now I always make sure I turn down something I don't feel comfortable doing; I stick to platforms that benefit me and my business, where I feel part of something positive. Even if it means losing out on business, staying true to myself is more important.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
I set myself targets every month.
I also use the support around me to help boost my reach, and let my work be seen.
For example, as a lot of my friends have been customers I've been able to ask them to share my Facebook page and website on their social media accounts. They've generated a lot of word-of-mouth business, which obviously really benefits me.
The manager in the coffee shop is also very supportive and lets me put my business cards up in the shop.
I find that if I set myself a certain target to aim for each month, then any extra is a bonus.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
The most difficult thing about changing was probably having the confidence to take the risk of running a business from home.
It takes a lot of determination and confidence to do well in this business; it's something I'm still working on.
What help did you get?
My partner helps me a lot with the technical stuff.
He built a beautiful new website for me and he also takes charge of my newsletter, which boosts sales. It's great to have someone by my side supporting me as well as putting time and effort into the business. He knows how important my business is to me and our family, so he likes to help out.
What have you learnt in the process?
Balance is key.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that I need time off for myself and family. So I've really focused on finding that balance between life and business over the last year.
Staying positive is also important. Quieter months can knock my confidence and cause stress; it's important to keep believing in myself and think happy thoughts.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
Believe in yourself.
Surround yourself with a positive support network.
What resources would you recommend to others?
Leonie Dawson, Shai B's Wild Sisterhood and How to Change Your Life: One Day at a Time by Stuart Young.
To find out more about Hannah's business, visit www.littlemooboutique.co.uk
What lessons could you take from Hannah's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.