Monday morning was my first day in the office for over a week because I’d been off filming for a Channel Four programme. It’s a daytime show called ‘Make Do and Mend’, and it basically teaches people skills to save money. So there’s a food guy, who shows people how to shop on a budget or at a market, rather than a supermarket; there’s a girl who teaches people how to mend their clothes or customise stuff they’ve found in charity shops – and then there’s me, reaching people how to do basic DIY so they don’t have to rely on getting tradespeople in.
One of the things I did was meet up with the mastermind group I’m part of. Five other business owners and I decided to get our heads together and have a monthly meeting. It’s not like a networking group – we set objectives, discuss our challenges, talk about problems we have and help each other through our own experiences. For me it’s great, because as a business owner, you don’t have anyone saying ‘well, why haven’t you done that yet?’ or ‘you’ve got to sort out your profit margins’. It’s easy to become complacent and not actually get anything done, because no one is holding me accountable. So I know that by the next meeting, if I haven’t completed those objectives we’ve set, someone is going to be looking at me. It gives me a bit of drive to get things done.
I also spent a bit of time visiting three hostels run by Women’s Aid. They’d like to do some major refurbishments, because they’re a bit drab, but because the women there have been victims of domestic violence, they want to use a female company. It’s just inappropriate for a man to be in there – they have to jump through hoops a lot and shut down rooms and things like that when they do have male tradespeople in. So by having a team of women in there, it’s going to be easier for them.
It was a busy week, but ever since I started the business, I’ve been very strict about my hours. I don’t like to work in the evenings, unless I have to – so I’m usually out of the door by six o’clock. It forces me to be really efficient during the day, to be honest. There’s smoke coming out of my keyboard. But it means that in the evening, I can go and have dinner with mates, or spend the night on the sofa with Ian, my husband.
It may seem strict, but my social life is so important to me. I think my dad, who also runs his own business, taught me that. When I started, he said: ‘Make sure you make time for your life, because if you don’t, all of a sudden four years will have gone by, and when the s**t hits the fan, you won’t have anyone to turn to.