The Apprentice returned this week – and I do love that programme. I know it’s been many years now, so it’s hardly the new phenomenon it was; much like X-Factor, it’s become a bit tired and predictable in many ways, not least in the number of oddballs and shockers the produces feel the need to wheel out to make it more interesting. But it’s always fascinating to see how the personalities emerge, especially in this environment, which actively encourages comparison against the rest of the candidates, plotting and scheming against everyone else, and aggressive competition for success – all at the expense of everyone else they are supposed to be working with each week.
It was exactly this culture that was my main concern when I started my own business. Would I be able to get any clients in a market that was probably already full of people offering what I can offer, who are better established, better able to entice customers? In a world where “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” gets you work, how would I meet the right people? Were there others out there, primed and ready to steal my clients by undercutting me, or just able to offer more?
What I’ve learned, though, is that there is plenty of success for everyone – and collaborating, working together, referring potential clients to others with the skills best suited to their needs, and supporting each other is so positive and productive, and just as good for the soul as it is for the client list. Networking in this positive environment is just a delight, as well – and has got me the majority of my new clients. (Read my post on that topic here: Networking for the Petrified Introvert.)
Sam Poole was my first client when I started back on the road to work, even before RLC Words came into being. She needed some help with her local Mum to Mum network and website, which was just beginning its own journey: she was about to take the plunge into monetising the local services directory that she had established, by launching a sophisticated website containing a wealth of information for the whole community.
Mum to Mum’s growth since then has been extraordinary. The number of businesses signing up to be part of the directory has doubled; the Facebook group has doubled to over 14,000; and some of Milton Keynes’ most prominent businesses have been lining up to work with Sam and her brand.
I love working with Sam – she has an amazing knack of spotting opportunity, and seizing it. I’ve learned a great deal from her, and one of the things that has made the deepest impression on me is the positive impact of collaboration. As Mum to Mum has grown – now on the brink of launching a VIP discount card scheme, a printed magazine, and a pop-up shop hub for local businesses in Centre:MK before Christmas – Sam has enlisted the support of several other local women, each with their own areas of expertise. And what we’ve all been able to achieve together has been amazing.
Sam’s recently published a blog about the past, present and future of Mum to Mum – and it’s a great story…
The world of Mum to Mum has changed so much recently, and so fast, that I thought it would be a good idea to explain where we’ve come from, where we are now, and a little bit of the exciting future ahead.
Many Mum to Mum members will know how it started – it was a Facebook group I created for my friends, to share ideas and to get advice. Over the next few years, it grew from 20 mums to a membership of thousands of parents and carers, and has raised over £5000 for charity. Today it’s at 14,300 members, and growing daily.
In 2014, I set up a blogging website to collect all of the amazing, combined knowledge gathered in the group from so many years of posts – and this year, after lots of planning, building and data entry, I was finally able to launch a brand new website for the whole community to use: including a weekly planner which lists dozens of baby, toddler and after school activities from across Milton Keynes and beyond; Days Out ideas; What’s On blog posts for each school holiday; and a directory full of local and national businesses with exceptional Facebook ratings.
As well as the amazing website, I’ve begun collaborations with some of the biggest names in Milton Keynes – such as Centre:mk, Top Jump, and Frosts Garden Centre – and Mum to Mum is now recognised as a trusted brand, and a top choice for local advertising.
It really does have a local audience with a powerful voice.
To read the full blog, follow this link to the Mum to Mum website: https://mumtomumuk.com/milton-keynes/blog/posts/the-mum-to-mum-story-2014-2018