Involve your child/ren as much as you can. Helping mum running the business can be a fun game and you will be nurturing the business spirit of future entrepreneurs in the process.
Your name: Monica Costa
Names and ages of children: Diego Scintu, almost 5 year old
Business: London Mums Limited
Tell us about your background (home life and professional):
I am a very energetic mumpreneur with strong Marketing Communications experience (CIM qualified), in particular Public Relations, Event and Sponsorship management and I am fluent in 6 languages. Since 2005 I set up two businesses, Avanti PR Limited and London Mums Limited. I founded London Mums in 2006 after my son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London.
London Mums is the only free and independent peer support group for mums based in London. The group has now over 10000 members and 80,000 hits online per month. In addition to sharing views and tips online, London Mums believe strongly in face-to-face interaction and organise on a weekly basis a number of activities for mums (and dads). The organisation is run by mums for other mums and children and is free for everyone to join. London Mums distributes a free bi-annual magazine (30,000 copies) at selected family friendly venues and businesses across London.
What do you do on a typical day?
Get my son ready for school, then rush back home, answer my emails (I receive a lot of emails every day sometimes up to 500..) then do business calls to deal with advertising in both our media (website and print publication) and interviews with celebrity mums, attend press events, write editorials and do some household chores, trying to fit everything in time for 3,15pm when I need to pick up my son from school. Lots to fit in in just 6 hours! When my son is back home I need to help him with homework, prepare his dinner and the usual relentless routine.
What projects are you working on now/ have you worked on recently?
I have just put to bed the summer/autumn issue 4 of the London Mums magazine and re-launched the website as a full interactive website www.londonmums.org.uk which is now fully connected with Twitter and Facebook. The group has a very traditional face to face approach but in the last six months we received lots of requests for online interaction so we are incorporating these elements as long as continuing to organise events for the mums and mumpreneurs.
How do you manage your working day with your childcare arrangements?
Flexible childcare is the single biggest issue for mumpreneurs in London. Most mums in London don’t have family support and they have to rely on external childcare. The problem is that when you start a business you don’t earn enough money to be able to afford full time childcare. I managed to use a combination of nannies and childminders over the years but it is tough and multitasking is essential. I remember working until late at night for many years…. Hard working is great and provides lots of satisfaction.
What is your greatest achievement?
Giving birth to my child and being a mother! This is a relentless task and requires huge sacrifices. Professionally I am proud to have founded an organisation, with an excellent reputation in the media, that helps mums survive in a big city such as London by creating small communities of people helping each other out like a big urban family.
Who or what inspires you?
My son Diego inspires my work every day. The experience gained by bringing him up in the British capital is invaluable. The difficulties encountered in raising a child without any family support (apart from my husband) are many and by overcoming them I managed to learn many secrets to be a successful mum and mumpreneur. My second biggest source of inspiration are the London Mums of my network. In no other job you would have the chance to meet so many interesting people.
What do you hope to be doing in five years time?
I hope I will be managing a million pound business then.
What do you do to relax?
Relax?! This word does not seem to exist in my vocabulary actually. If you mean doing something to take your mind off, I actually love fencing (foil or sabre) once or twice a week with a wonderful group of fencers at St Paul’s Fencing Club in Barnes and do some yoga.
What advice would you give other mums thinking of starting a business?
Running your own business is amazing and allows you to juggle family and work but be prepared to work a lot and to give up a lot of free time at the beginning. The satisfaction is huge so be persistent and always believe in yourself. Never give up on your dreams! If you need help, I would recommend outsourcing a lot of tasks and services. Be hands on and be prepared to do a lot of things yourself, even some basic tasks. Involve your child/ren as much as you can. Helping mum running the business can be a fun game and you will be nurturing the business spirit of future entrepreneurs in the process.