Instinct is your best ally as an entrepreneur
By Pamela Cormack, founder of Lothian Childcare Solutions and Family Payroll
Setting up a new enterprise in the middle of a pandemic brings a whole new meaning to ‘business resilience’.
Getting things off the ground is never easy but factor in a couple of lockdowns, home schooling and the general commercial uncertainty courtesy of COVID-19 and it becomes a pretty daunting challenge.
But there is a lot to be said for a positive attitude, adaptability and a dogged determination. However, following your intuition is probably the key factor in business success – as any mum knows, a mother’s instinct is the most reliable barometer and if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Vice versa, if you have a hunch you could be onto a winner with something, just going for it could be the answer.
Equally, a problem is only a solution waiting to happen and sometimes when a problem presents itself, it is up to you to be the solution. That’s basically how I ended up setting up my second business – by being confronted with a problem (my clients’ dilemma, not mine) and sensing that I could provide the answer.
I already had an agency recruiting and providing childcare to families in their own home and workers to nurseries. But I was being asked more and more if I could run payroll for the nannies that I had placed with families. Time is precious for many families with a hectic lifestyle, they often don’t have time or the skills for that sort of admin. It’s not rocket science but it is time-consuming and can be a little daunting for someone not used to dealing with these sorts of issues.
Instead of recommending other payroll providers I really felt that I could be the one to offer the solution, providing families with a bespoke extension of the service they already had with us. It was a natural progression but I hadn’t realised they needed us until the problem surfaced. There must be something in that old adage about necessity being the mother of invention!
However, launching in the middle of a global pandemic and just before a national lockdown wasn’t something I had planned for, so a positive mindset and a determined attitude were essential. Not giving up is also non-negotiable for business resilience. In our case, nannies, carers and personal assistants were valuable key workers and still had their job to do and we had a service to provide to our clients.
As busy working mums my business partner Karen and I know only too well how important it is to have reliable help. We both know what it is like to juggle childcare, work and the commitments to our parents so we have the lived experience and can identify with needs of families we work with. We both have nurturing personalities and forge strong, personal relationships with clients to create a truly bespoke service to meet their requirements, so letting people down was just not an option. You just have to have the determination to keep on going, despite the limitations you may face.
One of the main obstacles has definitely been not being able to network as we would have normally done with a new business. Seeing people face-to-face is invaluable but online events are a reasonable substitute – another example of everyone’s adaptability. We are members of some amazing Women in Business groups where the themes of support and encouragement are key.
Focusing on negatives is pointless, entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with positivity, whether that’s through positive role models who can boost spirits or by developing an optimistic mindset that can visualise success and adapt constructively to the prevailing circumstances.
Seeing the success of others is inspirational and witnessing other professionals surmounting problems promotes the notion that resilience is achievable. We’re always inspired by those women who successfully juggle work/business and family life: women should not have to sacrifice family time to have a successful business, nor should their business suffer if they need to spend quality time with their family.
Resilience is something that is in-built in some people, others have to work at it. In today’s climate it has never been more important to maintain continuous operations, look after your people, your brand and reputation but never change your values. Thriving in the face of the unexpected is something we’ve learned to do in life as well as business – covid was just another challenge that required a bit of self-belief and grit.
Pamela Cormack, a single mum to a young son, is an experienced care sector professional. She started in a nursery, was a depute project leader with a children and families project and became an inspector with the Care Commission (now Care Inspectorate) dealing with early years services across Scotland, before starting Lothian Childcare Solutions in 2018. She set up Family Payroll Ltd in 2020 with her business partner Karen Grieve.