sarah-drawwater-familyTell us a bit about yourself and your career background?

I have always enjoyed being creative though until recent times had not found the right outlet for that creativity. My past careers included mainly accountancy, which fulfilled my love of using technology, but not very often the creative part of me (except from my love for an excel report and a beautifully organised chart).

Tell us about your business? (for example, when you started it, what it does, how many employees if any)

I started my business after going back to work part time after my second baby. I had been back to work for just one year after my first but knew that whole time it wasn’t forever as I was going to have another. On returning for a second time (and last time) it just didn’t feel right, I had a great boss and lovely company to work for, but I wanted to be with my babies more. It was then I decided to take my passion for my own photographs one step further, and make it work around my family too…

So, my business is now based around editing other people’s photographs allowing them to capture the precious and important moments themselves as they unfold in front of them and their camera (or their iPhone) instead of having the pressure enforced by a time scheduled appointment with a highly paid pro-photographer in an awkward and brightly lit studio. Then your own photos can be professionalised and made to shine with the use of professional tools and knowledge…enter me. So long as there is enough light in a photograph just about anything can be done.

Having said that, I do also offer photography services, but it’s not what you may expect. I offer only on-location photography and include high resolution images to all of my customers as part of the price. Not only does the lack of a harshly-lit intimidating studio produce beautiful natural images it also allows me to keep my prices down and my services available to all.

What inspired you to start your business?

Spending more time with my babies!! There has also an unexpected upside…I love it!! I have never pursued a dream in my career before, because I didn’t know what that dream was. And now here I am, living it!

And it has delivered! I have so much more time with them, with no commute in the mornings and time off as and when I choose to have it. I’m loving it!

Tell us about your family?

I am Mummy to two stunningly beautiful little boys, ok I may be bias but they really are beautiful! And wife to my amazing and hardworking husband, without him I would not have been able to take the leap.

Henry and Isaac are currently four and two and are two very different people but with a curious amount in common at the same time. Henry starts school in September and is suddenly so ready to go, I on the other hand am not ready, I am going to miss him so very much! Isaac is bounding with character at every moment of the day, the positive of losing my Henry school is that I will be able to get to know Isaac on a whole new level as we have regular time alone together for the first time since my maternity leave.

Since becoming Mummy my aim in life is to soak up as much time as I can with my boys, whilst still empowering them to be their own independently invented new person for the world.

Can you describe a typical day, where you work, what your responsibilities are, timings, are you an early bird or night owl?

After walking the boys to nursery/school in the mornings I make to my way up to my little office in the loft, cup of tea in hand. I am gradually plastering the walls of my office with photographs both personal and professional, giving inspiration to my work and surrounding me with my family at all times.

I have a photography appointment at some point on most of my working days, which is so lovely as I get to balance my time around my computer admin work and also getting out in the fresh air. I tend to mostly do my editing jobs in the evenings once the boys are in bed, cup of tea in hand, husband (often asleep) in the living room with me, boxset on the telly.

How do you manage your time with work and children?

As I have said, Henry is about to start school and my aim is to do 95% of my work during school hours and on the three days that Isaac is at nursery. I am very lucky to have a very good family support network around me who are happy to help out if I need to do any extra hours’ work. I also do a lot of my work in the evenings once the boys are in bed, the best part of my editing business is that it can work around me and my family on a day to day basis but still allows me to deliver to other’s people’s deadlines.

How did you fund your startup?

I am very lucky in that my business did not have a huge start up cost as I work from home. There was some equipment that was necessary, including camera, lenses, printers, laptop, etc. But as I was still working for a salary in the early days so it was funded in that way.

What tools, resources, advice did you use when starting your business?

Google! Before I discovered networking, I spent a lot of time Googling what to do and how to do it. I also quickly learnt not to trust just one source and to search around, especially where it come to forums.

However, since discovering The Unique Mumpreneur network I feel like a pressure has been lifted as I am now part of a group of supportive like-minded women that have my back when I need some support or feedback.

What do you find the most rewarding about being a Mumpreneur?

I get to set an example for my children, provide for my children and all whilst spending more time with my children than ever before…Amaze-balls!

What do find most difficult about being a Mumpreneur?

A difficult question. I guess that would be learning business from scratch with a very low budget to invest on help on how business ‘works’.

How do you manage running your business and family life? Is there any hints and tips you can offer?

Put your phone down! Your own business is always on your mind, after all if you don’t act no-one else will. However, I have recently given myself a talking to for the amount of time that I spend with phone in hand: If my two year old sees my phone away from my side he instantly runs it over to me, this was my sign that I had it with me a little too much.

On my business start up someone gave me some advice when I told him that my aim was to get more time with my children, he said ‘make sure that you do get that, don’t let your business take over‘. I am now mindful of this, and whilst they are still this little they and my time with them are my priority. I love my business, but it will have it’s time once they are both at school and need me less.

Do you have/make any time for yourself? What do you do? Is it important to do this?

Not really, I didn’t really do this before I started my business either. Perhaps this is something that I need to learn to do?

What is the biggest business challenge you encountered in your business and how did you overcome it?

I’m still fighting it, sorry not much help with this answer yet: I struggle to market my editing business and rightly or wrongly am currently standing strong that I can and will do this without any help. Literally every person out there with a business, a camera or even just a smartphone (perhaps even mostly these people) is a potential customer of mine, for that reason I had ‘dumbed down’ my branding and my marketing to try and appeal to all markets, I have realised (through the advice of my Mumpreneur peers) that I need to narrow my marketing down and aim for a target. Market content that is designed for everyone actually appeals to no-one!

What is your biggest achievement in business to date?

Just being in business! I knew that my business was going to work when I started it, there was no two ways about it…however, I still am amazed that I AM in business and it IS a success story, small and still very much in the making, but it is a success story so far.

What have you got planned for your business in the future?

I plan to continue to build strong foundations for the next two years whilst I cherish my time with Isaac before school. Then, when I will suddenly have days worth of free time thrust upon me every week I plan to grow: Grow my client base, my profits and who knows, maybe even my business itself.

What three bits of advice would you give to a mum wanting to start her own business?

  1. Do it!
  2. Join a networking group
  3. Join every free online directory that you can find (eg., Google+, Yelp, Thomson Local, etc)

What things do you delegate/outsource to others and why?

As yet nothing, however, I feel that my social media marketing will be the first thing to go once I have the budget for it. I put a lot of effort into my social media accounts (FB especially) as I still believe that it is the best way to reach the real people, but I haven’t had big success with any of my marketing campaigns as yet. I think I may need help.