"People shouldn’t underestimate themselves"

with Susie Lodge from Wiki Places for Kids

Show notes:

Self confessed super connector, Susie Lodge is a proud Mum to 3 little ones and founder of 2 businesses – Wiki Places for Kids and the Wiki Mama Network.

I think we can all relate to Susie’s description of screeching up to the office or to nursery pick ups constantly feeling like we’re on the back foot or in the wrong place. And we’ve all felt the romantic pull of setting up on our own – desperately seeking the freedom to choose how we manage our days and how we make our money.

Wiki Places for Kids was established and Susie had taken a place on the NatWest accelerator programme ready to take the business to the next level when Covid happened and business activity basically shut down overnight. Susie was really honest about how hard she found lockdown, homeschooling 2 small children with a baby and the disconnection she felt as an extrovert stuck at home. Which led to her founding her next business – Wiki Mama network, a place for women to celebrate each other, build connections and network when they might not consider themselves natural “networkers”.

Of course, I loved what Susie had to say about the value of networking: we all have a network whether we use that word to describe it or not and we should never underestimate our value and the value of our connections.

We ended the conversation with Susie’s beautiful and wise words about boundaries, which really resonated with me – listen out for her jar analogy, I am going to get myself a Susie jar! TLDR: It’s essential to ask for help.

Links:

NatWest accelerator programme
More on how I set boundaries with my clients
Website
Instagram
LinkedIn

 

About Suzie Lodge and Wiki Places for Kids:

Susie Lodge is the founder and director of Wikiplacesforkids, The Wiki Mama Network and is ALSO a consultant in Marketing, Events and Social Media.

Not only that but Susie is also a radio presenter, days out specialist and content creator on social media.

OH and lets not forget mummy to 3 CHILDREN and 2 dogs.

Suzie’s Links:

Website
Instagram (Wiki Mama)
Instagram (Wiki Places For Kids)
LinkedIn

Transcript:

Intro

Hello. I’m Caroline Marshall, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner the podcast speaking to mums in business. You. I’ll be in conversation with some of the most inspiring women and mothers in enterprise about their journey, how they created their successful businesses alongside raising their children and what that looks like in work and family life.

​​Caroline (00:28):
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Bump to Business Owner. I’m your host, Caroline Marshall, and today let’s give a huge welcome to Susie Lodge. She’s the founder of and director of Wiki Places for Kids, the Wiki Mama network, and is also a consultant in marketing events and social media. Not only that, but Susie is also a radio presenter, days out specialist and content creator on social media. Oh, and let’s not forget, she’s also a mommy to three children. So I’m personally fascinated to hear how Suzy manages all of this. Susie, welcome. Thank you for joining today.

Susie (01:03):
Oh, thanks for having me. Really excited to be here.

Caroline (01:06):
Anyone knows, me and Susie, we’ve known each other a while now. I joined a network a few years ago and I was in a particularly particular place on maternity leave, all the pregnancy hormones going around and not having a great experience in another network. So I’ve got a personal thank you for Susie for being so welcoming to me and being such a super connector.

Susie (01:31):
It was lovely to have you. So I think the thing is about the community is it’s such a warm, welcoming bunch of ladies. They’re all in very different stages of their business. So people who are literally starting out and maybe just in the setting the seeds of their business or people who are thriving in three figure businesses and doing amazingly well, three figure six figure businesses and doing great. So it’s such a nice warming come and join with us and welcoming community.

Caroline (02:04):
That’s definitely the feeling I got. And so Susie, I like to start a lot of these podcasts. I love hearing about mums who started their business and what was the career path that led to you being a business owner. So what’s your background?

Susie (02:17):
So I have been a programme director for big agencies in London, big digital agencies in London for about 20 years. So I started my career off in London. I was at a little printing house and ended up working through some massive agencies like M&C Saatchi, and then to loads of the WPP agencies, like AKQA and Wunderman Thompson. And basically I’m like an uber project manager so I can join all the dots and bring all the people together. And I guess that’s why I am kind of good at what I do now because ever since I was in my early twenties, that’s what I was doing. But basically I bring digital products and projects to fruition with huge clients like I dunno, Specsavers, Aston Martin, BMW, BlackRock, just tonnes, the Olympic Committee. I worked on some huge brands in the time that I was working agencies.

(03:15):
And then what happened was is I basically was on maternity leave with my second child, Matilda and I was on maternity leave and I was looking for things to do online and I kind of thought I was quite disillusioned with some of the stuff available online to find things to do. So obviously everyone was like, oh, go on Facebook. You can find things. But the thing is with Facebook because you find something, you can never find it again. You can never refin that post nightmare or at least you couldn’t then. I suppose it might be slightly more evolved now, but I still find it very difficult to refind things. There other massive platforms, moms net and net moms, they’re just not my bag. I think there, there’s a place for everything, but just not for me that one. And I don’t really like that kind of chat forum type thing to find things.

(03:58):
Anyway, so I was online looking for things to do and I just was massively underwhelmed and I was thinking to myself, God, do you know what we need? We need a TripAdvisor for parents looking for things to do with their kids. And then I was like, after a bit of time I was like, do you know what? I’m going to make one. And I did. And then because of my experience in digital marketing and I knew how to build a platform, I knew the process behind getting a website live and building one bespoke. Mine is all bespoke built. It’s not built on a platform. And I had designed a contact, I had it. I already a network with people that could help me. So I basically just went about building it and after about a year of doing stuff in the background, bringing up my little one, and I ended up basically putting a site live.

(04:42):
And so that all happened in 2017 and it was all on the basis of we kind of need things to do. And I wanted to say something that was entirely parent recommended and something that was kind of different to TripAdvisor in that I feel like TripAdvisor is now quite a tricky one in that it’s almost 50/50 good and bad. So you are trying to weigh up all those sort of negative reviews with the positive reviews and then trying to figure out there where you land with a place. Whereas Wiki Places for Kids is meant to be a bit of a shortcut for parents who are time poor, don’t want to waste their money, don’t want to waste their time, and we’re in a place of much more than ever of looking for recommendations for everything. I think you’re very likely to read reviews and you’re very likely to ask a friend for a suggestion on where to go locally.

(05:33):
And so what I created essentially was a hub for the word of mouth, a kind of platform really similar to TripAdvisor except for no negative, all the positive. And the idea being that if places started to get tonnes and tonnes of bad reviews and ended up being negative, it just came off because people haven’t got time. So it’s a short list essentially of the best places to go around the uk. So if you are on a, this is Wiki places for kids by the way, not the network just, but yeah, if you’re going away and you’re going to visit someone, you’re like, I have no idea where to go with the kids this weekend. We’re going off to say Norfolk for the weekend, but I dunno the area and everybody knows locally where to go, but they don’t know where to go if they’re travelling. And it’s a perfect thing because you’ve got three days to maybe do two or three excursions and you just want a shortlist of where everybody else says is great and it’s there for you.

Caroline (06:26):
And I guess also the great thing about it is, so TripAdvisor it is for everyone, but as a parent we have different needs, especially when you’ve got little ones, you might need bottles warmed up or somewhere with great changing places or somewhere the kids can literally just run and it’s safe. Exactly. And that’s the great thing about it, isn’t it? It’s that somewhere like this that caters for those needs and I definitely should be checking out more when I’m in places that I don’t know. Yeah, no,

Susie (06:52):
Exactly. I think it’s because you’re looking for, that’s what people are sharing. So it is normal moms that you and I who add the places on there. So it’s not me going round and just selecting and adding. It’s actually parents who are putting their reviews up and giving their review of the facilities and saying what’s kind of good and bad about it so that actually parents go in with their eyes open as well. For example, you might say, I didn’t know I’m going to make it up, but Leeds Castle, absolutely wonderful, beautiful grounds, incredible house, great playground, really amazing. But when we went to the cafe, there was a 20 minute wait for food and there was only three high chairs by which time my kids had had a total meltdown. So you don’t then think, I’m not going to go to Leeds Castle, but what you think is, do you know what? Maybe I’m better off not trying to go to the restaurant, I’m going to take a pack lunch that day or I am not even going to try to go for a high chair. We’re just going to go in, we’re going to take something out. You just kind of go a bit more knowledgeable about where you’re going.

Caroline (07:47):
No, that’s so helpful. So tell me, how did that go? So you are on maternity leave, did you decide to leave your job? How did that kind of story go from being employed to self-employed?

Susie (07:57):
Yeah, so at the time that I was also looking after Tilda and creating this business, I did get this idea that I wanted to do something for myself. I think I live in Milton Keynes, which isn’t very far from London really at all. We have amazing commuter lines from here, which are 35 minutes or so into London, but reality is that door to door, it was probably up to a two hour door to door once I’ve left here, got to the station and I got to work and I was finding it really difficult as a mom of two even to do this, to do this commute. I felt like I was the mom who was literally screeching up there at first thing in the morning to drop them off, screeching up to Woolton to get onto the train on time, leaving at half past four-ish to make sure that I could then get home in time for six o’clock to pick them up. And my kid was the one with holding their coat and bag with this person looking at you kind of like I never actually got fined, but that constant threat of being fined for being late to pick up, it was just,

Caroline (09:01):
And the guilty feeling, isn’t it when you are that mom, me and my friends have spoken about it when you are the one who’s child, it’s like on the own with the coat, I can imagine. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you get that and you just

Susie (09:12):
Constantly feel like you’re always in the wrong place so you feel guilty for your work situation, you feel guilty for the children. My kids were definitely doing at some point 10 hour days in nursery, which I don’t think, to be honest, is never done any of them any harm. And they’ve all done it, so it’s fine. But it was also a point where I was like, I’m just run ragged and I’m not even enjoying it. I don’t even love what I’m doing anymore. So I just very much wanted to, I had these romantic ideas too of going and doing it on my own. I kind of saw the birth and regeneration or generation of Not On The High Street and I was like, oh, I wish I’d thought of that. That’s such a good idea. And I think that’s in a way where my platform came from, but with obviously a completely different angle.

Caroline (09:56):
I love that. That’s great for people to see if they’re inspired by other ideas and doing it

Susie (10:02):
Differently. And I love the founders of Not On The High Street and obviously they’ve sold and made millions and moved on, but also Holly I find is quite an inspirational figure for me now as well. So she’s created that huge platform. She’s had a massive success and she’s moved on to do her own other businesses and also she is a massive support of small businesses and she and her own small business network and crafters and female founders as well. I think So I really loved that as a concept and I just desperately was seeking that freedom I suppose, to choose how I managed my day and how I earn my money. But that said, I’m now, so when was that? 2017? I’m good six, seven years into my journey and it’s ups and downs. We’ve had this covid in the middle, which just threw the cat amongst the pigeons hugely, especially for the industry that I was trying to thrive in with days out, obviously everything’s shut. So I’m often in this place of wouldn’t regular income, if you knew exactly how much was coming in every month, wouldn’t that be better? And it’s like that toss up, isn’t it, of you think that what it, it’s not frying pan into the fire always, but there is that what you let go of by being employed and the stress is there. You do pick up a new of stresses, which

Caroline (11:37):
No, but I love that. That’s real talk. It’s not like we’re all here living this flexible life. It’s different stresses and it’s up to you if you are the person that’s better off with those stresses versus the employee stresses. And not everyone is, but people that come on this podcast tend to be those ones. And so by the time you went self employd, did you have your third child or did you have your third child after that?

Susie (12:03):
No. So what happened? I’m just trying to think. No, so I have actually, just to give even more context to all this, I’ve actually been self-employed since 2012. So I’ve always been freelance since 2012, but I’ve had a regular running contract in a place for the whole of the time from 2012 pretty much through to, not the same place but different places. 2012, right through till 2017, 2018.

Caroline (12:32):
Is that quite common in that industry?

Susie (12:34):
Yeah, so I was freelancing in agencies and I was in there for about six months to a year or longer and it was great and I have these sort of long-term positions and there is that sort of stress when it comes to an end like God, what am I going to do next? But because I mean this was also before IR35 and those rulings came in and just have made it slightly more awkward for freelancers. So it was a really lucrative time if I’m completely honest. It was a really great time. I was pre-children for most of it, and I made great money. I was able to do five days a week. I didn’t have this stress then as well of having to be back for the pickups. And so it was a really good way to start. But then I think I was trying to build Wiki, but it was in no way near a financial state to go solo with it.

(13:25):
So I basically had it as a side hustle I suppose. I was trying to build this up along the side and then eventually I had a contract that was more local to me. So I was working locally in a contract and then I stopped for maternity leave with Lily, who’s my third child, and that was in 2018 and I guess that restarted a whole new chapter. So I had made a decision back in around 2017. I didn’t really want to be working in London as much anymore, partly to do with all that stress, partly to do with the fact that there were these bombings on London Bridge and there was just a little bit of a stress about that. But that said, that doesn’t worry me now about going to London at all. It’s not something I think about. But at the time it was, I think as a much younger mom and a mom of much younger children, it was really, I remember being really quite frightened being in London on the day of both bombings that happened and on the tube and the one that happened in London Bridge, or not the bombing, but when the person was attacked, the terrorist attack on London Bridge, I was there in London at the time and it was frightening being a mom of little ones and thinking there was the bus, that one that happened as well, sorry, at Tavistock Square happened when I was in London and you just change don’t you as a mom.

(14:40):
All the things that I didn’t have any fear of before just suddenly became much deeper rooted with bigger consequences and all of those things. Anyway, I managed to get a job locally and then that just to have Lily, and that was my year really where I managed to sort of build a child for the first year and have the other two and really tried to build Wiki. I also got onto the NatWest accelerator programme,

(15:08):
Which is a nationwide accelerator which anybody can apply to if you are at a position where your business is established and ready to accelerate. It’s not for people who haven’t yet started unless anything’s changed there since I did it. So I got onto the NatWest Accelerator and it really felt like things are really moving forward and this all happened in that maternity year of 2018 and things were going super, super well. And I managed to get clients that I’d been looking for, looking to work with for ages and some big names like Alton Towers, Digger Land, BeWILDerwood, National Trust, Parks Trust, loads of big, well-known sort of names and also brands that I loved and really wanted to work with. Then we’re talking about 2019, so we’ve gone talking about 2018 into 2019 now, and then we all know then what happened at the beginning of 2020. So I was still on the accelerator at this point.

Caroline (16:11):
Oh wow. Gosh.

Susie (16:12):
And I was still on it actually when we went into the lockdown and I guess I found lockdown very difficult. I really honest, I found it very difficult. I had a quite young child who was only, well, she’d just become one and a bit I suppose when we went into lockdown. So she very much was a child that I kind of became a baby. She was a baby during the first year, but during the lockdown she was doing that one, she was in that one till two year and that they really start to learn, socialise. And so I would say to an extent that she’s a lockdown baby, but she’s okay now. But I think that that’s the time when they’re starting to walk, they’re starting to crawl, starting to run, and that’s when you really want to be out and doing things and going to classes, doing that sort of stuff.

(16:59):
But yeah, I found lockdown difficult because we had two children at school age, one who was in the reception and one in year one I think it was. And it was like that really foundational learning time and I was in charge of that while also having a baby and also having my own business. I was trying to keep afloat and not just so many businesses actually folded during lockdown because one, the founder just could not stretch themselves across it or because the business had no custom and honestly I had no custom. So as soon as everything went into lockdown, my business shut down overnight.

Caroline (17:43):
Oh my goodness.

Susie (17:45):
But this really quite fascinating serendipitous thing happened and I am quite a spiritual person, so go with me with this, but no,

Caroline (17:54):
I’m with you. I’m there. Amazing.

Susie (17:57):
Just before lockdown, I got offered a contract with Wunderman Thompson. Again, one of the big companies that I’d worked with before through a friend that I knew really well, she said, I’ve got somebody off for three weeks and can you cover, is there anything you can do to cover it? And it was at a time pre lockdown, pre covid even. It was like January. And do you know what? We were all just in such denial we were seeing on the news, we were like, it’s never going to be a big deal. Worst case scenario, it’s going to be a three week lockdown. Do you remember that? Wow.

Caroline (18:29):
Our lives will change for a couple of weeks. Yeah,

Susie (18:31):
Totally. We’re like, oh, we’ll have to rethink stuff for a bit. Anyway, yeah, so two or three weeks before that I got offered this job and I was like, oh, I don’t know, it’s really annoying. I’m so busy, but all the accelerator stuff, how am I going to do that? How am I going to manage the things I’m doing? And I just thought, oh, then I thought, do you know what actually the injection of cash that I can going to get for that three weeks? Actually that will take some pressure off for a minute. It was quite close after Christmas and I thought, do you know what, you know, I’ll take that. I’ll figure it out. I’ll just take it. And I was actually in role in this contract at the point that Wunderman Thompson started to stop everyone coming into the office that everything started to work from home, that this huge transformation happened.

(19:16):
And long story short, I ended up in role. I don’t know how why, but I ended up in that role for at least six weeks and then that paused, and then I had the summer holiday, which was the most incredible summer ever, if you remember. Do you remember how lovely it was with the children? And then I got offered another contract and I honestly believe that I believe in God, so I believe that a hundred percent I was being looked after in this instance that I was offered something at a time when obviously the universe had the different plans and knew what was going to happen. So luckily I had these contracts that kind of speckled all the way through, but it was still a crazy time where I was not an amazing teacher to the kids.

Caroline (20:01):
Yeah, because what I want to ask, so you not only did have this business that obviously I know didn’t happen during Covid, but you had three kids, one at baby stage and homeschooling and the contract. So you did that as well? Yeah. Wow, amazing. That’s incredible.

Susie (20:19):
And it was during Covid then that I then started a new business, I suppose, which was the Wiki mama network.

Caroline (20:25):
That’s what I was going to say. So how did that come around as well? I was like, I had it easy being pregnant with a child starting one business.

Susie (20:36):
Well see, my dad is an entrepreneur and he had gone from normal employed work when I was a kid to then starting his own business. And he obviously had a really entrepreneurial streak in him. And I could see how, although my dad worked so hard, so it wasn’t necessarily the balance that I was looking for from working for myself, but I could see how for us as a family that him working for himself had benefited us, I suppose at least financially we’d been able to move to a bigger home and have different things and do different things. And I suppose I’ve always maybe seen that maybe with working for somebody else that you might hit a ceiling to a certain extent, whereas that whereas with what my dad showed me, that something else,

Caroline (21:26):
Yeah, I can relate

Susie (21:27):
And I must have that in entrepreneurial side to me as well, but what really happened in lockdown, so that’s why I think I was always about building my own thing and wanted all of that, but in lockdown, I guess the loneliness really hit me hard. So I am an extrovert. I get my energy massively from other people. I especially get my energy from women if I’m completely honest. My female friendships and connecting and talking. And I love being on a podcast because although we’re not in the same room today, we are chatting

Caroline (22:00):
And we get to know each other better. That’s what I’m learning from this. It’s quite selfish, the podcast.

Susie (22:04):
No, I love it. I also have my own radio podcast and it’s exactly the same reason. It means on a weekly basis I get to sit and listen to someone and be like, it’s like a conversation. And I guess I really recognise that in myself during lockdown because I really had the chance to notice that if I’m honest, before life was so busy this doing that, and when it was all taken away and stripped back, I just realised that for me especially, and this is no reflection of my love for my family, not really anyway, but I just didn’t get my energy from being in the home and being surrounded by the kids. And if anything, I felt more drained as a parent and as a human and as a woman I suppose, in that environment. And so what I ended up doing was I recognised quite quickly that I was talking still quite a lot in Instagram dms and here and there with people who also I knew were in the same position as me, who were probably one man band type situations. They didn’t have a team, so they weren’t having Zoom calls with teams. They weren’t kind of finding those connections, but they were other moms who were trying to manage all the shizzle at home and keep a business from falling over. For me, I wasn’t even trying to drive sales or do anything like that. It was just like, I need to keep the lights on, otherwise there will be nothing for me after this.

(23:27):
So what I did was I just basically reached out to everyone who I knew, who I was kind of friendly with in my, I suppose wiki world of connections. And I was like, right, this is what I’m doing. I’m creating a little network of mums in business. I’m going to stick us all in a WhatsApp group. And basically the point of it’s going to be that when you are having down day, we are going to lift you up, we’re going to be stronger together if you need help, we are going to just be here for each other. And I basically created this little thing. And then do you remember Clubhouse? Do you remember the flash of the pan that was clubhouse?

Caroline (23:59):
Yeah. I don’t think, what was clubhouse, was it like a listening thing as well? I feel like I downloaded it and then had no energy to actually open it.

Susie (24:07):
Exactly. So what it was was it was kind of a breath of fresh air at a time when Instagram, how Instagram and Facebook are just draining sometimes, aren’t they? Because you throw so much energy into it. And when Instagram was first launched, it was a photo sharing platform. You’ll remember back in fact of the day of what it was, Instagram was a connection point, a directory of people you knew. And now they are these other absolutely different beasts. You have to basically be a film producer to be able to create reels. And it can’t just be bog standard, I’ve taken a nice photo type thing. It’s not that.

(24:50):
And even if you had managed to crack the algorithm for 10 minutes, they’d do something else to make it harder. And so suddenly there was clubhouse where yes, there were some people that were all about the following and all about that kind of thing, but it was such a different platform. It was all about audio. So you would join rooms virtually. There was no seeing, there was no video and it was literally joining a room and it was all about the chatting. And I think overall that was one of the things that really we missed I think was actually using our voices and hearing other people’s and hearing it and not just that, can I have another stack? Not those voices and your own voice as well. God, I just was the worst version of myself honestly. When in lockdown, I look back and I think poor bloody kids, they’re like THE, we’ve just been over this. I just remember losing my rag over because the kids, we’ve just been trying to learn something and it was like, we’ve just done this and I know it’s awful, but I know there’ll be millions of other people out there who were like, that
was me. That was me.

Caroline (25:57):
Exactly. So thank you for sharing. It really is the truth. I mean, if I’m going to be honest, I was pregnant and then with my toddler, I remember my husband literally had to separate us at one point. He was, he was 18 months himself. So having the tantrums and I couldn’t deal with it and it just got too intense. It was like, we just need to not be together for five minutes.

Susie (26:19):
It’s difficult. I think that as well, if your children are like you, and if they’ve come from you, they might well be, but I noticed it massively, and I’m noticing so much more now as well with my nine year old, he’s like me. He gets his energy from other children. He loves counterparts. Basically you want to do the same thing as him and who can match his level of energy and that sort of thing. And with me, I, I’m obviously somebody that really enjoys the connection, the conversation, the sharing, the sharing of experiences, the combined moaning that you might do together to meet each other in a place and go, God, yeah, well thank God you feel that too because that’s how I feel and la la la. Anyway, so it was difficult. So what happened was I created this wonderful group and on clubhouse I’d have these wine down Fridays where we’d basically, I’d be like, right, everyone go and get a drink.

(27:11):
We’re going to meet at five and we’re going to talk about the successes of our week and we’re going to talk about anything that you want to share or anything you’ve launched or let’s just talk about what we’ve all achieved. And then that also then turned into Zoom calls, which became accountability sessions on Monday mornings, right? Guys going to try and get, what are we going to achieve this week? What are you going to set out? Let’s put it out to the community. You want to get X, Y, and Z done? And, and all this was free at this point. I loved the idea of building my own network. I’d been in other groups that I felt a bit disillusioned by in the past where certain setups and the ways it was managed were not met maybe for me, they just weren’t necessarily for me.

(27:52):
And I was like, right, do you know what I really want to do is build an amazing community where everyone knows each other, where everyone actually can think. If somebody outside of the network goes, do you know what? I need a social media manager. They’re like, do you know what? I know someone And within the network that they’re now paying to be part of that they actually recommend and support that person. Because what happened eventually was I’d been doing it for about six months and I thought it was across the board with all of my business activities. I remember thinking to myself, if I don’t put a value on my time and on what I’m doing, then no one else is that thing that we all have maybe, or maybe not everyone, but the thing that I definitely had was that if I show people what I can do for free, eventually they’ll pay me for it.

(28:37):
Oh, I’ll do this as a freebie thinking that that would turn into paid work. And actually if I’ve got one massive tip for anybody who’s starting out in business here, never do anything for free. If you can absolutely avoid it, because it very rarely goes from free to paid. If you want to do anything, offer a discount on it to get your foot through the door. But what I did wrong a lot was to do things for free. But having said that, I did then eventually convert the network from a free network into a paid, and yes, lots of people dropped off because they weren’t in it for paying. But lots and lots of people stayed and now it’s growing and growing and growing. We’ve had I think three new members over the last three days. It’s getting to a certain point
and it’s really great.

(29:27):
And the purpose is quite different to other networking. Like I said, it’s very much for people who maybe feel quite lonely in business. They might be one man bands, they’re quite small businesses, they dunno how to connect. They feel quite shy. They don’t necessarily feel they know how to put themselves out there. They would never be the sort of people that walk into a networking room and do the elevator pitch, shoulder pads, heels, fake it before you make it type situation. But they actually want what they feel is genuine real community around them where people care about them, where they can ask whatever questions seem silly to them that day. We have experts in the group across so many fields. A few of them would be like PR, social media, accountancy law. We’ve got manufacturing experts, we’ve got people almost in every field and at every stage. So if you’ve got a question about anything, not just to do with business I suppose, but if you need to get an advice on family law or something like that, wills, et cetera, then there’s somebody there to answer any question. And there’s face-to-face networking meetups. We have coworking groups, which is so lovely. We have a coworking session where you spend most of your time on the kitchen table working on your own. It’s just so nice to come and sit opposite

Caroline (30:45):
People. It’s so nice. I joined one on Friday and it is, I just needed to see some faces to get some social media content done. And so what would be your advice to someone? I feel definitely can feel I felt this when I was employed. I felt I didn’t belong in networking groups and things. And I think sometimes employed people should go to these network if they know they’re for whatever reasons they feel they need it for, whether it’s they’re going to start a business one day or literally because they just need that support in their role and progression. What would be your advice for people that were like me five years ago?

Susie (31:21):
Yeah, join a hundred percent. I mean we have just had a couple of women actually join who are, one’s in the NHS, one is employed within a big law group. And I think people should never underestimate themselves. Everyone has a network of people that they know. So the value that you can add alone to a networking group is massive because by being somebody that you’ll have people that you’ve been working with across the years in all the different careers that you’ve been in and all the different jobs that you’ve been in. So you’ll have this huge networking group of people who have their own expertise and knowledge into certain places. So bringing that to the table is amazing for a start. So you’ve got so much to add to everybody else in the group, but also especially if, I suppose if you are thinking about bringing business into your company, so this is one of the things.

(32:21):
So if you are somebody who’s looking to spread the word of how great your company is and whatever it offers, then actually being in a networking group is great because you are then tapping into, I dunno, I guess hundreds of other women, men and women and their own network. So again, your company, depending on what role it is, is going to be the one that gets mentioned by any of those women. When somebody in their networks say, oh, I need a company that does blah. Oh actually I know a woman in a company who is great and actually I can actually connect you directly. And so I think if you are looking to grow the company that you are in, then that’s a really good thing. But especially if you have any desire to launch something like your own project, your own charity, your own business, any kind of entity that you are looking to build in some form, being part of a community like the Wiki mama network is incredible because you have got all of this expertise at your fingertips for people who have started from the ground up and who can tap you in with the right people here, there everywhere.

(33:31):
So very often, whatever it is that you are launching, you might need at some point a recommendation for how to launch a website or how to create a social media platform, a presence. Or you might even just be starting so small and all you really want to do is get a business card and a flyer. You’ve got then all of these people who’ve already done it before and know how to get you discounts and know how to get you the right people. So it’s all of that. I just think it’s massively saves you time because you are shortcutting to recommendations is again as a bit of a…

Caroline (34:04):
Going back to what you started with.

Susie (34:07):
Exactly. I consider myself a bit of a super connector in those ways and that’s my kind of superpower because with Wiki places to the kids, I’m connecting families with attractions or families on days out and helping them create memories With the Wiki mama network, it’s about connecting businesses with other businesses or businesses with other individuals that will then help those businesses thrive and create new business opportunities and drive revenue and drive footfall and drive clients. And again, in all these things, it’s about how that recommendation thing, it saves you so much time wasted money. I just think as there is a bias in the group towards moms, but you don’t have to be a mom. But it just happens to be that lots of the women are already parents. And we are, I think at a time, if I’ll speak on behalf for myself, but I’m having lots of conversations at the moment and I feel like this is definitely a thing. But we seem to be more time poor than ever. Life seems to be more busy and crazy than ever. And when you are like that, you can sometimes make a wrong decision because you are stressed or you just don’t have time and therefore you procrastinate.

Caroline (35:20):
Yeah, I think the procrastination is a huge thing where people are, I don’t have the time. I’m trying to do this massive list rather than just doing one thing.

Susie (35:27):
Exactly. If you’ve got 50 women at your fingertips, that can all just go, don’t worry about that, do that and don’t make that mistake because I made that. You’re like, thanks, phew.

Caroline (35:35):
And I think this is a really interesting point because something I like to talk about a lot is I feel sometimes dunno whether it’s being English or a mom, we don’t ask for help enough. And I think that’s the point of whether you are not ready to join a networking group, but speaking to your friends and telling people what, having the confidence help, even if it’s just five people, what you want to do. And then those five friends could connect you to the right person. And it’s like thinking what you like said a great point. You already have a network and I think that that’s something your expertise is great to tell us that of a reminder. It’s okay to ask your friends for help whether it’s something that they need to help you on practically or just a little bit of a kick up the bum or support. I think that’s a really good way of talking about your network and how all of us listening to this could be using probably their network better. And it’s okay to call your friends your network. They are network.

Susie (36:31):
Exactly. And I mean I actually would say it’s not only okay to ask, I would actually say it’s essential. I think that it’s got to a point, especially if you are in a networking group that you are paying for, I would say the absolute minimum that you should be doing in that networking group is whatever your ask is, what is your ask for today? Because I can guarantee that there is someone in the group who can help with an answer to it and why sit there for another two or three days agonising over it? I think you are right. Maybe it’s a British thing, but we feel like we don’t want to burden other people with what we’re trying to do. We feel like we should try and do it all under our own strength. And actually I think aside from the business, especially as moms, sometimes we really don’t want to ask for help in the mom field of things.

(37:20):
It depends on what your family support network is as well. But I know I rarely ask for help. I have asked my mom for help more recently when things have been up and down ebbs and flows and whatever financially I suppose. But I really hate asking. It’s almost like, no, give me more. Give more. I can take it. And I’m like balance, balance, balance. And it’s almost like we’ve got, I say we, but I think it is we, there’s almost a pride factor of how much you can handle. Sometimes what somebody will say to me, oh Susie, you do so much. You’re managing this, you’re managing that. How do you do it? And there’s a little part of me inside that goes, well, thank you very much.

Caroline (38:03):
I’m just fabulous!

Susie (38:05):
Like, oh, look at me managing it all, but actually really how well am I managing it all? The truth is, yeah, I’ve got all these things, I’m spending all these plates I am managing, I’m keeping it all afloat. But that doesn’t drive massive happiness. It certainly isn’t driving massive revenue. It’s like how much more thinly can you be spread before you actually just fall over and at what point could you have asked for help? And actually you could have studied that ship sometimes as well. You are in such a momentum of whatever. Sometimes I find that I haven’t even allowed myself to think that I need help and that I could possibly ask. And you’re just in this sort of bad channel.

Caroline (38:49):
Yes. Yeah, I had a conversation with my team about this recently and you don’t even know how someone can help you. You’ve got yourself far too down the road instead of picking it up earlier. And I do wonder, I don’t know, I think I’m still in the early years with children and seeing friends still in the early time of getting pregnant, still having their first or second that I think as moms, I dunno if anyone will agree with this or you will agree with this, but I see people are like, oh, I’m doing so well. I’m managing this. And I think because getting to that stage of my kids are now almost five and two, I’m like, I don’t think this is true kind of thing. And I think we put it on ourselves that I’ve seen other people nail this, so I’m going to nail it. And it’s not that you’re not nailing it, it’s that you probably just need a little bit of support or a little bit of honesty in there. But we feel, and it’s like I do think there’s a lot around motherhood of like, no, I’m, I’ve not changed. I’ve got this.

(39:47):
And it’s like we know, as we’ve seen in our journeys already, there’s a whole heap of change that’s gone on there. No, exactly. Which is hard to handle and we need help during that time. I think I fully, whether it’s with your many businesses or just at home or with your children or just how your wellbeing even, I think that’s such a good point. And I also love that you brought up that phrase, how do you do it? We kind of bring that up on the podcast kind of thing. So it sounds like something you get asked a lot, Susie.

Susie (40:18):
Yes. I think because I’ve got three children, two dogs, multiple businesses and things,

Caroline (40:26):
The two dogs, that’s the part. But I feel it sounds like women and mothers are asking for you. This is my point with the phrase. I know there’s been a lot of like, well no one’s asking men how they do it, but in my experience of being asked do it, it’s normally like someone wants your magic secret sauce or someone has even said that about the podcast, will someone tell me how I can manage this all? And I’m like, yeah, hopefully. But that’s what I feel when people are asking it. It’s really like, wow, it’s coming from a place of you are amazing and how you manage to do all of this kind of thing. And if you’ve got any snippets on how, what’s your answer to that?

Susie (41:05):
I think that how you feel and how you manage things is so related to your attitude, if you know what I mean. You can a hundred percent get up in the day in the morning and be thinking, oh, I’ve got all of this and poor me and oh God, I can’t manage. Or you can just have this completely different attitude that cool, I’m going to crack on. I can do this. I think I’ve got a really positive attitude and a really positive outlook and I just try to bring energy to as much as I do. And I guess I’m in a position now where I actually really enjoy what I do. So a lot of it doesn’t necessarily feel like work when I run the events or when I’m doing social media crash courses for people or workshops. I love it because again, I get to sit and talk to people and the stuff that I’m doing,

Caroline (41:59):
You had that taken away from you. So you’re probably still in that with your personality. Like yes!

Susie (42:06):
I love running the networking events. And the thing is, we just mentioned something about how when people are not coping so well, I think one of the things that’s really important to me about my network is that when I notice that someone’s gone quiet and disappeared off for a while and they’ve gone dark, I’m really conscious of it. I’m an empath. So somehow I managed to feel the energy from people. If I think about it, I can tap in and I nearly always know if someone is gone down a hole and if they’re about to leave, but usually they’re about to leave, I feel like I’m an imposter. I don’t feel like I’m, and I always seem to know. And the thing is I always tap in and I always say to them, I kind of try and go in and get them and pull them back out.

(42:48):
I think sometimes that’s what people need. And it’s the same with business as much. Sometimes you go into that dark hole with your parenting, things get really hard, you’re going through a bad phase, you don’t feel like you’re connecting with your kids, you don’t feel like you understand them. You’re shouting a lot, you’re exhausted, you just can’t see any joy. And that doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It really doesn’t. It just means it’s hard. And sometimes you just go into a dark space and you go quiet. And I think the same thing happens with business. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you’re not connecting with people, sometimes people aren’t buying. You don’t understand you’re putting all this effort in and yet you’ve got to get anything back and then you can go quiet. And I think I just go in and find people in that little dark space and I pull them back out.

(43:29):
And usually it’s to do with overwhelm or it’s to do with, you just can’t see what to do next. You can’t take that step. And I’ve been doing this a really long time. I’m 42. I’ve been working for myself, as I said since 2012. I’ve taken on that. I’ve had those pressures over those months where you can’t pay the bills and the months where you really can. And I’ve been there so I can really share that. But I think a tip that I would give if anybody is asking for one is that you can say no. And I think sometimes when you’re in early stages of business or in your early stages of having children, even that you feel like you’ve got to say yes to every play date and you’ve got to say yes to every request for coffee or every meeting if it’s business, yes to every meeting or yes to every business opportunity or yes to everything that, especially when it’s free, lots of people will ask you for stuff, can you donate to this?

(44:20):
Can you come on this? Can you do that for me? Can you post that for me? Do you know what? It’s actually okay to say no. And to put it’s boundaries. Boundaries are such a huge, huge thing. And I am saying this, I take my advice not using it, but sometimes I find that when I have really strong boundaries, then I can carry a lot more and I can really spin all those plates when the boundaries are really blurred. For example, I say that I will do something for an hour but then end up on it for two and a half hours for example, that sort of thing. That’s when you just have to control those boundaries for yourself. And then I think that makes things a lot more manageable because time is the thing that is the most precious commodity

Caroline (45:04):
And that you can’t, there’s ways you can get more in a different way, but you literally are with your time. And especially like you said, I’ve read that a lot with people are going from one to two or two to three kids because your time is still the same and then you’re adding more into it.


(45:20):
Think that’s so helpful. I think boundaries are so important and something we can feel quite, I mean I know myself, I feel uncomfortable sometimes. I’m really excellent at boundaries in some ways and other ways I’m not. Like you said, I think I read something this morning about someone asking to meet you for a coffee and you want to say yes. And then the reality is you’ve got to work and you’ve got to think of ways to what’s going to help your business or help your family. And it’s like, well, maybe this is something I have to say no to right now. And that’s really hard. I think

Susie (45:47):
Exactly, there’s something, I like this analogy and it’s about the jar. So if I think of myself as a jar, and I’ve always been the jar and I’ve always basically been the same size jar ever since I was a fully grown adult, I’ve been the same size jar, but over time I’ve added a husband into that jar and then I’ve added a child and then another child and then another child. So that means that my jar is a little bit more full. And then I might’ve added a job in, and actually that job has just got this big and this big and this big and this big and it’s great and it’s got so much bigger. So now basically my jar, which always had so much capacity in to put more stuff in is really full. And it’s got to a point, especially more recently where I find that, to be honest, my jar is at capacity and it’s at the top. And so when other stuff starts to coming in, it all starts overflowing. And that’s when you, I call overflowing losing my shit, because it’s no wonder because my jar is not getting any bigger. Jar is the same size, it’s the same capacity as it always was. And so something’s got to give some sort of acceptance of that ebb and flow and that balance. And basically the top of the jar is the boundary, isn’t it?

Caroline (46:57):
Oh, I love that analogy. I’m going to remember that.

Susie (47:01):
If you’ve hit your boundary, you’ve hit your boundary.

Caroline (47:03):
Yeah, you’ve got a physical boundary.

Susie (47:04):
If it’s water. You can imagine it’s just going to flow out and it’s just going to create a mess. And that’s why I think your brain becomes a mess. Your life becomes, you feel like you’re out of control, but the one thing you can control really is just how much stuff is going in to that jar.

Caroline (47:19):
I love that. I think that is a fantastic point to end on because I feel like that is a soundbite we’ll probably be using in lots of places. Susie, because I am a fan, maybe I’ll get a physical jar here and just pretend I’ve added stuff. So I’ll be like, that’s my Susie jar, I’ll call it Susie. Susie, thank you so much. Have you got anything you can share with us about what’s next for either Wiki places for kids or Wiki Mama network? So

Susie (47:44):
Wiki Places for Kids is just going from strength to strength. I’d love people to go over and have a look if they want some lovely fresh and inspiration ideas for things to do with the family. So I’m always looking for new places and I love exploring. So I think that will continue. And the platforms I think I’d love to get a little bit of investment in at some point because completely self-funded, but as we discussed before, sometimes getting investment is a proper full-time job and takes you off in a completely, if I talk about my jar, I just have no room for trying to get investment in my jar right now.

Caroline (48:19):
Have you looked into anything, because we’ve got a whole host of different people, whether it’s crowdfunding, VC, or Angels, what sort of investment have you looked into? Anything just out of interest? This is like a whole conversation in itself, which I wish we had more time for. I won’t go…

Susie (48:33):
I’ve looked at crowdfunding, I have looked into an investment, angel investment as well, but I think probably the most likely thing for me would be crowdfunding at this point just because of where I am with the business, but I just haven’t got the brain capacity to go there. And so unfortunately, I think I kind of go round in circles in terms of the growth strategy for that business because it really just needs an injection of cash now. So that’s that. But the really exciting thing I think is where the network is going. As I said, I am a super connector. I just love putting women together, giving women these opportunities. I’ve managed to get one of the women as products into a really big lifestyle retailer in Milton Keynes, another one. I’ve given her an opportunity to almost franchise her business into another place.

(49:27):
So I just love connecting people together. I think the network ideally would continue to grow. My first goal would be to reach a hundred women as said. So if you are somebody out there who just really would love to get lovely community around you, but wants to build connections, wants to build support, but also clients’ revenue and income to the business, then I think that we could definitely be for you. And I think that’s the trajectory right now, the Wiki network. When I run these events and things for my attractions, again, it is still connecting. It’s still connecting families with places and I’m giving opportunities to the women in the network. So one of the recent events we did, I managed to have three of the girls went in as speakers, another went in to demo, another went in as a makeup artist and a hairdresser, and then a whole bunch of the women actually went in and were models for the event. So everyone got paid. So it was win win. So it was like the venue benefited, I got paid for my role and everyone else who was there as well. And it’s just like I can see so many more of these things happening and it’s really exciting.

Caroline (50:35):
Oh, that’s so exciting, Susie. So where can our audience find you online?

Susie (50:40):
So I am @wikiplacesforkids_official. That is my main account. I’m always active on the Wiki Mama network is at Wiki Mama Network. And if you want to have a look for ideas for some holidays, then it would be wikiplacesforkids.com.

Caroline (50:54):
Excellent. Well again, thank you so much Suzy. You have been listening to Bump to Business owner with your host Caroline Marshall. And thank you again for joining us Susie.

Susie (51:03):
Thank you for having me. I loved it.

Outro:

Thank you so much for listening to Bump to Business Owner. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Please do rate, review, follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening. It really helps us to connect with more mums and business owners. You can DM me at Bump to Business Owner on Instagram and I’ll be back next week.

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