"I haven’t got the answer yet"

with Siobhan Miller, founder of the Positive Birth Company

Show notes:

This conversation. Just WOW.

Siobhan has been so gracious in sharing what can only be described as one hell of a ride with her business.

After a lot of careful business planning, bringing in a senior leadership team of 4, Siobhan went on her first ever maternity leave with her fourth and final child. The best laid plans often go awry, and how.

Not only was Siobhan in a vulnerable position, coming back from mat leave and being ‘out’ of the business for a while, but then she found out her business was in trouble, it needed a restructure, and the team member she was putting all her trust in was not what she seemed.

Put it this way – if you’re into true crime you are going to love this conversation.

Siobhan’s mat leave rollercoaster is on the extreme end of things, but we also discuss a really important point. What happens where you’re a startup founder with a mission-led business that relies on your drive, and you want to step back? How can you make sure the business keeps its momentum?

We also raise an interesting question: when your mission led business has to a certain extent, fulfilled its mission, what do you do then?

Siobhan herself doesn’t have the answers to these questions yet. And she has been on one hell of a journey trying to find them, but this is such an inspiring conversation. What Siobhan has gone through, what she’s achieved and still being committed to her mission is truly, truly admirable.

Resources:

Body Happy Kids
The Tinder Swindler

Links:

Website
Instagram
LinkedIn

 

About the Positive Birth Company:

Siobhan Millar is the founder and CEO of The Positive Birth Company and bestselling author. Her book, Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better has been translated into five languages and has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide.

Siobhan is the creator behind The Hypnobirthing Pack, the original and award-winning online hypnobirthing course, the Freya app and The Postpartum Pack.She has featured on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den and been named as one of Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35. She also holds the Guinness World Record for most viewers on a hypnobirthing live stream.

PBC’s mission and reason for being: to make antenatal education and support more accessible for everyone.

Siobhan started her business with a newborn, a 1 year old and a 9 year old. She now juggles running The Positive Birth Company alongside being a mum of four, devoting her life to helping empower and support people in their journey to parenthood.

The Positive Birth Company Links:

Website
Instagram (PBC)
Instagram (Siobhan)
LinkedIn

Transcript:

Accountant She

Today’s episode of Bump to Business owner is proudly sponsored by Accountant She the disruptive, holistic, and person-centered accounting team helping to take you from bump to business owner and beyond. From fully outsourcing your business finances to strategic and enhanced maternity planning. We’ve got you covered and if you don’t need an accountant just yet but want completely free, accessible consumable financial education, then you can find me everywhere that you consume content at Accountant She.

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 (00:00:58):
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Bump to Business Owner. Today I could not be more excited to welcome a woman who I’m sure is fairly well known among many of our listeners and personally saw me through two extremely positive births. Let’s clarify not perfect, but positive. Siobhan Miller is the founder and CEO of the positive birth company and bestselling author. Her book, Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better has been translated into five languages and has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Siobhan is the creator behind the Hypnobirthing Pack, the original and award-winning online birthing course, the Freya app and the Postpartum Pack. She has been featured on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den and been named as one of Management Today’s Top 35 women Under 35. She’s also holds the Guinness World Record for most viewers on a hypnobirthing live stream. The Positive Birth Company’s mission and reason for being; to make antenatal education and support more accessible for everyone. Siobhan started her business with a newborn, a one-year-old and a 9-year-old, and now she juggles this business alongside being a mom of four, devoting her life to helping empower and support people in their journey to parenthood. I’m so excited to welcome Siobhan.

Siobhan (00:02:11):
What an intro. I’m like, oh my God, who is this person? I’m not going to live up to this.

Caroline (00:02:20):
Oh, you definitely are. I love it. Yeah, everyone says that on the podcast. I think it’s nice to have someone else introduce you, like this is what you have done. Thank you so much for joining. I mean, when I say I was literally talking to my husband in the car this morning, I was like, what do you want me to say to Siobhan because he’s a big fan. also,

Siobhan (00:02:37):
Did he do the course?

Caroline (00:02:39):
I got him to watch the bit, so I’m going to start with this. So he was such a sceptic, which you must get a lot of. So I’ve got him to watch the birth part and the science part. He’s got a scientific brain as I was like, Greg, you need to listen to this, and he was like, wow, this is just education. This should be on the NHS. And then when he saw me give birth, he was like, yeah, he’s such a fan now.

Siobhan (00:03:02):
Oh, amazing. I love it when you get sceptics and they do the science bit and they’re just onboard. It makes sense. It’s like, why did we not know this earlier?

Caroline (00:03:12):
Exactly, and that’s what we were saying in the car today. I was like, can you believe we don’t get told this in our midwifery sessions

Siobhan (00:03:18):
Or even earlier back at school when you’re learning about how your body works and you’re learning how not to get pregnant, I feel like there’s a whole part of education about how to get pregnant when you want to and what happens to your body then, and that’s just not discussed at all.

Caroline (00:03:36):
I talk about this a lot actually from the career side of like, oh yeah, they want us to have a career push, push, push, and then we have babies and it’s like, no one’s prepared us for the fact that changes your career, but you are right. They’re so focused at school on don’t get pregnant, and then it’s like, well, you do want us to have babies one day, so let’s have a positive education on that.

Siobhan (00:03:58):
We’re sort of responsible for continuing the population, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Caroline (00:04:05):
Kids will be paying your taxes, your retirement one day.

Siobhan (00:04:10):
Even at primary school they say one of their, they’ve got school values at primary school and it’s all about this ethos of preparing children for the real world, but even I’m like, well, then the real world is having families. That’s a big part of the real world and yes, it’s never discussed how to manage a career with children or how to get pregnant or what to do when you are pregnant, what your body does. Nothing. It’s just nothing is discussed.

Caroline (00:04:39):
And your hormones, what that might mean kind of thing. I’m like, yeah, if only we could fix the world.

Siobhan (00:04:45):
Well beyond. Menopause. I’m still really in the dark about that. I just know it’s this thing that’s looming and it sounds really frightening, and I’m like, God, I need to get clued up on what that actually entails.

Caroline (00:04:56):
I know I keep saying that to me as well. For me, pregnancy was such a shock and no one around me had, my close people hadn’t had it. My older sister hadn’t been through it, and so I’m like menopause. Firstly, I’m not going to be the first. Secondly, I’ve agreed that one mother nature, but secondly, I need to actually be educated on it versus pregnancy.

Siobhan (00:05:15):
Yeah, a hundred percent.

Caroline (00:05:17):
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did your career start? How did you come to start the positive birth company for people who don’t know you here?

Siobhan (00:05:24):
Yeah, so I guess it starts all the way back when I was 20 and I got pregnant when I was at university and had my son. He was born just after my 21st birthday and I hadn’t heard of hypno birthdays. I was clueless and I didn’t have any money. I was a student, so I didn’t go to any kind of paid classes. I did go to the free ones at the hospital put on, so I learned some information, but generally I knew very little. I knew nothing about how my body would actually work in labour or what might help or what might hinder. I was offered an induction, I say offered because that’s what the language I would like to use, but actually I was told I was going to be induced and it felt very kind of pressured. I actually thought that just meant my baby was going to come quicker, so I was really happy about it.

(00:06:10):
I didn’t know there was any risks associated with induction, and that was never made clear to me. Anyway, I went down that pathway. It took two days. I ended up in theatre, every intervention going and by the end was just exhausted, depleted, hadn’t eaten or slept in two days. Oh gosh. And just terrified, absolutely terrified by the end of it, not let me make this clear because induction is necessarily terrifying, but because just so out of my depth and didn’t understand anything really disempowering, and so after that I suffered really quite badly with postnatal anxiety, which I attribute to that kind of traumatic experience. It was not something I would say I’d look forward to doing again. It was just something I survived and then life moved on and then eight years later got pregnant with my second baby. So this time I was what, 28 and I obviously I was aware of people.

(00:07:10):
I had had children now around me or on social media, and I’d heard about Hypnobirthing, and again, this is back in 2014, so it wasn’t really hugely popular, but the few people that had done hypnobirthing were evangelical about it. I didn’t meet anyone. It’s a waste of time. They were just, you need to do this. So I had no idea what this was, what hypnobirthing was, but all I knew was that everybody who’d done it raved about it. So I was like, it’s worth a go. So I looked for a hypnobirthing course and it wasn’t easy to find one. There was none local to me. I had to travel about an hour and a half to go to the class. It was on the other side of London.

Caroline (00:07:51):
Wow. That was commitment.

Siobhan (00:07:52):
Yeah, it cost over 300 pounds. So it was quite an investment, and I remember going there on the first day and my partner said, I hope they don’t make us do anything weird. I mean, we literally didn’t know what we’re going to be hypnotised, what was going to happen. So we had kind of put our faith in this based on other people’s singing the praises of it, but we really didn’t know what to expect. Then of course, we got there the first bit’s, the science, and it’s just light bulb moment after light bulb moment and you’re just like, whoa.

Caroline (00:08:22):
Was that quite healing for your first birth.

Siobhan (00:08:24):
Yeah, exactly. That’s a really good point. It immediately, it helped me, and in fact, I didn’t even think much about my upcoming birth. I just kept thinking back to my birth experience the first time, and it made so much sense why things happened the way they happened, and so all of the fear that I had about that experience being repeated, that question that you’ve just asked actually just has reminded me. I remember feeling really confident that that wasn’t going to happen again. Even if the induction happened again, I would feel completely different and know how to approach it, and I wouldn’t lie on my back on the bed. I wouldn’t do X, Y, and z. I would do this. So I felt like, wow, although you can’t control how birth unfolds, there are still a lot that you can control inside yourself. And I was like, I can make these choices and I can use these techniques and I have an understanding of what’s happening.

Caroline (00:09:20):
Ask the right questions, feel empowered to do that, isn’t it?

Siobhan (00:09:24):
It really, really helped me make sense of that first birth experience and feel really kind of at peace with, okay, that’s not what’s going to happen to me again. And then of course I started feeling excited about giving birth again, and genuinely I felt excited. That’s how I describe it, and I did all the prep. I felt really close to my partner. I remember saying that even if the birth doesn’t go how we are hoping, I still feel that hypnobirthing has been so massively beneficial because I’ve been able to enjoy being pregnant and I’ve enjoyed all the mindfulness stuff that we’ve done. The meditation, the things that connect you with your partner, connect you with your baby.

Caroline (00:10:03):
Made you relaxed.

Siobhan (00:10:04):
Exactly. So I felt I’ve had the benefit from this course already, and then I went on to have my birth. I planned a home birth, I gave birth on the sofa at home. It wasn’t perfect. We talked about positive, not perfect. That by the way is because I think there’s a lot of misconception that a positive birth experience is one that’s an inverted comm is perfect. So you plan to have a home water birth, you get a home water birth. That’s a positive experience and anything else, and that’s so far from the truth. The positive experience is one where you feel in control empowered, you are able to make decisions that are right for you and your baby. You are listened to, respected, and you come out of that experience feeling good about it. That could be a planned home birth turn, caesarean birth. It doesn’t have to be straightforward birth. And actually at the other end of the spectrum, you could plan a home water birth, have a home water birth, and feel traumatised because you weren’t able to manage the pain essentially. And actually you felt really overwhelmed and frightened, and that could be quite traumatic, even though on paper it might look straightforward.

Caroline (00:11:12):
No, well, I actually ended up giving birth alone for my second. The midwife didn’t make it on time, but I wasn’t traumatised by that and that experience, I just felt in control and fine, and it was my second as well. But I do know other people that have ended up giving birth alone and they’ve had a lot of self blame and not felt the same. So it really is how…

Siobhan (00:11:32):
It’s about the feelings rather than what’s actually happening in the room or how your birth actually happens. It’s more about how you feel during that experience determines whether it was a positive one or not. So that’s why I say positive, not perfect. We’re aiming for positive experiences, not necessarily perfect because of course there’s so much we can’t control.

Caroline (00:11:55):
There’s so much you can’t control. And I think about that. I had a very sick child with my second one, and I think so many people wanted to know why, and it’s this control thing, and I think that’s what a key part of birth is, is that so much they want to control so much and we want to be able to control it, but you can set everything up to try your best hypnobirthing atmosphere, health, but there is stuff out of control, isn’t there?

Siobhan (00:12:20):
Absolutely. Absolutely. So that’s where the whole positive not perfect comes in. And my second birth was exactly that. I gave birth at home on the sofa. It was, I felt euphoric, I felt invincible. It gave me this complete sense of confidence. I thought like, wow, it was amazing. But I then did have blood loss afterwards and I had to go into hospital by ambulance and then unrelated to birth had an anaphylactic reaction to a drug.

Caroline (00:12:52):
My stepmom did in birth. She was allergic to something and it just turned the whole birth just because they didn’t know she was allergic to something.
Siobhan (00:13:00):
I know. So I don’t want anyone to be thinking, oh my God, does that happen when you give birth? Not normally.

(00:13:06):
So yeah, it was definitely not a perfect experience, but in terms of how I felt about my birth, I couldn’t have felt better. It was quite quick. I didn’t have any intervention, didn’t have any internal examinations, didn’t have any pain relief. I just literally did my breathing, did my focusing was at home. In my lovely environment that I set up, I couldn’t believe that I’d done it. And when my baby came out, it was on all fours on the sofa. He was passed through my legs and I brought him up to my chest and it was just absolutely incredible.

Caroline (00:13:41):
And the power of you both went through something after with your seconds, but the power of that, your birth was positive, so at least there’s something. If that hadn’t been and you went through that as well, it would’ve been a whole lot worse for you. Yeah, yeah.

Siobhan (00:13:55):
Yes. On paper it looks like maybe I would’ve been upset about things, but I couldn’t have felt better. I was euphoric. And so talking about the career path, that was really what ignited my desire to teach hypnobirthing. And actually at the same time, although I had a job in marketing, I was doing a psychology master’s because I really wanted to kind of change career and work in a role where I was able to help people. So these two kind of experiences were happening at the same time.

Caroline (00:14:25):
You’re already on that path without knowing

Siobhan (00:14:27):
I was already on that path, and then I thought I was going to become a clinical psychologist. I thought that was going to be my route. And then I had my baby and I was like, it was like I found my calling. I was like, this is what I want to do. And that’s how it started. So I graduated from, my baby was born in December, 2014. I completed my master’s in 2015 and then trained to become a hypno birthing teacher that year. So within a year of giving birth, I was a qualified hypno birthing teacher, and I just felt so passionate about making it accessible, like everybody who wants to do this should have access to this education because it’s life changing. So that’s really how it all began.

Caroline (00:15:10):
Oh, love it. And I have a quick question. I talked about a minute ago how you have a career and then you dunno that changes, but for you, you’ve always had career and babies along the same time. What was that like with the job in marketing and being a mother as well? We all find it challenging and I can’t imagine,

Siobhan (00:15:30):
I dunno, because I don’t know what adulthood without a child is like, I was a child. I went to school, I went and did A levels, I went to university and I had a baby in my second year of university. And although I know I was over 18, so I was technically an adult. I think when you look back and you think of your 20-year-old self at uni, I was definitely a kid. So in some ways it’s easier because I didn’t have a life that I had to then give up to become a mother. And I think about people who have had established careers who’ve had a lot of freedom, disposable income, able to go out for meals with their husbands or go on holidays and then they have a child. It’s such a massive shift that it can be very difficult to get used to.

Caroline (00:16:21):
Yeah, yeah, hard relates to that. Yeah, so that’s an interesting perspective.

Siobhan (00:16:27):
Yeah, I was just a kid and my life was changing quite rapidly at that time anyway, and then I was a kid with a baby and so I just finished my degree. I used to take him to uni with me in a baby car seat and I used to breastfeed him in the student union bar and then I would go and put him in the seat and put him underneath the desk and he would sleep.

Caroline (00:16:47):
Wow. He’s really been on that whole journey with you.

Siobhan (00:16:49):
Yeah, we’ve just grown up together.

Caroline (00:16:51):
They were understanding in the working world?

Siobhan (00:16:54):
So no, so when I was working then it was quite hard. So he was at school and I would literally drop him at the breakfast club at 8:00 AM every day. Then I would cycle to work, then I would work, I would get back on my bike straight away after work and I would cycle back and pick him up from the after school club. So he was breakfast club school after school club eight till six, Monday to Friday from the age of four.

Caroline (00:17:19):
And that’s all you knew. Would you have ever thought about asking flexible working.

Siobhan (00:17:25):
Yeah, no, wouldn’t, it wasn’t even a term. You’re talking about 14 years ago. Yeah, I didn’t know about that at all. And yeah, obviously didn’t have much money the start of my career just trying to make ends meet. So I didn’t have that whole going out for drinks after work in London. I never had that light life that I just used to get on my bike, get home and pick him up. And I always used to be really excited to pick him up and feel really happy. And we had a little flat and lots of people would come over. I think I had something different that my peers didn’t have, so they tended to live in big house shares that were quite messy and grotty. And I had this little quite homely little flat with hin. So I think you can always think the grass is greener. I think people used to coming over to mine and we’d have dinner and it would be a nice place,

Caroline (00:18:19):
Be a home because you’d make it a home for you and your family.

Siobhan (00:18:22):
So I often used to have friends coming over for dinner.

Caroline (00:18:26):
That’s so interesting to hear. Thank you. I’m just fascinated. Then it’s just interesting to know how far we’ve come. While it’s still a push and things that you would not have even, obviously money was part of it, but flexible working wouldn’t have been something you’d ask for. And I guess all in person as well. You wouldn’t have even worked from home, would you?

Siobhan (00:18:44):
No remote working. No. There was no work from home. No, not at all. So yeah, it was very structured in the office and obviously I realised at some point in that journey that wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. And so that’s why I started the psychology masters because I wanted to do something else. And then of course when I had the two little ones, so after my second birth, I got pregnant unplanned six months later. So I have these two little boys. Oh yes, I know. It’s wild, isn’t it?

Caroline (00:19:16):
Oh, I struggled with two years apart with my two boys,

Siobhan (00:19:20):
But you know what? I’ve learned so much over this whole thing. So my third child was a big surprise, and as was my first, my second and fourth were planned. And I’ve learned that I put so much planning around, I think we’ll talk about that in a minute, about the fourth baby and having this maternity leave for the first time in my life, and it did not go as planned, and I put everything possible in place, whereas my third was a surprise. And actually I got through that. So I’ve kind of learned you can do planning and it doesn’t always go the way you want.

Caroline (00:19:58):
I love this. It comes full circle round to the control thing. Again, you did your best and it didn’t work out. So let’s definitely talk about that in a second. What I’d love all first talk about is the launch of the online side of it, because that was really innovative was that’s changed it. I think your business really has, and I know you won’t say it yourself, but from someone who’s not in this world, but you launched the online pack the year I had my first baby, and it was already known about enough to get to me. What did that look like in practise when you were like, I want to bring this to more people. How are you we going to do this?

Siobhan (00:20:38):
So I mean, it was just me at the time there. It was just me on my own. So I had these two little babies, and so I was going around teaching in person and I felt like there’s got to be a better way. And I was starting to make YouTube videos and I thought, what is there stopping me putting the whole course online to make it digital? And that doesn’t seem very innovative. Now I know there are so many online hypnobirthing courses, but back then there wasn’t. So it was a new way of doing things. I had a friend who was a videographer and she lent me her equipment. So she came round and set it up in my living room and then kind of left me to it for a few days. So when the children were in bed in the evening, I would go downstairs, switch on all the lights she’d set up and switch on the camera, switch on the mic, and I would teach essentially to the camera.

(00:21:32):
And so then I had got all the footage and she helped me edit it all and put it together, did some research, found out about a platform called Teachable, which is a really good platform for online courses. I uploaded it and I had my own personal Instagram. I didn’t have a business Instagram, and I was just talking on there about what I was doing, talking about wanting to make it accessible. That was my mission really. And so I had a lot of support online just from that really. And then I released it in April, 2018. And honestly, I thought that I will continue teaching in person and then this is kind of a secondary thing that I can offer people. So if they can’t afford to attend an in-person class, because there has to be a cost with that because hiring a venue and stuff so you can never make it so cheap or if they can’t get to it because they live far away or if they can’t get childcare, all of these reasons, it offers this flexibility. And honestly, I thought that was it. It was going to be this secondary thing to the main thing I was doing, which was teaching in person. And it just took off. And honestly, I had no advertising.

Caroline (00:22:47):
Amazing

Siobhan (00:22:47):
I had no investment, no money. I was just kind of living moment to moment.
Caroline (00:22:52):
Did that feel scary? Like, oh, this is going so well, so quick.

Siobhan (00:22:57):
Yes. And I was like, it can’t be sustained. What is happening? It just went crazy. And like I said, I didn’t even have a business, Instagram or any sort of business, social media. It was just my own social media and it just took off and it was crazy. And then it was a case of trying to keep up with the demand from a kind of customer service point of view and everything.

Caroline (00:23:23):
Yeah, that’s really hard for small businesses that kind of kick off, isn’t it? I think people expect John Lewis responses from one man bands,

Siobhan (00:23:33):
There being this big infrastructure and obviously I wanted to make sure that everything was the best it could possibly be. And so I put a little job ad, I’d say you’d call it on Instagram. Again, I’ve got no HR background, so I was kind of like need help urgently, help required.

Caroline (00:23:53):
Send a letter.

Siobhan (00:23:55):
And I got inundated. I remember inundated.

Caroline (00:23:59):
I bet.

Siobhan (00:24:00):
Wanting to work for me, and I was reading these CVs and these were people that were highly qualified. I would think they were way more qualified than myself. Maybe not in birth, but they were doctors and scientists. And I’m reading incredible women’s CVs, like why on earth would you want to come and work for me? I’m just here in my living room doing something. I don’t even know what I’m doing. I was just overwhelmed with these people that were just these incredible women who were applying to work for the business. I just didn’t. And then I had a message from a friend, I’ve just seen your ad. I’d love to do this. So I was like, great, well, let’s just do that. I don’t even have time to go through all these people’s cvs and I don’t even know what I’m doing here. I just need help. I did actually. I remember writing back to every person that had sent their CV and writing a really nice email to be like, I cannot believe you want to work for me. I cannot. I’m like in awe of you. But yes, I had my friend Chloe started working with me, and so that was in the beginning of end of 2017 actually, or beginning of 2018. And she’s worked with the business for six years and she’s only just finished now and gone to do something different.

Caroline (00:25:15):
What stage did it come where you got to a stage where you’re like, I need a team. This needs to change.

Siobhan (00:25:21):
So it was Chloe and I for quite a while, and I just worked, honestly, I worked crazy hours. I literally worked crazy hours. I wake up, I’d be on the laptop and then I would work till the early hours of the morning.

Caroline (00:25:37):
And you lived and breathed it.

Siobhan (00:25:38):
That’s all I did. I didn’t have a life. I didn’t see friends, I didn’t exercise. I don’t advocate this for anyone, but it was just crazy. And I didn’t mind though because I was so excited and so passionate about it that it just fueled me to work round the clock.

Caroline (00:25:58):
I think the key is recognising when to stop that. I think you can’t live like that forever, can you?

Siobhan (00:26:04):
No. But I was so scared of taking that step to getting employees and being responsible for people’s pension contributions and being able to provide and be sure that this was going to be a long-term employment that I could offer them because it just went so fast that I was like, this can’t last. This surely can’t last. So first person that was an employee was Ella, and I met her in a coffee shop in Exeter. I’d never interviewed anybody in my life, and I was like, I don’t really know what I’m doing here. And so she became the first employee. And then it was quite organic really, as we felt like, oh, need another person. So then we got another person.

Caroline (00:26:47):
Then it felt less scary?

Siobhan (00:26:49):
Well, I mean, I think the fear never leaves you, to be honest. When you are holding the reigns, you have all of these people’s livelihoods. I find the weight of that responsibility a lot, and it doesn’t really ever leave, I don’t think.

Caroline (00:27:05):
And do you think it’s hard, especially in mum hood in the early years when you’ve got such dependence on you? I think Upsource, I’m going to have, I’ve got all freelancers at the minute, but it will get to a point I’ve got to bring on employees. And I think there’s something in me, especially the past few years, it’s been like, nope, can’t do that. Can’t have that. The extra responsibility when I’ve got all this responsibility. Do you think there’s a bit of that?

Siobhan (00:27:31):
Yeah, it’s a lot. And I’ve really struggled with that, the kind of weight of the responsibility. And as you get more employees, there’s more responsibility, there’s more people, I want to say problems is the wrong word, but…

Caroline (00:27:46):
People do bring problems. Not to sound awful, but everyone you listen to who has a people business. And I’ve listened to podcasts where they’ve said I would never have a people business again. You’ve got to be of an ilk to be able to support everyone, but also have boundaries as well.

Siobhan (00:28:03):
And I found that really difficult and still to this day, it’s something I really find particularly hard and especially my kind of experience of maternity leave that I’ve just had.

Caroline (00:28:13):
Can we talk about that now? I feel like we’re naturally getting to that point. So what did the planning look like when you, because you planned your baby and you did everything right?

Siobhan (00:28:24):
Yeah, so I had come from having never had a maternity leave. So I had my first son when I was at uni and I was straight back at uni. I think I had exam six weeks after he was born with my second and third. I was studying after my second, doing my master’s, trying to become a hypnobirthing teacher, setting up the business when I had my third. I had already started the business I was teaching and I was going here, there and everywhere in the country, taking him with me, finding people to mind him pumping, expressing bottle the whole lot just from straight away really. When he was just a couple weeks old, I was doing that. So I’d never had an maternity leave. And so I really, really wanted to have a final baby, had this desire, I don’t know why. Just really had this feeling that I wanted to have my final baby, and I really, really wanted to have a maternity leave for the first time in my life. I have absolutely no regrets about my business, but the sacrifice has been that I never got that time with my babies when there were little, and I just don’t think it’s possible to do both. If there’s a way to be a present mom soaking up every minute and running a startup business. I mean, I just can’t see how that’s possible.

Caroline (00:29:40):
Thank for sharing that. That’s just so honest. I feel like we need a bit more of that honesty.

Siobhan (00:29:46):
Unless you can clone yourself and be two people at the same time. It’s just not possible. So that was a sacrifice I made. I don’t regret it, but I didn’t want to do that again. So I wanted to have this baby, and I was prepared to wait for as long as it took to be in a position where I could take that maternity leave and really have that special time and soak it all up because this was going to be my final baby. And so what I did was a lot of research about what a business needs, whereas before, like I said, I was just kind of winging it and so decided to go down the route of having a senior leadership team. And so having a head of marketing, a head of ops, head of HR and people, and putting in place this senior leadership team, which meant that they would run the business and I would essentially be not required

Caroline (00:30:34):
Founder stepping away basically, which I see all the time does need to happen in businesses at some point. And what size is your team at the business at this point.

Siobhan (00:30:43):
Probably 12. I’m thinking.

Caroline (00:30:45):
Gosh.

Siobhan (00:30:48):
And the business was going well. And so it took a long time from that start of that process to recruit people, to train people up, and obviously then at the same time start the process of trying to get pregnant.

(00:31:03):
And so that got all the people in place. So I think at the peak then, it was probably 15 people working in the business and it was going well, and I was pregnant and it was summer 2022, and I felt so happy and so full of hope that I was so grateful that I was having this baby. At how old was I? 37. I felt so grateful that I was able to have this baby that I’d wanted for so long and so many times thought I wasn’t going to be able to, so I was so happy.

Caroline (00:31:37):
But it has been a real business goal to get to this point as well, which is lovely to hear.

Siobhan (00:31:42):
Business is going well and the people are great. And yes, the hope was high. And I think this is the downside of planning. When I found out I was pregnant with Albi, as I said, unplanned, massive surprise, just rolled with it. This was very different, but I had such high expectations, and that is where it creates the problem, doesn’t it? If you’ve got the high expectations.

Caroline (00:32:04):
High expectations, I do think that sometimes. Yeah, I kind of embraced that parenthood was going to be really hard. I hadn’t prepared for it. Whereas I think a lot of people, if you try and try and try, you’re like, oh, it’s going to be perfect when I get pregnant or when I do this.

Siobhan (00:32:21):
That was the problem. So everything was in place. I had my baby, and that’s when it started going wrong in inverted because I planned to have a home birth, and when I was in labour, there wasn’t enough midwives because of the midwife crisis. So I had to transfer into the hospital when she was coming out.

Caroline (00:32:40):

You were ready to push?
Siobhan (00:32:42):
Yeah, my body was already pushing. So I had an uncomfortable car journey, got to the hospital, gave birth at about eight minutes of arrival.

Caroline (00:32:53):
My first was at the hospital, but I did all the birthing at home. They kept saying, oh, it’s not happening. It doesn’t happen this quickly. It doesn’t happen this quickly. My husband is like, it is happening this quickly. So I know that uncomfortable car journey because I had to. Yeah, so my first, I was needing to push in the car and holding back, and then did as soon as I got to the hospital in the lift, well, not in the lift, but I was like, I’m ready. And then my second, yeah, the midwife didn’t make it on time.

Siobhan (00:33:22):
And so you had your home birth?

Caroline (00:33:24):
Yeah, she arrived five minutes later, so thank goodness she was there for the placenta, which was, I don’t want to do that on my own.

Siobhan (00:33:31):
So I mean, that could have been my story, but I got in the car. That kind of was a big disappointment. I felt really disappointed. I think I would’ve been able to make peace with it if there’d been a more a medical reason to go into the hospital. But it was so frustrating that the national crisis or whatever we’re calling it, the fact that the NHS is on its knees and there’s not enough midwives and it’s been underfunded and for so long, that’s the resulting consequence. I felt so sad about that. I’ve spent so much of my life working to help people have positive births, and then I finally get to have this baby that wait for so long, and it’s like there’s not even midwives.

Caroline (00:34:17):
Yeah, I’m not being supported. I’ve put so much energy into supporting others and now I’m not being supported due to the system.

Siobhan (00:34:25):
To the system. Not to blame any bloody midwives are amazing. Just the blinking government, I suppose is really who I’ve got the problem with. It’s created this problem anyway, so that was really hard. Emotionally, I found that really hard and disappointing. I know I won’t get to do it again. That was my final birth.

Caroline (00:34:46):
Well, it gives me goosebumps. It is sad when you feel like that. I think as a covid mom, I think there’s a lot of covid moms relate to that if it was their last child during lockdowns and things. I think because a lot of first time moms, and I think because I’m still not sure if it’s my last. So I think that’s why I find it easier to make peace with. I’m on the fence. My husband is convinced a different way, but I think a lot were like, this is my final baby, and it’s just like my husband’s not been there, things like that. And it’s again, the system was, they just kind of forgot about us, didn’t they? I am sorry. You went through that and was it okay in the hospital?

Siobhan (00:35:27):
Oh yeah, it was fine. I got there. They’d actually got the pool ready, so I got into the pool. Actually it was funny because the water wasn’t working, so they were filling it up with buckets and I just couldn’t wait. So I just got in the pool and still throwing buckets over my shoulder trying to fill the pool. So it was quite funny.

Caroline (00:35:43):
I relate to that actually. That was my husband, throwing saucepans.

Siobhan (00:35:49):
It was funny.

Caroline (00:35:51):
But it’s disappointing, especially when you’d also wanted to live stream it to bring this positivity to everyone as well. You weren’t doing that for yourself eventually. You were doing it for your mission.

Siobhan (00:36:01):
And you couldn’t do that at the hospital. They wouldn’t let the filming happen. And then afterwards, I mean, I gave birth in literally a minute, and then I had had all the checks and had my coat on to go home and waited for hours. There was no one to even discharge us. It was just a bit meh.

Caroline (00:36:19):
Yeah, that’s the point where you’re like, I’m ready to get back.

Siobhan (00:36:22):
And when you look back, I’m like, why don’t I just discharge myself and be like, see you later guys. I’ll see you tomorrow or whatever. But you don’t in the moment, you’re just waiting for someone to tick you off the list to go.

Caroline (00:36:33):
Oh, and that’s the hard point. I think that must be hardest for you. You’ve just said it there. Why didn’t I do this kind of thing? And so you’ve got to get through that process where you’re not beating yourself up loads of things. I’m like, oh, why wasn’t I strong enough to do this?

Siobhan (00:36:46):
And the thinking when you’re in labour and having to make these decisions, it really makes the labour much more difficult. And I know that, and that’s what I teach. But when you’re actually in it, it’s very hard when there’s all this kind of chat going on, when’s the midwife going to come? Is there a midwife? What should we do? Should we hang here? Should we wait there? And you’re having to think of it, or you’re not able to be in your zone and relaxing.

Caroline (00:37:08):
Even if you’ve got great people around you, you are

Siobhan (00:37:11):
Still, yeah, you’re still like, what’s going on?

Caroline (00:37:13):
Yeah, I think especially after your first, I think for me, my first was ignorance was bliss. But with my next ones, I’m like, right, okay, should I do this? This is what happened last time. It’s hard,

Siobhan (00:37:24):
Really hard. I’m sorry. It’s fine. So anyway, so then have my little baby and a few weeks after she’s born, get an email at 6:00 AM with one of the team saying that they wanted to quit essentially because of stuff that was going on in their personal life. So I mean, that’s obviously fine in a way, but I was shocked and I had a tiny baby.

Caroline (00:37:52):
On the leadership team?

Siobhan (00:37:54):
Yes on the leadership team. Oh gosh. And I felt this also just to say I’d worked obviously these long, long hours. So I was really, really ready to hand it over mentally for myself. I was like, I need to step back and also I’m having my baby and I want to focus on it. So it was kind of both a desire and a necessity. I needed to step back for my sanity. And also I wanted to spend this time with my baby. And so I think it was about six weeks in that suddenly this kind of bombshell email, and I was just so out of the blue.

Caroline (00:38:30):
6:00 AM

Siobhan (00:38:32):
6am woke up, read it. I was like, what the hell? Shocked. And really then quite panicked thinking, I’m going to have to go back to work. This is like, we need somebody. We’ve got to find somebody.

Caroline (00:38:46):
And you’re literally weeks in.

Siobhan (00:38:50):
And then thank God I have this wonderful friend called Molly who I contacted and she used to work for the Positive Birth Company. And then she set up her own business, which is, or it’s a community interest company called Body Happy Kids. And she’s an author, she’s amazing, all about body positivity for children. And I said, so she’d left to pursue that full time. And I was like, this is my predicament. Is there any chance you could come back on a short term basis? And she said yes. So she literally saved me and I was like, okay, massive relief. Molly is coming in. It’s okay. There’s a solution. I can resume my maternity leave. So it was that kind of rupture. And then I was like, okay, we’re good. We’re good. Somebody’s in. And so then it was a little bit of peace for a while, and then somebody on the senior leadership team was pregnant, which obviously I was delighted for them, but that’s another person now going, they hired maternity leave cover, so kind of like, okay, that’s patched.

Caroline (00:40:01):
We’re all sorted out.

Siobhan (00:40:04):
And so I kind of carried on, but there was these, basically there was these big things erupting that were disrupting to the maternity leave and you can’t just hear about things and then just switch off. So you’re kind of pulled back in a way that I didn’t really want to be. So then I got told that things were not going very well at the business as in quite going downhill and costs were going up. And I had this very scary call with the new person who I didn’t know who’d come in on the maternity leave cover who said that if things carried on going in the way they were with the costs rising and revenue down, then you would be in a situation where you’re going to make a loss. And that was an absolute shock to me. I always thought my business was going really well. Okay, I’ve never been a numbers person. I’ve always been a hundred percent focused on the impact that I’m trying to make. And I haven’t really ever, never had any forecasting or budgeting or anything like that if I’ve given the impression that I’m like a bonafide business woman, I’m sorry.

Caroline (00:41:13):
But we all go through these learnings where we’ve not got a handle on things. And I see it all the time with the work that we do with clients.

Siobhan (00:41:23):
It just flew, obviously, like I said, when the online course took off, so there was money coming in, great, I’m reinvesting it. I’m like absolutely.

Caroline (00:41:29):
Putting the team in structure.

Siobhan (00:41:31):
Putting the team in. I’m absolutely focused on the good things that we’re doing. We became a B Corp business. We give tens of thousands of pounds to charity, mission led, mission led, but perhaps at the detriment of actually looking at forecasting and numbers just wasn’t ever something I did right. Naive. Anyway. So this person in this accountancy role said, if you’re carrying on with the way that it’s going, then it’s going to be in a bit of a dire situation, so you need to do a restructure. So I’m like, oh my God.

Caroline (00:42:09):
A whole team restructure. And what point of mat leave are you right now?

Siobhan (00:42:13):
This is towards the end of my maternity leave.

Caroline (00:42:17):
so, welcome back!

Siobhan (00:42:18):
Oh, and sorry. So the friend that came and saved my life doing that cover, obviously she was on just a fixed term contract. She has her own business, so then they had to hire a placement for her because she was never going to be there. So there was a lot of change happening. So that’s quite a very tumultuous time. And then I’m being told there needs to be a restructure, and so I have no experience of this. I’m on maternity leave and also I’m paying a senior leadership team. So I’m thinking that’s for them to then do that, right? Because I don’t know about this stuff. This is not my skillset, and I’m actually on maternity leave.

Caroline (00:42:58):
And you’ve actually done what so many founders are told to do and don’t do is you are holding back, well, not saying you are holding back

Siobhan (00:43:04):
The business. I’m giving the autonomy.

Caroline (00:43:07):
And you’ve put in senior people.

Siobhan (00:43:10):
Four senior leaders on big salaries.

Caroline (00:43:13):
Exactly. They’ve got the salary to be on that team.

Siobhan (00:43:16):
Big salary. I think a quarter of a million pounds have gone into this senior leadership team. So we’re talking big salaries and I said, well, you guys, can you do this? Come up with what the options are and then obviously present them to me and we can go through. The last thing I want to do is for people to lose their jobs, so what can we do? Essentially, everybody was very reluctant to do that. I think that’s because everybody was very friendly. It was a very friendly environment, which makes it very, very difficult to talk about doing a restructure and people either being made redundant or their roles being made smaller or whatever it is. So it is very difficult, but I also feel like that’s the team’s responsibility, the senior leadership team responsibility to have to do those difficult things. But it definitely got pushed back onto me.

(00:44:12):
And so I find that really difficult. I hadn’t obviously been in the business day to day. I was like, I don’t really know what’s going well, what isn’t going well, and this is actually quite new to me and quite shocking. Anyway, long story short, the idea was that we didn’t need four senior leadership people. We probably needed one to have a smaller team and not have four big salaries. So you can imagine how awful that was to have to make redundancies. Anyway, in the end, I worked quite closely with the person who’d been brought in on the maternity cover who was in that accountancy HR role. Obviously that’s the stuff she knows. So one of the people resigned, so that made it slightly easier, I suppose.

Caroline (00:44:55):
Helpful

Siobhan (00:44:56):
And gave a lot of notice. And so that was all fine. And then one person unfortunately was made redundant, and that happened just at the end of my maternity leave. And then that went awful on a personal level. It went so, so bad beyond anything I could imagine. And still to this day, I don’t know what really I personally have done wrong, but I have had so much hate directed at me, honestly traumatised me, literally left me traumatised to have to go back from maternity leave to find out that your business isn’t going well. Having left it in a really good position to find out that the people that you’ve trusted to run your business haven’t done a very good job of it, that you are then being in a position where you have to make redundancies and then when you have to do that because you haven’t got any other options.

Caroline (00:45:55):
Which I see all the time with clients and businesses.

Siobhan (00:45:58):
It’s horrific, and to then have what has happened in the aftermath on a personal basis has just been the worst time. And speaking honestly, has taken so much of my love the business away. There’s been times where I’ve literally been like, I want out. I can’t do this. This is so awful and it’s killing me. And kind of around Christmas time, I was just really in a really bad way, very depressed, really mentally in a very bad way because it was just so, so distressing what happened, and that’s not the end of the story. So then…

Caroline (00:46:38):
I can hear it in your voice. Thank you so much for sharing.

Siobhan (00:46:44):
Honestly. It’s been absolutely horrific. And then the person, so I’m trying to think who’s left now. We’ve got, so one person resigned, one person was made redundant. We’ve got maternity leave cover in place and we have new person that’s joined. So the maternity leave cover, the person that I had trusted the accountancy role who had really helped kind of oversee this restructure who honestly I had put all my faith in, I didn’t know them before. They weren’t a friend, so an unknown person who’d come into the business. I had kind of thought, this person is like, thank God for them. They understand the numbers, they understand the laws about redundancies. They’re really kind of holding my hand through this. A number of red flags started happening. The first was they went away on a two week holiday and they hadn’t updated the holiday software.

(00:47:38):
And when I went to update the holiday software, I found that they didn’t have any holiday leave to take. That’s a bit weird. So in this horrifically anxious time that I was in, I drafted this email really carefully where did email, it took me most of the day to be like, Hey, I’ve just been on citrus, not really sure what’s happening. I went to update your holiday, but you haven’t got any holiday leave to take. You can always ask if you want additional time off, but it would have to be unpaid. But if you need to take a time out or holiday, that’s fine. Just please ask. Anyway, got a very strongly worded email back saying it was completely unacceptable to suggest it would be unpaid. I start questioning myself. Honestly, by this point, I was just so a shell of a person. I was like, is it unreasonable for me to make that unpaid?

(00:48:26):
I’m like, oh, what? I just pay them two weeks extra holiday. But then that’s so unfair for everybody else, and I’m really kind of spiralling here. What’s happening? I then reached out to a very good friend of mine who works in HR and she lives in New York. She works for Amazon. I’ve known her since we were 11 years old. And I was like, I need some help here. This is the HR person, so I can’t ask the HR person because this is her. And I sent her the things and she’s like, at what point did you think this was okay for this woman to talk to you in this way? And I hadn’t even realised that she was talking to me badly on my life. I had gotten so kind of downtrodden in myself. My confidence was rock bottom that I hadn’t even realised that this person was speaking to me in a negative way.

(00:49:12):
And my friend with a fresh pair of eyes was like, you’re literally being bullied in your own workplace. How is this happening? Anyway, had a meeting with this person, still didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. This is when she came back from holiday. So she’d gotten upset, said she was going to resign. It was untenable to work for the company. I was panicking like, no, I really need you. Please don’t resign. I was in that state like, no, please, please stay. We had a meeting and it was very strange and she was upset and she was angry and then she left. And honestly, I just wanted out. At this point, I couldn’t cope with it, but she said she was leaving. So I went home and there’s a list of things that you need to do when you to offboard somebody. Normally, I wouldn’t be the person to do that, that would be the HR person, but seeing it’s me, it was me.

(00:50:00):
So I started, we have company Amex card, so I go on to log onto Amex. I’ve never even been onto the Amex site before in my life. I don’t normally deal with this stuff. Anyway, it’s really weird. Four and a half grand British Airways. What’s that? Who’s on British Airways. I go down and there’s another three and a half grand British Airways business class flights to Canada return. All of these transactions that have been made to the sum, I think in total it’s like 22,000 pounds. I can’t even believe what I’m seeing. I’m like, this can’t be right. I ring Amex, they tell me about the, is it the Tinder Swindler? No. What was it? There was a Netflix show where somebody had used an Amex card, like the fraud. They were basically telling me that this was a bit like that.

Caroline (00:50:47):
Oh, wow. So you called them. They literally said that.

Siobhan (00:50:50):
Yeah. They were like, this is a police matter. We can’t help you because this person was an authorised person to use the card. So Amex can’t cover it.

Caroline (00:50:58):
Yeah, it’s not been stolen, essentially. Yeah. Yes.

Siobhan (00:51:02):
And that’s why they were referencing this show, the Tinder Swindler, because that’s what kind of happened on that.

Caroline (00:51:08):
Oh, I need to go watch this show now.

Siobhan (00:51:10):
She’s like, you need to ring the police. And I’m like, oh my God, I can’t even believe this is happening.

Caroline (00:51:15):
When was this, end of 2023?

Siobhan (00:51:18):
No, this is January now.

Caroline (00:51:19):
This January. It was literally a few months ago. Oh my goodness.

Siobhan (00:51:23):
Yeah. Honestly, it’s been a hell of a time, and I literally was like, I cannot believe this. I called the police and they were like, go through everything, and I became a detective, and I uncovered so much, fraudulent signatures using other people in the company’s emails to send emails to approve things, Xero, the accountancy software changing all of that so that the transactions for British Airways were renamed to something else and then attributed to another member of staff, so it would kind of fly under the radar. This individual had bought themselves £63 bottle of champagne, expensed it as it being somebody’s leaving present, but that person never received it. They’d also been on Bloom and Wild and bought a £98 bouquet of flowers and actually addressed the card to themselves from themselves.
Honestly, it’s wild. It could be a Netflix show.

Caroline (00:52:21):
This is wild, oh, I am so sorry. This happened to you, and I’m just trying to wrap around my head. So they were in charge of Xero completely, that you had no external accountants that could call you.

Siobhan (00:52:32):
I do have an external accountant, but they would do the end of year accounts. So this would’ve been picked up in August, but obviously they would be gone because they were a maternity leave cover.

Caroline (00:52:43):
So it was the maternity leave cover.

Siobhan (00:52:45):
The person I didn’t know who’d come in. Oh, goodness. Yeah. So I had knew nothing of her. I knew nothing of her history or anything. I returned from maternity leave. She was there. She was acting like the Messiah, and I thought, thank God for you.

Caroline (00:52:56):
Oh my gosh. It was real, making you dependent. Yeah, making you dependent on them.

Siobhan (00:53:02):
Completely and utterly made me dependent on her and believed that she was going to save the day, and I was in a very vulnerable position just coming back from maternity leave. Very vulnerable situation. Being told the business was in dire straits, losing friends over it.

Caroline (00:53:19):
Yeah, that’s I say. Was this because the stuff that happened with your friends and stuff, do you think the cause of it was this really, because you were like, I don’t know what’s happened. Obviously being made redundant is not pleasant. I get that.

Siobhan (00:53:31):
So yes and no. I think she definitely used that to kind of create a sense of urgency and stress, which then led to my dependency on her. I was definitely manipulated, but it is true that costs were going up, revenue was coming down. It was true that there was a situation where a restructure probably would be needed, so it wasn’t completely fabricated, but the urgency of it and the stress around it, she definitely contributed to creating that and using that to her advantage. But yeah, I placed my full trust in her and like I said, I was just off maternity leave finding it really difficult with the friendship side of things and I had a new baby and I was like, it was just not what I expected. So yeah, it was just absolutely awful. Anyway, she got arrested, she got charged.

Caroline (00:54:18):
I’m like, what happened next?

Siobhan (00:54:20):
Literally. Yeah.

Caroline (00:54:21):
What happened from there? You still in the process? This is all fairly recent.

Siobhan (00:54:24):
Yeah, this is all fairly new. So I went to the police station to give a statement and I thought I was going to be there for an hour and I was there for four hours. I dunno if anyone’s ever given a statement before, but they literally go through everything and then they type it out themselves. So you have to explain everything and then they write it and then they say, is that how it sounds for you? And it’s all I thought I would just write a statement, a one page piece of paper summing up what happened. Anyway, it was very in depth. This whole investigation obviously had to provide everything. But what was really crazy is when I got to the police station, which is a local one, Devon, I got there and all of these people coming out in uniform were kind of moving quite quickly and they were coming out of the side door and they had stab vests on and they were like, yes, I’ve got the gloves. And they were moving quite rapidly. And I love true crime, by the way. I watch a lot of it. And I was like, ooh, it’s like the Totnes bomb squad. What’s going on?

Caroline (00:55:20):
Yeah, you don’t really see that in Devon.

Siobhan (00:55:23):
Kind of, no, what’s it called? SWAT team. I was like, oh my God. It’s like the Totnes swat team. Where are they going? And I remember thinking like, oh, bit of drama. Anyway, then when I go to have my interview, they’re only going to arrest her, that team. And I was like, why so many? And he said, oh, because three trainees and they all have to have a qualified person with them.

Caroline (00:55:45):
They were going to arrest her?

Siobhan (00:55:47):
Six people in three squad cars went to her house to arrest her for fraud. Wow. So it was like when I went to give my statement, my impression was I would go and write a little piece of paper and someone would take it and file it away in a back room. And I don’t know what was going to happen.

Caroline (00:56:06):
And then someone would, I’d assume in my head someone goes around to our house and gets her point of view and then legal proceedings would start and it’d be long and drawn out,
no, I’d be the same.

Siobhan (00:56:16):
So I was like, oh my god, this is crazy. And you know what? The fact that it was so crazy almost pulled me out of the fog that I was in.

Caroline (00:56:26):
I was going to say about to say was it validating that you weren’t going crazy?

Siobhan (00:56:30):
Yeah, I had gotten so low that I was not wanting to get out of bed. I just didn’t want to face the day. I was so, so depressed in December. And this kind of learning in January, honestly, it reignited me. I was like a detective. I felt like, oh my god. And I was finding out stuff daily, uncovering more. The police were asking me to send it over. It reenergized me in some weird way. So I suppose I have that to thank her for that. It got me out of bed and it got me back in the game. So they arrested her. I provided all of the evidence. She ended up admitting to it. So there’s two pathways. You can either have a caution, which doesn’t sound very much, but she does stay on your record for 10 years I think. Or you can go to court, but that can take years because of the backlog in the system and then you might not even get the outcome that you want. So I was advised to go down the caution route and so that’s what happened. And she was recently cautioned and that’s it. Oh, and I got some money back as well.

Caroline (00:57:31):
Oh good, good. Well, yeah, I guess because credit card, I guess.

Siobhan (00:57:35):
She repaid some of the money I think because her solicitor would’ve said it would look better for her if she said, sorry and paid. And then some of the companies that she’d bought stuff from refunded the money.

Caroline (00:57:46):
Oh, that’s good.

Siobhan (00:57:47):
Yes because the things that she’d paid for hadn’t yet been used, so they just cancelled and refunded.

Caroline (00:57:53):
I feel like I’m still processing this.

Siobhan (00:57:55):
Yeah, I mean I am. I’m still processing this,

Caroline (00:57:59):
But it’s also I can imagine because if it’d be so tempting to go down the legal route, but also that would’ve been a job for the next few years.

Siobhan (00:58:08):
I didn’t want it. Yeah, I didn’t want it.

Caroline (00:58:09):
Yeah, I can see why you didn’t want it. And I think that’s why sometimes people don’t go down this route in various scenarios.

Siobhan (00:58:18):
So I want to do a podcast called True Crime at the PBC because honestly, or this pitch this to Netflix and be like, this has been wild.

Caroline (00:58:27):
And then can we have this podcast on that? So Siobhan tells her story finally.

Siobhan (00:58:34):
The first time I’m telling this story publicly.

Caroline (00:58:38):
That is wild. And I’m so sorry. I feel like I’m often talking about maternity leave and you can do it from your business, but it’s so important. And this is the extreme end.
Siobhan (00:58:49):
This is the extreme end. This is not going to happen to everybody. But for me, I did so much planning to have this time and from six weeks in, it just started unravelling to this massive crescendo of actual criminality. And I think also just I was before even this just kind of in that time when I was away, and I think this is probably the biggest problem if you are a founder trying to take a maternity leave is once you’re not there and you’ve taken your foot off the pedal, are people going to keep that momentum going and work really hard and do their best? Because I think people are never going to have the same passion and dedication as you to your business. And that can go from at the lower end, people just not caring as much as you. They’re not going to care as much as you about your business to people actually taking advantage, which is what I think was happening with my team a little bit, is that I wasn’t there to oversee things. People could just shrug it off or that didn’t happen. They still get paid. I created such a lovely kind of comforting environment, work culture. It’s like free lunches, spa days. I really treat my team really, really well.

Caroline (01:00:13):
You really tried to be the change,

Siobhan (01:00:16):
Flexible working the whole shebang. It’s such a wonderful place to work. And I think when I was not there and I wasn’t driving things forward in that kind of mission led way that I do, people just started cruising along. This is nice. It’s a really nice setup. It’s easy getting paid, can work from home, not work from home, can basically do what we like and no one’s here to oversee it. And so that whole momentum of the business that was there, that was probably being driven by me, that was not there.

Caroline (01:00:54):
You didn’t have anyone on your side in that sense as well?

Siobhan (01:00:58):
No, things started going downhill and no one holding anyone to account and everyone being friends. So nobody wanting to confront anybody else.

Caroline (01:01:06):
Yes, you see that a lot of the problematic side of business where they say we’re families and things and it’s like, well to an extent because family, you are there no matter what and it’s like business that can’t always be the case.

Siobhan (01:01:18):
So it was a big, big learning curve and I think obviously it’s very real time now coming back from this. But the truth is when I started my business and I had this mission and nobody else was doing this and I was absolutely determined to make hypno birthing accessible, I would work day and night and I was just absolutely motivated. So much has happened since that point to where I am now and now I have in this big desire still my baby’s just one. I still have this desire to be present with her, especially in this time before she starts school. I’m not going to have another baby now this is it. Right? So I really, really want to make that a priority and yet I have this business that really needs me to be there. So I’m being pulled in these two directions. The mission of wanting to make it accessible to a degree we’ve achieved that.

(01:02:13):
And online hypnobirthing courses are really popular now. There are so many people offering it. So that kind of mission that I started with has almost happened and now it’s about sustaining a business. And actually that’s not something I’ve ever been driven or motivated by. I’m not someone that comes from a numbers background or a business background. I told you no forecasting. And actually now my day-to-day job, that’s what it is. It’s doing the jobs of the people that aren’t there. So the numbers, the payroll, the HR things, contracts, people problems and that’s taking me away from time with my baby. And that love and passion isn’t there. That’s not to say it’s not there for what the Positive Birth Company does, which believe in a hundred percent, but I’m not doing that anymore. Do you know what I mean? I’ve kind of moved into…

Caroline (01:03:01):
You’ve done what they say business owners have to do.

Siobhan (01:03:04):
Basically. Yeah, I’ve moved into this more leadership role I never really wanted and I’ve tried to create a team where other people were doing it and that didn’t work. So I’m now in a position where I’m trying to hire an md, so I’m kind of going in that recruitment process. So hopefully.

Caroline (01:03:21):
So just one person who leads it and I’m glad this experience hasn’t put you off that and you are going to try something new.

Siobhan (01:03:29):
I still believe in the positive birth company so much and day to day we get tonnes of messages from people saying it’s changed their life. And so some days I feel like I can’t do this anymore. This is just all too much for me. But I feel so I owe it to the business, to the community that the business serves. I want it to continue even if it’s not being led by me, ideally not being led by me. I want someone to take the reins and continue doing this good thing that the business does. But so it’s been a bit of a ride.

Caroline (01:04:03):
It has and thank you for sharing that. It is so easy. You could easily not, and in two years when maybe things have changed, your daughter’s at school and you’ve got all this fire, it might be fire in a different way, but it will come back in a way you could easily then share this in retrospect. And so I really respect you’re sharing this now that you’re like, this is what has happened to me. I’m, I’m still processing it.

Siobhan (01:04:27):
I dunno where the end is.

Caroline (01:04:28):
I dunno what’s going to happen and I’m about to go on this new journey where I don’t know. And what’s your team size now, that you are leading?

Siobhan (01:04:36):
Five. A lot smaller.

Caroline (01:04:37):
And that’s probably right for now and hopefully you’ll get your MD and see if you want to grow kind of thing. I think that’s what a lot of companies are learning. It’s all about growth, growth, growth. And maybe it’s just about creating a went on course recently, great businesses, which yours is already for what it’s done.

Siobhan (01:04:58):
And it would be such a shame. Shame isn’t really the right word. It’s greater than that if it just closed down because I wasn’t able to do it anymore and that’s not what I want to happen. So I really hope that I find the right person for this role who’s going to be able to take this, what I’ve built onwards.

Caroline (01:05:19):
Any MDs out there want? Let’s put it out to the universe. Honestly, I respect you so much. I just saw, I’d seen a little Instagram post last year on this that things hadn’t gone to plan and I was like, I need her on the podcast. I want to know…

Siobhan (01:05:35):
I was having a breakdown then I think, yeah.

Caroline (01:05:38):
That’s the beauty of podcasts and beauty of people like you being like, this is what happened, come with this journey with me. And it just shows the humans behind this company.

Siobhan (01:05:48):
It’s the behind the scenes really, isn’t it? It’s like the front facing stuff has continued to continued on and is serving the community and we’re doing amazing things like with the business, like workshops, masterclasses free stuff all the time. We’re continuing to raise money for charity. The business is still doing all of the things that the business has always done. So from the front, nothing’s changed really. It’s the behind the scenes that’s been so difficult. And I don’t know, I guess in summary, it’s someone growing a startup and then getting to the point that they need to step away. And if you’re a one woman leader, how you do that? And I haven’t got the answer yet. I’ve tried one method and it hasn’t worked, so I’m trying to do something else. But if you get your business to that point and you actually need to step down or step back how you actually do that and ensure that the business continues on in the way that you always wanted it to.

Caroline (01:06:43):
Exactly why this podcast is here is to talk about your a mum and you want to make the most of this time with your youngest and that’s the extra part to it. It’s not just about making sure you step away, but it’s also about that you prioritise what you want and that’s why we started this. So thank you so much for being honest about that.

Siobhan (01:07:05):
Yeah, that that’s really what I want to do. And I’m not saying because that’s what everybody should do because I’m happy to say that’s not what I did before when I had my three boys. I never did that. I never had time and I don’t regret it. And I don’t think I was a bad parent because I threw myself into work.

(01:07:26):
It’s just where I am in my life now. I know this is my last baby. I’ve waited a really long time to have her and my priorities I guess have changed and that’s what I want to be doing now. And that’s okay too. I don’t think there’s one way is better than the other way. It’s a bit like birth right is what’s right for you. And at this point in my life, what’s right for me is being at home with my baby whilst she’s little because I know there’s only going to be a little bit of time and then she’ll be at school. But that’s not right for everybody. And me 10 years ago, it wasn’t right for me then.

Caroline (01:07:58):
And it might not be right for you in 10 years time, say for example. I think that’s life. And it shows that’s where the people behind the businesses, it’s like we all have different things you’re dealing with. If you get through this phase where your passion has gone, you’ve been hurt. I’m excited to see in a couple of years time where you are,

Siobhan (01:08:16):
Who knows what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Caroline (01:08:19):
Any advice for anyone who gets to this stage?

Siobhan (01:08:22):
Oh, I really dunno. I’ve been really knocked by it. So I don’t know. I find it hard to think about advice. I don’t feel like I’ve done very well with it. But yeah, the planning, that’s what I’ve really learned. You can do all of the best. I used to berate myself for having got accidentally pregnant and not having my life in order and being a young mom. And then I think, well, here I am at the other end of the spectrum and I’ve done all of the planning that I could possibly do and it hasn’t worked out.

Caroline (01:08:51):
Oh my gosh. Yeah.
Siobhan (01:08:51):
It’s kind of taught me that things are outside of your control and to not beat yourself up about things.

Caroline (01:08:58):
I have a hard relate to that. I think you’re onto something there because with my first, I did it all wrong, I felt, and then I felt with my second I was doing it all right, plan the maternity leave and then you ended up very sick. So things changed and that wasn’t my fault, wasn’t his fault. That’s just was. It was. And I think you’re right. You are right. As long as we try our best and get through it, and I think you are truly inspiring for what you’ve been through and sharing it. Thank you so much.

Siobhan (01:09:25):
I feel like if anyone’s got advice for me, I would be, I’m not sure I’m in a position to give advice at the minute, but if anyone’s got advice for me, I’d be happy to hear it.

Caroline (01:09:32):
Alright, see, let’s put a shout out there. Has anyone else been through something similar? Get in touch and let’s start a mentorship programme or something. No, I think what you have achieved with your mission and still having that mission after all of this, that’s the best point we can end on is that you want this mission to continue.

Siobhan (01:09:52):
Absolutely. And always forever grateful for the messages I get and I don’t have time to reply to them all, but I get messages every day from people, sometimes the partners of the people that have given birth and just saying that it’s been so amazing and they’re so grateful and so that keeps me going for sure. And I’m so proud of the positive birth company, not just in terms of making hyp birthing accessible, but we very inclusive support a lot of charities. And so I do feel very proud of the business and that’s why I wanted to continue and I want it to do well for the good that it does. Like you said, not about growth, but about being a good business. And that’s something I believe in massively. So I hope that’s what can happen.

Caroline (01:10:35):
From someone here. I’m just one person. You’ve got me through two births and my husband as well. So thank you and friends, I know lots of friends who are huge fans of yours and thank you for sharing today and we will be back on this podcast to talk about the next couple of years at some point.

Siobhan (01:10:51):
I hope so, and I’ll be like, I’m a stay at home mom and I’m loving it.

Caroline (01:10:55):
Whatever your journey is next, I’m really excited for you. Well done. I’m getting through all of this during such a vulnerable time for you. I do think we are vulnerable in the early years.

Siobhan (01:11:06):
Well thank you. Thank you for inviting me to be on and giving me this opportunity to talk about it all.

Caroline (01:11:11):
Actually, I probably should say this, where can people find you if they want to learn more? That’s what I normally end on.

Siobhan (01:11:16):
You probably won’t learn more about the saga, the behind the scenes saga, the one-off exclusive.

Caroline (01:11:19):
Learn more about Hypnobirthing because this isn’t the podcast to learn about hypnobirthing.

Siobhan (01:11:24):
If you’d like to learn more about Hypnobirthing. We’re on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, the Positive Birth Company. All of the places you can find out about Hypnobirthing and irrespective of all the stuff I’ve said behind the scenes, that stuff is really good. The Freya app is on the app store and Google Play store.
Caroline (01:11:44):
Freya app. Yes. I didn’t have that with my first and I had it with my second and loved it.

Siobhan (01:11:48):
People love the Freya app. So yeah, all of that good stuff is out there. This is a little exclusive peep behind the scenes of the drama that’s been going on. But yeah, all of the stuff that’s out there to help people is there.

Caroline (01:12:00):
And I’d recommend it highly. So thank you for bringing that and managing the chaos behind the scenes. Thank you.

Siobhan (01:12:07):
Thank you. Bye.

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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