MIBA were featured in Forbes in 2019 which we see as one of our amazing achievements. Here is a throwback to some of the article…
Where did the idea for Mums in Business Association come from? What were your career backgrounds and were you both active networkers?
After struggling with mental health issues and becoming a single mum after 9 years of partnership, I knew that returning to work was going to be difficult. As part of my mental health recovery my counsellor had suggested that I find a creative outlet that enabled me relax and have fun but that also enabled me to express how I was feeling in a non verbal way. I studied photography for 3 years as an adult student at night classes and finally went on to gain a teaching qualification. It was becoming a single parent that actually made reevaluate the skill set that I had an become creative about how I could start to financially support my family whilst still being a present parent. I set up Love Photography 13 in 2016 and this was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
As step sisters we had always supported each other in our chosen career paths and the idea for MIBA came from the lack of support and feeling of isolation that we were both verbalizing in our lengthy daily phone calls from Wales to Leicester.
Setting up Love Photography 13 was an eye opener and brought along a whole host of challenges I hadn’t expected to meet. Not only was I required to capture gorgeous weddings but to create a successful business I also needed to know about marketing, web development and social media. I spent hours and hours watching webinars and trainings, listening to podcasts and trying to connect with people who could help me grow my business. I remember wishing that I could find all of the information I needed in one place, so that I could develop my business without having to search the whole of the internet for things that were relevant and would actually help me. I felt like the only person that really understood my struggle was Leona because as a mum in business herself we were going through the same thing! Trying to be a great mum and start up a business all at the same time was a challenge to say the least!
It was then that we realized that if we felt like this, there must be thousands of other mums who felt the same! It was then that we decided to set up the MIBA Facebook group in the hope of bringing other women together, so that they didn’t have to struggle the way that we did.
How did you go about starting the network, what were the first steps and what were your initial costs?
We set up the Mums in Business Association Facebook group in June 2017…that group now has 45k community members. The most incredible thing about what we have achieved so far is the fact that we started with nothing. No investment, no capital, no start up fund. We used social media to connect with people who we understood. We recognized their pain point and we work to ease it. The formula for creating this incredible network hasn’t changed in the 27 months we have been established. We simply started by sharing value and content with our community. Not just tips on how we were growing our own businesses but real life, no BS posts about how difficult it is to try and juggle a million things on your to do lists whilst keeping the kids entertained, walking to dog and maybe finding time to meditate. We shared our own journey, the highs and the lows with our tribe. Allowing our own identities to shine through is the reason that so many others then go on to tell other women about our community. We are relatable and real, our tribe trust us because they can relate to us. Building relationships is a crucial part of creating a network.
How did you manage the startup being based in two different locations?
Lots of long phone calls! The joy of being based online means that we can work from anywhere. Leona and I spent hours and hours discussing what was working and what wasn’t and what we wanted to do next to grow MIBA. Its no different now Leona has moved to Spain. Not a day goes by that we don’t speak.
How did you attract your first members? How important was social media to your business growth? How often do you hold live events and what do these involve?
Without sounding to cliché, your vibe attracts your tribe. We set up the group and began going live and sharing our own favourite tips and resources on everything from getting the kids to behave to starting a blog and building a website.
We have built a 6-figure business using social media alone and so my answer here is most definitely YES! Social media is your biggest FREE marketing tool and resource. Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, social media is free. You literally have access to millions of people at the touch of a button. It’s really understanding HOW to use social media that is key to success!
Social media also allowed us to take our networking offline too. Having a community online is amazing but there is nothing better than sitting in a room full of motivated and excited women who have all gathered together with the same end plan… to grow their business. We used our social media to communicate about our events using the community we had already created online. I hosted our first ever child friendly networking event in August 2017 in my hometown of Leicester. We had around 10 people attend the first meeting but the response from our community was incredible. Women all around the world wanted to get involved which is when we hit a problem. We were only 2 people. We travelled the UK for a few months before realizing that it was time to expand the team. We currently have 130 networking events worldwide and are expanding at a rate of 10% per month. September saw our biggest month yet for attendees with over 1300 women coming through the doors.
At what stage were you able to monetize the network and how did you do this?
We started off by providing free content into the group. Once we had become established and people began to see us as the experts in our area, we then knew that we could then start to charge for our products. Again, it‘s about creating that trust and relationship. People were ready to invest in us because we had consistently shown up, offered amazing value and content and maintained our visibility. Our first course was a business bootcamp which we sold for £10. Every evening I would manually go through all of the people who had paid and send over a link for the training. No funnels, email lists or automation. Good old–fashioned pen, paper and a lot of hard work!
We offered different levels of affordability to ensure that as many people as possible could benefit from the trainings regardless of where they were at in their business journey. Still to this day we offer FREE Instagram challenges and £10 trainings but alongside that we can now use all of our skills and experience to coach corporate clients and large organisations in maximizing their impact using social media.
Tickets for our offline networking events are still £15 or the equivalent as they were when we first set up. We wanted our events to be affordable yet full of value and opportunities. It‘s incredible for us to hear that other women are closing deals in excess of £10k after connecting at our events.
Has the business had any external funding? Is this something you are looking to pursue?
Not so far but this is not something that we would disregard. We know that as businesses grow their need for investment may rise too. We are always very aware of what is happening within our business and act accordingly. We would love to connect with people who have a vested interest in the message we are spreading and if this were to include investment then this is something we would consider. We run the business very flexibly and go with what works. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
What’s next for the network? Is it now profitable?
MIBA is growing at an incredible rate. Not only do we have our online communities and offline networking events we also help other women tell their stories of success. So far in the last 2 years we have helped to create 73 Amazon best selling authors, 9 best selling books and have lots of amazing authors working away behind the scenes!
We are very excited to be expanding our speaking portfolio. In the space of the next 6 months we will be speaking at events such as Social Media Week Durban alongside incredible people such as Bravissimo founder Michelle Mone, Supermodel and business woman Caprice and politician Karren Brady CBE.
Our business started in June 2017 with no investment and in the last year has turned over approx. ¼ million pounds with our expected turn over next year to double.
To find out more about our amazing journey check out our autobiography Laid Bare
Until next time much love
Estelle & Leona